My Stamping Ground

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   May 7, 2019 

Church has always been a part of my life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve gone to a church. Attending church was ingrained into us (my sister and I) as children. Come rain or shine, our family would always be there – it was never up for discussion and not attending was never an option. Since my parents were generally involved in various after-church activities, our church-going involved not only attending the regular service, but also staying back late and helping out in various capacities. Again, we just took this as par for the course and never thought our family was odd for hanging around in church every Sunday. We used to joke that since we were always the last family to leave church, we’d have to lock up.

Growing up, since we moved around a fair bit, my father would diligently transfer our church membership from one city to the next. The first thing he would do when we moved to a new city would be to find the nearest Methodist Church with English services; then he’d introduce himself to the pastor and submit the membership and viola, we’d be plugged in. The following Sunday, regardless of whether we had completely unpacked and set up house, we’d all be at church. That was our life and I never questioned it.

As we grew older, my sister and I got involved in Sunday School and Youth Fellowship and suddenly I found that, independent of my parents, I was attending church every week. My weekends began with youth fellowship on Saturday evenings, followed by Sunday School on Sunday mornings (I was teaching by then), and regular church service on Sunday evenings. Since I spent all my weekends there, it naturally followed that my closest friends were at church too. Looking back now, I truly believe those were idyllic days and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

I think it was only after marriage when I realised that not all families spend their entire weekends at church. One of the many things my husband and I had to learn about each other was our differing attitude towards church attendance. While you have an inkling of my views based on all I’ve written above, my husband saw it as attending church on a Sunday morning, leaving as soon as the final benediction was prayed, and then spending a relaxed day at home. His closest friends were not from church and he did not see the need to ‘socialise’, as he called it, after service. Needless to say, we had several interesting ‘discussions’ about this!

Of course, not all my experiences at church have been positive. I’ve had my share of difficult discussions, loneliness, and feeling like an outsider, especially when I’ve moved to a new city and new church. But regardless, deep down, I have always seen church as being my stamping ground. It was always the only place I felt I could truly belong, where I could have meaningful relationships, and where I could be part of a community.

Today, I’m blessed to be a part of such a community of fellow believers and I think, finally, my husband has come around to my way of thinking too. He feels plugged in too and is realising that ‘church’ is not merely about socialising but rather enjoying fellowship with others who love Jesus too – it fills one with a sense of camaraderie that we are not walking this narrow road alone, that we have each other to lean on, that we can remind each other that we are all pilgrims on a journey to a far better country, that we have others to encourage, exhort, and correct us in the Lord – a band of fellow labourers.

That is a blessing I will never take for granted.

 

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance copy editor and content developer, who loves rummaging through used books stores and collecting old books. Apart from filling her home with overflowing bookcases, she enjoys deep conversations, jigsaw puzzles, painting, and daydreaming. She currently lives in Chennai with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy.

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