I fit here. I looked down at the scuffmarks on my Converse shoes. I’d worn jeans and a comfortable shirt because I was going to work afterwards. If I’d worn this at my home church, I would have stood out. Here, I matched. The feeling of at-homeness was strong as I looked around the sanctuary. The ceiling tiles, bowing and watermarked, stared down at the congregation. The smudges on the walls could be years old and the panels of glass on the windows let in light in a disorderly pattern. Still, the mismatched, frayed, and worn room coincided perfectly with the mismatched people who sang, When I Think About the Lord.
I loved this church. I’d wanted to attend for over a year and continued to be refreshed with every visit. But the pull and the conviction to remain at my home church were so strong that it was almost as if leaving were not even an option.
It doesn’t make sense that I’d fit so well in one place yet feel called so strongly to another. My home church, where everything matched. Matching windows and doors, furniture and pews. Coffee carafes and tiled floors. Not to mention, matching people. Sunday morning uniform with matching Sunday morning smile.
Yet I loved this church, too. I loved it because God loved it and He wanted me there. He loved it enough to let it be matching. He loved enough to send strife to shake out the wrinkles, or maybe to reveal the wrinkles. He loved it enough to let it be broken, and He loved it enough to not let it remain broken while covering itself with beautiful wallpaper and claiming to be fixed.
It’s one thing to look pretty on one side of the railroad tracks and to look dismal on the other. But on the inside, everyone matches. Pain matches pain. Spiritual hunger, struggle, confusion. Emotions that barely hold together, only to shatter when you get in the car to go home.
So someone’s shoes could be real leather, or fake because they bought them at Payless. It doesn’t matter. Shoes don’t make the man. Neither does the glass on the windows make the church. What makes it, for me, is saying, “We need fixin’. Jesus, come in.”