Divorce in the Church: What it does to God’s Children Part 2

We completed part one with the large and looming question of  “Who divorces who?”  or should it be whom?  I’m not a great grammar person.  When is it time to call it quits with either your church, your Pastor, or both.

1.  Christian Fellowship:  The Bible states clearly to not forsake yourself from the fellowship with the saints.  But what if the saints are the ones causing you to lose your joy, and drawing you into the black hole of unchristian thoughts and actions?   You need to analyze what is causing this and whether or not its something you can overlook or deal with.  There is an old joke that says, “People who attend Sunday mornings love the preacher, those that attend Sunday night love the church and those that attend mid week service love the Lord!”  This may be a joke, but there are always some truth in these little sayings.  If you are finding it difficult, almost impossible, to make yourself attend a church, because being in God’s house is causing you pain, you may need to look for a new church home.  Attending the Lord’s house should bring you joy!  You should desire to gather close to the Lord every chance you get.  The problem with many who are going through the “spiritual divorce” is that it so pains them to be around the other members or the Pastor, that they cannot bring themselves to be in the same room.  To a true Christian this is a very, very difficult situation.  We are COMMANDED by GOD to not forsake his Church.  For some, the pain is so great, they would rather move on than remain in this situation.

2.  Respect of Leadership:  Pastors, teachers and leaders are brought to their positions, by God himself.  We are told by the Bible to respect and follow the leaders placed over us by our loving Father.   Is your relationship with your pastor healthy?  To have a healthy relationship you need to have the following in place:  Trust, Communication, Respect and Obedience.
The problem with a “divorce” is that one or all of these may be lacking between the member, the congregation and the pastor.   If you can’t trust, communicate, respect or obey your Pastor, you need to let God work on your heart.  If you have prayed, fasted, and tried to deal with all these situations one to one with your Pastor, or through a group, and it still has not been satisfied, you may need to move on.  Here on some scriptures:

1 Timothy 5:17 ESV 

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

Hebrews 13:17 ESV / 

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

If you truly, and I mean TRULY have submitted yourself to the Lord and asked for his guidance on this, and he communicates to you that you cannot do this, than it is better off for you to leave than to add to the pain of the divorce.

Here are some other things to consider:  These are not my ideas, these are taken from batteredsheep.com, and written by James McBride.

 Search The Scriptures

What a church teaches ought to reflect what the Scriptures teach. The source of Christian belief is the Word of God. How does your denomination meet the challenge?
To help you make a wise decision, ask yourself these questions.
Is Jesus Christ preached ? The heart of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ. Attitudes to him range from a dead formalism through to disrespectful chumminess. Yet it’s only through Jesus Christ–his life, his sufferings, his cruel death on the tree–that we are reconciled to the Father. Only through him, through his shed blood, can our loathsome (to God) sin be freely forgiven upon our repentance. Only in him will we enter into eternal life. It’s a personal decision which each of us must take.

Does my church reject clear Bible teachings? Some denominations, even on fundamental issues, cling blindly to tradition. Is this likely to change in your church–even after maybe several centuries of error? Changes, all too often, are away from the truth of the Bible!
Be sure to examine your church’s teaching with the Bible in hand. It’s yourresponsibility to get it right, not the pastor’s who answers for his own error. God’s Word is plain to those who want to understand! For example, have you personally sought out the Bible teaching on heaven–and hell? What about the immortality of the soul? And do you know on which days–weekly and annually–God says, in the Scriptures, He desires worship?

Do I dislike the pastor? We each differ in personality–clashes can occur! But the Christian Gospel promotes reconciliation, and you ought to exhaust every avenue to achieve it. We must seek peace with everyone one in the congregation, as much as is in our power. If there are no channels for reconciliation or there’s an unbridgeable–and unbiblical–gap between leaders and laity, then this, too, must be considered.

