I am a poor excuse for a Christian. That is if you look at me from a very traditional, old school way. I am an enlighted and expanded Christian if you are open minded and still questioning your spiritual ideas. I love everything and anything having to do with the spiritual world and self-improvement. For years I attended Center for Spiritual Living, or sometimes known as Center for Spiritual Awareness. I loved the many months and months of classes I attended through that Center. I attribute much of my healing and vast improvement in mental health to those classes.
However, there is a part of me that takes comfort in the more solid feel of traditional Christianity. I have dabbled with other churches. I hung out with the Jehovah Witness’s for a bit, even attended Kingdom Hall. I can see why people get sucked in. They are a warm and friendly clan and you become a part of an exclusive family. I just couldn’t get behind all the rules. To me, they are outdated and silly. Why do women have to wear dresses all the time? Why are yoga and meditation a sin? Why can’t a woman be a minister? She very much can as we see that Joyce Meyers is very successful and far more interesting, knowledgeable, and fun than any man I’ve heard yet. Being raised by a feminist, liberal attorney this all was too much you see.
I then tried Cavalry Church and attended with my husband for a couple years. I enjoyed the music, people, and holiday events. I loved the community. As for the sermons, they were very educational when learning the bible and we had a funny and engaging minister, thank God because the service was very. However, I found the message was so focused on us as Sinners and the end of Days that I often left heavy hearted.
Then we moved over to Sacramento and I found a great Center for Spiritual Awareness. It had a great band and chorus, you got the Christian contemporary and the old Gospel. The minister was a gay woman and very deep, wise, and humorous. The music made me cry and the message was so uplifting. The building itself was filled with light and bright flags, symbols of all the religions to show a unity of the World. It is an amazing place.
Still, it was sometimes not solid enough, the daycare wasn’t working for my littlest and I wound up just working in the daycare every Sunday so that wasn’t fun. The community was wonderful but I wasn’t feeling like it was mine. However, I never really fit anywhere and I can fit everywhere if that makes sense. I’m almost too open minded to be neatly filed into one category. There was a bit of unorganized stuff going on and not enough warmth. I have felt that with the other Centers, they get too focused on Self. There isn’t much community service or outreach, no mission trips, no soup kitchens. It’s all about self and getting the mind right to right the life. So, this is a great church if you need major therapy and to learn to recreate your life. All the classes I’ve taken through this Center were life changing for me as I said. But once you are filled up, where do you go and how do you serve?
I attended for awhile and then I took a break. I created my own church at home with my own studies and meditations and figured that would have to be that for some time. Then I met my neighbor to the left of me. Now that man is a holy roller! I checked out his church online and it was one of those mega churches with the cafe and Jesus painted on the wall in the lobby. It looked huge, intimidating, and a little outrageous. I’ve been to Joyce Meyers conventions and this was close. I never attended but it raised my curiosity and I stumbled upon Bayside Church in Granite Bay (the more affluent side of this area). It also looked like a convention/Christian rock concert. But I decided to brave it because of a few big reviews. One man was a reformed Catholic who said the Church regained his interest and he loved it after being turned off from organized religion for years. Interesting, ok, you have my attention. The other review said that he knows that he’s not the only one there that has no issue with gays and that he believes parts of the bible are parables. Sold! I don’t have issues with how people live their lives if they are good people. My dearest friend and family, the Godmother of my boys is a lesbian. I have issues with gang bangers, drug dealers, and meth heads…not gays. I also question parts of the Bible. I question everything and once you stop and think you know it all…trouble.
So I went forth to check it out. And what a show it was! I have attended twice now. It is in a huge center that looks like a converted Hiatt Resort. It is so big, so busy that they have something like 200 volunteers that work each Sunday. They have cones and men directing traffic in the parking lot with their orange Tshirts and greeters planted everywhere. It is one of the most organized Churches I have ever attended and I love organized. I love it when I go somewhere and I don’t have to think for a bit.
