For some time now, I’ve been what many of “the faith” would call a back slider – one who was once a believer and follower of Christ who has chosen to deviate from the path of righteousness and salvation.
Almost eight years have passed since I was an active member of the Church and I find myself longing again for that sense of belonging, though I know I will not find it. I never truly found it in the Church.
That’s not to say that the Church is bad, or doesn’t make you feel at home. That’s not what I’m saying. While I was an active member I felt very much at home within the walls of the Church and I had many friends therein. I never felt like a stranger.
At the same time, there was an ever growing sense of something missing. Many find it within the arms of Christ, as it were. I never did. I never felt that peace that passes all understanding. I learned to follow the script. I learned to play the part and play the part I did, ever hoping that someday it would all just kind slide into place and I would be at peace.
Ironically, it was my quest to find a deeper meaning in it all that ultimately unraveled everything. It was conversations with learned men and women of the Gospel and Apologists that would ultimately steer me away from the Church as it is so popularly defined and practiced today, not because I disliked the Church, or the people, but because I felt like there was something more that I just couldn’t find in the Church. The more I wanted it, the more elusive it became and none of the answers were forthcoming. It was either leave on my terms, or become bitter and disenfranchised with it all.
I miss many aspects of Church life as a 20-something year-old man. I miss the people, the conversations and the deep soul-searching moments I shared with room mates and friends alike, all of us searching for that moment of clarity that, for me, never came.
Yet in all the years of service and attendance to the Church, I can vividly recall the only moments that truly brought me peace and clarity. They were the only moments in which I truly felt that sense of warmth and belonging I so desperately craved. For me, those moments of temporary release always came while I was on stage. Closing my eyes and allowing the music to just wash over me and transport me away for those few brief moments. To disconnect and let the beauty of the moment just resonate through every cell in my body. It was truly an emotionally fulfilling experience for me.
As an emotionally impotent young man, desperate to find himself, those moments of disconnection from everything but the music I was playing at that moment allowed me a sense of true freedom. I felt complete. I felt at peace. I felt release.
Unfortunately, those moments were only fleeting. I had found my White Pony. For years, I would live for the stage in any capacity I could find it, but it would always be over too soon and the emptiness would return. I soon came to define myself by being able to entertain, but like every drug, it was only a temporary release.
Ironically, not long after my marriage and eventual immigation to the US, I noticed that I couldn’t sing for very long without discomfort. I am now in a place where singing for more than a couple of minutes at a time causes a lot of strain on my throat and soon becomes painful. Yet, as I sit here and listen to an acoustic performance of Hillsong United, I feel myself transported back to those moments on stage. I think to myself
“I miss this. I want to do this again”
Maybe someday I will return to the Church. Maybe not. I do know this: I feel more at peace with myself now than I did 10 years ago. I feel more content with my life as it has played out, than I could ever have imagined when I was just a 20 year old kid. Things seem to make more sense to me now. I hope that continues. I really do.