Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Anyone that knows me [well] knows that I've had an up-and-down relationship with the church. I've been going to church since I was a child, but didn't really start paying attention or going under my own will until I well into my 20s. One of the reasons why I was always skeptical about church, or at least the one I attend is because of...you guessed it, money. Now, I've never really tripped on the pastor directly. I never felt like dude was stealing my tithe/offering money. I mean, how can someone steal what you are willingly giving to them. I try my best to be obedient in tithing/offering, but hey life happens sometimes and I'm sure most of ya'll know what I'm talking about.
But yeah, I've never had so much of a problem giving money to the church. Mainly because I've seen where at least some of the money goes. I've seen it build a school, buy buses to transport elderly people, college students and people without cars to and from church. I've seen it get cars for struggling single mothers. I've seen it get clothes/food/shelter for the homeless. Hell, it paid for my books my freshman year in college. So, I'm not really tripping off that.
The thing I trip off sometimes is how the church gets run like a business. For instance, we've all heard that saying "the churches doors are always open." Ummm, no. Not at the one I attend. Roll up there after business hours if you want to, you will be in for surprise. Really, I ain't tripping off that either, just joking and being literal...
This is the problem. Ok. Like I said, I try my best to offer/tithe on a regular basis. Sometimes I use cash, sometimes I write my credit card info on the envelope, most of the time credit card. I always found it funny (and quite diligent) that most Sundays, by the time I get home from church, the money is already deducted from my account. I'm like damn, church don't fuck around. I mean, I can go get gas, stop by Wal-Mart, hit Kroger, go to Popeye's and those monies won't be taken out until perhaps the next 1 or 2 business days. But church shawty? They gets it immediately. Can't really trip off that I guess. I giveth and they taketh away....swiftly.
Another thing that I feel funny about is how promptly the church handles money matters. For instance anyone that knows me [well] knows that I have more than a few life testimonies. I've never been one to go around talking about how hard my life has been because honestly, I know people who have been through worst. Plus, I always figured that life must not have been THAT hard, because I'm still here living and looking good doing it...;-). But sometimes a talk with a family member or close friend will happen where they might remind me of something I overcame. Which makes me realize that the average mo'fo woulda crumbled, never to be heard from again. So yeah...
I say all that to say, I've been in some dark places through my life. During these times, I called on the church. You know, I figured if the church doors weren't always going to be open, they'd at least pickup the phone. Most times, no one answered. Then the times that someone did answer, they'd pass me along to someone "better suited" to help me through that tribulation. Then there was a time when I called and the lady on the other end asked me how long and how often I went to church. I said for years and pretty frequently. Then she said some ol' bullshit talking about "well, if you've been going to church and paying attention, then you shouldn't be feeling the way you do right now."
Isn't that something you say to a 5th grader who just failed his math test? "If you'd been paying attention in class, you would've passed." I really wanted to understand where that lady was coming from but, damn, really? That is your answer to a obviously tortured soul on the phone with you? Now to think of it, that lady didn't even bother to pray with me or even suggest a scripture to read, man. She just told me to come back to church on Sunday. And it wasn't like this was just some woman answering the phone, I know who this woman is because she's the pastor right-hand woman. Tsk, tsk.
Then there have been times when I was interested in getting information in something the church was doing and called. I'd leave a voice message, but not get a call returned.
I say all of that to bring you to this. Like I said, sometimes I use my credit/debit card info to put money in the church. I don't have chicken scratch handwriting but sometimes if I'm in a rush to write something, it don't come out as neat as usual. On top of that, sometimes I might just miss a letter or number or something.
So, on the occasions that I've messed around and made a mistake writing my card info on the envelope, do you know that church has hit my back the very next day like "hello, Mr. Garland, we weren't able to process your information, it seems as if you made a mistake. We just wondered if you had a minute to correct it for us."
Damn, really? I can't get anyone on the phone when I'm going through some personal and spiritual battles. But you can call me right right back when somethings going on when it pertains to money? Damn, ya'll faster than Bank of America. Lord knows when I got robbed a few months ago and niggas went on a shopping spree with my bank card, the bank ain't call me and say "Hello Mr. Garland, you're spending a helluvalot of money, just wondered what's going on." That's a story for another day...
But yeah, that irks the hell out of me man. And they acted like they didn't want to get off the phone until I straightened in out. I just told them I ain't have my card in front of me and I'd just have to holler at them later. I wasn't lying. Could I have helped them, yeah. But nah, eff that man. Start returning my calls when I fucking need something.
Sometimes I feel bad that I feel this way, because I'd be lying if I said going to church hasn't helped me through life. But one thing I have learned as I got older, albeit later that some of my peers. Its the actual relationship with God that matters, not how often you go to church. That's why I started doing like Pimp C said: "I read my Bible at home, Cause I ain't payin for that nigga's Brougham." That way, I'm at peace with me and mine for the most part and don't worry about what they do.
But, am I tripping? Am I acting selfish? How do ya'll feel. What do you ya'll think of all of this?