It’s Sunday morning and I have found myself at my favorite coffee shop once again. Recently, when I’m actually home in Elwood, my Sunday mornings have consisted of an early walk with the pup, me putting on a few swipes of mascara and dusting my hair with dry shampoo, and driving to my favorite coffee shop before going to church. I never pack my laptop. I usually will read my Bible for a few minutes while sipping my coffee before heading to church. I found a church I thoroughly enjoy, which is about 30 minutes away. I found it because I was trying to find a church near my coffee shop so I could justify driving 30 minutes for a cup of coffee. I know, that’s backwards. Luckily, I found a church four minutes down the way. This morning, though, I’m not going to church.
I found myself driving to my coffee shop, per my usual routine, and asked myself, Why? Well, it’s part of my routine. This is what I do on Sundays when I’m home. Still the question lingered. Why?
If you know me—or if you know Dr. Sharp—you know the “why” is crucial. What began as a neuro lesson on the first day of grad school has quickly become a way I look at my life. Do I have a solid “why”? If the answer is “no”, then it’s a good idea to step back and look at the situation a bit closer.
Now, don’t let me lose you. I am still the hopeless romantic I’ve always claimed to be. I do still believe there are things that you simply can’t explain. There are moments, meet cutes, gut feelings that can’t be explained with a “why”. Sometimes the answer is, “I don’t know.”
This morning, though, the answer was, “Because it’s a part of my routine.” Yuck. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some routine. I truly love it. I thrive within routine. However, there are two things that I feel shouldn’t be explicitly routine: God and romance. Now, can I have my routine of time with God in the mornings before work? Sure, absolutely. Is routine sometimes necessary to have time with God or to make time for romance amidst a busy life? 110%. That being said, I felt like this morning’s response was a reflection of where my heart was and I didn’t like it.
Up until 2017, I had steered clear of church as often as possible for about five or six years. I used to claim it was because I used to go with my mom and it brought back memories of her but that was some crap. I had lost faith in the church. I had lost faith in God. I stopped praying because why pray if it’s not going to be answered? I had this block. I had this hurt that I felt God had caused and I wanted nothing to do with Him.
Then I began dating a guy who, well, called me out and said we are meant for community and church is where we can find that. Hesitantly, I began going to church again. Oh man, I remember those first few times back in church. I looked around with my brow furrowed, watching the people around me joyfully singing. Clearly God hadn’t dealt them a nasty hand like I had been dealt. They’ve never had unanswered prayers as big as mine. I used to sweat profusely. I used to cry every sermon but I couldn’t tell if it was out of sadness, fear, guilt, anger. I wasn’t sure. I continued to go but never did I address the ways I felt. I felt like a bad Christian for feeling this way but maybe it was just something I needed to overcome by showing up anyways.
Oh, then I met my Fayetteville church family. The people of Veritas are a special crew. They welcomed me with love. They loved me in a way I didn’t know I could be loved. They saw me as I was and met me there. I met some of my most favorite people through that church, specifically through my small group. In Veritas and that small group, I found what it meant to be surrounded by a healthy church community. They pointed me back to Jesus when I needed it and when I fell short, they met me where I was, not remind me of where I was “supposed” to be. They helped me realize God was so much bigger than what we experience for an hour on Sunday morning.
When I came to Indiana, I found church being inconvenient for me. I mean, there are some very small, very traditional churches within walking distance from me, however, those aren’t my jam. I know, I know. “It’s about Jesus, not the church.” Quiet down, Karen. If I’m not in an environment I’m comfortable in, I can’t hear God. I can’t feel Him. I can’t connect with Him. So I didn’t seek out church. I had my Bible time. I would take the dog for a hike and put on my worship music. I found myself seeking God outside the confines of church.
Let me tell you, I’ve never felt God more in my life than I do now. I think limiting God to a building or even to His word and leaving Him there is such a tragedy. One of the best things I’ve been able to do for my relationship is find Him elsewhere, where the only interpretation I have of God is how I feel He is speaking to me. If you’ve never read Captivating or Wild at Heart, I highly recommend them. I can’t remember if it’s mentioned in Wild at Heart but I know it’s discussed in Captivating. She writes about the way God speaks to us. She writes about the things that speak to our hearts that we know come from God.
I like to think I keep God on His toes when I know for a fact it’s the other way around. What speaks to me one day versus the next is different. Some days, it’s one of my kiddos saying, “I love you, Miss Dani.” (Yes, it makes me tear up every time). Other days, it can be a song or the sunset or the way my whole body reacts when I feel myself writing something I feel deep within my heart. Do I think we need church? 110%. Do I think we need to find God outside of church, too? 110%.
It’s Sunday morning and I’m not at church. I’m sitting in a coffee shop with six other people, two of whom work here. I have my Bible, my journal, my laptop, and my headphones. I have a piping hot cup of coffee with a splash of almond milk. Hillsong United is blaring in my headphones and my fingers and click-clacking away at the crisp keys of my laptop. The air outside is cold and the sun is casting shadows on the buildings in downtown Noblesville as if to say, “Good morning, all.” As I see every Sunday I come in, there’s an older couple sitting at the bar table facing the streets of downtown in the back fo the coffee shop. They share a pastry and each get a cup of drip coffee. He puts cream is his and I believe she takes hers with cream and sugar. They sit and chat the entire time. He faces her, watching her as though she’s the most magical creature he’s ever seen. I bet, to him, she is. They bring over the newspaper but rarely ever open it because they’re too busy chatting. Based on the time they usually leave, I’d say this is probably their pre-church stop.
Most mornings I see them and I briefly admire their love before I go about my reading. This morning was different. Their love spoke differently to me this morning. It spoke differently of God this morning. It boasted, “Look what He can do.” I found myself wondering what their story was. I wanted to know how God orchestrated it all. How did these two meet? What was their meet cute? Did they stumble into each other’s life amidst a time of heartbreak and healing? Have they known each other since they were kids? What did their lives consist of before their hearts connected and how did they change after? How do they continue to show each other they’re it for each other? What mountains have they faced and conquered together? Do they wake up each morning with fresh eyes, looking at each other as though it’s their first morning together?
Oof, my hopeless romantic got carried away there for a moment. There are few things in this life that speak to my heart in the way love does. The love I share with others, the love I see between a couple in a coffee shop, the new, stories of an unrealized love two strangers have found in each other. I think God can be so evident in the way two people find each other and share love. God speaks to us in two people’s love. My cousin got married in October and their love is inspiring. It boasts of God. It shows how beautifully He can orchestrate things and bring two people together. It shows how He times it all just right to ensure these two humans, so perfectly made for each other, can meet.
I didn’t go to church today. My “why” didn’t sit well with me. I needed to remind myself I can feel God outside the church. I go to church once a week (on a good week). What am I doing with the other days? How am I seeking Jesus? If I find myself relying on finding Jesus in the walls of a church, I’m doing myself a disservice. Some days, for me, I need to take a step back from church and remember that He is in everything. He is constantly dropping things, people, experiences, in my path to continue to pursue my heart. This morning, I saw God in an old couple in a coffee shop. Then I felt God in the click-clack of my laptop keys as I wrote about my seemingly weird relationship with Him. I love church, but it’s not necessarily my “God love language”. This morning, God showed me that He knows that. He reminded me to keep my eyes peeled, as He is always pursuing my heart, I just need to continue to allow myself to be romanced by Him.