When I was a little kid, church was not my favorite. I don’t think any of us kids really enjoyed it- me, my brother, my sister… This was in stark contrast to our mom who, as a child, took it upon herself to take her little sister to church regularly when her parents stopped going. She did all the bible study and worked hard to get her confirmation.
But church to us was not a fun place. The church we went to was musty, dark, and smelled of burnt coffee in Styrofoam cups and stale cookies on paper doilies. The artificial laughter drowned all our hopes and dreams as people socialized and pretended to enjoy themselves before “worship.”
I would stand around in a little dress my loving mother put on me, something that appeared utterly sweet and charming, but in reality was evil. I always felt constrained, with itchy taffeta and scratchy tights that often stayed just below my crotch, so I’d be forced to waddle around the whole time. I wanted to be outside playing in my fort or climbing the interesting trees I had my eye on. The only thing I really liked about church was the Easter Egg Hunt where they’d give you one of those plastic green strawberry baskets with a pipe cleaner attached for a handle to collect all your treat-filled plastic Easter eggs.
The service would begin and about a quarter of the way through, the big, bossy lady who managed Sunday school would come down the aisles to gather all the children up to go make some new tribute to Jesus via macaroni noodles, popsicle sticks, Elmer’s glue, and glitter. My macaroni art docket was full enough with Girl Scouts. I’d rather be bored out of my mind sitting through the minister’s sermon than be subject to more of that crap.
If by some stroke of luck my mom let me stay, there was the possibility the tedium would be broken by my brother cutting loose a righteous fart that would reverberate off the rusty folding chairs and make everyone laugh.
As the years went by, our mom eventually picked up on our not-so-subtle hints that we hated church. To get us to come with her, she resorted to bribing us with after-church lunches at Copeland’s, America’s favorite Cajun restaurant. No church, no Copeland’s.
By the time I was twelve or thirteen, we had switched to a new church, but I still found it less-than-enjoyable. As the baby of the family, I was expected to continue going to church while my older brother and sister had grown old enough to get out of it and do their own thing.
I couldn’t relate to the kids at church. They were all enrolled in that “Young Life” youth group and were just all Jesus all the time. It was all “Jesus is my main man,” “God is RAD,” “my favorite book is the bible,” Christian rock, and youth trips. They seemed like younger versions of their weird parents with all those big toothy grins, forced laughter, and unnerving wholesomeness. It was slightly terrifying.
And now… nothing has changed. I’ve attempted to find churches on my own, but the artifice remains. It took me a while to perfect, but I’ve found my Sunday Best is a leisurely morning spent at home with coffee, sunlight, music, and doodles. No tights. No taffeta. Just jammies.