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
March 12th, 2015 at 3:49 pm
Okay, if you’ve written about this somewhere else please just direct me to the relevant post/s, but I don’t understand what’s going on here. It seems to me you’ve asked your church for a blessing – in other words, to acknowledge and pray for you and Hope and … what? They’ve said NO? Or they’re confused because she’s a teenager and they don’t know how to handle it? If the first … seriously, maybe you need to find another church – not because you have “rights” or because you’re not getting what you want, but because a church that refuses to respond to a request for prayer and blessing simply isn’t doing its job. (Yeah, I’m opinionated – but you knew that!) If they’re just confused because this is a whole new concept, maybe you need to figure out what you’d like them to do, and then make an appointment to meet with a senior pastor and discuss it.
Either way, I hope you figure this out. Your church should be your community – even your family. It shouldn’t be a place where you feel hurt and marginalized – especially when you’re trying to direct Hope toward all the good things a church should offer.
March 12th, 2015 at 4:21 pm
Hey Bella, I’ve actually updated the post to include most of the previous posts on this topic. Doing so made me even more sad because this mess started in SEPTEMBER!
Oh they pray for us all the time. But as you’ll see in previous posts, I had to explain the difference between a dedication and a baptism (my first epic clue about what I was dealing with) and then the long silences, which I’ve come to believe is really about waiting for me to just go away. I’ve been clear about what I want and even sent examples, dare I say they really just don’t want to do it. There, that’s it.
And now I’m pissed. And folks wonder why I just check out of the church scene so often. Foolishness.
March 12th, 2015 at 4:41 pm
Argh … I’m sorry. It would be one thing if someone took the trouble to sit you down and explain why they’re uncomfortable with it. If there was a biblical, or even a simply logical basis for their problem, then you’d have something to work with, wouldn’t you? But nonresponsiveness has to leave you wondering whether they’d respond if you asked for help, support, counsel or prayer – especially with a non-cookie-cutter situation.
I’m very blessed in the church we attend. Yes, it has its shortcomings, but the pastor is so accessible, has such high standards of integrity, and is so willing to connect, that I am 100% willing to push through with anything that makes me uncomfortable. I hope you find a church home that feels the same way for you and your girl!
March 12th, 2015 at 4:53 pm
Just read through the other emails. Argh, what a slip-‘n-slide. So very sorry… 😦
March 13th, 2015 at 5:49 pm
Hey, ABM, there are so many of us online sending our blessings to you and Hope as you embark on your journey as a family.
Have you considered grassroots tactics? Maybe you can talk to the members of your Church, asking them to intervene on your behalf. Imagine a steady beat of parishioners approaching the Church leaders, seeking a dedication for your family. They can express their support for a public dedication. Ask them to ask others in the Church to do the same. God helps those who help themselves.
Maybe the support you’ll feel isn’t from the handful of people at the top, but the body of the Church. A full body embrace!
Just an idea.
March 17th, 2015 at 10:18 pm
Thanks so much for this. I don’t think I could mount such a grassroots movement–not that I couldn’t, but I guess I wouldn’t. I can’t imagine having to fight *that* hard to move the needle in my church. I agree that God helps those who help themselves, but perhaps he’s just showing me a door. Not sure, but I appreciate the thoughtfulness in helping me to figure out how to make this fit. 🙂 Thank you.
March 25th, 2016 at 9:07 pm
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