This weekend I was talking to Martha about the lingering anger have for my former church. I was lamenting the loss of not only my sacred space but also of my “church family”. Then she replied “what did that family ever do for you?”
Good question. The truth is, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t think of a thing.
How many times, she continued, did they call us looking for donations for someone’s funeral banquet?
What did they do for you when your father died?
Hmmm. Nothing. I did get one card from one woman, but that was it.
How many times did they call you to volunteer for some need at the church?
You’ve had 5 surgeries when you were a member. How many time did someone offer a meal? Offer a ride?
How many times did someone call you when you had breast cancer?
And when all these other church women developed cancer, how often did you contact them with prayers and support?
And then she continued, “these people were never our “family”. They never reached out to be our friend or to even get to know us.”
But the Elder Lauri told me that you two had been friends, I replied
Lauri contacted me when I was still a cop and her son had drug problems and she wanted help and advice, and to keep him out of the legal system. Once that was resolved, she never spoke to me again.
And no one else ever spoke to you?
Only when they wanted a ticket fixed.
God, how depressing.
And then I remembered a conversation I had had with Lauri questioning why the Elders would not sit down and just talk with me. And she told me that one Elder said “I never spoke to her before, why would I now?”
I must have been f#cking blind.
I am still processing this sudden change in perspective. Having my nose rubbed in reality. I suppose after being a member of a church for 15 years, you think a relationship is there. But apparently I lived in the ‘how I wanted it to be’ rather than ‘the way is really was.’ In many ways it makes it easier to mourn that relationship since it didn’t really exist in the first place.
Still, not to worry. When I think of the people who have always been at my side, took care of me or my family whenever needed, and got me through the highs and lows of my life - they were all people who haven’t been inside a church in decades. So what does that tell you?
*cartoon by the Naked Pastor