When Mike and I move to new places with the military, I usually begin by researching humidity conditions that will affect my hair.
Sometimes I look for jobs that will act as shiny lottery tickets, but other times I just wander around LinkedIN and pretend to know what I’m doing. Truthfully, I have no idea what I’m linked to. I just assume I’m doing my part by cropping a professional profile photo.
After the hair and employment research and some hand-wringing about packing up my whole life again and convincing more people to become my friend, Mike and I talk about a house for Sundays.
We talk about a church with teaching that is biblical but not demeaning, an atmosphere that is modern without smoke machines, and a community that likes us back immediately.
Then we get into a heated argument over whether or not goatees add or detract from pastoral credibility.
When we arrived in San Diego, Mike and I started the church hunt immediately. We visited some really great churches where the people were kind and welcoming and the worship team sang with their eyes closed. We even went to a church that sang hymns like anthems and it was all so beautiful that I just couldn’t sing along. I stood there and listened and got all misty in my eye creases. I loved that church but it just wasn’t home.
My insides have this church hungry feeling, a homesickness that gets loneliest on Sundays, like I have somewhere to be even on mornings I want to sleep in.
And my insides, which I think might actually be my soul, can recognize a church that is home.
You see, most of the time my insides feel like a fist, all balled up and tense. But when I walk into the right church, the home church, my soul opens up from a fist to an open hand, like it’s finally ready for a handshake introduction to the family it has been waiting for.
A few weeks ago, my insides loosened up on a Sunday morning and the homesickness faded away by the third song. It’s not that this church family was perfect, but they felt familiar in a safe sort of way.
I know a lot of people have church in their home or in their head and that different people’s insides respond to different sorts of things. Just like how Kashi cereal is a really great thing for some people and absolute digestive warfare for others. It just depends.
But for me, I really need a place to go and point my brokenness in the right direction. Especially in the military, I need a place that feels like home in every new city, even when my hair is coping badly and LinkedIN makes me feel like a failure. I need a place that causes my insides to open up and shake hands with others who say, “Really? Me too!” And then suddenly I am not alone.
Tonight we helped build the church that is now home. The church meets in a school building that it doesn’t own, so every weekend the staging and lights have to be built up and torn down. Each Friday night people come together and build the church for Sunday. The whole process is physical and honest, like God’s house is built into people and everyone must come and contribute.
A house becomes a home after investing yourself in it. This is true of any community, really. And that’s why the church needs us and we need it. It’s collaborative, since we all have little pieces of ourselves meant for infrastructure, jagged edges that might actually be connective tissue.
Tonight I saw the infrastructure. My role was detangling a strand of lights and arranging black curtains on a metal rod. I felt like I was preparing for a puppet show. But I was glad. Because I was building myself into a home. And it felt good.
By the way….
I read this post aloud to Mike and he responded: “But the goatee contains so much wisdom. The soul patch alone sums up the Psalms.”