Lately I have felt apathetic about going to church. There is no specific reason for this that I can see. Nothing is wrong with either the church I worked at or the church I am attending with my husband. They are both friendly churches that adopt members as part of the family. You always feel welcomed and loved. It makes me wonder what’s up?
I am not really sure. I have not backed away from my relationship with God. It is growing stronger than it has been in a while. When you work for a church there is always the danger that you are working more than worshiping. I know I fell into it easily. Now I actually spend time with God. Not enough but much more than I was. My connection with God is enriched and I am grateful for that.
I do still miss greatly laying hands on people and praying for healing. This is a part of my past ministry that causes my soul to ache, It fed me in a way it is difficult to explain. I was not doing anything myself for it was God who was using my hands and my love….outpouring for others. I still tear up when I think of what it meant for me. God was physically present each moment.
My spiritual life is much more solitary and I am not a solitary person. This is a struggle for me but one that God is pushing me into. I am caught in the longing to do something more physical instead of meditative. Maybe I need to try moving meditation. (which actually is a thing) I would still want to do it with others.
I have always been aware of my need to deepen my relationship with God and at times during my life have had a deep and amazing connection. Now I need to re-connect.
So why does this translate into a lack of passion for church itself? I wish I knew. I can see clearly that stepping away is not the right choice. It is so easy to develop a pattern of staying home on Sunday morning and it becomes a habit that is hard to change. Church is also not about my feelings although for me, until now, it has frequently been an emotional boost. Church has not changed. I have and I need to spend time delving into myself to seek answers.
I need an emotional boost. I need to find an amazing conference or heart rending speaker who challenges me and reignites the fire that I can’t find.
God will supply my need. I just wish he would hurry up!
I have long felt that that pain and sorrow have an important place in the scheme of things. They come to us unwanted and hard to accept. We wonder “what is the point?Why is this happening to me?” We feel lost and abandoned. Suffering is lonely. It removes us from our everyday world and causes us to live within ourselves and our pain. Nothing else matters. We can’t see past it. We can’t make plans. We just live in limbo.
The up side of all of this is not readily seen or understood but it is there. For those of us who share on Word Press it should be noticed more easily. I offer this short poem as an explanation.
The pain of aloness
The pain of sorrow
Is an instrument
carving out the soul
to hold and heal
Our sharing on Word Press is an example of this. We share in the hope that our own struggles, journeys, ideas for healing…will help someone else. We share and find the belonging and acceptance that eludes us elsewhere and a life of meaning and importance.
Keep on sharing!
Lately I have been thinking about good and bad emotions. Good emotions run the gamut from a simple flash of a decent day to full blown joy. It is easy to see the negative ones. Fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, sorrow….I could go on. To counter these we can use the positive things we don’t often see as emotions: safety, relaxation, strength, gratitude, pleasure, satisfaction, friendship, kindness, and assertiveness. (From the article How to Tap into Your Light by Kalia Kelmenson in Spirituality and Health)
Most of these we don’t equate with emotion and so we don’t key into them. We don’t see them as positive emotions. We don’t focus on them. That is a major part of the problem.
I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to come home and relate a story about how uncomfortable I felt doing a mediation than that I did a good job. I let the good feeling be lost in the negative emotion. We tend to hang onto the bad feelings and nurse them. We are unwilling to let them go. Think of how often you have been angry about something and just kept bringing it up in conversation or dwelling on it. For some reason we must enjoy holding on to them.
When we don’t let go we experience physical changes. Negative emotions can cause an increase in heart rate and rise in blood pressure. They can decrease our resistance to disease and lower the ability of our immune system to function. They allow our bodies to attack us with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, asthma, ulceration colitis, migraines and irritable bowel. Oh, what we do to ourselves.
We have to learn to focus on the positive emotions and use them to overcome the negative ones. To do that we need to remember what they are and see them when they come. The list above can be added to I’m sure. It’s easy to see how we think when I realized that I had to find that list and couldn’t just come up with one from my head but the negative emotions were right on the tip of my tongue.
I think the most important piece is to be aware of what you are feeling. We can’t change it if we can’t recognize it.
As the song writer Johnny Mercer said “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative!”
Sometimes, as children, at bedtime we would imagine monsters….monsters under the bed or in the closet. We would make our parents open the closet door and look under the bed before we would let them leave the room. Unfortunately the monsters are not just part of our childhood. We hang on to some of the monsters as we grow up. We may not recognize them. They don’t look the same.
The monsters we have now are bigger and uglier. They threaten us in ways we never imagined as children. The monsters follow us around just waiting for us to slip and suddenly there they are.
