Take away the solid gray hair and the beard and it was me. I was looking at a reflection of myself.
He caught my eye as we stood for worship; an older gentleman who stood across the sanctuary. I watched him as we sang observing his stance and his mannerisms. He stood obediently when asked although his shoulders were squared as if ready to employ defenses when needed. His arms remained either crossed or fingers locked in front to ensure little chance of being taken off guard. His look was not one of displeasure. It was simply emotionless. He did not sing as others sang. He just stared ahead watching the musicians.
There, standing in his shoes, was me. I understood that stance. Years ago I would have interpreted it as apathy or disrespect but today I saw it for what it was – distrust. As I watched him I knew in my heart I was watching myself worship. I immediately wondered what his eyes had seen and his heart had felt to bring him to this stance on worship. He didn’t stand as one who didn’t want to be there or one who didn’t know the Heavenly Father. He stood as one who had once held great faith but lost it. I wanted to ask him why? What had broken his faith? How long had it been? And did he have a plan for getting it back?
I did not ask, though, because I knew he had no answers. If he held the answers his stance would look different. His expression would be filled with emotion. The defenses would have been let down.
The irony of it all was this was not church. It was a concert. I had resolved a few weeks back that church no longer fit in my world. It is the only aspect of my life that I have not been able to take control over or move forward in. So I have taken the coward way out and quit going. God, however, is still finding ways to speak to me. This time it was through free tickets to a Keith and Kristyn Getty concert. We had gone to their Christmas concert a few years back. I’m not much of a concert person but that night was great fun – highly energetic music, Irish dancing, and talented musicians. I went to Saturday’s concert not for the worship but to relive a good memory.
But as I reflect on this most recent concert all I see is the gray haired man and his emotionless response to worship. It brings me back to my own plight to run from church, which in reality is to run from God. What are you doing, Sharon? I have spent the day reflecting on how I got here. How has church and worship lost its meaning? How have I managed to push God so far away? I know the answer to this. I know how I got here. It is one expectation, one disappointment, one unanswered question after another. They pile up until all you see is anger and bitterness. My coping mechanism was to shut off that which caused the tension. And it worked, sort of, no, not at all. I know I cannot stay here, in this spiritual state. I must find a way to forgive, to trust, God, myself and others. Otherwise, I become the gray haired man who once had great faith and now stands emotionless in worship. Please, Lord, do not let that be me.