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Sunday, March 16, 2008

When you're weary, feeling small

[Warning: The following is very introspective and confessional. It is meant more for me than you. I am not looking for pat answers or even sympathy, but am blogging to get it out in the open where I can look at it myself.]

Maybe I'm just a quitter.

After weeks and weeks of struggling with it I am about 90% decided that I am going to resign from the Human Care board at church. It is taking all I have not to jump from the church itself, too. I haven't been going (on purpose) for about six weeks now. Some events at church have further subtracted from my desire to attend, including a change in the small, intimate service we've been going to that pretty much is the kiss of death for it - at least for me. Which then means the only other two options for worship are the much bigger, formal and impersonal morning services. Ugh.

I could complain about everything in the church that's driving me to this decision but Dan says I shouldn't, so I won't. Besides, I know there's plenty wrong on my side of the equation. For the past two or three months I've been going through one of the worst depressions I've had in a long time. In some ways being long past the days where "suicide is always an option" makes it harder, not easier, to cope because that means there is no way out other than to just keep struggling on through it until I reach the other side. I know I will. Luckily for me my depressive episodes are never super-long lasting (well, unless you think three to four months is long - it seems long from the inside). And they are always seasonal or situational in cause (or this time, both). I'm taking some 5-HTP and that seems to be helping moderate the effects. I won't take prescribed medication for it if I can at all help it. It's not that I think that's wrong - I don't. I think it can really help some people. In fact, I envy them because that would make the problem a simple one to solve. But SSRIs have side effects with me that make them out of the question. So not much left to do except muddle through and pray.

But in times like these I have one instinct - shed. Shed the unnecessary. Shed the aggravating. Shed the irritating. Shed the meaningless. Throw things overboard that are dragging me down with them. And church right now feels like that, and the Human Care board chair really feels like that. I've been struggling against making the decision to drop it - after all, this too shall pass. Whenever Les or I get into one of these funks we have a code phrase the other one will say to help keep perspective, "Don't make any life-changing decisions right now." So I am trying to hang in there and tough it out. But week after week passes and I don't do anything I should be doing for the board. To leave the position vacant would be no different than having someone "in charge" who doesn't do anything either. In fact, that's more dangerous, because right now the church thinks someone is handling it. But that someone isn't even handling their own problems very well let alone taking on any others.

I have prayed about all this but not received any answers. I haven't talked with anyone in the church about it because that would bring up everything else I am wrestling with there and I could easily end up walking out of that meeting churchless as well as committeeless. And I am not supposed to complain or gripe about church. So I just swallow it all. But really all that leads to is a feeling that the committee, and church in general, is a load, a burden. It doesn't bring me any joy. I know I am the problem, so I am not blaming the church or anyone in it. I have written here before I just don't get the whole fellowship thing, at least not as presented in church. It really ends up feeling like a bunch of adults playing at making church a combination of the bad aspects of work (committees, budgets, minutes, politics, blame shifting, passing the buck) and community theater (where most of us get to be the audience of a play whose run never ends and whose script never changes). I read the Bible and find none of that in there. So I hear "fellowship" and want to run away. And I now understand why everyone hears "committee" or "board" in combination with church and wants to run away, too.

Hanging in there, but every day is a struggle. I make no guarantees that the next time I post on this topic it won't start with, "Well, I resigned today."

[If you read this far, I feel sorry for you. But you were warned.]

8 comments:

Chaotic Hammer said...

I'm kind of weirded out by the anonymous comments. Not that there's anything wrong with anonymous comments, but when they have a "canned spiel" and leave links it makes me think they just search for certain words or concepts in blogs and leave comments with a link back to their website. (I probably shouldn't comment on other comments like that, but oh well. I'm sure they mean well, bless their hearts.)

Jim said...

CH,

I agree and I almost deleted those two comments. In fact, I probably still will. I had moderation turned on at one point and then turned it off because it's a PITA and I can always do clean up later. This is only the second and third spam comments I've gotten since the blog started, however.

Chaotic Hammer said...

In a sense, I'm struggling with many of the same questions you are. I pretty much always take the easy way out, in many areas of my life. In this case, it sounds like the alternative may be for you to continue to "play a role" while in the presence of others, but to remove your heart from it for safekeeping -- hide the real you.

If that's what the environment there is fostering, then what makes you think others haven't already done that? And they're just "mailing it in" when they show up too. Or worse yet, I know (sadly) that there are some who have no idea personally who Jesus is and that He is real, but because they are exposed to the language and culture of how to play a role there, that's what they do.

