So, the prayer about having an adoption blessing at my church is still unanswered.
Over the years I have had a lot of issues with churches. I grew up in “the church.” I went through periods of deep resentment about the expectations placed on me as the daughter of a church officer. Then as a college student I got disillusioned when I felt the church I was attending was just wayyyyy too conservative for me. Then there was a time when I just practiced via televangelist. Then I was more spiritual than the religious foolishness (truthfully I’m still in that camp). Then there was the church that frowned on an event that a few of us 20/30-somethings hosted called Christian Afterparty, which was a clean movie night with young, Christian adults who wanted to just hang out. I routinely had 30 folks in my living and dining rooms on the weekends just hanging, but the young adult pastor just got pissy so we stopped. Then there was another period of disillusionment.
After the first semester of my doctoral studies I realized I needed to probably link up somewhere spiritually. So, here I am, back in fellowship, recognizing that “church” is never going to be perfect and that the Holy Homeboy has his own timeline. Yeah, I get all that, but I’m still feeling icky about how the request to bless my family has been handled. Is it really that out of step from what other families get? Is it really that I feel marginalized? Is it that I know if I had adopted an infant a dedication would’ve happened by now? Is it that I have an unwarranted sense of entitlement as a member to be recognized?
Yeah, maybe it’s all of that.
Recently, I sent off an email asking, “So, um, about that dedication thing…” I got an email right back, saying that I needed to reach out to someone else. Oh, ok. So, I get around to sending that person a long email recap with a side of angst.
I really wish I hadn’t asked. I do. I hate this. It’s painful. It makes me feel all un-Christian-y. I don’t want to be a trailblazer anymore. I also don’t want to be unhappy at my church. I want to enjoy being there. I want to worship happily, without feeling like I’ve been rejected in some way.
This is a really layered issue for me from a diversity perspective and from a member perspective. My dad, who is an officer/elder type in his church, and I were chatting recently about what membership means in a church; what does that entitle you to? Does it entitle you to anything at all? We both like governance issues, so we concluded that if a church’s constitution is silent on denying privileges, those privileges convey to members. So I see all kinds of different kinds of families in my house of worship; this whole dedication thing makes me wonder are we all equal under my church’s constitution? I mean, I’ve seen single, unwed parents cast out of churches with big ole Hester Prynne-style scarlett letters, and don’t get me started on church and same sex marriage.
Oh I get it, folks want to put some boundaries around things, but I have long wondered, in my periods of disillusion, what do the application of boundaries mean for different and, apparently in my case new, kinds of folks/situations? I’ve often wondered how many people like me, a believer just working her life walk with the Holy Homeboy on their terms, are turned off by the emotional, electric fencing around “churches” and “religion.” I don’t know. But it makes me wonder because I’m really struggling sitting up somewhere every week hearing about God’s love for everyone and feeling like I should probably just sit in my car in the parking lot, you know, where I can hear the Holy Homeboy without a side dish of alienation and lip service inclusion.
Yeah, I’m hurt…really, really hurt.
The Background on The Church Thing