A different perspective…& thoughts on church

So, no more self-pitying today. Despite my last post, in which a flood of emotions just spilled over onto the written page, I am not in the throes of despair merely because I’m single. I keep telling myself I’ll be more positive on this blog, but as is often the case, this place just ends up being my dumping ground. Sometimes all it takes is a day or two for some perspective to take hold of my wayward emotions, and then I realize how silly those emotions really are.

I’ve told myself if I am to remain single I do not want to be the cranky, bitter, self-pitying old maid that no one wants to be around. I have an aunt who is close to 50 and still single, and though I love her to pieces, I’ve often wondered if her crankiness is part of the reason she’s not married. Whether I ever marry or not, I do not want to be that sort of person. Nor do I want to be angry and bitter. Marriage is not a right or guarantee, and though I desire it strongly some day, to demand it from God is unreasonable. It may be very likely I’ll never marry–and I must come to terms with that. But to hold it against God if He never grants me this desire is selfish and silly. He has given me many other blessings in my life, such as the ability to pursue an education, and I confess getting my degree is the one thing I look forward to most right now. It is probably the one thing keeping me going right now. Like the marathon I trained for a few years ago, I know all the pain and effort I’m putting into pursuing this degree will one day pay off and bring great reward and satisfaction once I cross the finish line. And, God-willing, it will open up many doors of opportunity as far as a career is concerned. Doors that are currently shut to me.

So, no, no more self-pity on the singleness front. At least not today. Maybe my “time” is running out as far as marriage is concerned, but even if it is, I certainly don’t want to waste whatever time I have left on this earth bemoaning the fact that I’m not married instead of doing something positive with my life. I have to keep reminding myself of some of my “heroines” of the faith–Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, and Gladys Aylward, for example–all single women who made a tremendous impact with their lives. Singleness is not a curse–often it can be a tremendous blessing. And when I stop and really think about it, there are definitely some aspects of singleness I enjoy very, very much. I don’t think I’ll ever stop desiring marriage, and I won’t stop praying for it, but I must learn to appreciate my freedom and independence more, while I’ve still got it.

So as far as singleness goes, that is my pep talk to myself for the day. However, certainly I’m still dealing with many other painful and discouraging issues in my life right now. And today as I drove home from church, I felt like crying again, because those feelings of being unseen and unknown somehow get highlighted the most when I go to church. The truth is, I’m about fed up with church. I’m tempted to give up on it altogether. I’m just so disillusioned with the emptiness of it. I went to the Christmas party for my singles group a couple weeks ago, and yes, everyone was lovely, and I had a decent time, but is it wrong of me to want more than sitting around eating, making pointless small talk and playing silly games? The pastor talked again today about the church being a family, and he even specifically addressed those of us who still feel like we’re on the fringes and trying to remedy that, but somehow his words only felt hollow to me. Especially when during the service he urged us to get into groups and pray for each other, and though I had plenty of people around me, only one young woman, sitting closest to me, actually prayed with me. Everyone else nearby had already formed their own little groups, or gone off elsewhere to seek another group. And the young woman who prayed with me looked rather reluctant to do so. I wondered if I had spiritual “cooties” or something? Sometimes forcing “togetherness,” instead of drawing those of us on the fringes in, only tends to highlight the fact that some of us are on the fringes. Which is awkward, to say the least.

I’m just sick of this charade called “church.” Occasionally I’ll get something out of it, and I suppose I’m better off getting a tiny bit of spiritual nourishment rather than none, but overall, if I come away from church crying and feeling empty inside rather than feeling uplifted, encouraged and/or convicted, then something’s wrong.

I feel like I’m dying spiritually right now, but I no longer know where to turn to find the life and help I’m seeking. Even the one friend who’s stuck with me through thick and thin over the last couple years no longer provides the spiritual and emotional support she once did. She’s into some weird charismatic stuff I don’t ascribe to, and when I do try to share some of my burdens with her, she seems to barely listen and always seems far more interested in talking about her own affairs. She says she prays for me, and I believe her, and am grateful for that at least, but I no longer feel our friendship is the life-giving, mutual relationship it once was. So I’m understandably frustrated and disappointed. I feel like I have nowhere to turn.

I’m trying to keep my chin up. I’m trying to press on. I’m trying to believe that somewhere, somehow, I’ll find the fellowship, the friendships, and the spiritual family I long for. But the honest truth is that with each passing day I grow more and more disillusioned with this thing called church. I haven’t lost my faith, but even that is on some wobbly ground right now. I don’t know where God is in all of this. I know He’s out there, somewhere, and every once in a while I think I hear His voice, but more and more it feels like He’s led me into a vast wilderness and simply abandoned me here.

But enough of my woefulness. This too shall pass. It must. Some way, somehow.

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4 thoughts on “A different perspective…& thoughts on church

  1. Could you try a new church? I was having similar issues and it took me a year and a half and half a dozen churches tried out but I’ve finally found a church home that truly feels like home and community. Praying for you!

    • I’ve tried so many churches I’m almost weary of looking. I’m just tired of most of the American church in general. But thank you for the prayers. 🙂

  2. The remarks about church remind me of a comment someone made to me several months ago. In trying to make excuses for what all had motivated me to leave the last parish I belonged to (and sat on the council of, and represented as legal adviser) someone said that I had been a newcomer. That made my blood boil. I had started attending that parish in about 2004, and I’ve been Orthodox all my life and living in Cleveland for all of it except law school. Having been part of the Orthodox Christian community of Cleveland for all my life—and having known the person who said this to me for some twenty years—it was a nice little slap in the face to be told that I was shunned because I was a newcomer.

    In other news, my Aunt Ann lived into her early nineties and never married. She was an old Alabama native from way back, and, although she was tough enough to make it very well on her own, she was not a bitter old woman. She just chose never to marry—I heard she had suitors, but none of them met her liking enough.

    And of course being unmarried is spoken of very highly in Scripture and there are many fine examples of it in Scripture and the rest of history. It’s certainly not a lesser state. It’s too bad that some act or speak insensitively to those who have either chosen to be single or who have wound up that way in any case.

    Anyway, since I’m not writing anything in my own online journals, it seems I get a bit verbose on someone else’s.

    Happy New Year, April. 🙂

    • Happy New Year to you too, Virgil.

      I think my blood might boil a bit too if someone shunned me because I was a so-called “newcomer.” So sorry that happened to you. I think some of the deepest wounds we Christians experience come from within the church, and this is so tragic. Those who should love and accept us the most often end up hurting us the most. I think part of my problem in finding a church home is the fact that I have such a difficult time trusting other Christians, due to my many negative experiences in the church (I spent half my life in a cult). So I’m quite “gun-shy,” you could say.

      That’s cool about your aunt. As you pointed out, being single is definitely not a “lesser state.” But don’t even get me started on how I think the church, as a whole, seems to demean singleness and exalt marriage, despite what Scripture says…that could be another whole blog post on its own.

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