I'm a little afraid of superimposing my current feelings about "church" onto yours, and we're two very different people at very different places with the Lord (as is the case with every believer), so that wouldn't be right.

It's easy enough to find the "we stopped doing traditional church" people all over the place, and they'll make you feel good about the decision if you decide to stop going, and give you "allies" who feel the same way you do.

It's also easy to find the "you should be in a church" traditional-model people. Many might think it's awfully "liberal" to be questioning the way many good God-fearing people who have gone before us have chosen to express "church", and in many ways they may be right.

I've been both, and several shades in between. I don't want to make everything in my "spiritual walk" be all about me -- my growth, my fellowshipping, my whatever. An organized church seems like a place with built-in opportunities to be more others-focused, which I think is a good thing.

But I keep honestly wondering, to myself -- if God just stopped showing up at a certain building each week, even though it has His name on the sign out front, how long would it take for the people to realize that He was no longer there? How long would they keep doing what they were already doing, and never notice the difference?

Jim said...

CH,

I think the people in my church are good people. I just think we may all be trapped in something that isn't quite right.

I still haven't quit the board, but I haven't not quit, either. If anything, I am leaning even more toward resigning. Things are building up inside me and I can feel a breaking point coming soon.

tinahdee said...

Hey Jim,

Why do you feel like you can't walk away from this? And why do you say your situation is your fault? Why do you feel like you have to "tough it out", so to speak? Would like to know the motivation for these feelings.

Tina

Jim said...

Tina,

1) Because I said "yes" to it in the first place, and take my commitments seriously.

2) Because I don't want to cause trouble.

3) Because I have no one to blame in all of this besides myself.

Josh said...

hey, i don't know who you are, or the exact struggle that you are going through, but i do know that i stumbled across this post at a time when i'm struggling with faith. God willing - and i am assured that He is, for he works for the good of those who love Him - i will see it through, and so will you. (though we struggle with very different things)

human and structural problems are not uncommon with any organizations, and if there be one place within one context today that should face such complex and damaging struggles, i'd say it's the church.
why? because Christians are and will be under attack by this world. I am not surprised to hear about people on committees struggling and starting to want to leave church, after all, the enemy is referred to as the deceiver and the accuser, and in this spiritual warfare will constantly try to bring us to ruin.
i'd encourage you to hang on, yet not without faith or with cynicism, and not without love or with dreadfulness. However, I'd encourage you to hang on in faith, and in regards to people/leadership issues, approach them in a humble and loving way. Paul wrote about such in 1 Timothy.
I would like to emphasize the importance of prayer and faith and support, none of us can do it alone. None can do it by his own strength, but by faith and by God's strength.
Do not hide yourself or your struggle! Where in the Bible did it say that one should be alone in times of struggle? Is it not true that a Christian left alone is in a vulnerable and dangerous spot to be attacked?
Furthermore, to whom do you think you are really offending or rebelling against by not going to church deliberately for weeks? It is very easy for us to think we are entitled to do such thing in anger, however, in light of who God is - the Almighty God, the Creator - who are we to pass judgment and act such ways?
Please do not hold grudges or judgment continually, but pray that God will help you forgive and love! Do not be in dismay and lose faith, remember that God does not give us more than we can handle, and in every situation of temptation, He provides a way out!
Believe and have faith in God. And in your struggle, do examine yourself and pray and seek support!
If the church has truly turned its attention away from God, or is just plainly doing something wrong while being blind to it, what good is it if those who realized the problem does not speak up? Do so out of love and with faith in God, and also with reverence so we do not take on an attitude of self-righteousness. Don't just leave! Besides, as you've said, you are also at fault; therefore, i'd suggest that you pray and be honest before God, confess, and repent! And stop the blaming! God forgives, isn't it true that "if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us form all unrighteousness." Blaming is the work of the accuser, conviction is from God, and a Christian should repent once convicted, while be grateful for salvation. Therefore, stop focusing on the blame, or how you feel, for feelings are deceptive, and obsessive focus on blames will drag you down and cause you to miss the point.
Now, unto a very important thing - you feel that the church is trapped under something not right. I'm sure you've prayed to God about the situation, and i am sure that God will work. However, though you probably know this, have you been so stressed because you are trying to carry on the burden all by yourself? Do you feel obligated to change the church? If so, why? God is the one who does work on the hearts of men through the Holy Spirit; trust God.
Just hang on to God. As for switching churches because of such, i am no one to speak on the matter.
All in all, may God bring you through this time of trial, and may you grow in Him all the more.
God bless.

Jim said...

Josh,

Thank you for your encouragement.