Churches are for People who Color Inside the Lines

Elizabeth Park
6 min readMay 3, 2024

And that’s not me

six crayons pointing forward, matched with lines in their colors
Photo by Zainab Aamir:

I remember the waxy smell of crayons as I sat at the kids’ tables in the church basement; and the way it felt when a long, intact, red crayon (or burnt sienna, perhaps) with the wrapper still on snapped when you pressed down too hard and became one of the broken ones, the ones you don’t want to use.

[Unless, of course, you strip all the paper off and leave the crayon shiny and naked and sideways, fit only for shading a large piece of paper quickly. Kind of a whore, that crayon. Use it and throw it away.]

I remember the coloring pages with preset shepherds and sheep. I wasn’t a huge fan of coloring in the lines, but I did my best.

I tried so hard.

I remember the acrid, sweaty odor of the deacons’ polyester suits, activated by the sun, not dry cleaned recently enough. It’s a nasty smell, especially for your friend who remembers being held on the lap of her abuser who smelled like that.

I remember the musty aroma of the old red hymnbooks that I leafed through while the preacher went on and on.

I remember the cold chill of folding metal chairs, or the slidable wooden pews, or the mustard-colored padded pews, my feet not reaching the floor. I vaguely remember being told to keep my thighs…



Elizabeth Park

Van Gogh fan girl, loves good questions and people who listen, ex-fundamentalist; Spiritual life coach for black sheep