Does my church express the spirit of Christ? All too many local churches and even whole denominations are spiritually dead. There’s little chance to express Christian practice or to “grow in grace and knowledge”. A living church will be aserving church showing concern for the spiritual and material welfare of its members and for the world around. It will be a learning church, continually growing in Bible understanding and the training of its membership. It will be an evangelizing church with an active program for taking the Gospel to the world. And it is strong on theethical and behavioral aspects of the Christian faith.

Serve Christ

It’s unlikely you will find a church with which you can agree one hundred per cent! And indeed there’s no need to do so. For not all “knowledge” is vital to salvation.
There are, however, vital truths which distinguish the true from the false. Search the Scriptures. Discover what is truth. And wholeheartedly and energetically serve Jesus Christ where He is faithfully taught and expressed.

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I hope this blog has given you some things to think about on your own thoughts about the spiritual divorce.  I hope some of this gives you hard things to think about, but also, maybe comfort in your own journey.

Divorce in the Church: What it does to God’s Children Part 1

Before you click past this, read on.   This isn’t what you think. What I am discussing today is when a Church becomes so broken, so dysfunctional that divorce is the only answer.  When you are tearing apart the children, after you have been through months of counseling, sometimes its better to walk away.  Stay with me on this, because its something very close to my heart right now.

I know not everyone who reads this espouses what I believe when it comes to faith.  However, I think that everyone can at least understand what I am talking about and you might actually learn something from what I am about to say. In this analogy,  I am treating a Church, its Pastor and congregation, like a marriage.  It is said in the Bible that the Church is the bride of Christ.  So this isn’t that far out of the realm for most Christians to understand.  So when I discuss things later on, its in this context.

What really happens in a divorce?  What is the cause?  Sometimes its one spouse being unfaithful to another.  In this case, that isn’t what I am discussing.  There is something more subtle and must more devastating, in my opinion.  It’s because you fall out of love.  You fall out of love with the congregation, the Pastor, or ultimately, Christ himself.

Why does this happen?   Many will say that they have valid reasons why they fell out of love.  “He hurt me!”  “He said unkind things to me!”  “They are always bitter!”    Something that started as small gets churned up and becomes a major problem.  Then the sniping begins, the fighting and even the most well intentioned people can turn even the smallest things into major drama.   Each person thinks they are correct, they are the most injured party and the heart hardens.  In the meantime, the “children”, or those that didn’t start this drama, sit around being affected by snide comments, the unbending attitude and the lack of reality by those involved.  I will describe a few of the individuals and what they are like below.

1.  The Perpetually Offended:   This is the person that no matter what the individual they are angry at does, good or bad, they find a way to be offended by it.  This person may have had an originally valid reason to be upset, but they have discussed it, held onto and nurtured the hurt to a point where it is now a huge blot in their soul.  This type of person will read something like this and also be offended by it.  They have long lost the ability to forgive and they draw others into their black hole whenever they get the chance.  These people are poison to themselves and others.  The worst part is that they don’t realize it, most of the time, they are so buried in themselves.  Some even think they are being offended in protection of others, because somehow those others can’t defend themselves.  These people will have little or no ability to find a middle ground and forgiveness of the person that offended them is not an option.

2.  The Holier than Thou:  This is the person that doesn’t think they have done anything wrong.  No matter what they are told or the amount of evidence they are given, they don’t think they have hurt or wronged anyone in any way.  They even have Biblical back up for the way they have acted.  These people are highly controlling, slow or even resistant to suggestion, become aggressive when criticized and have no realization why anyone would find them at fault.  They will apologize when confronted, but will internally not mean it, because they find no reason to do it.  This person may be in a position of authority and will think that they need to be followed without question, even if they, themselves, do not do the things that they expect of others.

3.  The Innocent Bystander:  This is the person that may be oblivious to what is going on.  They find things about the way they always were and don’t know why people just can’t get along.  You will find many of these people elderly, or people who just don’t want to get involved.  When the “divorce” progresses, these people will, unfortunately, get drawn in.

