Monday, December 28, 2009

I Can't Take it Anymore!

Well, I've lost it. I tried so hard to fit the religious mold, I really did. I went to a church for all of 2009; tried to follow all the little programs, got a newcomers gift; mints and all, reached out, gave out business cards, called everyone that gave me a number and emailed everyone else I met. I attended a few small groups, volunteered for some stuff and stood by the coffee pot trying to catch a little conversation.

Religion is not working for me. Instead of lifting my spirit, it makes me sad.

I finally had to tell myself I am not of this world I call church. I am sorry, this can't be the gathering that I was warned against forsaking!

I must be doing something wrong. I might not be needy enough, old enough, short enough, clean enough, interesting enough or of the right lineage. I dunno. Maybe I am in denial, but my daughter's youth pastor thinks I am awesome. Too bad I am not 16, I could go to those meetings!

What am I going to do?

I am going to pray this prayer I wrote for a New Year's blog over at Kingdom Bloggers.

I did manage to have breakfast with a friend today. We try to go once a month - but I missed November and just about all of December - I have just had a hard time - I was at fault. We talked about software programming, music, and Jesus. He always has wonderful, yet simple revelations. I love that about him. I always feel refreshed because he is so "real" about what God is doing. Today we talked about the "same God, different denominations" theme.

I'm in this strange holding pattern. If I had finances and a prayer covering, I'd be doing mission trips and ministry trips all over the world. That's why I am praying this PRAYER.

Until then, I am going to do a little visiting, and see if I can find the real Jesus somewhere near by.

10 comments:

Tony C said...

I truly hurt for you my friend. Church can be very trying at times, but it can also be a tremendous blessing.

Not saying this is the case for you, but I've found when I go to church focused on and for God, the religion thing is held mostly in check. Also, I refuse to get involved in the latest gossip or controversy. If there is an issue that needs to be discussed, in front of the entire membership at a business meeting in the proper place.

Keep looking for a comfortable church home. God will provide when His timing deems right.

Michelle said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean. Everywhere we go we find the "other Jesus." We have just recently found an awesome church. A few doctrinal differences but people that want to talk about God. Can't find many "Christians" that want to talk about God.

Hope you find peace in what God has in store for you.

Hannelore said...

I hear what you are saying, David. Church can be so disappointing, even if one, as in my case, moves to the Bible belt. How much harder it must be in New England!
My little church, where I've been attending for five months, is falling apart because its shepherds keep stepping down, ostensibly because the Lord wants it. So they are abandoning the flock - is that God's will? I think not.
As a newcomer to the community, I don't even know much about alternative churches, and I'm weary about having to try to make friendships and relationships happen all over again ... Only the love of Jesus is carrying me through this dark time.

photogr said...

David:

The real Jesus is right besides you You don't have to go looking for Him. In time you will have an answer.

The rest i will have to email you.

Ed said...

Sometimes I think our expectations about "church" are way too high, too exalted, and also too self-driven. You know that guy you met with who has the simple revelations, you talk programming and other stuff and also Jesus? Well, that's church, my friend.

When we expect pastors to be more "spiritual" than we are, we're heading for trouble. As a pastor of a church, I have to say, I am no more spiritual nor am I any more successful at the Christian life than is anyone else. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but it is the truth. If people grade me or my church on the quality of the music or any other "spiritual" (fleshly) expectation, we are all in for a boat load of disappointment.

The church of which you have been a part is no more and is really no less a church than most any other expression of Jesus around here. We're all a bit of a failure, and all need nothing short of mega-doses of grace just to survive till next Sunday. What we need is for you and me to judge less and give more love and grace to each other.

The prayer you wrote is excellent and embodies real Gospel truth. Way to go! Happy New Year to you.

David said...

Thanks to all for your responses. I have to say it kinda of stinks that I have more involved blog readers than I do real friends. But I'm grateful for that!

I am with Ed, church is where 2 or 3 come together in His name. I would go for that if I could get folks to commit to something every week!

@Ed - specifically, I am not looking for a pastor to do anything except lead his flock in such a way that they learn to relate to Jesus, and each other. Church requires a whole body, not just a head.

