I'm going to open up with an area of my life that has really been keeping me from Being Happy. Church.
I was raised in the Church. I was baptized when I was an infant in a Dutch Reformed church that became a Reformed Church of America church. Long story short, this is a church that follows the theological system of John Calvin. Now, I had no choice in this portion of my life and education. I followed what my parents believed and believed it myself. Of course, I grew up and made my own choices and learned about different belief systems and other Christian denominations. This wasn't an easy time for me. This is often a time when kids stop believing what their parents tried to teach them. College and my desire to rebel against EVERYTHING my parents believed was my GOAL. Then I decided to grow up a little bit and make a well thought-out decision. There are portions of Christianity that are harsh. The road to God in the Christian belief system is very narrow. It's Jesus or nothing. Other religions are equally harsh in denying paradise until enough boxes are checked. I made a decision for Jesus.
Again, long story short, I'm a follower of Jesus. As far-fetched as portions of the story of redemption through Jesus is, it is the most plausible to me. I believe that is because the Holy Spirit has revealed this truth to me. I have loved studying the bible and learning about God's love for me through the stories in the bible. I have loved church and the fellowship with other believers and support I got there. Now, church has become a hard place for me to go.
Why, you may ask, has it become hard for me to go to church?
There are a couple reasons. You have the super-duper condensed history of why I go to church. Here's my struggle. We moved to our home here in Maryland and found a church we liked alot. We joined it and attended regularly and were very active in the events the church had. We, my husband and son, were happy with the vision and direction of this particular church. I was active in Sunday school and bible study and vacation bible school. I was an active mom. When my son came of an age for a high school youth group, this church let the youth group leader go and had no desire to hire anyone new. Our family felt we had to leave this church and find another church WITH an active youth group for our son. We just thought this was important. In hindsight this was a very good decision. This particular church had a difficult time making the decision for a full-time youth program and more than four years would have past before they had a youth program going strong. You know, sometimes you just can't be part of the solution. Sometimes you have to do what you need to do for your family. Anyway, in the small town we live in, leaving a church caused some hard feelings. I really never understood this, but I was hurt by some of the "church ladies".
We started going to a church with an active youth group at this time. This church was a church that followed the theological system of John Wesley. This was a challenge for me, but my husband and son were happy. My son liked the youth group and Sunday school and my husband was good with the service and most of the people there. I made a strong attempt to become involved. I helped with the youth group. I sang in the praise band. I tried. I never really felt "at home", but I made an effort. There was a strong push for social justice that I was never all that comfortable with. When our son graduated from high school and became his own person, my husband and I felt we could look for a church that lined up with what we believed. We started looking for a new church. This time when we left the church I continued my involvement in a bible study with some of the "church ladies" from this church. I thought it would be ok.
I was wrong. As I continued in the bible study it was obvious my belief in the protestant work ethic and the idea of helping the "truly needy" and not social justice for all made me different from these women. Also, I learned a lot about social networking and commenting on blogs. One of the women in the bible study has a blog. She would post things I thought were contrary to what we were studying and what, I thought, were contrary to what Jesus would want us to do. I commented. I thought we would be able to talk about these disagreements. I was wrong. She wouldn't talk to me. She avoided talking TO me, but talked ABOUT me to anyone who would listen. ouch. One woman in the study decided to take the horns of this disagreement into her own hands by forcing the blogger to talk with me. There was to be a meeting. I agreed to join this meeting. I'm happy to clear the air. I wanted to have a conversation and remind her that we are both daughters of the King. We can disagree and still be believers.
This was not to be. The blogger cried and cried and cried and cried. She was never able to articulate her feelings or beliefs or issues. Just tears and sobs. This made me feel very uncomfortable. I've mentioned that I am not much of a "feeler". Anyway, crying gains sympathy and stoicism does not. I didn't feel I could be part of this group anymore.
Why is it hard for me to go to church? I'm afraid to get involved with anymore of these kind of people. I don't want to be judged. I'm afraid.
Good news! I went to a church today. I'm going to take it slowly. I'll sit in the back. I'll keep to myself. I'm going to take this very slowly. I'm scared. If you are the praying type, please pray for me. I want to be part of the body of Christ again.