Last week (or was it the week before?) Brother Phil at church asked a small group of us, “Why are you here?” I was immediately uncomfortable, found my hands fascinating, and hoped he would not call on me to give an answer (mercifully, he did not). The question pushes toward places I don’t want to go. A vague driftlessness in my faith I’d rather pretend didn’t exist. The question haunted me again in a list of writing challenges as: “Why do you go to church?”

I considered skipping over the question but I knew it would bug me if left unanswered twice. I lack the faith to believe in coincidences. That is something of a bummer when confronted with a question I’d rather avoid. Words will swim restless in my head leaving me sleepless if I do not wrestle an answer to freedom.

Yeah, I hear the crazy.

So why was I sitting in a small group at church with strangers on a Wednesday evening? One of the reasons I chose to remain silent is because I am new to the group and they are unknown to me. I’m still struggling to remember names with faces. I found the question too personal for the setting. Maybe because my initial answer is not all pretty and properly Christian. I’ve been harshly judged by my fellow Christians in the past and am very reluctant to share my real thoughts so openly.

Honestly, I didn’t want to be there. I’d much prefer to be home with my husband cleaning up dinner and watching some television. I’m sitting in that meeting for my kids. They need to be involved in something outside of home. They need to make friends. My kids also genuinely love the children and youth ministries at this new church. They did from day one. I had planned for us to visit a few churches but the kids are happy. Why would I mess with their joy?

I feel like I should say I am sitting in this pew or small group because I love the Lord and his people…or something similarly pious. I cannot say such candy-coated nothingness. I’m not losing my faith. But I am fairly certain my religion is dust. In the past I would have used faith and religion interchangeably. The two words are worlds apart in definition now.

I am not a lost sheep. I’m just not sure where my sheepfold is located…or if I have one.