4. The Sniper:  These are people who might have been in group 1 or even in group 2, caused issues and then took off.  These people might have been deeply involved with starting the process leading to the divorce, but they set their time-bomb, packed up and left before it went off.   These people, unfortunately, are as much to blame as group 1 and 2 for the ultimate divorce.  They will also be similar to group 1 or 2 and think they had good reason to go what they did and take little responsibility for what happens later.  In their minds, their hands are clean because they left before they, personally, were the reason for the divorce.  These people may be genuinely contrite and like number 2 have Biblical reasons for doing what they did.  These people will also stay peripherally involved-sitting on their metaphorical roof top taking shots at the people still there.

5.  Switzerland:  These are the people in the unenviable position of trying to ride the fence and be peace makers between all of the above.  Number 4’s may have been number 5’s at one point and decided, for whatever reason, to cut and run.  These people will have Biblical reasons for doing what they did, be people who hate conflict so much they will avoid it at any cost, or just want “Mom and Dad” to love each other like they used too.  These people are the type that figure if they can keep the trains running on time and the money where it needs to be, that eventually everything will be ok.  These people, unfortunately will probably become number 4’s if pressed too hard.

6.  The Casualties:  These are number 1-5’s, but number 1’s will think they won if they get their way, as will number 2’s.  Number 3’s will continue to go along and the 4’s and or 5’s may or may not be the same.  Many will become the “walking wounded”  and will have to leave to just survive.  They will be permanently damaged by the whole process and may not be able to commit to another relationship for years to come.  No matter who wins, these people will find themselves losers.

So what does all this mean in the context of a church divorce?    Jesus has words on how to deal with these situations, Let’s look at Matthew first:

Matthew Chapter 18

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This is pretty clear.  Jesus states the way to deal with someone that has a trespass against you.  He doesn’t say, “Go first and hash it out with your friends, talk about it on email, then draw someone else in to fight your battles for you”  does he?    The problem is, that all the numbers above may have tried this already and failed.  So now what do you do?  You need to analyze how bad the trespass is and then consider this:

Ephesians 4:32

Viewing the King James Version. Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of Ephesians 4:32.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Can you forgive the person?  According to Christ, you should.  But can you forget it?  Can you excuse it?  That is something you need to decide for yourself.  But what you can’t do is become like the “Perpetually offended” and draw people into your black hole.  You can’t be like the “holier than thou” and be oblivious to those around you with feelings.  If you want to leave, because you have become like the “walking wounded”, don’t be a “sniper” and remain on the side sending in volleys.

So if you are in this kind of situation, what do you do?  Nothing above is very Christian, in all honesty.  Divorce is prohibited in the Bible unless it is a case of adultery between a man and a woman.  But in some cases, divorce in a church may be necessary to save the children.  The problem then becomes, who divorces who?  When should it happen?    When I figure that out, I will let you know.

Maundy Thursday

No, its not a Mama’s and Papa’s song.  On the liturgical calendar, today is Maundy Thursday.  Today is remembered as the night that Christ had his Last Supper with his disciples before he then walked to the Mount of Olives, and was later arrested.

I was raised in a non-liturgical church.   We didn’t celebrate Maundy Thursday services.  I knew nothing about them until I took a part-time job as a church secretary/administrator at a Presbyterian church in the early 90s.  Though my demonination does not celebrate these type of remembrances, I find going through the motions of what actually happened on those nights as very interesting.   I plan to attend a Good Friday service tomorrow if I can make it out of my office.  There are several churches in town that have them, I will just need to look for them.

The only problem I have with these type of services is that many times its more about the service, the pomp and pagentry, then it is about what is really going on.   Jesus was definitely not a pomp and pagentry type of guy.   I find it difficult to believe that the minister of one of the services tomorrow is going to whip out his towel and bowl of water and begin washing our feet.   Besides the fact that most people would probably run screaming from the building because they were touched inappropriately, modern man just isn’t that humble.   Don’t be too hard on modern man, though.   Ancient man wasn’t that humble either.  Peter, the disciple called His Rock, by Jesus, was appalled when, that night, Christ began washing his disciples feet.  He told Christ that it was basically below him to be doing this.   Christ told Peter he was acting like the devil.  Literally.  It was bad day for Peter, after all.   He got into lots of trouble later that night.

