This past week has been weird. We’ve kinda fumbled back into our friendship. I talked to Nat about last week but I didn’t get what I needed out of it. I wanted to talk more but I eventually decided that the conversation would prove to be useless so I decided against it.
I figured that I just needed to be patient and give her some grace. I also came to the realization that I missed Nat so much that I was looking at our friendship in Rosey Retrospect. I forgot all the flaws in our friendship. I was just blaming it on the mission. Part of is how she’s changed, but part of it is stuff that we already we’re dealing with before she left, so I just have to remind myself these aren’t all new problems. Again, that means I just need to have more patience and grace.
This past Sunday, Natalie had her homecoming talk. She asked me to come and to be honest, I didn’t really want to go, but because I love and support her, I went anyway.
I felt so awkward. I live in a majority white suburb but there isn’t many times I really noticed I am a minority, as soon I walked into that church I noticed it. I was the only minority in sight. I don’t know why, but that always makes me apprehensive.
As soon as I ran into her step-mom, she welcomed me with “oh Kristan, it’s so nice to see you here this Sunday. We should see you every Sunday.” I retorted with “uh, I think my mom would miss me at our home church..” I cringed so hard in my mind after she said that. In that moment, I felt like she didn’t respect my church as my chosen religion. I wasn’t going there to visit the church, I was going to support my best friend, because she asked that I’d be there.
The service itself was very different than what I’m used to. I come from a Pentecostal background, there’s jumping, clapping, dancing, lifting your hands, speaking in tongues. This wasn’t like that at all. The first thing I noticed is we sat the entire time. The whole two hours, just sitting. That was so baffling to me. I don’t want you to think I’m saying their way is wrong and mine is right, because that’s not my intention. It was just such a culture shock for me.
Parts of it seemed very much like a town meeting. Granted my only experience with town meetings is what I’ve seen from Gilmore Girls, but they opened with talking in bulletins, how Suzie’s daughter gave birth to her son and how Jared and Sarah’s boy got married yesterday. It was such a sweet quiant moment. They had some moments where members were supposed to raise their right hand for yea or nay, like if someone should be promoted to a certain role within the church or whether a child should be accepted as a member. Which I felt if I was in that position, my little social anxiety self would’ve freaked out! But everyone I saw raised their hand for “yea,” so maybe there isn’t so much for social anxiety introverts to worry about.
Natalie’s singing was awesome, and her speaking was a nice message. I’m glad I was able to be there to support her and to represent all her friends rooting for her back home on this journey.
One thing I didn’t like though is how, Nat put me on the spot in her Sunday School class. Like I said, I came to support my friend, nothing more. I was already uncomfortable and awkward I didn’t want anymore attention on me and there is putting all eyes on me.. granted it was all of five people in that particular class but still I didn’t enjoy it.
So many people kept asking, “what do think?” I’m sure they all wanted me to say, “wow, that was awesome, I want to talk to the missionaries now!” But I didn’t feel like that and while I didn’t want to say anything that would tear down their religion because that’s their truth. I also didn’t want to say something that wasn’t my true opinion, so I said “it’s interesting to see how other people express their love for God and how each relationship is unique.” I also encouraged them to go visit other churches to see what it was like. Which I really do think everyone should see.
I’m sure you are wondering what’s my real answer, and while my other answer wasn’t fake, if I’m expressing the candor that I’d like to express, I’d say this: There were fundamental things said during the service that I didn’t agree with, such as how we should serve others because God will bless us for it, as I believe we should serve others because God calls us to love others and no great act of love is service. I also believe we shouldn’t serve others for our own selfish benefits, but selflessly for the benefit for others. I believe the greatest act of service was Jesus laying down His own life for each and every one us, and I don’t think He did that for His own personal gain, but rather for the gain of those who believe. Despite that, I think it is very intriguing to observe people expressing their thanksgiving and love for God. That being said, I do encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone once and see how a different individual has their own relationship with the same God.
Again, I don’t want to tear down anyone’s religion. If you are living your truth, that’s what’s important. I just have my own and that’s okay too.