Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's Happening to Church?

I have to admit that I'm feeling a bit like Job these days. I look back on what I've been through in the past several years, and I can't help but see the similarities. But what's hitting me hardest right now is feeling so alone in all of it. Part of this has been brought on by disaster; part by talking with a friend; and part has been building for quite awhile.

Several years ago, I feel like I could have turned to my church family for anything. I felt so loved, so wanted. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a place in the world where I belonged, where God had ordained me to be. I was surrounded by people who professed to care about me and took care of more than just my physical needs. They were there for me, and I figured they always would be.

As time has worn on, though, and life has continued to be a struggle, I think people have just grown weary of the fight. I know I have. Now, it seems the more I search out people to ease my loneliness and fear, the more silence I find. I feel weird asking for prayer these days because it's almost as if I can hear the collective groan coming from those on the receiving end of the request. They are weary of the situation.

I have seen it numerous times in my own church, and I am sure it is happening in other churches as well. I ran into an old member the other day in Wal-Mart whose needs were simply not being met by the church any longer, and I fear it is because she, like me, was asking too often. It's happened more than once. Though personally, I don't believe there is anything wrong with this. God tells us to lift each other up in prayer, and how can you know what to pray for me if I do not tell you my needs?

I know also that because of some of my issues from growing up, I have a need for something more from people in my life. I fear having to do things on my own again, as I did for so long. God did not create me to handle life on my own; it is to be a collaborative effort between me, Him, and His church.

I see others in my church who are suffering, in ways not unlike my own. For some reason, they have the strength in them (or perhaps the defiance) to never ask for help. They don't talk about their struggles publicly, but rather shy away from it and go on as if nothing is happening. That doesn't suit me. I can't live that kind of lifestyle. For me, it's about facing things head-on and being real about them. At the same time, I try to also keep myself from dwelling on the negative and definitely try to avoid whining (not a good trait in anyone). It's not about a pity-party. It's not that I want everyone to come up to me on a Sunday morning and say "awww...poor baby." Not that at all.

I just sometimes want to feel like I'm not standing alone.

Frequently, I forget even that Jesus is standing with me. That God is right there beside me. And that's where the human form comes in handy. I have a few really good friends at church who I know are standing with me, but I can sense that even they are growing weary. I am weary. And yet, I cannot stop or rest until I nestle myself into that place God has created for me. I know He has so much more for me than I've been given these past couple of years; I know He has healing in my future. I am just waiting for that day.

Every day, I feel myself growing closer to that resting spot, to that place where I will finally be able to plant my feet for a moment and take a deep breath. I am just praying that by the time I get there, I will not be standing alone.And yet, even as I write these words, I feel the nudging of the Spirit inside of me, reminding me that I am never alone. Urging me to trust Him to be enough.

Am I off my rocker or are other people sensing this, too, in their churches? Are you seeing people ask for prayer over and over again, then sit alone on Sunday mornings? Are you seeing the congregation back away from meeting the needs of someone in the midst of hardship? Are you, like me, seeing people leave your church home for a new place more responsive and receptive to their needs? What is happening here? How can we fix it?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Life As Usual

The other night, a series of severe thunderstorms went through the area. They were quite powerful, with a lot of lightning and spawning four tornadoes. So powerful, in fact, that they woke up my entire house from sleeping.

The next morning, I woke to find the sun rising, and I must admit that I felt rather betrayed. How could the world just turn from something so scary and continue on in the face of everything? I mean, doesn't the sun know what took place in the night? It just seemed the ultimate betrayal.

And yet, on some level, I realize that this is what I am doing with my own story - waiting on the sunrise after the darkness and fear. Working toward normalcy, toward something that seems so irrational, seems to betray the past. It's complicated, I know, but it's just such a weird feeling.

That said, I am struggling most visibly with my self-esteem right now. For awhile there, I felt like I was on top of the world and could do anything. Now, I struggle with what I'm worth. I know I need to look for answers to that based on what God has to say about my worth. He is the only one with the right and the power to decide, and He loves me so much. So I need to be looking to the Bible for answers, but I'm half-scared (or more) about what I will find there because I know it runs contrary to what I am feeling about myself at this time.

That's all I'm going to write. I apologize for not having posted in awhile. I have torn a tendon in my finger, and it's rather annoying and difficult to type one-handed. But I am still in this personal transformative process, and life keeps moving. So remember me. And I'll post as much as I am able until the hand heals.