The BBW went to church yesterday. And thank goodness the earth is still rotating properly on its axis!
Not that I am such the heathen that such a catastrophe would be possible, but there is a reason why my presence at a 7:45AM service was noteworthy--I am NOT a morning person! And I have not attended church regularly in nearly six years. This absence comes after a lifetime of perfect church attendance since childhood (well, ok maybe less than perfect if you count those seven years of college and law school when my church appearances were, shall we say, sporadic).
For the past six years, my Sunday morning routine has been pretty consistent--the CBS Morning Show followed by the political commentary shows, a few minutes of the Good Rev. Dr. Bishop/Prophet/Evangelist whomever, and then perhaps a marathon of whatever else is on TV until dinnertime. That is almost an entire day spent doing abso-smurfly nothing (for on the 7th day, I need a little rest too).
In my previous church-going life, I started off in a children's choir at my aunt's church, a junior member of some benevolent society at my maternal grandmother's church, and a Sunday school student at my paternal grandmother's church, which is the church I eventually joined at age 12. I went to Catholic schools for middle and high school, so that meant that I went to Mass at least once a week and had a religion class every day. At the same time, I was serving as the youth clerk, a junior missionary, and a junior deaconess at my home church until I graduated from high school. Upon my return from law school, I was back on the Senior Deaconess Board and then held a controversial joint appointment to the Trustee Board for two years. When I helped a friend start his church, I served as a Trustee and in a few other roles for a year and a half until I got completely burned out in 2004.
Just recounting all of that is exhausting! From that litany of church activity, you would think that I have had enough religion to get through two lifetimes. You can also clearly see the beginnings of my current BBW tendencies...
Now the reasons why I stopped going to church are complex and varied; let's just say that I got tired. Unfortunately, I cannot call the last six years of sleeping in a time of respite (I am the BBW after all), because when asked, I have had no objections to being in church for a family, alumnae or sorority function. And while that fact has brought some internal conflicts for me, the truth is, I am not in a hurry to get back on the Sunday morning grind.
Why? Because I have to be honest with myself and others--as a rule, it is impossible for a BBW to just be a member of a group...she has to be in charge of something. And that means taking on responsibility. In churches, the Busy Black Women tend to hold the positions that require their constant presence such as the church secretary, choir director, head usher, Sunday School teacher, nurse, or chair of any number of small clubs/ministries/church programs. Or perhaps she is the Queen Bee BBW--the pastor's wife (or maybe even the pastor herself!!!), which means that her hand is in just about everything. In my case, I was not always in charge, but based on the roles I filled it got to the point where I had to be there All. The. Time. After spending nearly 25 years of my life on any given Sunday doing this and that and a little in between, I finally had had enough.
Now when I go to a church service, I can sit there with the satisfaction of knowing that my only obligation is to put some money in the collection plate and to be friendly to the people in my immediate wing span during the hug-your-neighbor segment. Afterwards, I can exchange a few pleasantries and then get the heck out of dodge with no duty to stay afterwards to count money, meet with the pastor about an upcoming activity, or clean up any stray programs, communion cups or candy wrappers. I do not have to wear a uniform or a hat, and I do not have to worry about the length of my skirt. I love that!
Yes, I do miss my old church sometimes, and yes I wonder whether the good Lord will take off points for my extended leave of absence. Since no one can expect to earn a perfect score in Life, I figure this will be one of those times when I rely on grace and mercy. Maybe these recent tests of my faith will help tip the balance in my favor. And if I do come up a little short, please pray that I can rely on the extra credit from some of my good works to make up the difference.