But never put yourself above any of these men when you read the Bible or hear of what they did.   These were ordinary men put into extraordinary situations.   I only hope I would have a tenth of the strength of Peter or a tiny bit of the love and excitement of John.

So as you go scurrying around trying to find that bag of Reese cup eggs on sale, or that perfect box of Peeps for your Easter baskets, remember this holiday isn’t about the Easter Bunny or chocolate.  It’s about the God of the universe lowering himself into the body of “just a guy.”  Someone like you and me.

Though, I believe Jesus is the kind of guy that would have loved Reese cup eggs.  Don’t you?   I know plenty of carpenters and builders who can’t resist and a little PB and Chocolate.

Point is, this holiday is all about Him.  Let’s try to keep that way.

Never Underestimate Grief

Last night I felt like such a fraud.   I’ve been on this blog saying how happy I am that my mom is in a better place, that she has told me she is ok, yada, yada.   Well as Easter has approached, a holiday that my mother LOVED, I find myself getting more and more depressed.

The last two days I have done something I haven’t done in months.  Cry uncontrollably in the shower.  The shower is a great place for crying, don’t you think?  I mean, you are already wet, you already look like junk, why not cry too.  Plus, you can’t be heard in there very well.  Perfect crying closet.

When my mom died, I had this crushing guilt over her final days.   My mom started having pain in her legs and all over her body, she began crying constantly, couldn’t stop.  She would call out all the time and pull at her legs.  Her swallowing became non-existent as well and she couldn’t hardly take her meds.  I found out later that this had been going on for several weeks, from my dad.     The only thing that would quiet her and give her some relief was drops of morphine, adminstered through a liquid in her mouth.   She was very sensitive to medicine, but hospice told us that the morphine was so light and such a small amount, that it would only make a person sleep.   Well, when they told us that the pain she was going through was the dying process, we relented in giving her more morphine.  This is common for people in their final days/hours, but I couldn’t get over the idea that maybe we were accelerating her death.   Hospice told me over and over that there was nothing that could be done and that if we took her to the hospital, they would try to use heroic measures such as feeding tubes (she couldn’t swallow), vents (for breathing) or intraveneous morphine (stronger than what we were giving her.)  My mom said many times she didn’t want a feeding tube, didn’t want to go to the hospital, didn’t want any of that.   She had a do not rescussitate on her living will.   She stopped swallowing, could not take her meds anymore, pills that, in essence, were keeping her alive.  So really, nothing could have been done more to help her at this point.

But I still feel like I didn’t do what she wanted.  I still have moments where I wish she could have told me what she wanted.  When her swallowing stopped, her ability to communicate stopped too.  She was crying as if she was trying to tell me something, but I never could get out of her what it was.   When I finally told her, after a couple of days, that they told us she was dying, she calmed down.  I think she just didn’t understand that this was the final fight.  She didn’t have to struggle anymore.   For someone who had lived through a terminal cancer diagnosis in her 20s, breast cancer in her 40s, heart disease in her 50s and 60s, just laying down the fight is hard to do.

My husband asked me the same questions I ask myself.  What if she had lived through this crisis?  She would have been in a nursing home the following week, and my mom didn’t want to go to a nursing home.   My wonderful husband also said, “God takes us in His own time.   You second guessing God?”  Sage advice from my hubby.

I guess my biggest issue is that I was unable to be at my mom’s side every minute that last 7 days.  I was there, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part my husband, my two uncles and my sister sat vigil.   My dad and I, after years of constant caregiving, and some of the hardest months in our lives,  just couldn’t watch it anymore.   I feel like I abandoned her when she needed me the most.  I still carry that with me, though I know, deep down, my mom has forgiven any weakness I might have shown in those last days, and knows that I did my best.

