Thursday, December 5, 2013

Good and Helpful?

My pastor, on reading a couple of entries to this blog a couple of months ago, asked me if this was good and helpful to me.  And here was my response:

"It has been helpful to me.  There's been an interesting dynamic all through my Christian walk that keeps cropping up, even from before I got saved... I've met so many people that feel like they can't be themselves "in church" and it has been my experience that many of us are very harsh with each other, very judgmental, and there's this fiction that telling someone something hurtful "in love" is actually some Biblical representation of accountability, when really it's just being hurtful and judgmental!

So when these situations have come up and I've shared my frustration or anger or hurt with someone, the answer has been an almost universal "ME TOO!" and everyone has a story about how THEY were also hurt this way or misunderstood, or received a message that they weren't measuring up to some totally ridiculous standard.  But until that "me too!" moment, we carry this stuff around feeling like we're the only outcasts.  Women especially are very nasty with each other about our life choices, wardrobe, children's behavior, whether or not we're working, marital status, whether or not we have kids, are divorced, swear, drink alcohol, laugh too loud, suffer from "bitchy resting face" (if you don't know what I'm referring to, tell me and I'll send you a HILARIOUS video), the list is really endless.

The most interesting thing about this to me is the almost universal "AMEN" that gets shouted when I finally start talking about this stuff.  I'm sure there are people to/for whom I do NOT speak, who really DO get offended to hear swearing or see alcohol in my home.  And to them I will try to moderate my speech and offer them tea, and we can find all kinds of other ways to relate to each other.

But there are THREE women that I've met just since coming back from Winnipeg who have chosen to keep coming to Mill Creek because they've overheard me chatting to one friend or another and they've heard my irreverent sense of humor or the occasional profanity in my language.  And I can totally relate to them because they feel "acceptable" with me because they feel like they can fit in.  As someone who struggled on the fringes of active church life for OVER TWO YEARS before getting saved, it's no surprise to me that there are others like me out there who WANT GOD but can't relate to CHURCH because we're all so stinking CLEAN.  Women especially play the comparison game CONSTANTLY, even women who have been walking with the Lord, serving in Ministry, given HUGE responsibility and are in real relationship feel as though we come up short when compared to "So and so".

So this does help me.  More importantly, I think I'm helping other people.  I hope that it's going to become more positive and less complaining, but wow, there's some real brokenness that needs to be brought out into the light so we can all sit and blink in the sun and realize we're not alone with these feelings.  We haven't even STARTED talking about SEX.  That's not even close to next.  The debate in my head is still raging over what might be next."

Obviously, since then, I DID talk about sex, and some other stuff too.  And then, about a month ago, I discovered and Glennon Melton Doyle, you are a wonderful inspiration to just admit it when life is hard.  And then a couple of days ago, I read this article about the lies we Christians tend to tell ourselves, and I was already considering that BOTH of these people seem to be processing their journeys with a lot more grace and a lot less frustration than I am.

Which begs the question... am I frustrated?  Angry?  Offensive?  And while I'm not really asking YOU, I would appreciate some (gentle!) honest feedback.  Yesterday's post got 168 hits and not a single comment.  Not one.  But the post on FB got 53 comments.  And my intention in starting this blog was to hear that "ME TOO!" and "AMEN!" that I hear in real life... but somehow with more traffic comes less conversation here.  If I'm really just shouting my opinion to the anonymous ether of the internet, then it's NOT "good and helpful" to me, it's just whining.

I AM frustrated with some of my church experience, but I keep going, and I choose to keep going because when I don't go, I miss it.  There's something significantly different between sitting at home or in my car listening to worship music and sometimes singing along (that's mostly in the car, and almost not at all in December since the Christian stations turn into Christmas music 24/7 and I'd rather hang out in the mall with a fork for a public meeting with my own eyes) and GOING TO CHURCH.  Having and sharing in the human experience of following where my worship leader leads me.  Learning to drown out The Sisters Shouting Verily and Miss Pitching Philippians so I can get in tune with what God hears when we sing to Him.

And the message is usually really great.  We are seriously blessed with a great pastor with a servant's heart who is well read, intelligent and very deeply caring about what he teaches, how his message impacts our community, and about the people in his life that he gets to be in relationship with.  I even feel free to disagree with him, because he encourages us to think for ourselves, search our own hearts and take stuff up with the Lord directly, because he doesn't claim to know it all and have it all figured out.

I regularly learn something new.  I'm sure he is very disappointed that I don't take notes and break out my Bible more often to read along, but these days I have to break out the glasses to read anything closer than my laptop and I don't like the snobby look I get when I'm peering over them to follow him so I don't have to juggle putting them on and taking them off every 12 seconds... so that's what THAT's about there, my dear pastor.  I've seen what it looks like on film, and it's the stuff of elementary students' nightmares.  I'm saving you from the insecurity of wondering if you're getting sent to the office because THAT is the look I get while trying to negotiate the over/through glasses maneuver.

So I guess my question to you is really his question to me: Is this good and helpful to you?  Because if I'm just whining with an audience, I'd rather not.


  1. It's actually really crazy because you've hit on two points that are pretty close to home. The first being about the judging and comparing ourselves as women. You are so flippin' right. I have this blog post about half done about how we always want to tear each other down and out-do one another instead of uplift and encourage.

    The second is the blogging and commenting thing. I've been there, it feels like you pour your heart in soul into a piece to have someone feel something from it and bond with someone and then...nothing. Not a comment, like, share, nothing. So then you get discouraged which leads to more writing but you're so frustrated you don't feel like it's worth even posting. I've totally......100% been there. All I can say is to do what makes you happy and screw the popularity.

    It's SO easy to get caught up in numbers and wonder if you're making a difference, but DON'T. You just focus on what helps you, heals you, and makes you happy and along the way you'll pick up a following. You'll get thousands of page hits a day and not a single comment, that's just the way people are. Most just don't understand how much a simple comment means to encourage people like us. Just try to do what is therapeutic for you, and if it's meant to be something big it will become something big....if not then it still helped you heal so technically it's done something big already.

    Do what makes your heart smile. You're probably reaching more people and helping more people than you know, but you're just not meant to know. That's God at work. All you can do is keep doing whatever he is leading you to do.

    Keep on keepin' on my blogging sister!

    1. Ps- Google is being a turd and not letting me join your site, but as soon as it gets it's stuff together I'm officially joining!

    2. Thanks sisterpants! Sorry Google is being a PITA, don't know what's up with that. I'm not necessarily caught up in the numbers so much as I am trying to assess how useful they really are as some kind of gauge for whether I'm being read, heard, anyone cares, all the rest of the unquantifiable stuff in the absence of actual feedback. (Because I am capable of processing my stuff on my own or with friends in person too).

      I really appreciate you taking the time to share! And we've gotta talk more about this comparing ourselves business. It's so toxic.