I’d promised to put up some personal posts this year, and I’ve had this one in the holster for awhile. In the past I’ve posted personal things and they’ve garnered no discussion, and I just felt foolish and more alone than I had before I posted. But the truth is, I built this blog based on the need for connection, and friendship comes from trust, and you just can’t trust someone who doesn’t put out the sad, hard stuff, too. Unfortunately, I’m the kind of person who keeps those things pushed way down until the pressure builds and there’s nothing to do but let it all out in a spew of words that must either relieve or frighten those closest to me.
But the truth is, although I can change, I can’t be anyone else. So here’s a glimpse into my heart these days.
I rang in this year under the suffocating blanket of depression. It started last fall and worked its intermittent way up to the full-blown bewilderment of emotional crash. I couldn’t tell you what I thought or why I thought it. The thing about depression is it takes control of you; it thinks and speaks for you. And you’re left to act. But the sadness impairs your desire and strength, and action is nearly impossible. One night I finally broke down and called a Christian Science practitioner (one who heals using prayer), and we turned to God for healing.
The weight was blown away one morning in church. I walked in suffering. I walked out completely healed.
All of that prelude to this statement: My church is what heals me, but it’s also, these days, what breaks me. Our church, which is very small, is in the throes of what those in my faith call animal magnetism, the inability to see past the human to the spiritual. I won’t go into the ugly details or state my case, because frankly, I’m too worn down by the whole situation to choose words for it. I will, however, tell you that people are hating, people are choosing teams and taking sides, people are telling lies and holding them against others, people are letting go of Christ. And there exists the sad truth that every individual at our boardroom table (of which I’m chair) has seriously considered leaving the church. Some still are considering. Some want to close the church to end the pain. The ache of inharmony and hurt feelings is too much for most of us to bear. It makes me so sad. And lately, it’s making me angry. And honestly, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve felt anger.
One of the dictums I live by is “stay clear of haters and joy suckers.” But the question arises, what if those haters and joy suckers are found in your church, and your church needs you in order to move forward? And you need your church in order to move forward? What then?
The truth is, right now when I walk into my church for services, and to lead the board, and to be the Sunday School superintendent, and to be a good wife to my husband who also serves the church, when I walk in on Sunday morning, I don’t feel holy, I feel sad, scared, despised, shamed, exhausted, too tender. I have trouble holding my eyes up during the service. I feel that I’m walking around without any skin on, and any barb or blade will hurt that much more. I feel like my efforts to forgive those who hate me are spoons full of water on a raging fire. Not enough. Never enough.
I know these things are going on in so many churches. It’s why people are leaving in droves. It’s why attendance is down and why some people profess hatred and distrust for organized religion. It’s why I hesitate posting this at all. Will it become fodder for someone who needs church to deny church? A friend recently asked me, “How can you serve in a place that’s so painful to be in?” I said to her what I truly believe (though have trouble holding to): “I believe that God doesn’t put me anywhere where I can’t shine light.”
So, that’s my “currently”. That’s what’s consuming all of my emotional energy. I'm spending as much of my time as possible trying to keep my thought right, my motives pure, and my prayer hoard dry.
And someday, I’ll write a post from the other side.