What I am saying is never underestimate grief.  It comes in lulls and bursts.  I have just had a burst.   My friend, who has lost both her parents, told me that the “firsts” are the worst.   First Easter, First Birthday, etc.

I discounted that early on, but not again.     I know somewhere my mom is trying to reach across the great divide between this world and the next and comfort me.   I will take all I can get right now, Mommy.  I’m sorry for my mistakes.   I did the best I could.

If I made some that I shouldn’t have, I guess she can admonish me in glory.  We’ll have eternity to commiserate about every detail.

Somehow I don’t think she plans to do that when I see her again.   Just not her style

The Green Monster

Jealousy?  No, not that green monster.  The monster is fear.  Real or imagined, fear can paralyze you.  It’s one of the major regrets I have now, since my Mom has passed.  When she was alive and free of MSA, just fighting her normal day-to-day battles with heart issues, I worried about her every minute.  I worried about if she was ok, called her all the time.  Now this didn’t happen all the time, mind you, but I did obsess about it some times to the point of ruining vacations, work days, and all sorts of time I will never get back.  In this case, it was imagined fear.  My mom was fine.  This past year, when I traveled to the Mayo clinic with my Mom and Dad, just about this time last year actually, I found out what real fear was.   I found out my Mom really was dying this time, and that no amount of doctor intervention would help.  A miracle would do it, but God had decided this was her last battle-something I realized after a few months.

Lately, the green boy is back.  I don’t have my Mom to obsess over, so I have turned it onto myself.  I have been concerned for some time that my Mom’s disease might be hereditary.  Though it states in the literature that in 95% of cases its not, my family has a tendency to fall into that 5% all the time.  My Grandfather died of Parkinson’s disease combined with several strokes.  His brothers all had some sort of neurological disease.  Either Parkinsons or Alzheimers.  My mom was my grandpa’s only child and I am her only child.  So, you do see my concern.

So lately I have noticed little things that remind me of my mom’s issues happening to me.  All of them could be explained by stress, possible perimenopause, and several other things.  But my mind has leaped to the possibility that I will be another MSA stat and that I will be one of those young people who get this dreaded disease.   I have a talent for leaping to the worst possible conclusion because in my lifetime, many times, it always seems to be the worst possible thing.  My mom was told she was going to die more times than I can count, after all.

What makes it different this time is that I have her experience to bring some of this into perspective.   Worrying does no good.  If you get it, you do.  There is no cure, so knowing ahead of time really isn’t going to make things any better.   So each time I accidentally drop a cup, feel my fingers wanting to move a little too hard on my mouse when I didn’t expect it, or I trip over something (usually my cat!), or can’t find the word for something I am trying to say, my mind tends to think, “Oh no, is this the start of it?”

Who knows.  If God intends for me to be another in our family to die of a neurological disorder, then I will, right?

But, God?  I’d really rather not.

Green monster wins again I guess

One Fine day: A venting post for Sunday

You live day to day.  Getting out of bed, going to work, going to church, doing tasks.  You go to the grocery, you talk to people, you answer emails, you pay your bills.    The list could go on and on, but suddenly, on one fine day, the sun is shining-you feel pretty good about yourself and the world and….WHAMMO!!!!

You look around your home, your office and even your car and you start to see all the things that your loved one touched, gave you are talked to you about.  You reach for your cell phone and want to tell this person about the great joke you saw on the Internet that day, or ask them how they made that special you dish you liked.  You see the flower they made you standing in your office, still dripping with the love and attention that this person took to make it special and nice.  You realize that the love that person gave to you in this life will never be duplicated.   Then the doubts start.  Did I really listen to everything they had to say the weeks leading up to their death, or did I simply dismiss them as the ramblings of a degenerating mind and not really take to heart what they said.  Did they resent that when they stepped over the river to take the hand of God?  Did they think, why wasn’t she there with me holding my hand as I died?  Why couldn’t she be there as took that last breath?

