The summer of 2019 I committed to a fast as part of being on a team for a training in Dallas. I thought about what I could fast from during the next 10 weeks. A week before, my dad (a retired pastor) had called and asked me if I was going to church. Odd in that I could not recall a time when he had ever asked. Normally, I would feel judged by the question. My past experiences with churches had left me wary and I stayed away. But I was more curious as to where this came from. I am no stranger to attending church as I grew up in church. In fact, I am a pro of entering a church minutes past the greeting and worship. I also know all the best seats, which are the ones closest to the exits. I am familiar with choosing seemingly infinite ways of being invisible. The timing of my Dad’s inquiry and the topic of fasting was the seed for something new.
I remembered attending WRCC (White Rock Community Church) in 2016, I attended three weeks and stopped. I was too busy judging who attended, how they looked, how the preacher preached, and I realized I could not get past my own thoughts which were full of criticism. I was doing the same things that had been done to me in the past. Fast forward to 2019, I thought, I could give up my Sundays and attend this same church! I could give up my judgement and show up with an attitude of love! All I had to do was give up 10 Sundays. Easy! July 14th, 2019, I attended my first service. My anxiety was high. I knew that for this fast I would be choosing to be the opposite of what I was most comfortable with doing. I sat in the first two rows. I greeted as many people as possible which meant hugs. I even carried a small journal where I wrote the names of people I met and their stories when they shared. It was one of the most terrifying and exhilarating experiences I have had that was completely intentional.
On the 3rd Sunday, I talked to the pastor because I was interested in attending Bible study. I had never attended a bible study as an adult. And here was another opportunity to give up my comfort. This turned out to be a pivotal moment for me with the pastor. See, I did not know I was seeking God in a new way. It was in that conversation that I discovered that what led me here was a desire to love in a new way. Pastor Pablo’s words were, “Vianey, all you have to do is show up and God will do the rest.” I laughed thinking it was easy and the look he gave me made me realize that I was missing something. He then said that “Showing up sounds easy, but it is a commitment of sacrifice”. During the past year, I have learned that showing up is giving up my comfort for another. Sitting in the first two pews, knowing the people around me and realizing their pain and having compassion for them. Letting go of how much I did not know about the bible and the history by exposing my ignorance in order to learn and have others learn with me. Taking a public stand and committing to becoming a member of a church I judged harshly in the past. And today I strive to be in this mindset of showing up. The draw of comfort is powerful but showing up is where there is life, growth, freedom and connection. What are your exit strategies from showing up for others and yourself? What can you give up and take on as a daily practice?