Since I just got back from visiting my family that title might not be completely accurate. I mean the Athens dirt is literally still on my tires. But the title I originally wanted to use, "The House That Built Me", wasn't technically a confession.
When I drove home this past weekend I did something I haven’t done in YEARS, I stopped by the church I grew up in. A little white one room (if you don't count the basement) church on a hill.
I remember our search for a church like it was yesterday. If this blog post were a movie now would be the time that we break for a montage of pastor handshakes and bad religious jokes. It's sad to say but being an interracial family from the North new to the Bible Belt church wasn't always the most welcoming place. Eventually though we found our home. I have so many memories centered around that building and its people that it broke my heart to see it…empty.
Since I've moved and become active in my "new"(if you can call the better part of a decade new) home church I haven't really missed the little church I grew up in. I did once think to myself 'what person in their right mind makes the jump from a church with about 40 in weekly attendance to one with over 4,000' as I contemplated a 4 hour round-trip weekly commute back home but that passed quickly.
I love my big church that has a place for everyone, a library, a coffee shop, and recreation teams. I used to be that person so against mega churches for fear that they lacked true community. I see now I was wrong. You just have to work a little harder at being transparent in a place where it's so easy to hide.
My dad told me the old church just moved to a different location. You know the kind bigger and better…probably with fancy stage lights. I can't be mad at them for changing with the times and becoming a church that better serves the needs of its community. I think of all the times over the years I've said "I wish we had that when I was a kid" and smile because they're making it happen.
But as I sat in the deserted parking lot of The House That Built Me I couldn't help wishing I could go back to simpler times for just a few hours. And as I walked up the front steps humming the words to Miranda Lambert's song I realized there was brokenness inside me that healed that day as I remembered who I had been, who I once dreamed of being, and who I had become. Saying goodbye to such a huge piece of my past brought me closure I didn't know I needed. It's cheesy but it's like the old building told me it was ok that I'd replaced her that the memories were enough and that now it was time to move on.
I'm excited to see what comes next.