Looking back on my life, my life started with family, spread into the Church community my parents had chosen and then slowly branched into a larger circle of friends found through school, work, and various other activities.
There’s a truism that you only hurt the ones you love. Those most vital to my normalcy are also the ones who can most easily wound me, and vice versa.
Somehow, it’s more evident than ever before as I attempt to reconstruct my life here. The expression of faith is heavily rooted in the culture where that community of faith is based, and now more than ever I am no longer one culture. I’m a Citizen of the World. A traveler. A Wanderer. I’d rather sit down and discuss ending world hunger with someone holding a European passport, living in America, than with most of my fellow countrymen.
So church is an issue. I stuck close to my family for the first month or so, and either slept through church or visited my sister’s church. There, I cried a lot, but it wasn’t my community because I planned to keep moving. The visits made me emotional, but I was there mostly to spend time with family so it wasn’t that personal.
Now that I’m back in Indianapolis, I’m attempting to find a community. I don’t have my work circle. I’m no longer a student. I haven’t begun running. Family is busy, or too far away to visit daily. Finally, it was time to revisit “church”. I’d been cringing and postponing for awhile, but the time had come so I went for it.
The pastor was discussing simplifying your life, going out to eat less and spending more time with family. All I could think about were my refugee friends, and how little they had to fill their days. True, they don’t want me to sit beside them in abject poverty, but I question the validity of my needs here in America now. I am short-tempered and frustrated with Americans patting themselves on the back for only buying 3 pairs of slacks, instead of 4, when they actually only need to replace one.
Church in America requires a lot of washing up, primping, preparing. Not all of it, but enough…too much for me. Because most members of the church are not isolated from their families, and we are individualistic, we don’t form tight communities so easily. There is an authenticity lacking here, a false front that I have been angry with and fighting for years. Now, it’s repugnant to me.
This didn’t happen because of Thailand, this happened because of my church family in Thailand.
I don’t hate the church, I am just so far removed from the “issues at hand” addressed so seriously on Sunday morning, that I feel like an outsider. Add into that the reality that in America, an outsider is left to her own devices, left to pull herself up by her bootstraps, and I am left shaking my head and going for walks instead of listening to sermons.
My faith and my family are my anchors. Church is a manifestation of that. Now, I’m confused and so easily wounded by the thing that I miss the most…this is a strange journey.