I’m always amused at the expressions I get when I allow the words in that sentence to fall unapologetically out of my mouth. I’m even more amused at the sideline glances, the stares, and the total rejection from those who claim that they actually are Christians.
This scenario actually played out on a hospital unit one night with a nurse who’d invited me to come to her church; then walked away in silence when I responded that, no, I don’t have a home church because I don’t go to church, though the times that I have gone, I’ve enjoyed the experience.
The invitation disappeared when she did.
In my book, her reaction amounted to a judgment she had no right to form: that to bring me into her hallowed sanctuary and seat me in a pew might somehow taint the holy spirit of the atmosphere. Of course by forming an opinion about why she abruptly ended our conversation, and left the invitation hanging in the air, I’m being the judgmental person I’m claiming she was. Perhaps she had to go to the bathroom and the invitation slipped her mind by the time she came out?
It’s not that I begrudge her the constitutional right we all have to act upon her beliefs in any manner that she sees fit. I just don’t understand. I would think that I would be a challenge for a Christian, a project that might offer a handsome reward to snatch me, and other souls thought to be speeding toward the burning pit, back into the loving embrace of organized religion. Although I must admit that snatching me would be no easy task.
See, I respect a person’s need to belong to organized religions. I just don’t share that need for my life to be that … organized.
Why do I need to go sit in a pew and listen to a man/woman’s personal interpretation of the bible when I can form my own interpretation? Because the man/woman’s interpretation is divinely inspired? Well, I believe that a divine spirit lives within my heart, which means that my interpretation will also be divinely inspired.
And why do I need a book to tell me how to treat my fellow man? I already buy sandwiches, snacks, cool drinks for people who ask for money for food. On occasion, when I feel a need to give cash I will, like I did when I saw a lady outside 7-11 washing car windows in 30-some degree weather, without a coat. Or the time I gave a skinny young woman named Maggie $10 after watching the humility and politeness that just seemed to radiate from her while asking drivers what they can spare. I follow my instinct and help a person in whatever way I can. Of course, I questioned that instinct when I saw Maggie a week later sitting on the stoop nodding, barely able to stop her upper body from swaying back and forth.
But that’s beside the point.
The point is that I don’t like to feel constricted to someone else’s idea of what spirituality really is. I believe in prayer, I believe in the intangible spirit that resides in all of us, and I believe that I’m on this earth to be a support system for whomever needs my help. And because I don’t believe I know everything, I keep my heart open for new lessons, new experiences, and new ways to strengthen my relationship with that inner spirit. So, unless I unravel definitive proof that I need to wear an organized religious label to do everything I believe in, my response to future questions will continue to be: No, I’m not a Christian.