On Tuesday I went to an event that my church, Passion City, hosts monthly called The Grove. It’s an all-women worship service essentially and I’ve only been twice, but my experiences have been incredible. It’s Christmastime and this time of year is so special to me, I want to speak on something that I touch on briefly in my most recent Instagram post.
The post begins with me saying, there’s a certain sense of anonymity that you feel in a crowded room. I want to expand on that, because I don’t think I gave justice to the statement in my post, (partially because I don’t really know if people read long Instagram posts, and this is a blog so I have the liberty to wax poetic here.)
I’ve noticed at my church, because it is so large, I as a person with anxiety am less afraid to worship with reckless abandon. In smaller settings which have been my church environment for most of my life it can feel a little odd to completely submit in worship. We are human beings and imperfect and thus subject to feelings of insecurity, fear of what others think of us. I know Jesus would want me to fall on my knees or raise my hands or sing at the top of my lungs whenever the mood strikes, but social norms, decorum, etc., I will admit have definitely stopped me in the past. At my church now though, because it is crowded, because I know almost no one, I don’t feel this way. I can do what I want. I’ve been more brave than ever at Passion.
Tuesday night at the Grove I was surrounded by strangers, I had just met a new friend that evening. But I found myself singing at the top of my lungs, bouncing up and down, throwing my hands in the air, relatively fearlessly (or as fearlessly as I can.) I think a lot of women there that night probably felt the same way. The atmosphere created at The Grove feels safe, feels free — and thus it’s easier for us to let down our guards be ourselves submit to Jesus in the moment.
I’ll admit when I first went to that church I was so overwhelmed. It’s huge! There are so many people and that can be intimidating and a little bit scary. (Especially for someone with social anxiety, who generally does not love crowded places.) I love my home church because I know everyone’s name and everyone knows mine. I miss small churches a lot! (And one of my New Years Resolutions is to try a couple small local churches here in Atlanta.) But I’ve also come to really enjoy the crowded-ness of Passion because of that anonymity that it provides. I think it makes it a little bit easier sometimes to submit because well, one, a lot of people around you are doing it too, and two, being surrounded by hundreds of people all uniquely encountering Jesus in their own way is something other-worldly. It’s a taste of Heaven. It’s a spiritual experience. It’s freedom.
I don’t know if mere words can do this feeling justice. I don’t know if my words come across as fearful or like I’m hiding or being disingenuous. I hope not. I do think it’s something you need to experience for yourself. And I don’t know if it would happen the first time you have an experience like this.
Passion City is starting to feel like home in the same way my home church does. Even though the environments are drastically different. I think that comes from God’s presence. Church is special. And Jesus is there whether two or three people are gathered in His Name, or whether 2,000 or 3,000 are gathered in His Name.