Tuesday 3 April 2012

Fireplace reflection: Church of McDonald's (#atozchallenge)

And so you attend the church of McDonald’s, where a hot cup of tea warms the body but does nothing for the soul, where the savour of golden hashbrowns offers poor nourishment for body and soul, where the Happy Meal only offers you temporary satisfaction, not joy that lasts. But you attend because there is space in the carpark, and people you can ignore, and the music doesn’t make you wish for something more, something otherworldly and no one is judgemental about the things you eat, say and do.

Because they couldn’t care less and sometimes you don’t wish to care either.

And you are alone, as always, of choice, of necessity, because that’s the way this world rolls and no one cares enough for the lost soul in the corner screaming silently. Not even you. Because you are so wrapped up in your own cries for help that you drown out every other noise that seeks to intrude, even the ones that tries to help you. This shell, purely of your own making constricts, limits, pulls you into yourself even as you say you wish to break out, but you are not strong enough.

No, you are not strong enough against you.

And you think to yourself, how is this different from the church which has space enough for people but not enough for the world, which has space enough for rules and regulations and not quite enough for grace and second chances, which has room enough for one more, but not if you don’t act like they wish you to act. How is this church you espouse different from a club you join to push your own agenda, to show off your skills to the world, to tell people, hey look at me, I matter here, somewhere, somehow?

But that is what the church is supposed to do – remind you that you matter.

And so you cut your ties and run because you cannot stand intimacy, because you cannot stand if they see through you, past your hypocrisy, even though you desperately want them to, though you desperately want to be called out and put to rights and told there is more to living large than living loud. And so you run because you cannot love and have never been able to.

Because love makes you vulnerable and you haven’t found anyone whom you can truly be vulnerable to.

And yet again history repeats itself and you come to realization that it has never been the fault of the church, it has never been the people around you, it has never been the programmes you felt were lacking or the passion that was evidently gone, but it has always been you. Because at the core of you, you were always the lonely girl who was never good enough, was never pretty enough, was never kind enough, generous enough, normal enough, lovely enough, was never enough even though in your head you knew that you didn’t have to be.

So you repeat that mantra that Jesus is enough and that’s all I need.

And the problem sometimes is that what’s in your head doesn’t always ring true in your heart, because you’ve learnt to live a lie, you’ve learnt that fiction is sometimes stronger, deadlier, tougher than truth, and somewhere between the words in your heart and the words in your head, you’ve forgotten how to distinguish between the true truth and the fictional truth and where the lines blur, there you falter. Because you’ve always lived in your head stronger than you’ve lived in the world and the disconnect between your thoughts and your actions translate stronger in your inward faith than in the life you live.

Still you hold on, like a bulldog, because you said you would.

And so you hope that your tenacity, your insistence in belief, your will to say I will will be enough to cover the faithlessness in your heart that tells you that what I cannot feel is not real. And you smile gently and nod when people talk about feeling the presence and glory of God to cover up the emptiness and dread inside because you haven’t felt anything in a long time and can barely remember when you did even though you know you did at one point, but it was never as real as they seem to say it is. And you wonder again if it is a fault in your brain and your heart that makes you never live in the moment, never be able to feel real life, except in the words on the page, in the stories that tell themselves in your mind.

But always you need the words, because without words you are not alive.

And you cry again when you remember the words, you have been faithful, spoken over you when you felt the most faithless, wondering if all you were doing was right, because nothing seems right anymore. Nothing seems real. And you wonder if you overextend yourself because you need to live in this state of busyness and comatose reality because it is when you push yourself to the edge and break down is when you are weak enough to feel his arms around you, if only in your head.

It is when you give up trying and break from the norm that you remember how real he is.

And so you attend the church of McDonald’s, exchanging the glory and majesty of songs lifted in worship for a quiet, solitary moment to think and reflect and remember that faith is real, even in faithlessness.

And Jesus lives in your heart.


I was going to post this as a fireplace on Sunday, but I didn't want to do two posts in a day or disrupt the A to Z schedule. So this is my post for C.

Sorry Czechoslovak, you've been booted off the list.


  1. It was a good choice for "C". Thoughtful and well written. I won't weigh in on attending church, etc. but I will say that we all have chances every day to minister to those who need it - at McDonalds, Walmart, or the checkout line in the grocery store. Sometimes all it takes is a smile or a helping hand to turn someone's day around and show them that they are not invisible.

    1. True. It's just so hard to step out of ourselves though.

  2. very insightful, thoughtful, and well written!
    hard truth.

  3. You bring up some great points, especially about Church being used for building up the Ego instead of faith. I think, though, being able to see your flaws gives you the ability to grow in spirituality and in character. :)

  4. Replies
    1. LOL Elizabeth!
      I've dropped by your blog. :)

  5. And Jesus lives in your heart.

    That is root of all of it, and the destination. So well written, Anna!

  6. Wow! This is very well written and very deep. My next book project is an exploration of different religions. I wasn't really raised in a particular faith and now I live in the Bible belt and I want to see what it's all about.

    Nice post!

  7. I haven't eaten in McDonald's in years. I used to only go for Shamrock Shakes.

  8. Anna, this was well written - beautifully orchestrated - pulling me in deep, I sat back and did a little reflecting.

    Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

  9. Beautifully Written. I have often found when I find distance between God and me, it is not because He moved but I.


  10. Hi Anna, that was very nicely written and very thoughtful!

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan