Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

Breaking up with a Church… October 6, 2017

Filed under: Communication,Grief,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:59 am
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When death happens in a family, I have always felt that church was where you go to find comfort… the place that reaches out and wraps its corporate arms around you to give you a bit of peace in the chaos that has just rocked your world… the place where you know you’ll find the words to ease the pain, share the grief, and unburden your soul. But what happens when the church isn’t there for you?BreakingUpWithAChurch

My mother died unexpectedly, 10 days before Christmas, this past year. Celebrating Christmas was difficult, especially since she always spent that particular holiday with me and my family, so I sent my choir director a text to keep him updated on my attendance. The idea of going to services was too painful for me to fathom. I simply wanted to spend time with my husband and children, so we didn’t go to Christmas Eve services. New Year’s came and went so I could concentrate on planning a service that would honor my mother’s memory. I grew up in her church, so I felt comfortable creating a service that would have pleased her in the choices I made. I had chosen Psalm 121 which had, unbeknownst to me, been included in services for both her father and that of her father-in-law, so I honestly felt her hand guiding me in the selections for her service.

January flew by in a blur… mum’s funeral service, executor responsibilities of bills and cleaning out her home, drives to/from Pennsylvania, along with growing concerns about my father’s health. I went to one church service, but couldn’t handle more. Clearly I was hurting, but there was no rest for the weary…

Seven weeks after my mother died, my father died as well… from complications of Parkinson’s exacerbated by a car accident in November. While I wasn’t as intimately involved in his service, my stepmother asked me to honor his memory by singing one of his favorite hymns. I asked my choir director for a copy of the music, since I couldn’t find it in the various hymnals at our house, and practiced it in my kitchen as often as I could. It was a heartwrenchingly difficult thing to do and as much as I didn’t *want* to do it, I desperately wanted to do something tangible to honor him. I may not have wanted to sing, but I’m so grateful that she asked me. They are Episcopalian as well, so the service was familiar and comforting even if I hadn’t been inside that parish since my father and stepmother were married almost 40 years ago.

A month after my father died, I saw my priest at the local store when I was working. I apologized for not being at church lately and mentioned that it was still so hard for me to get through services after losing both my parents. He said that he understood and said “you know where we are if you need us”. Maybe it was the place where we were speaking (I was hosting a wine tasting at a local liquor store), but there were no words of comfort spoken… no short blessing or prayer… no attempt made to reach out to me *as my priest* to meet with me in the future.

I’m not entirely sure why this phrase hit me so hard, but it’s the one that resurfaces each time I think about returning. Thinking about it now, I believe that by using those words, he was placing the next action squarely on me. I wasn’t, and still am not, in a place to make that sort of move… to ask for help… to seek consolation… to get back to church…

And so I don’t. I don’t attend church at the moment. I don’t sing in choir. While I pray daily and sing constantly in my car (those long road trips can be cathartic), I have withdrawn from the corporate church.

While it hurts my heart to have made the decision to “break up with my church”, I don’t feel the same comfort from this particular parish any longer. The two or three individuals who initially reached out to me have gone on with their lives, which didn’t include me from the beginning. I’m sure that some will say it was up to me to return and “rejoin the living”, but sometimes that’s just too hard. Priests are given the tools, and the personnel, with which to reach out to parishioners in the midst of whatever personal struggle they face. I truly believe that, by not having any contact with the people of this particular parish, we have been cast aside and left to our own devices.

While my faith is not entirely dependent upon corporate worship and prayer, I can’t help but wonder if the pain I still feel might have been lessened if I had felt welcome to share my grief at church… if someone had reached out after my mom died, and again after my father died… if my church had cared about me. I really tried to make this church our home, but it has become glaringly obvious that it’s not… grief has brought that into sharp focus.

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Forgive and Forget… right? June 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 2:56 pm
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I admit that I’m having trouble with the phrase “forgive and forget”.  Over the past few weeks, there have been difference scenarios brought to mind in which I keep hearing this phrase as a mantra… but is it meant as one for me to follow or in which to take heed?

The Bible tells us that Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  Earlier in the book of Matthew, He also says “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  Is this a parable through which we are to understand how to comport ourselves on earth or is this another time when I need to seek the council of my priest?  I just have such a hard time with this phrase.

Most recently, I’ve been told to “let it go” when I rant about the unfair treatment of my son at the hand of his college lacrosse coach throughout his senior year.  I know I should do so, but there’s a little part of me that wants to know how I could possibly make things better if I don’t forget… if I could do something that would have an effect on the future if I didn’t let things go.  Am I being delusional in thinking that my actions would have any effect at all?  My son doesn’t seem to have a problem letting this situation go… why am *I* having such a hard time doing so as well?

You know the old proverb:  Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.  The idea is that after being tricked once, one should be wary, so that the person cannot trick you again.  I was on the receiving end of such a situation a few years back while serving on a board in our church in which two members of our parish went to great lengths to publicly disparage my actions and abilities.  The situation was caustic enough to both me and my family that taking a step away was truly the best course of action left for us.  Over the subsequent years, I have found other ways to feed my spirituality… but forget?  I don’t think so.  I’m a self-described “happy yellow lab” (see previous posting), but there are definitely times when I follow that proverb more closely than I might like to admit.  Those people fooled me all those years ago, but I don’t know if I could find my way back again if I were to allow them to fool me again.

Maybe I’m just a little too human but I’m offering up a warning to all who see me as a doormat.  I can allow for mistakes… I can forgive poor judgement in most cases… just don’t expect me to come back as quickly the next time.  I have been blessed with reason and memory… God gave me these gifts… and I’ll use them as needed to protect myself and those I love. 

Hopefully I can be more positively focused in my next posting… God has bestowed many gifts upon my life and I need to give credence to all that is good in my life instead of dwelling on that which is not. 

Can you forgive and forget this posting?

Can I?

 

 
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