As you can see, these aren’t just the doubts of some random person, they are mine.  I wasn’t with my mom when she died.  I wasn’t with her every minute as she went through the “process”.  That is a guilt I will take with me the rest of my life.  But as my husband so sagely said, “your cup was full”  you couldn’t take another minute of the pain.  That is why I was stepped in and the rest of the family did to let you and your Dad deal with it how you could.   My husband was with my mom when she died, so was my dad and the hospice nurse.  Not me.  Not the person that was intended for that.  Not the person that my mom showered so much love on her entire life.  Not the person that, in her own words, was the reason she kept living when she had cancer as a young woman.  I know my Mom isn’t in heaven right now sitting around with my Grandmother and Grandfather saying how disappointed she is with me or how heart broken she was that I wasn’t there. My mom wasn’t that type of person in life, so why would she be that type of person in death?   But, to me, I know I hurt her by not being physically present and this is a hurt and pain I deal with on a daily basis.

Grief is funny.  It isn’t like any other thing you will ever go through.  It hides and relaxes, taking a nap for months on end, then it appears out of nowhere and decides it wants your attention again.   One of my friends mentioned that it wasn’t the daily pain it was the emptiness.  That is what it is.  Emptiness.

I have a full life, don’t get me wrong.  I live daily with the love of Christ, my family and friends.  I have a good job that takes my time and a church family that is supportive and loving.  But its what the veterans call the “empty chair”.  It’s when I go to the Chinese restaurant with my Dad and my husband and they say table for three?  No!  It should be table for FOUR!!  Its the anger I get when I hear someone chatting about how they went shopping with their mother over the weekend, they called their mom and she said this or that.  My mom was only 65 years old!!  I was supposed to be having silly conversations with her, decorating Christmas Trees, going shopping and laughing about the stupid stuff my dad does sometimes for at least another 20 years!  My dad shouldn’t be going from room to room in a house dripping with her essence wondering what he will do that day that will take his mind off the searing loneliness that is permeating his life!  It isn’t fair!!

Sigh.  Sorry, I had to say that.   Years ago, I wondered if I would lose my mind when my Mom died. She hadn’t been what a normal person would call “well” for decades.  We knew her death was not that distant of a possibility.   I wondered if I would collapse mentally, have to quit my job, and retreat into myself for years.  I would lay awake at nights wondering what it would be like.  When that didn’t happen, and life sort of went on, I thought, wow, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  And, for the most part, it really hasn’t been.  But there are days, even weeks, where I wonder if I can put one foot in front of the other.  As with most people, I hide myself in busyness.  But the body can only take so much before it says “no” and you must rest.  I had thought about taking a leave from work, but what good would that do I wonder.  Work has kept me focused and given me something to direct my energies.  I don’t think that is a solution.  Running away from life, is never a solution-only a temporary respite.

So, as I felt the world crashing in on me yesterday I felt the still, small voice of God saying.  Come to me and I will give you rest.  Take my hand, sit down and just be quiet.  So that is what I did today.  My husband had to work 7 days this week and he is asleep in the other room.  There is no TV on, no Radio, no IPOD, no sounds but his distant snoring and the occasional irritated meow from my cat as he insists I come back to bed with him.  Tomorrow is a holiday, so I have it off too.  I intend to slowly listen to what the Lord is going to say to me, in the quiet of my home.  I will listen as I have never listened before.

Every persons walk down the grief trail is different.  This, just happens to be mine.

Full Moons and Home Parties

I always hear the expression, is it a full moon today?  It’s usually an expression of someone who is having a bad day or dealing with nutty people with attitudes.  Well I work with the public, so, let me tell you, if it wasn’t a full moon last night, it probably should have been.

I won’t bore you with the details of my day, just the high points.  I had a candle party today.  Well, sort of a party.  Our bank allows employees to have a party of sorts of the break room during lunch.  I had a candle party.  Not many showed up, but it should be enough to make a decent showing.

