Church Girl

23 Oct

I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. Its wrinkled pages, discolored with time, are lined with scribbles and stickers, highlights and underlines. Whole chunks of chapters are on the verge of falling out. I really need to get a new one, I thought as my eyes scanned a randomly selected page: James, the first chapter. I chuckled bitterly at God’s sense of humor as I read verses 23 and 24.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like,”  the NIV translation read.

 I grew up in the church.

My earliest memories are marked by Sunday mornings spent sporting canary yellow capes that always swallowed the smaller children and choked the larger as we belted “This Little Light of Mine” and “This is the Day,” in chorus.

Both of my parents were church youth leaders, so my childhood was an endless soundtrack of gospel and Christian music. Rap and hip-hop was not allowed; the only dances I knew how to do was the church clap and shout.

It all seems a world away, now, two months away from my 24th birthday. As I stared at the words that compared these actions to forgetting something as simple as one’s appearance, I realized how true they were. I wonder what happened to that little church girl.
For me, the turning point was when I snuck and read the Da Vinci Code in high school. I wanted to know what all of the fuss was about. I never saw religion the same again. Instead, the questions always hidden in the recesses of mind were given a front seat. I began to actively ask who, what, when and where.  Who had actually penned the Bible? Is it possible that people with self-interests warped its stories for desired ends? To, in example, justify a social order that placed women beneath men. There is nothing wrong with asking why. We are not sheep and subscribing to a belief warrants thorough investigation and research as soon as it is possible. But the awakening took away my blind faith.  Like Adam and Eve in the garden after eating the forbidden apple, reading that forbidden book gave me the burden of knowledge, or perhaps worst, it gave me room to doubt.

 I can still recall the stories taught in Vacation Bible School and Sunday School, cautionary tales about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, stories of triumph about Noah and his ark, Joseph and his coat, the three brothers in the furnace and David Goliath like the back of my hand. I heard them too many times for them not to be etched in my memory.

But there’s a huge difference between being committed to memory and committed to habit.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Mohandas Gandhi

I began to yearn for something beyond religion. More than memorized words and rituals, where church is simply a trip from reality that ends as soon the music stops. More than fancy suits, organs and tambourines. More than a flock of hearing and not doing, hearing but not listening, not absorbing the words, allowing them to flow in one ear and out the other.

Because that is certainly what I had started doing.

Sitting in my bed, staring at the dog-eared page, I earnestly prayed for the courage to become more than a hearer, more than just a fixture in my local sanctuary, more than just another church girl. 


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2 Responses to “Church Girl”

  1. The Nile Valley Griot November 3, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    you missed a key point on “church girls” 😉

    Like

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