It's kinda hard to admit this now but it's the truth. Indeed it was a long, LONG time ago but still it was the same me in the same skin.
When I was young I fantasized about burning down churches. Maybe not CHURCHES, at least the church that I went to.
For the most part I was a relatively happy kid. I felt lonely and abandoned but I dealt with it and I learned to be a alone and find things to do. I loved being outside, watching TV, playing with friends, hanging out at my grandparents and doing models. I was an active and happy kid.
There was a dark side, however.
When my mom re-married when I was 9 she had another baby. At some point my new step-father made us go to church.
I hated it with a passion. Maybe it was my dislike for him or for the situation or my new brother or..I don't know. I just hated church.
I remember where the church was in downtown Niantic, Connecticut. I acted up. I squirmed around. It was apparent I wasn't happy. It was always the low point in my week.
That is when I dreamt about burning the church down.
We would sit in the pews and pray and sing. I remember saying to myself "OK, God I believe now can I go home now?"...isn't it funny what a 10 year old boy thinks about in church.
Then is got dark and scary.
As my mind wandered I started to wonder what it would be like if I ripped the pages out of the bibles and the song books, crumpled them up, put them in a pile then set fire to them.
Yes, this 10 year old boy fantasized about burning down the church.
At some point we stopped going to church. i'm not sure why but thankfully we did.
I never acted on these crazy thoughts but truly me and church didn't get along.
For many, many years the only time I set foot in a church was at wedding and couple of times around the holidays.
In college I was trying to impress some girl so I went to church a couple of times and even went to a bible study once or twice. NOTHING even stuck. I was a non-believer and it appeared like I would always be that way.
Every once in a while someone would give me a bible and try to get me to do something. (Read it? I'm not sure why people gave me bibles...) I was with my first wife for 10 years and I don't think we stepped into a church more than 3 times.
Now the question has to be...why did I go to church today?
In 2010 my life fell apart in so many ways. My marriage ended and for the first time in many years I was single, broke, lonely and pretty confused. If ever I needed I big change in my life it was then.
A few months before my divorce I has left my job at the YMCA. I was in need of a place to do a fitness program. My good friend Jim Beyer introduced me to the people at Trinity Evangelical Free church in Eustis. They showed my their gymnasium and told me I could us it. Awesome. I had a place to hold my classes!
Now here is the REALLY cool part. Did they tell me I had to be a believer Nope. Did they tell me I had to go to church? Nope. They just said, "Try to come to service every once in a while to see what it was like".
I can do that.
My wife and I actually went a couple of times and this time I didn't want to light fires and I actually felt pretty good about it.
Then my world came crumbing down.
At this point in my life I knew that there was something that I needed. I needed a place that I could go to explore whatever faith might be to me.
I started going to church along every Sunday at Trinity.
Though a failed relationship, through the death on my father, and through the courtship of Teresa I went to church.
Nobody ever judged me. Nobody every made me feel bad because I was in the back or because I didn't sing along or because my hands weren't in the air. The people at Trinity accepted me for being me.
I liked that.
On November 19th, 2011 I was fortunate enough to have my Pastor at MY CHURCH marry me to the girl of my dreams. I am proud to this very day to say that I got married at Trinity Church in Eustis by Pastor Dave.
I went to church today. I didn't go last week or the week before. I probably go twice a month on average. Not person there said anything to me. They also have never said anything to me about not going to bible study and group and my lack of volunteer work.
Truth is that is what I need from a church.
After all these years I am thankful that I found a church I can call mine. Trinity Church is MY CHURCH...