The home party biz is an odd thing.  I can speak from experience because I’ve been one of those ladies.  I used to sell jewelry on the side.  Daytime banker nighttime jeweler.  Cute, I know.  The company I worked for was what I call, one of the good ones.  However, I sometimes wonder at the personalities that this kind of business draws.  To be a salesman, whether you are selling electronics or make-up, all have to have a level of confidence that some people shrink from.  When I see someone take on the knock-down-drag-out world of home party sales that can’t say hello to you without looking at their hands, I cringe.  I give them two weeks and a huge dent in their bank account from all the supplies they had to order.

The real hard sellers are the ones that get others like me to do this.  I was told I had the “gift” to recruit others to sell.  I was already using that gift to get people to take out mortgages and buy annuities.  I was replete of the energy to add to my plate.  Selling the bling was not that hard.  Most ladies like jewelry, selling the biz was not my cup of tea.  I was successful as a jewelry lady, my life changed suddenly, so I had to let it go.

I guess the moral of this rambling post is for you to choose your career wisely, don’t let it choose you.  If you are going to be a Mary Kay lady, be the pinkest and most Mary Kayer you can be.  If you are going to sell jewelry, be a perky jewelry lady.  I could go on.

Today it was candles for me.  In the less than correct vernacular of the folks, “I love me some candles!”

Childless by Choice

You see this phrase more and more these days.  There are websites called “childfree by choice”, or “Childless and loving it”.  The reasons are varied.  Some think the world is already over-populated and don’t want to add to it.  Some people don’t want their lives disrupted.  There are many other reasons I won’t go into.  I have been thinking about this lately.  My husband and I are childless.  The phrase itself denotes a life that is less than complete.  Child-less.  I can see why people who don’t have children for reasons other than most might find societal pressures frustrating.   This is no more evident than in the Church.  Couples that don’t have children, though they are accepted into the fold, are somehow set aside as different.  This would also include adult singles, to a degree.  Let me say at the outset, we have never been treated differently at our church because of our lack of children.  But this hasn’t always been the case.

Why am I bringing this up now?  With my mother’s death, you begin to think about your own mortality.  I have no children to look after me when I am old and sick.  I won’t have someone to look after my affairs when I become infirm.  Not a reason to have children on its own, but makes you think.    So I began to look at the our choices in this area a little more closely.  My husband and I never made a conscious decision NOT to have children.  It was something we discussed at length several times, but could never decide when the time was right.  I also don’t think we are able to have children, but that is for another discussion.  But that aside, now its more than likely too late.

I will state plainly that I never yearned for children like some women.  I didn’t even play with baby dolls as a kid.  I liked Barbie and Hot Wheels.  I enjoyed playing war with my male cousins and “Dallas” and “Dukes of Hazzard” with my female cousins.  I wasn’t what you call, maternal.  My mom always said that I had it in me, the way I took care of her foundling kitten and other animals.  But even she agreed, it wasn’t in my DNA.

So as I drove to work this morning, I was listening to Moody Radio and there was a lady on there talking and she sounded just like me.  The difference was, she had children, and was still not acting very maternal.  She said God changed her desires when she started acting more like a mother.  It made me think, if I had acted more maternal growing up, would I have wanted children more?  Would I have tried when my husband and I were younger and probably more able to conceive?   But then I thought, what if I had children and I realized it was a mistake?  You can’t take a child back to the pet store.  Its a life time commitment.  When I was younger, I know it was selfishness, but when I grew older, there were other concerns.  Genetic disease is a real factor in my family, societal concerns, etc.    God knows best and I feel now that if I had been meant to be a mother, God would have made that happen.  Who knows, he still could.  Look at Abraham and Sarah.  Yikes!
Wow, what a thought.  Please God, don’t give me a child when I’m 100!

But something to think about.  Don’t pre-judge someone who doesn’t have children or is single.  Don’t assume they are driven career people who just didn’t want the hassle.  Don’t assume things about anyone.
One more thing.  Don’t assume its ok to ask people about it either.  Sometimes people are happy tell you.  But sometimes, its a sore subject.

Food for thought.

Twitter, Short Attention Spans and Grieving.

