She carefully dresses. Pulls her hair so it hangs loosely by her face. She gathers her things in a small tote bag and locks up after she leaves. She looks over her shoulder constantly as she walks down the street. Caution, perhaps…paranoia; she doesn’t know who sees or who’s watching.
She meets him. Their usual location. What once used to be exciting, romantic, and extremely thrilling has now turned into a routine to check off their lists; a habit that they just can’t seem to ignore or bypass.
And so she searches. Into his arms she finds herself reaching; trying to ignore the ugly wall-paper of the smelly hotel room, trying to overlook the gold ring on his left hand that she hadn’t placed there. Trying to forget her responsibilities and promises that come with her own ring–but erases the name of the man she will go home to later.
For one brief moment she will escape beyond herself. She will breach the gap between her broken heart and her tired body. She gently asks why he never whispers simple words to her anymore–why they have stopped talking. He replies that they simply don’t have time for that sort of thing now. As he embraces her and pulls her close she feels nothing but empty and forgotten. Completely vulnerable but completely overlooked.
She dresses. Not carefully this time, just quick enough to avoid the awkwardness that always seems to follow. She brushes the hair off her face, just close enough to wipe away the tears that seem to creep down her cheek. She stuffs her things into her bag, barely says “goodbye” and strides out the door. Lonelier than before, emptier now than when she came, and searching, reaching for something that she doesn’t know even exists anymore.
We carefully dress. We wear comfy clothes because God doesn’t care what we wear when we go to worship. We go in big groups because we are too afraid to sit alone. We sit in darkness. The music begins to play and it is so loud that it is often mistaken for a concert setting rather than a chapel. We repeat the same words over and over–hoping that with each repeated chorus the words will suddenly burst forth in our broken and confused mind and we will suddenly understand and “get it”. We see someone up front pacing back and forth telling us deep, intimate, and personal stories and we think so often that our stories are never good enough to make it up on stage–to be told to everyone else.
But it’s dark. We sing songs about “the family of God” and “coming together” and…”love”. We can’t even see the people next to us. The music gets louder and louder and people begin to sway and bounce in the pews. Then the hands slowly creep up, higher and higher. Eyes closed, head up, hands high. Singing as loud as you possibly can, but our tone-deaf and off key harmonies can’t be heard because the baseline of the drum and resonance of the guitars are overpowering any other sound.
Then, the speaker walks across the stage. Back and forth they pace. Telling us over and over again that we are supposed to be “vulnerable” and “real” with one another. That God created us for community and we should embrace it; confess our sins, tell someone how empty and broken we really are, take off the masks, cry. Is it any wonder that it actually happens? People begin to turn to those around them, eyes filled with tears, and we weep. We cry and we physically ache because we are trying to outwardly display the pain and anguish we have known internally for so long. We fear that if we don’t show some sort of physical display, no one will take notice of us. No one will want to be vulnerable with us-so we sit. In the dark. Loud music. Pacing speakers. Waiting…for God.
We lift our hands up and close our eyes. We reach and search with our hearts and our minds waiting to hear a voice, a whisper, anything. And the louder the music plays, the closer we think we come to some break through. Then the music begins to fade…and the hands slowly being to fall back down. We lifted them with hopes of being filled. But we realize as we pull them down that they are still empty–and we still feel that we have nothing to give, nothing to offer to those around us.
For one brief moment she will escape beyond herself. She will breach the gap between her broken heart and her tired body. She gently asks why he never whispers simple words to her anymore–why they have stopped talking. Completely vulnerable but completely overlooked.
Why has worship become some cheap form of emotional rape? An affair with a distant lover? We go into worship wondering how God will speak to us–what songs we’re going to sing, how I’m going to get recharged for the week. We sit in darkness…not just with dimmed light, but with darkness of minds. We are clouded to what lies around us. We enter into a world beyond ourselves and we become desperate to feel something–especially when we see those around us “feeling” something, experiencing something from God. We set ourselves up for disappointment. We leave ourselves wide open for a crack, a gash–and entire cleft to be carved out of our hearts because we are seeking something good…in a horribly wrong way. Worship becomes this emotional rush of feelings of anticipation, expectation, and a longing for closeness that comes only for a brief second–then is gone again. Leaving a whole bigger than before we came.
Don’t we worship the Immanuel? The God who was clothed in human skin, the God who is close? Is this the kind of love this God is wanting for us, from us? Is God nothing more than a distant lover–leaving us vulnerable and overlooked, forgotten and waiting?