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So this poem has been making its rounds on facebook, and it’s a sweet poem, a good poem. I don’t wish to sound like a critic here or to imply I am complaining. It is just that I have some real mixed feelings and something about this poem has left me unsettled. So first the poem as it is being passed around and then a few thoughts on it.

Church is hard.
Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgment.
Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.
Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.

Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.
Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.
Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.
Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.
Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.
Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.
Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.
Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.
Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.
Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.
Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.

Church is hard for the gays, adulterers, liars, cheats, and slanderers.
Church is hard for the sinners.

Church is hard for me.
It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.
However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.
But, here is the beauty of church—
Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.
Church is a body.
Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.
Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.
Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace. 
Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.
Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.
Church is a lesson in faith and trust.
Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.
Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.
Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.
So even on the hard days at church—
The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my husband because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.
I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.
Church is a body, a family, a place to love God and love others through our struggles!

Author: Arianna Freelen

First let me say that there is no doubt I am idealistic, that my standards and expectations of other people are often far to high. But my first question is, So why must church always be so ” hard?” And “hard” compared to what??

Why are we making things “hard” that don’t need to be so “hard”??

My second thought is even more judgy and sure to offend, but why are we at odds with a friend, fighting with a husband, wearing a scarlet letter, and masking our feelings?

Why does the wife have no “righteous man” to lead her? Don’t we follow Jesus?

Why does that teen girl feel the need to still wear a scarlet letter??

Why are the single folk so desperate for a spouse? Are we making marriage into idolatry far too much in our church?

Why is church so hard for “the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world?” Slay him a fatted calf and have a feast!

Why in the world are you fighting tears during worship? Did someone teach you it’s not okay to cry in the presence of God? Stoics R us or something??

And if that “widow and widower have no invitation to lunch after service,” shame on us.

No seriously, shame on us.

There is no doubt that I am far too impatient sometimes, that my expectations are often too high, that sin is going to try to afflict us all and frequently, but just the same, I don’t think church should be “so hard.” I don’t think the standard should be oh well, we’re all “carnal souls, with selfish motives” and church is just going to be hard.

That probably has an element of truth to it, but still  we’re called to be something more, too. We’re called to higher purpose, to a more noble standard, to a higher expectation. Shouldn’t we be going to church to worship, to have some joy in our hearts?? Or maybe we’re going to grieve in our worship, but regardless, “church is hard” because everyone in the tale seems obsessed with what they don’t have.

Love should call that deacon to reconcile with his estranged child. The love of Jesus should call us to wash that scarlet letter off that girl. Love should call that woman to stop fighting with her husband over being late. Love should call us to invite our widows and widowers to lunch.

When church is all about making sure the, “outside all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress,” we’re simply doing “church” all wrong. When people feel the need to mask their feelings, to hide their tears, and to be “afraid of judgment….under the microscope of an entire body,” church ain’t just hard, it sounds like a bloody dysfunctional nightmare of perpetual emotional avoidance, endless criticism, and chronic relationship fractures.

Church is hard for each and every one of those people mostly because all they really seem able to focus on, are their very own problems. Which is truth, which is typical of us people, but that doesn’t make it right.

What do you think? Am I being off the wall here??

 

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