IN CELEBRATION OF THE FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY EXPERIENCE IN LIVING OUT OF MY CAR, I AM POSTING A SERIES OF JOURNAL ENTRIES NEVER BEFORE REVEALED. THE HOPE OF MY WALDEN SERIES IS TO SHARE BOTH A JOURNEY AND A STORY OF MY ATTEMPTS TO LIVE AND FIND A REAL AND LIVING GOD. I HOPE THE SNIPPETS ENTERTAIN AND INSPIRE YOU AS MUCH AS MY EXPERIENCE OF THEM HAS ENTERTAINED AND INSPIRED ME.
I had been to church before.
That shouldn’t have to be said. I don’t think, anyways. But maybe…
My meandering thoughts about encountering God sometimes seem very unchurched, I admit. So I state again:
I had been to church before.
The dim lighting of the Bistro at George Mason allowed me to enter unnoticed. I slipped, nervously, into the back row next to some girls with closed eyes and raised hands.
I was late.
I was late because I didn’t want to be there. I was too afraid to be there, too afraid that I would be received in the same unaccepting, conforming way that had become the trademark of my church experiences. Maybe I could sneak in and not be noticed…maybe I could just hear the word and leave. Though I didn’t want the word, I wanted friends.
Four weeks living out of my car came to a close with a dull crawl. No huge breakthrough. No life changing experiences, just routine. I don’t know what I was hoping to accomplish or have happen during these for weeks…but routine?
I was never on campus before living out of my car. I preferred to work at home, so it was odd that I was even on campus at seven thirty that night or any other night. It was the last week of my four-week adventure on a Tuesday evening. I passed the sign for the Chi Alpha ‘Encounter’ service on my way into the J.C. I fixed my tuna bagel sandwich and came down to the main floor. Music from the Chi Alpha service reverberated out into the main room where I was determined to work on school.
There are always too many legitimate excuses why you shouldn’t take a risk. Always. I was supposed to go in, even though the service had already started, I was supposed to go in. I knew it by the hunger in my heart for belonging, for peace and worship. I was supposed to go in, but I was scared. I deliberated within myself for ten minutes, slowly talking myself out of attending that one service.
It wouldn’t help. I thought. It wouldn’t make any difference.
They are all the same stale message. I needed life, and the church really only brought a lot of rules…
“If you don’t listen to me now, Charissa, when are you going to listen to me?”
It was the soft tap on the shoulder and the still small voice that I wanted to hear again and again until I could make sense of myself and life. It was the only time that God spoke to me while I was living out of my car and it was clear. Now or never.
I packed my things and slipped into the venue. Hoping to be noticed and not noticed at the same time. I had been to church before. Would this be any different?