What I am not understanding is why folks are too busy to make, or be friends? It just isn't Jesus.

I am simply looking to connect in some meaningful way with other Christians. When I have better luck at Walmart*, there is a problem.

@Tony - I don't do gossip, period. I am focused on God, but I could use a little fellowship too. And, if God is not in it, forget it. I have so much else that I could be doing that is productive.

In the end, I think if church makes you feel rejected, then it's not God.

Ed said...

Thanks for responding, Dave. Regarding church making us "feel rejected," there is a person in our church who says stuff like, "You make me feel..." I have to say to her, "No, I don't make you feel any way at all. You make you feel." There is something within her that triggers a response of feeling frequent rejection.

We have to ask ourselves whether, if this is a recurring event, why it is we feel this way. If someone tells us they do not love us and to get out of their life, that is real rejection. Otherwise, we may be taking on a feeling of rejection that has its genesis in our early years, and is brought forward to today's experience.

Connecting with other Christians is a real problem in our mega-fast world. Nobody has time for anyone else; we are just "so into" our own selves. Being a friend takes time and effort, both of which are rare as gold in our day. Such me- focused living is immature, self-centered, and it is not Jesus, just as you say. If you're struggling because you see that is all the Christians you know are doing, then, you're right to be upset.

One thing I have noticed -- and I'm not sure it is a true Truth -- I think we make friends better when we are young. As we age, we become "grumpy old men" and it is harder for us to accept others. Do you see this? Or, is that just me?

David said...

Thanks for a thoughtful response, Ed.

First, rejection in this case, is being ignored for a year. It is not, well, so-and-so didn't talk to me after service. It is more like, you invited me to something that I don't know what it is, how to get there or who will be there. You never answered an email or a call to answer my questions. Now is that rejection, or a church that does not get relationship?

Second, if someone isn't getting involved, or trying to be involved, the church needs to take some blame.

I went to the small group for 12 weeks (40 weeks at another place) and no one called, talked to us, and we even wore our name tags upside down one week, and M-A and I switched another week. NO ONE NOTICED!

It is just not good enough to say, "we are too busy."

Thirdly, I would agree friendship comes more slowly as we age. No one wants to get into shallow relationships if they have previously had meaningful deep ones. Most older folks have already have friends, and in our case, it seems as if they don't need any more.

I have been going to church for 30 years, this is lame.

Ed said...

Well... not answering phone messages or emails is outright bad manners, for sure. Not "seeing" folks who are not there on a Sunday haunts me a lot. It's one thing to see who is there, but seeing who is missing... that's another thing. And if you are there and you are still unseen... Of course, if no one ever reaches out, then the church really has dropped the ball.

I find that some people want the anonymity of showing up on their terms until they make a decision to open up and belong. But, if I have not welcomed you and you've been a faithful part of our fellowship for a year, I have blown it in a big way. We have had people leave because (I think) we were too intense/real, or maybe it was because we were too rock and roll -- I'm not sure!

If a small group causes anonymity, then it ain't a small group at all -- it's just a dysfunctional portion of the larger group, which is dysfunctional, too.

"Hannelore" raised an important point about shepherds bailing on their flock, and then having the gall to call that God's will.

It is hard to find genuine relationships in the world, and evidently, in the Body of Christ also. I wish it were not so.

All I can say is that in our fellowship, we do try to offer friendship and love. I can think of a number of folks in my very small church who have welcomed and thrived on that love. I can also think of several who really wanted just to be left alone. Those several did not stay long.

David said...

@Ed - Everyone has different levels of comfort with new folks. That is understandable. Honestly, anyone that doesn't want to be known in church is heading for a distant relationship with God, and probably a secret life.

I assume that everyone will want to get involved, and get known if they choose. If we are not known, we can't trust others t confess ours sins to. It is that simple.

Intimacy is a God thing, not a flesh thing. But I assure you that someone saying that "we should get together for dinner," seeing someone each week and not doing it for a year is very dysfunctional.

It's got to stop.

If you haven't read my series on the 10 Stupidest Things Christians Do, you can start with number 10 and work backwards.

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