I've never connected to religion or felt any sort of welcomeness from it and have struggled with the idea of it for the past few years, however recently I attended a church right outside of campus because a friend asked me to go with her. I didn't expect to gain anything from this experience and had no intentions of liking what they had to say or being there, quite frankly.
Much to my surprise, I fell in love with this church and felt like the energy and words were directed straight at me. I felt welcome here.
I had my first connection to God during that Sunday service and it was unlike anything I'd ever felt before, it made me realize a few things about God, religion and faith that I had been blinded to and everyone needs to know.
1. It's not about church
It's not about showing up every Sunday, it's about the connection you have to it all. This church I attended was a brand new church, only on their third service, and gathering for Sunday service in "The Warehouse" and yes, it actually looks like a real warehouse on the inside. Crosses and crucifixes weren't shoved down my throat as I walked in the door, just warm smiles and positive, growing energy.
This can apply to any church not just ones that have their sermons in a warehouse, the main idea isn't the material qualities about a church but the connective qualities. It's about the relationship and connection you have with God and faith yourself, how much of yourself you give to this, and how willing you are to make the connection.
2. It doesn't have to be hard
I always associated religion and God with difficult and unreachable. I never tried to understand, to have a relationship, or to make a connection because I thought it was just "too hard". I never let myself connect to it because I was convinced it wasn't for me and there was no way for me to relate to any of the incomprehensible words in the Bible or in the sermons.
I was oh-so-wrong.
I have found so many ways to make the connection by just putting in a little effort. Whether it be meeting and talking to relatable people or following Instagram accounts, like Soul Scripts, that post about college girls relating and connecting with their faith. It isn't hard, you just have to want it.
3. It's not a part of your life
I feel like a lot of people, myself included, have this idea ingrained in their brains that faith is reserved only for Sundays. They don't feel a connection (or want to) any other day of the week. God and faith are so much bigger than your Sunday morning, going to this church made me feel this shift in my mind on a big level. I realized this wasn't going to grow me, help me, or do anything if I didn't bring it into every aspect of my life. This doesn't mean signing your life away, but instead it means not having to go through the hardships of life alone and becoming strong within your weaknesses with God.
4. Brokenness is welcome
Within every other church I had ever gone to it almost seemed sinful to be broken in faith or it was ignored altogether. I always felt like the outcast when I didn't know the words to the songs or hymns, had no idea what the quote from the scripture was saying, or know anything about this God person; but this church showed me that it's okay to be broken.
The pastor got up on stage and genuinely said "We want broken people here, we want to help you" and that one sentence spoke to me in so many ways. Suddenly, it was okay that I had no clue where to start or even how to start. It just mattered that I did.
5. It's a growth process
To understand this realization I had at that Sunday service I have to give you a little background: I grew up in a very small, very religious town, within the county that was once known to have the most churches in it in America. It always seemed like everyone was so in love with this idea I couldn't seem to get my head around. I always thought everyone was spoon-fed quotes from the book of John when they were young and that's how these kids I grew up with were forced to be Christians.
But, sitting in that chair at that Sunday service I realized maybe all these kids I was surrounded by fell in love with the growing you can do through God. I think these kids all realized that through God you can grow into the person you want to be and I think that's how they learned to love their lives before me. But, I am on my way now.
6. It's worth it
I am not hiding behind my fears and ignorance anymore because I know pouring myself into God and faith will be worth it and I know it will change my life as it has for so many other people.