Well, I did it. I spoke with the pastor this morning about becoming a member of the church I started attending about 6-8 weeks ago.
In a way, it was kind of cool - this is the first time I've just stayed after church instead of going home right away, so I met people. Lots of people. That in itself was kind of .... hard. Right away, I felt a wave of expectations rushing toward me, and I didn't expect it to feel like that so fast. It helps to take a deep breath and remember that probably 90% of that feeling is just me - it isn't other people - but I've been away from this environment for a long time.
I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but the pastor and his wife (and, apparently, her sister) attended the same college I did - the pastor graduated a couple of years ahead of me, his wife maybe about the same time as my sister, and her sister a couple of years later, so that was kind of cool. When he gave me a copy of the church constitution, he showed me a caricature someone had done of him, the dean and the chancellor of the college during his campaign for student body president that was really cool (he didn't win, but it was a great poster). I looked in my yearbook from my senior year, and I found his wife's sister in one of the dorm photos - I don't think I knew either of them, but it was still kind of fun to look.
Anyway, the next step is that one of the deacons will call me, and then there will be a meeting with this deacon and his wife (I think-the pastor said "deaconess" but I may have assumed it was this man's wife and not someone else) on a Sunday morning, and then the next step after that is that I will give my testimony - the pastor was kind enough to say that they didn't usually have people do that on Sunday morning, but on Wednesday night (fewer people).
I've already typed (!) what I want to say, because I've been in services where people go on and on, and while you appreciate their enthusiasm and their heart for the Lord, you wish they would find a stopping point SOME time before midnight. (See? That's me being critical again....)
I'm not going to read it, but I am planning to "prepare" to say what I've written so that I don't cry. Don't ask me why, but I tend to cry when I talk about things that are very important to me - I've been like this since childhood. Since I don't want to be that woman who cries all the time, I need to have time to think and breathe and prepare.
This is a lot bigger step than I thought it would be. I could have gone along for months just visiting without doing any of this formal stuff, but I guess I wouldn't have felt as if I really belonged if I did that. Sort of like living together without being married: you're there, but there is no formal commitment - technically, you can leave any time you want. I've never thought that was such a great arrangement in any context.
Now, I just have to watch out for honeymoon syndrome - expecting everyone and everything to be perfect. No church is, and the minute I start going, they wouldn't be anymore!! :) These are people - just ordinary people like me - and they are going to make mistakes and be imperfect just like I will.
"Always be kind, because everyone you meet faces a battle. We all need to be cared for, especially when we do not deserve it."
I should have this tattooed on my forehead backwards, so that I'd see it every time I looked in the mirror.