I want you to picture your classic Private Christian school (college type). I'll help paint the picture, go with me here.
95%, if not more, white, conservative, affluent kids. (Not a bad thing, just stating facts). Most of the time when you think of these schools you probably think about how smart and boring the kids are. Although all of this is still true, I can assure you that these people are still human. They still party (Even if the school rules didn't allow them to dance or drink). They still go on spring break trips (even if the school made sure it was scheduled differently than all the other schools to avoid partying). And they still are up to date on pop culture no matter how much they may criticize it (Even though there are strict rules about watching R rated movies and playing M rated games). Yes, all of this non sense exist for 18+ year old adults, who decided to go to school where there are more rules placed on them than at home, there was only one distinct difference from other schools that stood out to me that I still can't wrap my head around,
Everywhere you go on campus you walk into a building with the likes of Notre Dame (R.I.P). We had separate buildings for each major and a common area so we could all connect. Very typical. The difference was that 3 times a week we were all mandated to meet in one place at the same time. When I say mandated, there were no school functions at this time for this reason. You walk in and notice there is a balcony to a 3,000+ auditorium. Beautiful. Perfect for concerts, convocations, and graduations. We'd all meet here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for chapel. If you don't know what chapel is, it's a church service put on by the school. Always organized, always top priority for the school. We would have ministry majors some days and guest speakers on others. Every chapel would start of with worship.
This is where it gets interesting. As I look back, I almost felt like sheep. No this isn't a play on words because of the lion and the lamb or anything like that but I always felt as if I was being herded in chapel. And if I strayed from the herd, immediately after would probably be a good time to confess my sins and pray. For example. We had a routine. Now keep in mind this is the most vulnerable, most important, sacred aspect of your life. Picture that you were given the opportunity to express/be involved with that 3 times a week. But the catch is, you don't get to express the way you normally do in this vulnerable space, you have to follow very strict rules of engagement in order to continue to come and participate without feeling out of place. Sound fun yet? How about this, what if, you had a different way of expressing yourself in order to reach the same goal as everyone else around you but because you looked, felt, or acted a certain way you were exiled, judged, or discriminated against?
Here was the routine:
You walk in after meeting your typical crew that you sat with
Damn near had assigned seats because we sat in the same spot every time. (Holiest of Holy's sat in the closest rows and as you moved back you progressively bumped into more of Satan's friends. For the record I tried my best to stay in the middle.)
You watched the announcements as everyone shuffled to their seats.
As soon as you see the worship team take the stage and the first note is hit, WE STAND. You would think we planned a big "wave" at a baseball game how prepared we were to stand for the holy spirit dressed as the worship team.
Next order of business is to fall into the Holy Spirit, the way that we know that you have done this can be displayed in a few ways. Some of my favorites are: one hand held high and eyes closed or palms open by your stomach, (eyes optional.) If you are really committed both hands, both eyes!
My issues isn't the gesture, my issues isn't the frequency. My issues is the synchrony. You ever jam out in your car to "Since you've been gone"- Kelly Clarkson with a close friend? C'mon we've all been there or some dope Alicia Keys song about falling in love. There are certain parts in the song where everyone gets on the same page like you are the performer at the concert. You have the mic in your hand and you felt that break up wayyyy more than Kelly and Alicia did.
The synchronization 3 times a week to the same rotation of songs was uncanny. I know I've ranted up until this point, but we are almost to the end. It always bothers me (because this isn't just about a Christian school chapel) the way that religion or social norms control the way people are allowed to feel or react to something that is supposed to be so personal and important. Wouldn't it make sense if we weren't all the same because we are...human. Even twins don't have the same genetic make-up so why expect total strangers from different backgrounds to have the exact same perspective on how to find their purpose in life. To say the least this lead me into a whirl wind of self and biblical discovery that I am still on today.
Christianity or the true sign of religion isn't what you were taught by your parents but what you've learned through your individual studies and experiences. I always have to take a step back whenever I jump to judgement about the way someone lives their life because the truth of the matter is none of us know, for a fact, the "Truth" and if anyone tells you they do then it shatters their entire theology because faith (the unknown) is supposed to be the foundation...
I've learned that just like with anything in life, more often than not, the people who are true and authentic to what they believe are typically somewhere in the back and you will never know they exist. The ones out in front normally have some sort of theatrics involved because it is the nature of gaining attention (Simply how human nature works). So I'm asking for the first time and not the last. Will the real Christians please stand up. Let's not continue to stand because others are standing, stand when you feel like it, raise your hand when moved, and sing in your heart before your head. When the time is right, please, will the real Christians please stand up...
For those who are curious about religion, like I was when I was on this journey please put your head down and open your hearts. That's the only way to find YOUR truth, like many others who are on a journey and no one has it all figured out. Don't feel shamed about where you are in life, past life choices, or current doubts about who you are as a person. The universe will treat you as you see yourself. I think the search for truth is one of the most important things we can do as humans. This isn't a plug for Christianity it's actually a blog about self belief and standing up for what you feel and not what your surroundings have made comfortable. So many people subscribe to a religion that they have no clue about or have any skin in the game. I don't care what God, Human, Plant, Planet, Science you serve as long as you continue to find your truth, I will continue to ask YOU to please stand up.
As I look back, I almost felt like sheep. No this isn't a play on words because of the lion and the lamb or anything