discombobulated serenity

I’m sitting alone in my small and crowded house, surrounded by my desolate city of 65000 people, looking towards my window that is coverd by it’s drapes, perplexed at the enormity of the small thing we call life. Perplex and beffudled, wishing for the complexingly simple life of the oompa lumpa, the premeditated formulated life of the Boondocks family, the gloriously deceptive freedom of the Easyriders bikers, any thing but the life of the middle class family in the Bible Belt of America. Knowing that it would be so simple to reach up and turn the welcome sign off on the front door, to walk away from the situations that cause so much turmoil, to abandon the ones that I am told I am challenging to grow, and to move on to a place where I can pretend for a while to fit in.

For my readers that don’t attend church on a regualr basis you are probably really scratching your head right now, trying to figure out what on earth I am going off about, but for those that are in the same boat as me, you probably have had the same blenderized thoughts in your head at some point in time.

I’m not saying my church is bad, or even at a bad point, I’m just at one of those points in my life that I’m lookin at my surroundings and looking at myself and not seeing how the two really mesh. My wife tells me that i am affecting people in ways I don’t see, but I’m not seeing the return in that investment, instead I feel the drain and frustrations of trying to find a way to make myself force this trapazoid peg into the square hole. I don’t think there is an answer, not really, I don’t really know what lies in wait for me on the other side of this hump, hill, mountain, whatever it is. But I sat here tonight in my kinship group listening to a woman tice my age (technically she’s 58 so she is 2 years shy) voice the same frustrations as me, telling the group she is at the same place as me, but she is vocalizing it.

OK, so what hope is there? What does one do when they begin to see the church as a whole has fallen asleep, gone dormant in society, refuses medical treatment, and despises you for trying to arouse them from their slumber?  I am so so so far from being an example of what it “should” look like, but I’m trying, I’m putting forth effort, and I encouorage others to do the same. I know I’m not alone in this journey, but it seems as if I’m alone here, at least I’m alone in what my heart is passionate about. I’m tired of the sub par, I’m tired of going with the program just because it’s the program, I’m tired of being frustrated.

I guess I’m just venting, I have this soapbax, it’s mine, I can use it for what I will, dialogue with me though on this one, what are your veiws on where the church in America is, compared to where we say we beleive we should be, and what do you do with that?

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11 Responses to “discombobulated serenity”

  1. I thought I was fairly “conservative” until I started this adoption journey. Now I am confused about religion in schools, immigration reform, foreign aid, etc. Getting out into the world opens your eyes. We are so sheltered here. I don’t know exactly what the answers are, but the churches here have got to change some things. They have become so exclusive, and my understanding is that the church is supposed to be all inclusive. You know what I mean?!

  2. You’ve indicated you have been called to a particular ministry (BA Lounge) but the timing does not seem appropriate at this time. Could it be that your current experience is preparation for that calling. When you contrast what you are experiencing now against what you believe God has called you to do, could it you will have this experience to motivate you in that direction? You will reflect upon your current experience one day…I wonder what thoughts will be triggered?

  3. You’ve indicated you have been called to a particular ministry but the timing does not seem appropriate at this time. Could it be that your current experience is preparation for that calling? When you contrast what you are experiencing now against what you believe God has called you to do, could this experience be motivating you toward eventual action? When you will reflect upon your current experience one day I wonder what thoughts will be triggered? God Bless!

  4. I do know what you mean.

    But with every indictment I pronounce against the church I realize that I’m part of the problem. I’m living just north of the Bible-Belt and so firmly entrenched in white, middle-class America that it’s only with great difficulty that I remember following Christ isn’t synonymous with The American Dream, that God didn’t put me here for my comfort, that my lazy pursuit of entertainment doesn’t lead to a better life. I was talking to a friend the other day, she was telling me about her experiences with two acquaintances who are displaying multiple personality disorders in reaction to sexual abuse in their past . . . and I realized that I don’t have the first idea how to relate to a person with real problems. My friends have problems like “What homeschooling curriculum will I use?” and “Will my mother-in-law rag on my cooking when she visits?” And with every such realization I throw myself on the ground and sob with the dirty tax collector, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

    Now the point of my ramblings–how does a person like me (and, by extention, the unaquainted-with-trouble Church at large) even go about changing? It seems an insurmountable task. When I try to reach out to someone else, I come across like the condescending, lily-white, over-priviledged girl that I am. Do I just keep forging ahead despite my ugliness or am I doing more harm than help?

