In the last year church has become difficult again, and I really don’t know why. I do go to a very charismatic church…a good bit different from my 30-some-year Baptist roots, but similar in some ways too. The music is wonderful, but sometimes I just can’t bring myself to sing the praise songs. Instead I just cry through them…sometimes like a baby. If I can get through the music most of the time I’m okay unless the message hits a tender spot then it’s time to find another box of Kleenex.
The problem is they are not tears of joy. It seems I do a pretty good job of bottling all my pain Monday through Saturday, but the minute that choir starts to singing I turn into a human waterworks machine.
There are days when I’m feeling good, and the tears don’t come, but they are rare. Again, it’s a charismatic/Pentecostal church so my crying isn’t a big deal. While it’s not the jumping pews/holy wailing type of church emotion is not only expected it is welcomed as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.
The problem is…I get embarrassed, and the more embarrassed I get the more I cry. The more I cry the more embarrassed I get, etc. etc. I don’t loss complete control, but I feel like I’m making a spectacle of myself. My husband also gets very uneasy, because he knows they are tears of pain, and he’s powerless to change the things causing me pain. Making him uneasy is what hurts most.
Maybe they’re just cathartic tears and not a sign of any big underlying problem. Maybe it’s the way my soul offers up a sacrifice to God, but they sure do feel like tears of disappointment. While church is supposed to be primarily about worshiping God (and it is) it also seems that church is about family. I see all the families around me…parents with babies, children, teenagers, and while I know not every family is perfect they seem perfectly content and happy in church. My extended family is two and a half hours away, but when I’m at church it seems like they’re a million miles away. I do have my wonderful husband, but when we sit on that pew it’s when my sense of family incompleteness is greatest…it shouldn’t be, but it is. The disappointment comes in, and to be completely honest it’s a disappointment with God. Even though I know He has done the best for me sometimes I’m still just plain disappointed that He has withheld what seems to come so normally and naturally to others.
I continue wrestle with how to “do” church. In the early years of our marriage we were heavily involved…almost to the point of burnout, but in the last five years our involvement has waned greatly. After a particularly difficult time in a start-up church we poured ourselves into (which didn’t make it in the end) we felt wrung out…tired, and just needed to attend church. Because we make frequent trips home on the weekends it was just easier not to get involved and feel tied down by the church. Also, the quandary of where did we fit in as a childless couple when all our peers were raising children wore us down as we were always the odd couple out. Now we just attend for the most part.
Anyway, I’m just writing about this because I know there are others out there struggling with the same thing. Some of you have found a way to navigate successfully through the minefield of church, but many of you, like me, still struggle. The church doesn’t really know what to do with us. Some churches do have special classes/ministries for the childless not by choice, but those churches are few and far between. Some churches treat CNBC folks like they have some sort of terminal illness (been in some of those churches too), and if you’re noticed at all it’s with pitying stares and pats on the back.
If anyone has learned how to successfully deal with this phenomenon I would love to hear from you. If you haven’t I would love to hear from you too. I really think the church needs to talk about the unique challenges CNBC folks have in church.