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It is strange to think that I’ve ended up in a “charismatic” church (a step down from Pentecostal). You see, I have issues with showy displays of affection toward God. If something is real, then what will follow will be natural, not staged. I want my heart right. If my heart is right toward God, then the rest will follow.

But that’s just me.

Not that I’m an overly quiet person. I laugh loud in movie theaters. My ceilidh yell is a common occurrence at my friend’s ceremonies. When I’m teaching dance class, my “teacher voice” fills the studio. But… authenticity. That’s one of the most important things to me. If you say something, mean it. No “I was just kidding.” If you act a certain way, that had better be the real you.

I’ve been through several churches in the last few years, what with being off at university and all, and then coming home. One church was… hypocritical? I’m not sure of the right word. It wasn’t everyone there, just a lot of folks I was in contact with. I was somewhat stuck in the middle. I was not the perfect homeschooler, like a lot of my friends were. I had a beer at a friend’s house during a movie night, and ended up being toasted as “cool,” though that hadn’t been my intent. I got into a pillow fight with some of my guy friends. I joked and teased and bantered. But neither was I a perfect fit in the other side of the spectrum. I wasn’t okay with a guy and girl being in close proximity physically (sitting next to a guy was about all I was good with). Off-colored jokes bothered me. And I couldn’t comprehend some of the high school stories they told me.

But I tended to agree with my more liberal friends on a lot of things. Pastors should be there for you, especially if you’re in dire straights. It should be less about outward appearance and more about the heart. The church shouldn’t just look good, it should be good, from the inside out. All of that is true. But one side effect of my liberal friends was the cynicism, and I still haven’t been able to get that out of my system. Just because a worship team is outgoing doesn’t mean their worship isn’t coming from the heart. Not all pastors are hypocrites. Not every “word” is merely a figment of their imaginations, conjured up in such general terms that it would fit at least one person in the room.

I’m a nonconformist, yes, but that doesn’t mean I have to be cynical. It’s smart to “test” what you hear, but I don’t have to distrust everyone I meet. It’s okay to step into a position of authority in the church. Just because I’ve seen some church leaders fall doesn’t mean I will. I don’t have to be afraid of their pasts. I can choose my own way. Maybe this place will be my home, and maybe it won’t be, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

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