The daycare is actually a separate and huge, two story building with very fun and organized classes for all ages. There are lots of young people working and playing with the children and a big playground. Each room is filled with fun, little tables, and chairs, tons of games, tents loaded with pillows and books. My sons are happy, even Sammy who can’t stand being separated from me for a minute (literally, ask anyone who knows us), he may cry for a bit and then he has fun. And the teenagers take charge. They take him in their arms and say, “He’ll be fine!” and he is because I have yet to be called back to get him. I actually get to have an hour to myself and some praise and worship. Can I get an Amen!!
Now, the rest of the journey. There are tables filled with ice water and coffee urns in the courtyard. You all know my love of coffee and ice water is our main cocktail at home. There is a bookstore and a cafe, another two of my loves. The main building is like a convention center. When you walk in you are, literally, walking into a Christian Concert. The bands are great, the music is pulsing and dramatic, the light show…oh Lord. Super intense for someone not into this but I’m a fan of film, theater and all that is drama so I love it. I feel awkward but I love it if I’m honest. After the concert, they have the minister give a sermon that has been pretty good, positive, bible based and also related to today’s issues. They display pictures on the big screens along with the sermon. It’s much like a bible college class. The ministers are funny and engaging. There seems to be quite a few because there has been a different person speaking each Sunday so far. They give away free bibles as I scored one on my second trip. Then we end with more concert music.
Now, this could be way, way too much for the average person and it isn’t the traditional church our grandfathers attended with the low hymn and serious sermon. It is the kind of Church you love or hate. I feel like I’m attending a convention for free (besides the donation in the basket of course). The last time I attended a convention it was Joyce Meyers in LA 8 or 9 years ago before I had a massive life transition. It was what lead my to that massive life change actually. So, I have fond memories and have wanted to attend one again desperately. I don’t get out much and so when I do I want to party! And a Christian convention is, sadly, my idea of a party. This filled the ticket. The fact my children both love it and I can finally get some time is big enough. Then the concert, yay! The coffee, another yay! The free bible, the uplifting sermon. Yahoo!
There are many groups to join so you can start building community within the church. The church is too big to actually get to know people one a Sunday. They have 4 services just on Sunday and 2 night services on Saturday.
I am enjoying it for now. I feel a bit uncomfortable because I know that my mother is rolling over in her spiritual grave (she was cremated) and I know some of my friends will wonder if I’m going to get weird with them. No, I just want something bible based, traditional but with the fun flare of loud music and encouraging sermons. I’ve been holed up in my cottage for a long time and I love the larger than life event. I’m not looking to bond with a group right now, I’m just really happy that I can have an hour all by myself without nursing and clinging little boys.
For those of you finding your way, I say try it all and find what feels good. I was raised as atheist as you could get and it was an unhappy life for me. Having a spiritual practice has healed my soul deeply, made getting sober possible, brings me a deep satisfaction as a good hot meal brings comfort to a starving man. I am hungry for it and I cannot be told how to do it or given a list of rules. I love the Christian church as I love all the other practices out there. I love Jesus as I also love Paramahansa Yogananda. I feel much more deeply involved with the energy of Christ in a way I can’t explain. I feel it with me all the time, I cry at certain songs, I would love to deepen my connection to the source of it to have constant guidance. I, on my own, have made a mess of things. With guidance from a higher source, I do fairly well.
My only wish is that Christians not act so crazy and be so sure that their way is the only way. Obviously, it is not, being that there are hundreds of religions saying the same thing. As a friend once said, “All rivers lead to the sea”. Amen!
So, I will be that crazy Christian that watches Joyce Meyers and Joel Osteen, goes to the big Mega Churches, reads her Autobiography of a Yogi, listens to Abraham on the Law of Attraction, cracks open the bible, then later makes a dream board. I will also have the gay friends and not believe it is a sin, I will work on not using choice words, and I will continue to hang out with the flower power gals, time my activities around the moon cycle, and watch my Hallmark movies and read my Amish books. How’s that for a mix?
I will close this review by saying that I do wonder how Jesus would feel about such loud and gaudy churches? I feel more respectful going out into the forest to commune with God and all His glorious creations. I just need a little fun right now.