    You asked, “What hope is there?” I have this pet theory that I’ve been tossing around lately. As I view history and how God has worked throughout, I’m coming to the realization that perhaps His purpose through this whole story is to teach us that we just plain can’t run the world by ourselves. We’ve tried theocracy with the Israelites, we’ve tried every nuance and combination of human government we can put our minds to, we’ve tried the spiritual governance of the Church . . . and we’ve failed miserably at every point. Maybe God is planning to get us to admit that we can’t run the world and to beg for Him to take over.

    Not that it negates the responsibility that we’ve so casually thrown away . . .

  5. Avery – Amen brother! I have come to a place where I know that our church is not who we are, I am questioning most of what the institution of the church in the US holds dear, wondering what it is that God really wants His church to look like, etc.

    There is this gut level feeling that what is behind us isn’t right, and also that what is out in front of us IS right, but it seems like I am looking for it through a thick fog.

    Here is another blog by a pastor going through some of the same.

    http://acompanyoffriends.blogspot.com/

    In one of his posts he quotes a song by Sarah Groves, talking about leaving Egypt for the promised land that says:

    I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
    Leaving out what it lacks

    The future feels so hard and I wanna go back.

    But the places that used to fit me
    Cannot hold the things I’ve learned,

    And those roads were closed off to me
    While my back was turned.

    This feels like where I am at right now.

    May your discontent be a holy discontent that leads to truth.

    Rich

  6. I think I could have written this blog post. My husband and I also feel like square pegs in a round hole when it comes to our church these days, for the most part. The church is a great church in the traditional sense and does have good things going for it. And I know God is working there.

    But I look around and think, no one here cares about anything I care about, just about everyone here is affluent and sheltered (the church is in a smallish college town that is ridiculously expensive to live in), our missions budget is small, we spend gobs of money on remodels and furniture for the baby room…

    Because we plan to move anyway sometime in the next few years we’re staying put there–we’ve been there for 7 or 8 years. But I have to say I’ve never felt such isolation as I do now in terms of all of this.

    Do we abandon ship or stay and try to change things? I think American church culture is so deeply ingrained in people–church is about hearing a sermon, singing songs, and fancy programs. Sponsor a kid and you’ve helped the poor. It’s sad to me that people at church of all places think we’re saints or have done this crazy thing by adopting. If we want the church to change we have to change hearts. But if church memebers remain in a sheltered, isolated, affluent environment, I don’t see how that would happen.

    Kevin and I don’t know if we’ll ever find a church right in line with our priorities. Some of the emerging movement resonates with me but I am concerned with some of it as well.

    Oh and Blaine, I too thought I was “conservative” and am now struggling with all that stuff you mentioned. This experience has opened my heart and my mind in huge ways. I am so glad God is in control and I am not!

  7. I’ve never considered myself conservative, nor am I left wing, radical perhaps, but only because so much of the “church” doesn’t get it.

    There is an inner turmoil that is ripping me to shreds, the one dog wants to love the church as it is and gently move them towards more, the other dog wants to carry a 2×4 and bash in heads, take names and abolish the system to try something new.

    Something new has to happen, but we need the old to move into the new, but that DOESN’T HAPPEN!

    I’m going to think on this more —

  8. Just reading this and hearing what others are saying interestingly enough I find parallels with my self and what they are saying and as I was thinking about it I came across these.

    “Be the change you seek in the world.”
    Mahatma Gandhi

    “If you bring forth what is inside of you,
    what you bring forth will save you.
    If you don’t bring forth what is inside of you,
    what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.”
    Jesus of Nazareth

  9. The high school I attended had students from around the world and I was so interested in their lives and the various cultures. As I moved on through life I fell into the typical routine of work, family and church, keeping up with the world by occasionally viewing the evening news or reading the paper, but this adoption sparked that global awareness for me again.

    It is so awesome to consider the possibilities of this life and our individual ministires when we look outside of our everyday existence. I think you are going to do some really cool things Avery.

  10. Ah, coming out of lurkdom for this one! Great post, for you speak words that are all too common in my heart lately. The one comfort/hope that I have found in my search has been that I think this is a trial that Jesus experienced too. I don’t claim to have many things in common with God, but I see Him in the temples turning over tables. I think to some degree that was his 2×4. I see Him talking to his closest freinds and saying things like, “Really, couldn’t you stay awake just a bit longer . . . for me?!?” I see Him rebuke those that think they know it all and do it all right. And I think, “So He does know how it feels to be awake when all around seem to be sleeping, yet He died for them too.” It’s not an answer or an excuse, but it brings me back to Him; hopefully it will do the same for you.

  11. I have responded to this thread in my latest post.

    there is more boiling inside of me, but thank you all for your input. It was hearing the voices here and those that have e-mailed me off line that have let me see just how deep this river runs, it’s not a local grief, it’s bigger than that. It’s time to stop waiting for permission to be what God made us to be and to begin to DO IT.

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