I am standing up and saying for all to see, yes, I have a twitter account.  I am contributing to the glut of information we are already exposed to and the short sound byte’s of information that come through in an almost constant stream to the world.  People tweet about everything from important news events of the day to what color their child’s poo was that morning.  Sorry, I know that was nasty.  But it just shows you the craziness of our information age.    At least Facebook, though just as trivial, does have the ability to see a fuller picture of something.  Twitter is somehow an abbreviation of the already abbreviated way we communicate.    I find it difficult to sit through an actual 2 hour movie without messing with my IPAD or flipping to another channel during the commercials.  Was I always this way, or has the constant stream of information, tweets, texts, posts and blogs made me somehow ADHD?  To completely honest, I find it difficult to sit through a 1 hour tv show without doing the same.

I tried to think of all this in relation to my grieving process.  Grieving is a long, messy, drawn out process that takes years to totally work through.  Even at that you sometimes never truly get through it.  I know people, friends and family, that have grief come back on them decades after a loss.  So how does this fit in our twitter culture?  In many respects, it doesn’t.  People expect you to be over things quickly.  They expect that friend with the sunny personality or the quick wit to be there all the time for you and not be depressed or sick with grief.  What people don’t realize is that grieving isn’t a one-size-fits all situation.  Some people will move past things relatively quickly, while it takes far longer for others.

I am dealing with some of that right now.  I am on edge a great deal of the time and find myself physically and mentally exhausted more often than I ever remember.  I put it off to job stress, financial woes and a million other things that it could be.  But, to be perfectly honest, I think it stems back to grief.

Do I function day to day?  Yes.  Am I weeping in the corner every night?  No.   But grief is a subtle thing.  You put your trust and faith in God, and wade through the deep waters.  There are days you feel like your legs are mired in quicksand and you can’t move another inch.  You push and push until there is nothing left and then you push some more.  You mechanically move from task to task, appointment to appointment and make it through your day.

To Christians out there who think that people who grieve this nakedly are not relying on God enough for their strength, I have something to tell you.   This IS with me relying on God for all my strength.   I would be a frightening person otherwise.

Joy in Adversity-or not

Caution:  Christian content ahead.  If you would rather not read, I’m sure there is a re-run of Law and Order playing somewhere.  Flip to TNT and I will join you in a bit.

The Bible says in Romans 5:3  that we are take joy in our suffering, as it leads to perseverance.  We have been discussing this in Sunday School as well.  Grieving allows us to help others, it draws us closer to God.

Let me preface by saying I agree with all of this.  But when adversity starts to pile on top of adversity, you kind of get a little prickly.

I found out this week that my great Aunt, the lady that we all thought would live forever, may have cancer.  Though I haven’t talked to the doctor yet, he blithely said to her that he would not do surgery on her due to her age.  O.K, I agree with this too.  If it would make her last few days, months or years on earth less enjoyable or make her quality of life less, I agree with this.  But that isn’t what I am talking about today.

Joy in adversity is something that I have found to be totally misunderstood by the general public and non-Christians.  I had someone tell me once that, “Don’t you Christians look for ways to suffer so your God will approve of you more?  Aren’t you supposed to smile all the time when bad stuff happens to you?”  Uh.  No.

Christians aren’t masochists.  We don’t flog ourselves each night to more approved of Christ.  (Well I don’t anyway.)

God knows we need time to grieve.  He knows we don’t want to lose our loved ones to terminal illness or even to old age.  He knows we have a limit.  That’s why we are supposed to lean on Him ALL THE TIME, so that when these things happen, it isn’t foreign to us to do it.

I agree that I am a little depressed today.  Another death or illness so quickly will be very difficult for me to go through, even with Christ’s help.    But to know real Joy in your life, you are supposed to rely on God for all things, so we can be ready for the good and the bad.

That doesn’t mean I won’t take to my bed, watch hours of Law and Order and Bones and eat a pizza, peeps (hey its Easter) and anything else I can find until I feel like facing the world.   God gets me, after all.  That’s why he’s God.