“Good to see you here, guest!”
These words from the person sitting behind me in church today stung my guilty conscience. I smiled and shook her hand as I thought to myself, “Lady, I’ve been a member of this church longer than you’ve – anyway, ma’am, it’s been a long time.” Indeed, I’ve been a member of my church since I was baptized there 15 years ago and attending before that. I have great respect for my pastor and am always fed spiritually whenever I choose to go. Unlike that stupid “I really regret that workout, said no one ever,” meme, my currently injured, always battling perfectionism butt never regrets going to church.
However, as my sister-in-Christ inadvertently pointed out today, church attendance has not been a priority of mine lately.
When I started racing, participating in running races and training rarely came up against my church attendance. Race on Saturday, thank God for making me so awesome on Sunday. No problem. Then came triathlon. As I started looking for races to do, I noticed quickly that while most running races fall on Saturdays, most triathlons fall on Sundays. What’s up with that? Okay, let’s say I race 5 out of 52 Sundays in a year – 47/52 ain’t bad, right?
Then comes the training.
Open water swims. Sunday morning. Long rides. Sunday morning. Long runs. Sunday morning. I can only do so much physically on Saturday. Everyone seems to love training on Sunday and because I am new I am uncomfortable swimming and biking by myself. This time, it is really my desire to regularly attend church and not my distrust of others that makes me wish I were further along on my TriBaby journey. No one that shares my hobby seems to have this conflict. I’ve even secretly wished that I practiced faith in a denomination that had more service times. How twisted is that?
Not quite as twisted as having a new reason to miss church.
Some of the things I struggle with as a triathlete I struggled with first as a Christian. Those who know me closely know that I really value my relationships. Once you’re in, you’re in. If you’re not in – the word apathy comes to mind. Notice how I spoke of my respect for my pastor and not of my relationships with anyone in church. 17 years in and He is still working on my desire to fellowship with other believers. In fact, I would say that I feel much closer to God while racing and training than in church. I have no choice but to turn to Him as “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” (1 Cor 9:27a) I’m no (complete) dummy.
I pray that I find resolution to this scheduling conflict, but more importantly, I pray that my heart is softened toward others. My soul needs way more work than my body. Real talk.