I recently moved to a new state with my husband and 2 kids. Our new house is only 2 and ½ hours drive from our old house and considering the distance, I didn’t prepare my family or myself for any changes other than the obvious.
Like any move to a new city, I expected we would have to get used to a new grocery store, a different layout for the local Target, and would take time to find our new favorite local restaurants. We would all have to reach out and meet new friends. What I didn’t expect was complete culture shock and so much of what I now refer to as “wearing Jesus on the sleeve.”
I have met dozens of people and only one of them didn’t ask me during our very first conversation if I had found a church. When I respond with, “no, we have not found a church yet” they are quick to offer their church as an option and are also quick to let me know that they have a bible study (tonight, this weekend) and would I like to come? They all assume that 1. I practice some form of Christianity and 2. I want to share my beliefs with others. While the first assumption is correct, the second far from it; I rarely share my spiritual beliefs with my friends, let alone perfect strangers. To presume I have the same views as you feels like you are judging me without actually saying your beliefs are the only correct beliefs. For you to consistently pontificate actually turns me off and makes me think you need to do that in order to show others how strong your relationship with God is but all it really does is make me think you are very insecure in your relationship and that you are trying to compensate for that.
Personally, I feel that to speak so openly with strangers about what I view as a deeply personal relationship, cheapens that relationship. Anyone who spends any time with me can ascertain my personal belief system just by how I interact with the world around me. Among other things, I don’t believe that I need to be in a church in order to pray. I don’t believe that inside the church walls is the only place God can hear me and I don’t believe that sitting in a pew every Sunday is the only way to strengthen my relationship with God. I also don’t assume that what works for me will work for someone else.
So go ahead and wear your religious beliefs on your sleeve, but don’t be offended when I don’t respond to your prodding with an enthusiastic and emphatic “yes, I would love to attend church with you!” My spiritual journey is mine. It is private and if I need help finding a church whose principles align with my own, I might reach out to you, but until then, this is my journey that I will keep in my own heart.