I Wasn't Prepared For This

I think I'm sick of hearing myself, or maybe even seeing myself complain in my head. I think there are levels of contentment. I've felt the keenest level before and little did I know that stepping off that platform would create a deep plunge into grief and ridiculousness. Now that those two things are here, I look at myself and think, "what now?!" 

Ever since July of 2010, I've been at this heightened level of feeling behind. And I mean behind in everything: housework, emotions, school stuff, events, dinner. I said to my pastor a couple of years ago that I felt like I was a Flinstone with someone else moving the rock car and my feet were just dragging along with it, bleeding and dirty. I lost my sister, then I lost my mother-in-law, and then I just went through this season of time speckled with joys, heights, and lows of grief. I don't even know if I feel "poor me" at all. I feel more like, "I am never prepared. Life keeps going and I can't get to the finish. Is there even a finish?" And I get it. Friends around me are suffering things that I can't even place myself in. Some of them are completely gone, like they are erased forever. Some are barely hanging on, and I mean barely. 

The main thing I want to do: hide. I don't know why. I'm not ashamed of anything, I just want to be alone for a bit. I'm antsy, bored. And it's stupid. 

The recent loss I've had is my last church. Political ridiculousness I would prefer not to get into, but it has been painful. I left a great position as a lead musician, and I had created in God's work, a very fine tuned machine. But things I could not control and a heavy conscience weighed on me in the end, and when my pastor ended up taking another job out of state (which was completely unrelated), it was like being abandoned. Because my pastor left, I knew I had to leave, because the political stuff getting ironed out was not going to happen because he was the only one willing to do something about it. So yes, I have felt and still feel anger towards him. I especially feel that when I feel the isolation so acutely on Facebook. Not just from him, but from nearly every person I'm "friends" with from my former church. When they used to "like" things and comment (which is just a stupid thing to ever obsess about), very few now do. The contrast is so staggering that I feel like I somehow must have gone to the darkside without knowing it. I went to a baby shower a few weekends ago for a friend from my former music team, and my 13 year old daughter went with me. She said before we walked in, "Are you at all going to feel awkward?" I looked at her surprised and said, "No. Why whould I?" She said, "Because you don't go to their church anymore." I said, "These are my friends. Why would they treat me any differently? They know why I left and it had nothing to do with them. I don't feel awkward at all." 

Boy was that naive. Not only did very few engage with me, it was so awkward and uncomfortable that I left early. My daughter was right. 

I'm sure my former church feels the loss of me. I don't delight in it. I know I did a lot for them and frankly, they did a lot for me. Musically, it was the best thing I have ever put my heart into. And I am sure they don't know how to act, or what's appropriate, for example. I left because no one else was outraged enough. Complacency is an enemy. And I get it. No one wants to think about things they can't really change. They just want to live their lives and do what they do. Except I perhaps made them feel bad for it because my leaving meant that they in their complacency were doing nothing. So I guess that is why they don't "like" my post about my son graduating high school, or the happy celebration of my wedding anniversary. It is no matter that I told everyone it was nothing against THEM. I'm sure it's the hollow after the leaving that makes it harder to accept. Or perhaps it is what my husband says, that when you go, no one misses you. Out of sight, out of mind. 

And...they had two major people in leadership leave within two weeks. When meeting my pastor, I told him, "I have to leave the next week...I can't...I can't possibly be there for longer." I cried. There was a looming EMPTY waiting on the other end of the several weeks I thought about staying. This decision had been abandoned and set aside for well over a year. But what was I to them, really? I formed a great team. I made the music happen. What they never had to think about they suddenly had to start thinking about. I guess it's like when you break your right hand, you notice how much you really use it and need it, so you are forced to use your left hand, which is a little weaker and not quite the same. I think that's all I really was to any of them. The right hand, or the right foot, whatever. My family was essentially ignored. Several people never knew what my kids' names were. And we weren't a large church. My husband was treated terribly in the end. Well, in the end, he left with the kids because it was uncomfortable. Imagine the stress of that on my family. Everyone, I guess, wanted to believe that we left because my kids did not have a youth group. That's a nice cover story, but it is not the truth. No youth group certainly helped. 

So I am floating around doing interim work, filling in musical gaps for churches that are exactly in the position I left my last church in. And I feel exactly like that: floating. I don't know if it is in a good sense, really. I've never done it before. I'm tasting the reality of what is modern church: at least ten years behind musically (or 20!) and singing songs that are on the top songs list on CCLI. In many ways more than one it has humbled me. For some reason congregations actually sing these songs. And they sing them loud! I've been on one side of the spectrum where we sing these top 40 songs and play them so well it will knock you out and no one sings, to only singing hymns and modern retuned ones and everyone sings, to this weird middle ground (I'm not saying it is necessarily good...I'm not sure) where people sing this mix and it is not as well done. 

Floating only for five months has left me wishing to land somewhere already, but then again, I don't know if I even have the strength to land just yet. Floating means that I can shy away from commitment and exist very hands-off. I can just ride along and no one expects that much of me. I can appear, sing somewhere, and before any one knows it, I can be gone and people would just think after a few weeks of my absence "I wonder where that girl went." I want to minister to people. And God has me floating and ministering in little chunks, and maybe that is ok. It would be nice to be in charge. When I do what God has gifted me to do in the leadership He created in me, it works out well. It sounds good. When I'm not in charge, it's easy, but it doesn't sound as good. Maybe that sounds narcissistic! Oh well. To be fair, I'm not at all a natural born leader, and had to learn that I am good at it through God's strength. This is just my experience. 

And today I'm bemoaning my lost "time off" and such. Summer is here and I should be drinking cocktails by the pool and reading all my favorite books. This is not the case. All of my teenagers have plans and things they do and I am, what it seems like to me in my sinfulness, the slave who does everyone's bidding. And my mind is full of fears about whether or not I have done well by my kids, or will do well. When I used to stay awake at night fretting about a kid couging, now I fret about whether or not they have done their homework or had enough driving hours for their license. After I get over one hurdle, there is always, and I mean always, another one. When I have two seconds to worry about the new wrinkle on my face, I have another two staring me down wanting my time. Which brings me back to feeling behind. I think I'm behind because I am not prepared. 


alisa said...

Yesterday, for the first time in two years, I listened to a message from my church in Tucson. It wasn't even by the pastor, just one of the members that I recognized because he talks about his kids (one is adopted and they kept her Korean name). Anyways, I had no idea what their story was, and he tells it in his message. It is close to the story of my parents's recent experience with church... and it looks a little like yours too. If you would like to listen to it, here's a link: http://secondmile520.org/messages/message/a-solid-foundation
It's about 30 minutes long.

I'm going to pray for you as you search for a place to settle in to. We should write more!

R said...

Thanks, Alisa. Yes, we should write more! I'll go ahead and listen to the link. Thanks again.