Every Sunday for the past three or four years, I’ve had a personal ritual that took me close to a year to recognize. Each Sunday following church, I require a three to five-hour nap. The nap by itself is nothing remarkable as many people take naps on weekends because the time is available, but I am not a nap person. The only time I end up sleeping during the day is when I’ve gone the last 28 hours without sleep and I have to go to sleep; I don’t nap. Every Sunday, however, I require a nap following church.
This Sunday nap only occurs on Sundays when I go to church. After going the entire month of July without setting foot in my church, I’ve tested this empirically and came to a conclusion I suspected long ago, but never had the opportunity to truly examine.
What’s fascinating is that I’m not doing anything that would require sleep on a Sunday afternoon. I usually get a full-night’s sleep Saturday evenings, the drive to the church doesn’t take any longer than the drive to first-job , I don’t wake any earlier than I do during the week and most weeks I don’t do much more than clap a little, sing with the choir a bit and take notes from the sermon. Logically, there’s no need for this Sunday nap, but when I sit down and really consider what is happening to me each Sunday morning, it makes perfect sense.
My current schedule with first-job makes it virtually impossible to visit my church throughout the week, so the only time when I have an opportunity to enter God’s house with the specific purpose of praise is Sunday morning. Every Sunday, however, I run into a gamut of emotions and “whisperings” in my ear that would prevent me from attending church.
First comes sheer laziness, as my bed is never as warm and comfortable as it is when I have to leave it to go to church in the morning. Adding onto that laziness comes procrastination which comes in the form of everything from checking all my e-mail accounts to perusing every single Facebook update from the past sixteen hours, even those I’d read the previous day, and on occasion even finding my way to StumbleUpon or Twitter to really waste the morning.
On Sundays when I make it to church, I must actually battle through all the negative, lazy thoughts and the onslaught of procrastination thrown in my direction just to get myself to the shower. Even after that, I’ve got the slow haul of getting dressed and putting on my makeup and, in that time, all these thoughts of “Wow, you’re already going to be late. You probably should just give up for now.” flow through my head. Some weeks, I give in to this line of thinking and don’t get to church, but when I pray about it the previous night and I set my mind to it, I can usually push through all of this and can get out the door.
Once out the door, a hunger, that I never usually meet so early in the morning, can often set in and all these desires to make pit stops along the way to church come to mind. Perhaps a stop at McDonald’s first? Maybe I’ll just stop at the Walgreen’s real quick to get something? Still, if I focus on the task at hand, I can get to the highway and finally get to the neighborhood where my church is.
My church’s neighborhood is not in the best of places, but that is where God put me and despite my best efforts to go elsewhere…that is where He put me. That said, when I come close to that neighborhood, thoughts of safety sometimes spark. “It’s really not safe for me to be out here” is most common, but even within three minutes of the church I can still get thoughts of all the million other things I’ve got to do that day and given that I’m already late…well, perhaps I can just get there next week when I’ll be on time?
After I push through all of this, I get to the church parking lot and on most days, I’m usually fine once I can see the finish line, but even there, I can still be tempted. Some weeks, I’m almost an hour late for service and the desire to not appear to be one of “those” Christians is deep and on one disastrous occasion, even caused me to just drive home, even though I was already there! With that memory in the back of my mind, thoughts of “You’ve done it before” and “You can always go next week” continually filter into my mind. God is good though and it is rare that I’ll turn away once I get within thirty seconds of the church doors, but still…it takes quite a bit of effort just to get out of the car.
All I do on a Sunday morning is get up, get dressed and go to church, but the act of doing all of this is a battle. It’s a weekly battle that gets no easier as time continues; in fact, it gets more difficult the longer I try to walk in line with Christ and, after a morning of stepping around the mental boxing ring with the devil, by Sunday afternoon, I’m completely exhausted and I just need a nap.
I wrote 714 words today (window popped on the screen from “himebrit”) and, while I had to battle to write them, that fight is nothing compared to the one I’ll face next when it’s time to go to church again.