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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Attention Divided: My Stunted Spiritual Growth

photo credit: paintingrecord.blogspot.com
Try as I might, my focus is always compromised when I'm at church. Among our modest congregation, I am able to find a peaceful calm that allows my mind to wander almost unapologetically. Sometimes, I catch myself and return my attention back to the pulpit but most of the time, you can catch my eyes fixated on some place, far off out of everyone else's sight.

During the two hours I spend at church on Sunday mornings, I create To Do Lists that hardly ever get touched throughout the week, making a cluttered mess with the other miscellaneous items found at the bottom of my purse. Other times, I'm relapsing into memories (word to Riv), painfully enjoyable to recall. An idea may hit me and in the next second, the paper I was scribbling sermon notes on turns into a rough draft for a blog post.

For a while, I thought I had a slight case of Attention Deficit Disorder because I would find that I could never remember the message once I got home. Some time ago, my pastor talked to us about being distracted during service and how that can play a part in our lack of spiritual growth. We're not giving ourselves a chance to absorb what's being said. Instead, our mind's are elsewhere, already thinking about dinner for the night and all the other things you have to get done before the week is over. As he chastised us, I tuned back in, secretly scolding my 24-year old self. How dare I not give my undivided attention to the messenger of the God who gave me life?? I've focused longer on other things that weren't feeding my spirit man.

I have realized my lack of growth in the ministry. Having been involved for almost three decades, my walk isn't nearly as good as it should be; looking back, it's almost embarrassing to admit it. I know that no one's walk is perfect but I'm aware that mine could and should be better. Tonight at bible study, the assistant pastor posed a question to us through his message: "Why do you study the word of God?" My first response was, "Because that's what I'm supposed to do." The words, though partially true, tasted sour in my mouth as spoke them under my breath. After 24 years on the right side of salvation, my answer should be a bit more eloquent than that. But, because I've been so lackadaisical, my growth has been stunted, regressing when it should be progressing.

The Christian church is all I know. I went because that's what I was supposed to do. I got baptized because that's what I was supposed to do. I sang in the choir and served on the usher board because that's what I was supposed to do. No matter how late I'm out on Saturday night, I get up for church on Sunday because that's what I'm supposed to do. Church is not and will never be an option as long as I live with my mother.

What scares me is whether or not I'll still be as disciplined when it comes time for me to move out on my own. I can imagine how tempting it will be for me to sleep in on Sunday morning after a long night. Will I feel bad for missing bible study on Wednesday because I'd rather go to the open mic on the south side instead? Because I spend a lot of time lost in my thoughts, I've gone back and forth with thoughts on my salvation many days. There are things I'm starting to realize now that should have been revealed a while ago. I understand now why there are some people who rededicate their lives to Christ--some even getting re-baptized. At nine years old, I was too young to fully understand what I was getting myself into; I did it out of fear and the pressure from my grandmother.

I am, indeed, a work in progress. There are days where I'm extremely happy with the woman I'm becoming and then there are days where I beat myself up for not doing better. With each day God chooses to bless me with a breath, I know that he is real and he is granting me the opportunity to finally get it right.

I also know he won't be generous forever.

Do you have trouble focusing on the pastor's sermon in church? Do you believe one can be forced into a religion? Has your church going habits changed for the best/worst since you moved out on your own?

p.s.: I drafted this in the middle of bible study tonight...I'm gonna do better. Promise

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