Monday, May 10, 2010

Taking off the rose colored glasses

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?

Quite often.

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?

Quite often.

You’ve had 5 surgeries when you were a member. How many time did someone offer a meal? Offer a ride?

Uh, none.

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?

A lot.

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


  1. Tells me a lot, actually.

    I'm glad Martha helped you see "the light". :)

    I hope it helps.

  2. Join the club. No one called me when my husband died either.

    If you are not part of the "inner circle" you are not part of the family - just one of the help.

    Better on the outside where you are truly loved.

  3. Ouch. That gap between perception and reality really bites.

    As someone who is on the inside of church, I am perpetually embarrassed by the fact that Christianity so rarely seems to make people better human beings.

    As the spouse of the priest, I am acutely aware that--no matter how hard we try--people fall through the cracks and feel abandoned because we didn't call or visit when they needed us to.

    Church is imperfect because it is full of imperfect human beings. Some churches are more imperfect than others, of course... ;-)

    I believe the good news is that God is always trying to use the people in our lives to show us how much we are loved. I don't think it matters whether they are people of faith or not--I believe that love is always of God. Where you find love, you have found God. And that's a good place to sit down and stay for a while--or a lifetime.


  4. AnonymousMay 11, 2010

    The ironic thing is that they advertise for new members by asking "do you want to have healthy relationships?"


  5. It sucks to have your eyes suddenly opened to the ugliness you've been surrounded by for so many years. At least it was Martha who gently showed you the truth.

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  7. It's because of that annoying habit you have of always trying to see the good in people.

    Sometimes people just suck the big one.

  8. I love Doxy's comment "where you find love you have found God".

    I have found a lot of love and it is a good, good place to sit for awhile.

  9. It is so hard, I'm still mourning over having to leave the church I went to for so long...

  10. Excellent reflection. My church is not my family. It's the place where I worship, and I'm thankful for the opportunity. Your story is my story, with the exception of the rectors who were present during times of sickness. In 15 years, I received one meal from a member of the congregation.

  11. I can on imagine what a shock this realization must have been to you. But maybe it helps put their behaviour in better context and will hopefully make the letting go easier.

    You have so much to offer, so much you ALREADY have given..You deserve to be valued, to feel like family where you worship and with your eyes now opened, hope you never, ever accept less again.

  12. I think we sometimes confuse tollerance for acceptance in much the same way your confused your church as family.

  13. Blazer - I think your observation is spot on. Thank you.