Tonight I have been thinking about friendship. I think we all have many acquaintances but it is friends who change our lives. I feel blessed to have four amazing friends. They are with me through thick and thin. I hope that they feel they can count on me to do the same.
Life may not offer many opportunities to experience true friendship. Sometimes things intervene and don’t give us the chance to bond in “agape” love. In my life experiences I can see that part of having this kind of relationship depends on how much we are willing to give. If we are unwilling to share our true selves then deep friendship doesn’t happen. We have to learn to open ourselves knowing that we can be hurt in the process.
I share joy and sorrow with my friends. We hold each other up in the tough times an rejoice in the good ones. We have all had our share of pain and loss and that has bound us even more together.
I guess my hope is that I can continue to be the friend they need and have them remain mine.
Today I decided that I needed to heed the statement that cleanliness in next to Godliness. For so long my office has been cluttered with material brought home from the job I left last year and I decided it was time to clear out. I did save some things that are important to me but trashed a lot. It is so nice to see this space neat. I realize that the disorder was connected in some way to my own disorder. When you are not functioning well it doesn’t seem important to be neat. Now I can see that the neatness has made me feel better.
I am not an obsessive neatnik but too much stuff everywhere will start to get to me. I don’t know why I tackled the job that I have not felt like doing for over a year but I am glad I did. Some boxes are gone and only some minor things to file left. I hope this is a step on the way to recovery. When this started I had no idea that so much anger, pain and sadness was bottled up inside. Losing my best friend and her daughter and then my own job within one year was overload.
It has been a tremendous help to be able to share my journey with my blog. It helps so much to find others who fight each moment and keep on fighting. We can conquer the things that stalk us. We can find companionship and peace. Without the ability to communicate we could so easily be alone.
God is good. Our needs are known to him and if we open our eyes we can see his work in out lives each day.
Lord open our eyes.
Recently one of my favorite bloggers ( afracturedfaith ) wrote about difficulty in finding a church where you feel at home. It started me thinking about this. Since 1976 I have been in a church that felt like home. From 1976 to around 1997. At that point I was working with the minister of the church and found myself with ethical differences and joined the church I was working for. I felt at home there until they ended my job and now am struggling to see where I belong.
I asked myself what made me feel at home in the first church and I think part of the answer is the people. They were welcoming and caring. I also think it was a place where I fit in socially. Probably a lame reason but it helped me feel comfortable. The progress toward being at home came as I connected myself to the things going on. I joined the women’s group, helped with Sunday School and just generally made myself a part of the group.
With the second church I was part of the staff which automatically made me comfortable. However, it was the people who made me a part of the church family. I worked through 8 pastors so who was in charge was not a part of my belonging. It didn’t seem to matter.
Bottom line ….it seems that for me the people are the primary reason why I feel a part of a church. There are certain other things that matter to me. I like liturgy so churches like Lutheran, Episcopal etc. fit me better. I like the beauty of the service. That doesn’t matter to some people and they prefer a different kind of service. A church service can be boring if you don’t feel moved by what is happening. That is not all the time but once in a while the whole package gets to some place inside.
The question is can you be a Christian without going to church. In my opinion yes….but. It is a very BIG but. As Christians we are called to service. Living a Christ-like life is what we are to do. It is not easy but we must work to get better at it day by day. That means we can’t be Christian in isolation. Just to sit and read the Bible is not following Christ. Christ did belong to a community. He belonged and loved others.
Church may not be the answer for everyone but when you read Christ’s word make sure you are following his only commandment.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
He also gave us the great commission in Matthew 28:19
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
This past month has been full of challenges and opportunities for me to backslide. During all the things that worried me I have kept on going. The only thing to mar my moving forward has been IBS. I was so good for over a year until last summer and stresses jumped on me and it was difficult to keep worry and anxiety at bay.
The issues concerning me have not been mine to tell but they do impact me. Hopefully some progress has been made looking forward and getting a grasp on solutions. It is easy to know that plans don’t always work out but at lest I think the issues have been identified and are moving forward.
I think the other difficulty for me has been finding a home for my spiritual life. I am disconnected and feel a piece of me missing. I do relate strongly to music and ritual. That is why I gravitate to liturgical churches. The beauty of the liturgy moves me. I have been so blessed by amazing music over the last 20 years that that piece of me is also adrift. I can listen to the things I love at home but it is not the same as hearing it in a place with amazing acoustics and glorious musicians.
To feel immersed during liturgy is what I crave. I know that I have to find some solution but I feel incapable at the moment. I have a good understanding of where those things can be found but there are other issues holding me back. I sometimes end up just staying home. This is not a solution and not a good choice. I continue to grieve over the loss. Will I ever find that place of peace again?
Life goes on. Christmas Day is past but we are still in the 12 days of Christmas which no one recognizes today. When I was young we celebrated the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We didn’t go to the whole 12 days but at least the holiday was extended.
Now the world is done with Christmas. Today I went shopping and the store has put out Valentine’s cards…..on to the next holiday. . Today so many people are backing away from church and I do understand it. Church is filled with real people….some good…some bad. Many seem hypocritical. They go to church on Sunday and are not at all Christian the rest of the time. Many churches live to perpetuate themselves. They collect money to keep the buildings up and only a token amount goes to live out Christ’s mission. We need to re-think what it is all about.
On the positive side church does provide Christian community. At least I hope it does. The community can hold you up when you are in the depths. Their prayers can make a difference. This is part of living Christian.
So just like people churches are not perfect. They are only as good as the people who inhabit them. It is hard to live Christian in our society. Cynicism seems to often be the norm. It is easy to think that I can’t help people who don’t seem to help themselves. Whether it is logical or not this is what we are called to do. We are not called to judge the need but to carry out the ministry. Jesus didn’t ask what the people he healed or changed were going to do. He did tell them to go and make disciples.
Am I following through?
I have not written for several days. The internet was down for a while but then I didn’t feel like writing. I have been struggling with IBS which triggers anxiety. It can be depressing to be hesitant to go out due to IBS. There are a lot of things going on in my life that have stressed me. However, life goes on and my minor glitches will not stop the world.
When things are like this I work to remember the big picture. I am alive. I have a home to live in and food to eat. I am not homeless and destitute. It is time to be grateful for what I have instead of whining for what I don’t have. It is for me to adjust my perspective.
I am summoning my coping skills and will be meditating and praying to calm my soul. I have had a lifetime to learn and even though I struggle at times I know what to do. I am aware that many with anxiety and related issues have not yet learned coping skills and suffer greatly. It is wonderful to read blogs when others share their coping tips. Knowing that others struggle makes us not feel alone and we can try ideas and find what helps us.
Prayer allows us to reach out to the help that never leaves us. It is possible for God to feel distant but that is our perception and is not real. God is always there. …sometimes just waiting for us to reach out. Life is never smooth. God is the rock…the foundation that shores us up. Never forget that.