Exactly ten years ago, I started TheUnmaskedAvenger. I eventually ran out of things to say and stopped blogging. Two years ago, I returned to it; this time it was just for me. It is amazing to see how many of the things I’ve said have struck a chord with others. Church can be an amazingly wonderful mountain-top experience with a great view of the bright sun; and church can be a dark, deep valley with steep sides. Church can make beautiful music; and it can make a noisy din that vaguely resembles music. Church can be a close-knit family of supportive brothers and sisters in tough times; and it can be an isolated group of insiders who routinely exclude others who aren’t on the same page. It can be anything and everything; both good and bad.
The church I remember from when I was little is totally different than the one I know now. And I’m a different person, because of it. I’ve weathered quite a few storms over the years. I had to figure out a lot for myself, but thankfully other bloggers were seing some of the same issues that I had. So I knew that I wasn’t alone and I felt like that there others out there who understood. I had to learn to learn a lot of things. I learned to stand my ground, I learned to defend my beliefs and I learned to hold fast to them when the storms raged at their fiercest.
I would have loved for my ground to have been the same ground as the church’s; but it didn’t turn out that way. I’ve attended a lot of churches and they’ve taught me a lot, but it wasn’t always what was right or best for me. In general, I still feel somewhat let-down by church, and that’s probably my ‘stuck on the seemingly endless plateau’ experience talking at the moment. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, compared to the valley, the plateau is a mountain and so I should celebrate the view that I do have.
My current church is doing a series on Ruth and I’m learning that she’s not the – well, actually I don’t remember what my former pastors would have said about her probably because she’s usually mentioned in passing; Like, “Ruth is one of the women mentioned in the ancestry of Jesus; and so is Rahab the harlot, Bathsheba the wife of Uriah, and Tamar whose story shall not be named.” Being listed among ‘the harlot’, ‘the adulteress’, ‘the deceiver’, it doesn’t suggest that Ruth ‘the foreigner’ or any of the other women are of upstanding moral character; but they were as much as was possible for the times they lived in. Not only that, but there’s a chance to study something called Lectio Divina and it seems absolutely fascinating. I think that some of my problem is that I’m expecting the church of my youth – one that was built around me, my needs, what I wanted, and anticipated the sort of things I’d like. This church isn’t like that and that’s what makes it difficult to adjust to. But so long as they’re willing to meet me half-way, that’s better than most churches in this area. So I think we’ll do just fine for now as long as they let me listen to my MP3 player so that I can enjoy my music while they’re enjoying their own.
I don’t know what the next ten years will have in store for me. I expect there’ll be times when I’m further up the mountain or have fallen into the valley, but blogging helps me climb my way through it all, the thick of it and the thin of it. I’m grateful for each and every one of you who have chosen to join along in the adventure, to encourage me, to keep me honest, to challenge my perspective, and to share your stories. For facing whatever is in store, faith, hope, and love will see us through – this year, the next, and ten years from now.