“Oh, don’t mind that, it’s just my spiritual baggage.”
I grew up going to church in a beautiful building with big white columns, ornate wooden benches, organ pipes floor to ceiling and a beautifully decorated soapbox called a podium where the minister in the long black robe stood.
I knew my catechism each week and would stand proudly in a handmade smocked dress as I recited them to the Sunday school class, annunciating the answers while smiling at the teacher. Manipulation at it’s best.
On Sunday evening, looking out the back window at that monstrous building, I would say, “See ya on Wednesday, God!”
I suppose I should mention that my dad was a preacher. Not the kind that has a church, but one that travels around speaking. Dad knew what was up and was more of a seeker than an organizer. What I mean by that is, there are those who seek Christ and there are those who organize religion. He is a seeker.
We would travel all summer to different conferences where he was speaking. Even as a very young child I can remember feeling a completely different presence in the auditoriums than what was felt in that big white building with the steeple on top.
I could not recite a catechism today if my life depended on it. Which begs the question, “Why did I spend all of that time learning Christian precepts instead of discovering who God really is? As anyone who has begun that pursuit knows, it takes a lifetime.
Well…because…I saw it as something else to check off my “see what a good christian I am?!” list. We “Christians” tend to do that. We put God on our “ways I get to heaven” to-do list along with things like, “Build up the courage to talk to that guy with all the tattoo’s. I could probably get bonus points for saving someone who has marked their body!” Or “Find a person who is living in a known sin and pretend to care long enough to ‘save’ them.”
Unfortunately many of us grew up with religious to-do lists, attending a church that was beautiful to look at, but left us starving spiritually.
What do we do with all of that? We put it in our “spiritual baggage” UHaul and take it with us into every relationship, every experience, every new perception of Jesus.
God doesn’t wait for me to show up on Sunday. He is wherever I am (and I have been in some pretty questionable places). I won’t find Jesus standing outside a building with a perfectly manicured lawn telling the homeless man, “We don’t need ‘your kind’ here.”
If you are like I was, hauling a bunch of misconceptions around everywhere you go, find the nearest cliff and throw it down, set it on fire, submerge it in the ocean, but don’t keep hauling it around. You don’t have to unpack it and sort through the reasons why. Just rid yourself of it and set out on your journey. You may be surprised who you meet along the way.