I Worship Jesus, but I Don’t Fit in My Church
4 min read | Apr 2022

I Worship Jesus, but I Don’t Fit in My Church

My political views are at odds with those of the other members of the church I grew up attending.

My Inner Chick / Baby Boomer / Moderate / Educator

“People bond more deeply over shared brokenness than they do over shared beliefs.” – Heather Kopp

I worship Jesus Christ. Let’s get that straight right away.

I cannot remember a time I didn’t believe in this long-haired, white-robed man who walked on earth for 33 years, was crucified, died and buried. He, from the very beginning, was tangible, reachable and relatable.

Even as a little girl, I knew with a kind of knowing only a child has there was somebody all-powerful watching over me; not a measly cloud or a spiritual universe but a real, living, breathing God. I didn’t need to be convinced or brainwashed by those fanatical extremists who shoved their religion down your throat like a bad meal. I only knew a Jesus who loved me unconditionally. That was enough.

Thus, in later years, I was surprised, sort of, that my Christianity wasn’t up to snuff with my fellow Christian soldiers. I wasn’t the right kind of Christian. I didn’t fit into an agreeable box. I was an odd shape of the puzzle that didn’t seem to fit anywhere, any place. And although I tried to squeeze into the frame, I understood I was becoming an inauthentic version of myself.

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My Political Beliefs Don’t Make My Faith Less Valid

Some have said I’m not up to Christian guidelines because I voted for Joe Biden, while several members of the church community voted for the twice-impeached, disgraced Donald Trump. I’m positive I’m the only person in the church parking lot with a Biden/Harris bumper sticker, which, by the way, somebody drew mustaches on with vivid black marker. The joke was on them because Kamala was still dazzling with whiskers.

I marched during the #MeToo movement, as well, wearing my “nasty woman” T-shirt proudly like a badass with my girlfriends. I raised my fist high, Gloria Steinem-like, shouting, “Time’s up! Together we rise!” Furthermore, I support LGBTQ rights, which are basic human rights, and I have a massive, melting heart for men and women who live inside the wrong bodies.

I do not agree that if people believe differently than me, they will be descending into the pits of Hell. If so, six million Jews, along with my beautiful comrade Anne Frank, would be there. I cannot comprehend this cruelty, this kind of brutal God.

The God I worship is a lamb, a shepherd, a redeemer and a papa whose lap I sat on for one straight year when my sister was murdered. He comforted me, held me and brushed my long auburn hair. When he promised he would restore my soul and lead me beside the still waters, he wasn’t lying.

I Often Wonder Why I Stay at My Church

I’ve been a member of the same Baptist church for 25 years now. In the past few months, I’ve been contemplating why I stay, why I haven’t walked away, why my heart resides inside the pastel walls even though I don’t fit in any longer.

And I’ve come up with several reasons.

For one, the charming church ladies, the prayer warriors, the pioneers, who prepared a room for me after my first and second babies were born. The white hair cuties smelling of Avon perfume and Folgers coffee who served me lukewarm tuna hotdish with crushed potato chips, Swedish meatballs, lavish relish trays, rosettes and buttercream cupcakes on delicate white doilies. They cared for me, supported me and, of course, fed me well!

I stay because my parents were on the financial board, the Christian education board and headed up the nursery. As a child, I wanted to sit on the hard, wooden pews with them and sing “How Great Thou Art” and “Bless This House.” Even as a grown woman, I wanted them to be proud of my dedication and attendance every Sunday. I want to hold onto the family traditions I grew up with. I want it all.

I stay for my late pastor’s wife who read Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies and Rachel Held Evans’s Searching for Sunday, my favorite “this is what kind of Christian I want to be” authors. I recall when she told me she had just finished Lamott’s book, how I grasped both of her large hands, jumping up and down in the sanctuary like an excited child who had just been validated and acknowledged for exactly who she was.

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I Wish the Members of My Church Gave Me the Same Respect I Give Them

I stay for all the wrong reasons.

The truth is, I respect these people in the church. The Republicans. The women who protest outside the Planned Parenthood downtown. The men who walk through the church gates wearing their vivid red “Make America Great Again” hats. I only ask that they respect me back.

Last year, I changed the profile photo on my Facebook page. I wore my hair in a high bun with chunky, red earrings, and I sported my “nasty woman” T-shirt. Sadly, I received personal messages from so-called Christians stating, “Your faith is upside down and inside out.” “I am sorry you will burn in hell.” “You are a baby killer.” “You are living in darkness.” After reading each message, my heart broke and my spirit diminished. I even received a book in the mail ($15 shipping!) titled The Faith of Donald J. Trump, which I donated to Goodwill. 

One of the individuals who challenged my beliefs said, “You are moving in the wrong direction.” And although I ignored most of these comments, this one I responded to because I had graduated with her from our local high school, and we had been in English classes together. “Can we meet for coffee and talk? I’m buying!” I didn’t hear from her again. 

I’m not sure if I’ll ever fit into this Republican Christianity, but I know one thing for damn sure: My relationships and healing have occurred with the brokenness of the people in this world who’ve hugged me tightly and firmly during my darkest, heaviest hours, and honestly, I have no idea what religious affiliations they belong to or don’t belong to. It didn’t matter if they were Christian or Buddhist or nothing at all because they saw me and listened to my story when nobody else did.

So yes, I worship Jesus Christ, who was resurrected on the third day, extending his arms fully and abundantly for all of us, everywhere. He hosted a lavish banquet for the damaged, hurting, diminished, marginalized, unseen, unheard, despised and invisible.

“Come,” he said. “Sit. Eat. Drink. You belong here.”

This is my God.

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