We all view others through our own particular lenses. I was thinking about this at church one Sunday.
The Furry Guy and I are opposites when it comes to worship. Don’t get me wrong. He and I both love the worship time at our church. It’s actually a wide range of music styles. However, to watch us during that time is to see people at either end of the spectrum.
I’m expressive. If you’ve ever had a face-to-face conversation with me, you know that I talk with my whole body. People often joke that I probably couldn’t talk if they tied my hands behind my back. That’s not too far from the truth. When I was in junior high I was challenged to spend the rest of the lunch period sitting on my hands. (I’d finished eating my lunch by then.) I had a terrible time expressing myself. I talk with my hands even when I’m on the phone. You can’t see me, but my words come out better. Likewise, I worship with my whole body. One of our pastor’s sons used to tease me about getting my bounce on. I dance. I raise my hands. I often cry. I clap. I work up a sweat. It’s an aerobic activity for me.
The Furry Guy is stoic during worship. He’s much more still than I am anyway. If you talk with him face to face, he can get a little animated, but he never comes close to matching me. He doesn’t sing. He stands with his hands on the pew in front of him. If you watch closely, you can see that he’ soaking it all in. If he has a child in his arms, which isn’t unusual, he’ll bounce to the beat of the music. Otherwise, he doesn’t move at all.
Conversations I’ve had or overheard over the years flooded my mind recently in the middle of a song. I once read that we judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. That’s so true. Some people who are more like The Furry Guy in their way of relating can see me as overdramatic. I’ve heard people like me described as putting on a show. They are sure that all of the movement, tears, and such are a performance for those around me. On the other hand, people more like me can see The Furry Guy as not participating. They can think he doesn’t enjoy the music or isn’t connecting with the Spirit during worship.
The thing is, those people would be wrong. We’re each simply being ourselves. Worship time for me is a personal audience with the Lord. It’s just the two of us. The fact that I’m surrounded by a few hundred other people doesn’t really figure in unless I need to keep an eye on some of the kids. Even then, I kind of check in and out a bit. The only One I’m trying to impress is God—not with performance, but with passion. For The Furry Guy it’s a matter of stepping into the presence of Almighty God. Our pastor has said on more than one occasion that he can tell that Chris (The Furry Guy’s legal name) is raising his hands in his heart. It’s clear, if you know what to look for, that he’s worshipping.
One of the things I love about the place we worship is that we both feel completely comfortable expressing ourselves in worship in the style that best suits us. It’s a blessing to know that we can be ourselves during what we consider to be a very private moment that happens to take place in public. Neither of us feels like we’re being watched and evaluated.
So, what about you? If you could see us during a service, would you decide you knew which of us was really worshipping? Or, would you just figure that it was a case of opposites attracting?