Oy! But this is annoying

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.

And left.

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.

Easter Sunday at Newsong

Easter Sunday at Newsong

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4 thoughts on “Oy! But this is annoying

  1. Wow. I can relate to this! Especially the part about all the primping and preparing to go to church. Two of the families invited to the girls birthday party had to skip out early (before 6pm) because they had to “get ready for church in the morning”. Neither of them are on staff at their churches, but they had to get all their church clothes pressed and their kids Sunday school stuff organized and things ready for the band (yes, they gave me a complete list). Church just seemed to take so much effort.

    But they were both miserable people. One lady, seeing all the “unchurched” kids at the party commented “I think it’s just *great* that kids-like-that have some place to hang out, but I wouldn’t have them at my place.” The other lady said that she pulled her kids out of youth group at her church because there were too many kids whose families didn’t go to church.

    Yup. You reach “the lost” I don’t want them at my Christian club.

    • Oh my goodness. That’s so sad! Did you see my comment on facebook about a friend of mine informing me, “You’re not really a Christian…you’re like pseudo-Christian.” Because I acknowledged that drinking and other non-conservative shenanigans wouldn’t change my eternal destination, and quite possibly if the country is a mess – it’s not 100% Obama’s fault. It has continued to make me laugh, because of the response I’ve gotten. Comments on and off facebook, questioning my lifestyle and others who are joyfully living their life to the fullest, and liking such comments.

      Thanks for the feedback! I have a feeling this will be an on-going topic, and I’m curious to see what friendships sprout from it.

  2. Megan- Perhaps the lesson learned from this time abroad is that one shoe does not fit all and meeting the “norm” definition is not so important. Hang in there, you will reach an equilibrium eventually. Continue to question and challenge the norm.
    Cindi Barrett

    • Thanks, Cindi! I think you’re right, the norm no longer fits and I’ve outgrown a variety of titles, and places. I’m anxious to find that equilibrium, even as this process is interesting…sometimes painful, but interesting.

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