Faith like an aching muscle’m 90% certain I’ve found a new church. Though I once believed I’d never settle on a  denomination, I feel increasingly at home within Anglicanism (though my pending membership does not mean full endorsement of everything Anglican leaders believe and do).

At my last church – nondenominational, as far as I know – I felt like an audience member watching a stage performance, but here I feel like a participant in history, singing centuries-old hymns and reciting the Nicene Creed. The repetition of the service is a common pet peeve of the liturgical tradition, and I’m aware that after a while it may become mindless routine. But stability is exactly what I’m searching for after being triggered so badly at that last church, which was reminiscent of the cult-like functions of my college ministry and experience in seminary.

I took the initiative of emailing the Anglican priest of this new church with a brief run-down of my spiritual journey, and asked if this was a safe space for skeptics. His response was warm and affirmative, and I can breathe a little easier.

This is the start of Year Two without Dad, Year Two of marriage, and my second-to-last spring semester of graduate school. I try to keep my days as stable as possible, but my body has not been getting that memo. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’m convinced I’ve been having “hot flashes,” which is likely a side effect of increasing my anxiety medication (ironic, no?). I sweat no matter what I do, regardless of temperature, to a point where I’ve started carrying extra clothes in my car. I almost lashed out at a student who asked the professor if he could turn up the thermostat in class. After getting sick from driving with my windows down in twenty-degree weather, I called my doctor, and now my medicinal regimen has once again been altered, taking a toll on my moods and energy levels. How can a person still feel tired after ten hours of sleep?

Maybe there comes a point when medicine is not enough. I’m actually quite proud of myself for joining a bible study on Tuesday nights, discussing theology with other humans. I’m hoping that engagement on a small, intimate level will bring a kind of healing beyond what prescription pills can do. There are people who believe that Dad lived as long as he did because he had such a positive attitude about life, which at the time I thought was bogus, but now I’m willing to test its validity. It didn’t work for him in the long run, but he did get eight more years than what his doctors predicted. I’ve switched from mapping a five-year plan to a month-by-month plan: small goals for small change to pave the way for bigger changes.

Optimism is new to me, and feels like sucking in my belly to zip pants that are too tight. You might call it a muscle that needs regular exercise. Faith, too, is another kind of muscle. Hopefully, like physically working out, it’s something I can get better at even if I don’t like the process very much.


6 thoughts on “Faith like an aching muscle

  1. As someone coming out of a non-denominational Pentecostal church, I find myself drifting back to the Catholic Church of my childhood and it’s a welcome return to participatory community – rather than being a spectator to someone else’s performance (paying a minimum requisite tithe for the privilege); but I’ve noticed that most of my friends who left the same Pente church have found great life in the Anglican Church. Any church that can produce a NT Wright or Marcus Borg must be doing something good! 🙂 All the best for your journey. I know for some of us the liturgy is life giving and healing.

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  2. The liturgy brought the structure that I desperately needed. Within that framework, within the repetition of what we believe to be true, I began to be able to grasp onto something. I hope you find a place for healing here at this church.

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  3. The reason churches use repetition is specifically so that beliefs become mindless. That should be cause for scrutiny, not acceptance. I mean, if a belief is true, why must they impose constant repetitious testimony of the belief? Wouldn’t a true belief just stick around because … you know … it’s true?


  4. Hi, Beth. Wow! you’ve been through a lot of changes. I’m glad you have found a church in which you feel comfortable, free to be yourself and explore your beliefs/feelings. Faith is a growth process, no matter how long one has been a believer. I have a suggestion regarding your health: check out the website for mindbodygreen. They have loads of home remedies that come from foods we eat, herbs we use in our cooking, daily stuff and how they affect every part of our lives, even hormones. Don’t know if it’s the right path for you, but doesn’t hurt to check it out. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

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