I had never done anything like this before it before. Every Sunday, for 29 years, I had woken up, put on virtually the same clothes, and gone to virtually the same church. But this Sunday, it just hit me. It was time to change. So I did.
So I didn’t wear socks to church.
Now, some of you might be thinking this isn’t a big deal, that in fact it’s the furthest thing from a big deal. But for me, it was monumental. If that sounds weird to you, it’s okay. It probably sounds as weird as I felt walking into the sanctuary of a church with feet clad only in my Toms. I felt naked. Not literally, obviously. I was fully clothed.
But I felt completely exposed.
As silly as it may seem, I felt like a degenerate. I just knew I had to do it.
For 29 years I had gotten up every Sunday morning, gotten dressed, put on shoes and socks, and gone to church. I don’t know why the socks part stuck out. Maybe because it was something I knew I could change. I’d been working on change for the past few months — working to change churches, change my way of thinking, and apparently even change the way I dressed.
I left the church where I had been spent the better part of a decade. I’d never been church hunting before. I’d changed churches, but always with family, always following my parents. Now I was alone, without a church.
There were all these firsts for me. Everything was changing.
I tried new churches, different churches, opening my mind to different ways of preaching, worshiping and dressing, and (I’m almost afraid to admit this) even not going at all.
I lived most of my life in the Southern Baptist Tradition, where attendance is next to godliness and “Sunday Best” is a not a suggestion. If you’re wondering how strange this made me (you may not be, after the sock confession) I was the kind of person who would actually skip church before attending church sockless. (I know, I’m such a rebel.)
The socks were just a small part.
The sock thing is probably the smallest outward evidence of something that’s been going on underneath for a long time: A reassessment, not so much of the deeper convictions of my faith but in how I’ve practiced it, what I’ve been taught makes someone a “good” Christian.
A lot has changed, mostly for the better I’d say.
But with all that has changed, I still find myself going to old habits, old ways of thinking. Which is why I felt so exposed that Sunday morning, certain someone would notice and say something and maybe ask me to go home. I felt naked walking to my seat, standing in worship.
And then, strangely enough, I didn’t feel anything.
I felt comfortable, normal. I left and no one said a word. There were no accusing stares or pointed fingers. No one asked me to go home. Maybe that says a lot for the church where I was visiting, or maybe I simply faced my own paranoia and realized what it was — paranoia. Not real. Unfounded.
As my sister pointed out later: “Jesus didn’t wear socks to church.”
“Perhaps,” I told her, “but I wonder if he would have walked in with Calculus Toms…”
Food for thought, nonetheless.
[photo:Chelsea Intal ,Creative Commons]