The monsters have many names. Some are self doubt, loneliness, regret, guilt, anxiety, depression, fear, addiction. I am sure there are many more but each one can ruin our peace. They take advantage of any crack in our defenses and take over.
We can fight. We can eventually wipe them out. Each day we have to learn new ways to right ourselves. Tricks that make them go away. Tricks like meditation, medication, turning to God, music, TV, anything that works for us.
The monsters can be beaten. We can chase them away. Don’t be afraid to tackle them. They are weaker that we are. We have the strength of God with us.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Yesterday emotions rose up and got me. Since not being a parish nurse I have felt the loss of being there for people in times of crisis. I think that part of my person is connected to being a support for others. In a way I have lost some of my identity. At the moment all I am doing is cleaning house, cooking, working in the yard and trying to continue on this journey. It is hard to feel as if you have lost part of yourself. Tears come when I think of this. It is very difficult when you have found your perfect place and then lost it.
I have plans to begin mediation training in January and I am hoping that helping people resolve their differences instead of going to court will fill some of the void.
I do love working in the yard and cooking but really who wants to build a life around cleaning? There are only two of us to cook for and that limits us.I enjoy the garden (I use this term loosely) but it is large and overwhelming. I do spend time with friends but nothing seem to replace what I had. I need to get used to the fact that nothing ever will.
I know that God has some other way to use the skills that I have acquired over a lifetime. I just wish God would hurry and tell me what that is! I will keep plugging along and wait on God’s timing. I know that grief comes and goes and I am just in a wave of it and it will pull out to sea again. Life will continue.
Today we are just sitting here with rain and wind. So far we still have power. We also have a generator for back up. We are just slightly off the coast of Savannah with more islands and lots of marsh between us and the barrier islands. Our tides can be 8-9 feet normally and is any surge hits us at low tide it will be meaningless. The kind of surge projected at this time for us would barely come up over our river wall and onto a small dip before it would reach our lawn. Odds are we will see some wind with things blown about but hopefully not falling trees. I hope we got those out last year.
I have been thinking about some of the reasons that people are leaving churches. Just as with most things the reasons are varied. I wonder if some trend can be drawn from the whole, We have blamed at lot of it on the business of families with both parents working and that is one cog in the wheel. Parents have little time to spend with their children and (hopefully) use the weekend to do that. Many young un-marrieds have said that they find the members of churches do not live out what they espouse and are therefore hypocritical, Of course there are those who feel that the progress of science has made God less believable. All of these things are possible. So what is it about church that is important and why does it help?
In today’s world people are more disconnected from each other than ever before. When people lived in small towns being connected was easier. You might not like everyone but at least you knew them. Today many of us don’t even know the people next door to us. We have little actual support from others and in some cases no network of close friends at all. Church has been a place to find those things. Admittedly, there are some other places cropping up to take that place but most do not have the openness to encourage strong relationships.
This may seem like the wrong reason to go to church but it is an important one. Jesus had his friends around him. They were just as dysfunctional as the rest of us. We all need people to support us. We can study our faith while alone but to practice it we have to be in community. We cannot live it out alone.
Loneliness keeps cropping up in my thoughts. So many people are alone and long for someone to acknowledge they exist. The pain they are feeling is excruciating. It makes me want to reach out and touch them in some way. Some of these people are physically alone. They live by themselves and seldom see others but some are people that we meet every day. On the outside they seem like everyone else. It is the inside where the pain is found.
We have superficial relationships with many people and can pass right by someone who needs more. It can be difficult to risk reaching out and exploring the feelings of others. To do so we have to open ourselves to them. We have to be non-judgmental and most of all open to listening. Most of this is summed up in the word compassion.
Several people in blogs have mentioned being empathic. I think there are those of us who do sense the pain of others. The question is do we do anything about it.
Any troubles that we have had in our lives prepares us to help others. If we have suffered a loss we are more able to understand the feelings of others in the same situation. People who have anxiety or depression can truly understand what someone else with the same issues is feeling. We think we are so different and admittedly each of us is unique but we all have suffered each in our own way. The interesting thing is that when we reach out to others we can sense our own pain diminishing. For me, sharing my pain is cutting it in half.
It is so heartwarming to find people able to open up about their own problems while writing a blog. Admittedly it’s easier than in person but it is still offering yourself to others. Maybe doing it in writing will make it easier to sense the pain of someone you actually meet. Too often we feel an outsider and that no one else has the same problems but when you start to actually hear others stories you know that you are not alone. You are in a community of belonging.