Am I selfish for staying home from church on Sunday mornings?
This question hit me with force the other night.
I love my Sunday mornings. I love them a lot.
My reasons for leaving church behind on Sunday mornings differ from the reasons that I still am home while my husband takes our three kids to church. I’m not afraid of having panic attacks at church these days. But what I’ve gained on my Sunday mornings at home has been immeasurable.
My soul needs a lot of quiet these days. I relish these Sunday mornings when I have just a few hours of a quiet house set aside to just be. I wave my family out the door and breathe in deeply, and these days I don’t feel twinges of guilt.
I know that my family would love to have me join them. But my husband also understands why I stay home.
“Are you embarrassed because I don’t go to church with you?” I’ve wondered to him.
“Nope.” I am thankful he doesn’t embarrass easily, like I do.
I asked him my new question, about being selfish for staying home.
He took a long time to answer. I realize that this is a tricky question to ask one’s spouse. It’s a question where an honestly felt “wrong” answer could cause a bit of tension. But I am grateful that he wanted to answer honestly and thoughtfully.
“It’s hard for me to say,” he replied. “I can’t know what the benefit is for you, compared to the loss we have with going to church without you.” He paused for a minute. “But if it’s like an oxygen mask, it’s not selfish. If you need this so that you can be there for the rest of us, I don’t think you are being selfish.”
I am so thankful for this picture. I am even more thankful for my guy.
Oxygen Mask. That is exactly what Sunday mornings feel like for me. This time in quiet is where I can breathe again. It is where I find that spring of living water that Jesus was talking about–the one that wells up inside of me. In the quiet my heart has time and space to meet God. To hear poetry. To pray with and without words.
When I don’t have this time, I wilt. I feel like I am not truly breathing. These Sunday mornings are a life-line for me. My soul needs them.
I am glad for this question. I’ve wondered when I will know that it is time to add Sunday morning church into the rhythm of my days. Maybe I will learn to breathe and drink this deeply every day, and I won’t be so desperate for the quiet on Sunday mornings. When that time isn’t my life-line, I’ll be in a better place to engage the question again.
Oxygen Mask. Just a few years ago, I didn’t even know that I needed one. I don’t know that I would have had the courage to find this time on my own. I am thankful that my family is gracious and maybe even excited about what is happening in my heart. I’m glad that my husband encourages me to use my oxygen mask.
“What is saving your life right now?” This is a question that Barbara Brown Taylor talks about in her book Leaving Church. This is a good question to ask one’s self and to ask others if you are interested in soul-to-soul conversations.
She describes salvation as “so much more than many of its proponents would have us believe. . . . “Salvation” is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God’s name.”[i] She goes on: “To be saved is not only to recognize an alternative to the deadliness pressing down upon us but also to be able to act upon it.”
What is deadening the life in your soul? What is pressing in on you?
What breathes life into your heart? Where do you find your soul waking up, breathing, being made new?
What is your oxygen mask? Don’t be afraid to put it on.
“The true Gospel is always fresh air and spacious breathing room.”
~ Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
[i] Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church, p. 226.