Candyland is frozen over and I've had lots and lots of time over the past few days (four days to be exact; I've not left the house in FOUR days. It's like heaven) to ponder and, um dwell on a certain interaction that occurred last Sunday that has left a very bad taste in my mouth.
I love my church. No, seriously. My church is wonderful, and to be more specific, my Sunday School class is just downright amazing. When I hear people talk about how churches are so hypocritical and judgmental and only want perfect people in their buildings, I know that these poor individuals have never been to my church. My Sunday school class has seen me through the end of my miserable marriage, my divorce, a surgery and hospital stay that was beyond terrifying, and countless other crap that comes up in the course of a normal life. They have stepped up to be godly examples to my kids; taking my boys hunting, fishing, to ball games, and to Boy Scout events since their dad (who does his best - not ex bashing here) lives so far away. I've had people from my church step up to fix my plumbing, take care of my yard, drive my kids when I couldn't. Nobody has ever presumed to judge me or make me feel bad about the job I'm doing as a mom. Nobody ever acts like they are better than you. Nobody pretends that because they are on this committee of that council that they are more holy than you are. They recognize that everyone has flaws and that just because they are good at one thing, they aren't good at everything. It takes the whole Body of Christ to really make things work for a church. We all tend to be checking for the plank in our own eyes and leave it to you to find the speck in yours. Basically, my big, wonderful church is, mostly, full of people that wouldn't fit the most definitions of "church people."
But...(you knew that was coming, right?)
As if to make a liar out of me, I had an encounter last week with a person from my church that made me feel about four inches tall. Then it just started to piss me off. This is a person I've known for a very long time. I've never been particularly close with this person, but I do appreciate what he does for the church. He and his family are some of those people who are there "every time the church doors are open." They really do fill a number of needs that our church has. He works a lot with the youth. And having two children in the youth group, I REALLY appreciate those who give their time to care for the spiritual growth of these kids. HOWEVER...
(small segue for explanation)
If you know me at all or have read much of my blog, you know that I struggle mightily with chronic migraines. A few years ago, the flight surgeon also determined that I have some sort of auto-immune disease that we never did figure out. After several blood tests and other attempts, this flight surgeon got assigned elsewhere and the remaining docs didn't have the time or inclination to play "What the hell is wrong with Buffi" any longer. Suffice to say, I do take care of my kids and try my darndest to get them to all the extra-curricular activities they participate in so that they can grow up to be healthy, well-rounded people. Some days, though, I wake up with a particularly terrible headache that keeps me from driving because I can barely open my eyes. Or when I do open my eyes, everything looks a little, um, wavy or weird and I feel like I can't trust my senses to guide me. On school days, I do my best to power through and at least get the kids to school. The cost of that is that I generally end up back in bed for the rest of the day until I have to get the boys. Although now that SP can drive, I can have her pick them up sometimes or I have had friends who do that for me once or twice.
Add to that: For the past several years, SugarPlum played on a club soccer team that required us to travel to Metropolis to our south in order to play. So many, many weekends, we missed church because of soccer games. Now that she is a junior in high school, her club team basically disbanded because juniors & seniors would rather spend weekends with their friends and/or working than travelling two hours each way to play soccer. Yes, I'm a soccer mom without a soccer team...but that's another post for another time. The upside of this is that we have been able to go to church much more often and the boys have finally been able to be way more involved in some of the activities at church. Yay! [now that I am thinking about it, these are the same parents who made it a point to tell me that they would never put sports before church...whatever]
Now, there are still some Sundays when I wake up, open my eyes, and the pain that comes shooting from every direction causes me to lie back down and say, "NOPE. Not happening today." So, I take some migraine medicine, drink as much water as my queasy belly will allow and go back to bed, hoping that the pain will pass. Am I proud that I'm missing church and causing my kids to miss? No. I'm very sad about this. Could I get SP to take them to church. Probably. But my brain isn't exactly functioning at capacity and the ridiculous amount of nagging it takes to get those boys ready to go anywhere, much less dressed in a manner acceptable (to me anyway) for church, is usually beyond my brain's paltry abilities at that point. So we all stay home.
Last week was one of those Sundays. However, by Sunday afternoon, I was feeling much better and was able to get Bear to church for Bible Drill followed by a party that the youth group was having. When I went up there to fetch him after the party was over, this man (the one I mentioned waaaaay back there, before you stopped reading, because golly this has turned into a long post!) pulls me aside and says, "I have a bone to pick with you!" I, knowing this man as a fun-loving guy with a good sense of humor, chuckled and said, "Okay, what did they do now?"
THEN, this man - this self-righteous man - proceeds to SCOLD me, saying that Bear told him I had slept in this morning and that I have a responsibility to get my kids to church every Sunday. He didn't think it was okay for me to just sleep in when these boys wanted to be at church. I was speechless. I smiled, nodded and told him that from now on, I'd be sure to have Bear call him when his mom was too lazy to get the kids to church. Okay, maybe I left out the "when his mom was too lazy to get the kids to church" part, but I was just floored.
I carry so much guilt over what I cannot do when I'm going through a bad streak of migraines. Not to mention the guilt I feel for my kids having to grow up with divorced parents. I was awfully proud that I'd been getting us to church as often as I had. I was also feeling pretty good that I'd gotten Bear to church that night. I truly felt like somebody punched me in the gut. Now I can hardly look at him or his wife (who has also chastised me in the past for Bug missing Sunday school, but not to that extent) without feeling angry. And I don't like that.
I wish that people could understand that many of us are doing the best we can and that what we need most is encouragement when we are getting everyone to church. I wasn't feeling God's love at all last Sunday. What I was feeling wasn't coming from God at all. Why can't people see that these kinds of interactions are what KEEP people away from church? If I hadn't been a member of this church for nearly ten years, I don't know what effect it would have had on me. I don't know that I would want take my kids back to a place where it seemed the policy was to make parents feel bad. Thank goodness I have my Sunday School class and other good, loving friends in my church who encourage and support me and never once make me feel bad for missing when I can't help it. I feel sad for those people who haven't had time to meet the friends I have and whose early encounters are with stereotypical "church people." Our church is a great place filled with the most amazing people. If you are active in your church, please consider how your words sound to others. No one person is more "holy" than another. Nobody gets to pass judgment on anyone else but God. So stop casting those stones already.
I'll get over this. But I just pray that I'm the only one that caught this man's judgment and not a new person who is struggling with their faith and feelings. It would be sad for something like this to drive someone away entirely.
(and if you made it all the way through, thanks for listening to my rant!)
(and if you made it all the way through, thanks for listening to my rant!)