“ Are you coming to church with me tomorrow?” she asked curiously.
“What did you say!?”
“I said nope. I’m not going to church with you tomorrow”.
That disappointed look/tone of voice used to bother me. Now that I’m an adult and can stand my ground, I am not affected.
I was baptised and grew up in a Roman Catholic Church. My secondary school was Roman Catholic. My Holy Communion was a lovely occasion. Everything was fine, until my Grandmother whom I was close to, died a day after my 14th birthday. Since then, my relationship with church has been far from simple.
Praying became a myth. My feet did not step into any church for years. Eventually, I’d attend church once, maximum twice a year to silence my mothers rants. I knew/know that she does this with good intentions, but the truth is I am not going to force something that I’m currently not feeling.
‘I’ll attend church when I’m good and ready”, I’ve said millions of times over the years. She would then proceed to tell me that she doesn’t understand why my attitude towards church has changed, considering that she’d brought me up “in church”.
When I went to Ghana in 2013, my mother went out of her way to “report me” to my older brother. This infuriated me. I was now being lectured left right and centre. You see the thing with Africans (as much as I hate to stereotype), is that once you don’t go to church; it somehow means, “your life cannot move in the right direction”. “You are allowing the devil to take control of your life”, amongst many other negative things were repetitively being said to me, and to be frank, it was pissing me off. I have a thing about only speaking positivity, and so I take it as an insult/curse when someone speaks such nonsense over a life, which is MINE.
Not once did anyone sit me down, and try to see things from my point of view without being judgemental. Instead, I was being told that not attending church was “bad”, without any solid reason.
Last year I decided that it was time I went back to church. Not because of anyone else, but because I genuinely felt it was time I gave it “another go” (best way for me to put it). After seeing one pastor continuously preach on TV, I took it upon myself to research his church location. Long story cut short, my mother and I attended his church for a year. I won’t mention his name or the church as there isn’t any need, but like many churches there were negatives and positives.
It was an African church, meaning that there was a lot of singing and dancing. The energy was vibrant. This was obviously different to my usual Roman Catholic Church, in which we would normally just stick to the usual rule of mass. However, as time went on I was disconnecting from it.
This church was heavily money orientated. “Everybody put a minimum of £70 in an envelope & a note with what your heart desires so that I can pray for you”, the pastor requested, around Easter. I also noticed that it seemed like the congregation worshipped the pastors, as well as the guest speakers, which completely freaked me out. The continuous scenes of people falling over and throwing up, was too over the top for me. Oh, and did I mention about the one time when one of the pastors tried to push me while I was praying, so that it would seem like the “Holy Ghost” was taking over??? Enough was enough, and so I decided to return back to my church.
Upon returning, I have probably attended mass three or four times. Now that feeling of not feeling the need to attend church has returned.
So, going back to the conversation that took place at the start of this post, I decided to shut my bedroom door when my mum wouldn’t give this church lecture a rest. I flung on Burna Boy’s Soke, and imagined me to be elsewhere. It wasn’t long until she burst into my room.
“If your future children are like you, and don’t like attending church then they will have a problem”.
I rebuke any future child of mine from having any problem! Going to church does not automatically make you a good person. There are many bad-mind people that attend church on a regular basis and hide behind church settings. There are good people like myself with pure hearts that happen to currently not feel the need to attend church. It is a choice. The same good traits that I possess are the same traits that my children will have, if not even more. Furthermore I would like to think that I would take the time to understand why my child feels a certain way towards certain things, rather than unintentionally speaking negativity into their lives. I fully understand that church is a place of worship. That being said, I worship God how I currently see fit for me, and will not be forced to attend church simply for image. My mother even told me today that an aunty at church asked her why I appeared to have stopped attending church. Her response was “when you see her, ask her”. After she told me this, she continued to make a point by telling me how that particular aunty had attended church today with her daughter and grandchildren (classic case of comparisons).
I do not rule out the possibility of regularly attending church again. However, I will only do so when the time is right for me. I refuse to do so than for any other reason than me being ready. No amount of lecturing, or anyone trying to make me feel bad, will bully me into it. At the start of this year, I told myself that I’d only do something if it made my spirit, and my whole being happy. I will not break this promise.