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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Church Woes

Ugh, here we go again.  I really do not enjoy going to church.  Ever since we have lived here, it has been very difficult to find a place where my ENTIRE family feels comfortable and enjoys going.  And this morning just brought things to a head.  And because of it, T has decided that he's done with church.  Which is fine with me.  Perhaps one day, we'll move back closer to home and we'll be able to get plugged back in at our church there.  I miss it there so much.  I had good friends there.  And I know it's a place where my children can develop good friendships, too.
When we first moved here, T and I started attending a church in a neighboring community.  It was okay.  That church offered a lot, especially in the area of children's ministry.  And as Jackie grew into a toddler, she seemed to really enjoy going to her class.  I was involved in the choir and I also attended a Bible study on Tuesday mornings.  Jackie was 2 years old when she and I went for a visit to Florida.  While Jackie and I were gone, T had visited another church and decided to take us there when I got back home.  It was okay and Jackie enjoyed the toddler/preschool class.  But after a short time, T decided that it wasn't the church for us.  So onward we went to a smaller church.  I was pregnant with Ben when we started attending this particular church.  We attended there for nearly 2 years when I began to really struggle with where I truly belonged.  I met some wonderful people at that church but within a short period of time, the church went through some changes with the staff.  The changes were somewhat confusing for me and started to make me wonder about the true mission of that church.  T continued to attend without me.  We tried a couple of other churches, including one right next to our development.  That particular church is nice because they offer more areas of ministry for children and my daughter seemed to really enjoy it there.  T didn't care for it, though.  Finally, we ended up at the church that we've been attending for the past couple of years. 
I don't think I'll ever forget my first impression (and experience) at that particular church. Jackie was wearing her brand new glasses (a week old) when we dropped her off at her assigned class.  When church was over and we went to pick her up from class, the eyeglasses were nowhere to be seen.  I admit that I did not handle the situation appropriately.  After fighting for over a year with Jackie losing, hiding, and destroying her glasses, I was at the end of my rope with her.  The teacher helped me look for the glasses.  I looked EVERYWHERE, including the garbage (I know, gross), behind the book shelves,  containers.  The eyeglasses were nowhere to be found.  There was a severely developmentally delayed woman in the class who apparently was known to pick up items that didn't belong to her.   Somebody called her mother but again, no glasses.  I know I didn't leave a good impression of myself by the way I reacted to the entire situation.  I was more than frustrated with Jackie at this point.  I have to say though, that I was impressed with the church when, a few days later, a staff member came to our house to bring us a check to replace the glasses.  I couldn't help but wonder, though, what their motivation was.  Was it to really be sincere about the loss of the glasses, was it because they didn't want to lose a potential new member, was it because they were afraid of me (I left a very, VERY poor first impression)?  I don't know.  I have to admit that as I used that check to pay for Jackie's new glasses, I felt a twinge of guilt that I was spending church money. 
I have struggled with feelings of belonging at this church since we've been attending.  But, I know T is probably tired of looking for other churches and he seemed to really enjoy it here.  So, I tried my best to find some amount of enjoyment.  I got to know some people but I could never quite let myself become too close to anybody.  And I have to admit that it bothered me a little that the other moms with kids around the same age as mine had their own little group going with play dates and get-togethers but my kids and I were never invited along.  I didn't let it bother me for too long, though, since I'm not christian enough for them anyway.  Unfortunately, Jackie has never really enjoyed going there.  She continued to beg to go back to the neighboring church where she has friends and went to a class that she enjoyed.  
T and I attended an actual Sunday school class a few times at church.  Again, T seemed to enjoy going but I struggled with it.  I just have a difficult time sitting anywhere for more than an hour.  Going to just church was enough for me.  Now, I've been told that the best place to meet friends is in Sunday School.  Perhaps so.  But then, I've heard from other people that church isn't a place to meet friends, it's a place to worship God.  Whatever. 
This morning, my family finally made it to church BEFORE the service started.  As T took Ben to his class, Jackie and I went to find a place to sit.  It seemed like every "available" seat was being saved.  Jackie and I sat down a couple of times only to be told that that particular space was being saved.  Well, they should put a book, sweater, or something to indicate that it's being saved instead of waiting for people to sit down and then tell them it's being saved for somebody else.  I finally got pissed off and left the sanctuary with Jackie.  When T came, I told him what happened.  He found a seat way way in a corner but by this time, Jackie started up with her drama when I told her to go sit with her dad.  I was not going to go back into that sanctuary because I just plain pissed.   Jackie picked up her volume on the drama.  T came back out to the hallway and I told him that I just wanted to leave. This only upset Jackie more.  That confused me because suddenly, she wanted to go to church when any other time, she would cry because she didn't want to go to church.  Gah, I only became more frustrated between her drama and what ensued beforehand.  I can't win for losing.  T went to get Ben out of his class so we could leave.  On the way home, T announced that he was done going to church because he's just tired of dealing with problems in regard to church.  Dealing? Ha.  I'm usually the one who has to deal with everything.  But, whatever the case may be, I'm sort of glad we're done with church.  Jackie enjoys going to the neighborhood church so I think I may just walk the kids over there on the nice Sundays and pick them up after it's over.  Maybe this will be one way to bring some happiness to Jackie.  The last thing I want is for my kids to be resentful of me for forcing them to attend a church that they hate. 
My experience with churches in the Midwest is very different from my experience in Florida.  I loved my church in Florida.  I grieved terribly over the loss of our beloved pastor and one of his sons in a plane crash that occurred nearly 4 years ago.  I experienced a plethora of feelings over that.  I learned so much from Pastor Pollock and even after we moved away, I would still listen to him online.  He was so engaging and such a dynamic speaker.  He made learning about God and the Bible so fun and interesting.  I know I'll never find another pastor like him.  I've questioned God many times why he took such a Godly man, a man of such integrity, away from us.  He was so beloved, not only by his own family, but by his church family.  It was a tremendous loss for the entire community when Pastor Pollock and his son died.  
I really try not to compare the churches here to my Florida church.  But it's difficult because I really felt a belonging down there, something I have yet to find here.  But now, what's more important than for me to find my place is that I want my children to be in a church where they are learning and also where they feel like they belong.  That's all I want. 

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