I have gone through the ringer over the past few years. I am assuming that it's normal for someone in their twenties to go through it. Maybe many times. Figuring out the core of our being, while also accepting change and growing.
I have spent time doing lots of different things, feeling unsatisfied, contented, then burned out, then fiercely rejuvenated, then saying "fuck you" to the world as I knew it, then taking risks, feeling the consequences, then making sense of suffering while also trying to maintain my mental health.
I have grown a lot in these times. Growing, for me, equates to shedding a false projected image. I want to seem cool, compassionate, caring, edgy, fashionable, relevant, intelligent-- It affects my taste in music, the clothes I wear, the things I believe and discuss, the expectations I place, the passions I pursue, and the people with whom I surround myself.
I have found that the reality of me is what stands the test of time, the things I come back to. Not necessarily the things that define me, but the things that are a permanent part of me, including my taste in clothes, music, passions, people, conversations, and beliefs. Unfortunately for me, time refines, and I'm impatient. Thankfully, in retrospect, I understand that my skin tight disguise which deceived me into believing that I was being authentic, is peeling off, layer by layer, and each day reveals the truth beneath. Now that I am aware, I am able to do my best to prevent more layers from forming in order to cling to that truth.
One part of my journey has helped me reflect a lot on myself and what I value. My journey has taken me through relationships with many different groups of people with many different interests, focuses, and beliefs. More specifically, I have taken some time to ponder the idea of church...even more specifically, what I believe about the idea of church.
My ideals tend to be irreconcilable with my reality (see above extrapolation). I want to be a part of the "best" church community-- one that feeds me, challenges me, teaches me, needs me, comforts me, stretches me, serves the marginalized in society, makes waves in the community, is committed to bettering the city in the name of Jesus...
I think everyone and their dog is aware that there is not one perfect church. There isn't even one best church, not even just for me, let alone for everyone. I have realized that where I am comfortable is not going to offer me the challenges I expect. Where I am fed, I may not necessarily be needed. The places that are making waves or committing to making change in the city are not able to comfort me or support me. Different communities and churches will offer different strengths and weaknesses, and I most likely will not find a community that fits all of my ideals in the way that I want it to. Especially if I am only looking in my own city (which I am).
Maybe I spent most of my life adorning the ever deplorable "entitled" attitude that I was so desperately trying to avoid. After all, I can't help that I am a millennial who was raised in a middle-class white American home. I am coming to accept that I feel most comfortable and fed and supported in a community of middle class white Americans. I think it's okay. I think it's okay that I feel uncomfortable attending a service mostly consisting of charismatic African Americans, even if it is the closest church to my home. I don't have to go there if it's uncomfortable, even if it challenges and stretches me. It's okay that a church that makes waves in the community for change feels like it doesn't challenge or feed me in ways that I need. I am still figuring out what the best scenario is for me, but I am also learning a lot about acceptance.
A simple commitment may be what I need to lead to all of my ideals. It may not be apparent on the surface. It may not be apparent until 10 years of attending services and investing in that particular community before I can see how it is meeting or not meeting my ideals. And just because something does not meet my ideals does not mean I have to abandon it, but again, that line is a fine one to walk.
Reality is not permanent and it is not static. "Myself" is always changing, yes, but I have to keep in mind that I am also changed. I can do something to respond to the change that has already taken place, my current reality, my current truth. I can also, simultaneously, remain open to the fact that I will come to reassess my reality and truth at many other points in my life. Thinking about that makes me feel exhausted and a little defeated, but it is also the reason our lives on this earth have such beauty and redemption present in them. We learn from the past, make decisions in the present, and worry about the future when it becomes the present.