Saturday, March 14, 2009

Explanations and Details

I left the impression in my last post that I thought badly of the people at my church. I don't feel that way at all. I don't mean to imply that these are not "good" people. They are wonderful people, those I know personally especially. Those I don't, well, I don't know but they seem so. As a whole, it is a great church to attend for prayer, praise and worship. Both my church and my son's outdid themselves when Jerry died. I would have been lost without their assistance. They know what to do and they did it well. One of the women there is a friend from college but much younger than I and with young children. She's a wonderful person but again, we are talking about a large age gap.

The realities are that I've always been disappointed. I have no social friends there at all. Over time, several became more friendly but I've been there for ten years and even today I could walk in, sit down, and leave without ever having anyone say a word to me or me to them. There are perhaps four or five women I am "friendly" with but I've never seen them socially unless it was a church function. So, I can't say I have any close friends there.

They've just never been friendly with me outside of church functions. I got to where I didn't really enjoy those because I ended up sitting alone with my husband and no one talked to us. Oh, I just remembered an amusing detail. Once, Mike, my oldest son, was about 15 or 16 and he felt bad for me because no one talked to me. He went to several women in the church and told them this and asked them to go talk to me. They told me about it and laughed. I did too, but had I been them, I'd have been embarrassed. They didn't appear to be.

Actually, the men are all much more sociable than the women! They all talk to me! But I can't very well become close friends with them!

I've seen a lot of people come and go and some I know were because they felt distanced. I'm sure that many people do care, they just can't be bothered by other people. Maybe they work, maybe they're sick, maybe they just are forgetful. But it takes a lot of effort to be a friend to someone.So, as a result of my "welcome" when we first went there, I make a point to welcome visitors more warmly, not the usual, single, "How are you, glad to have you" but a hug and smile, and my name and where do you live, I live in I work at, etc. If they come back, I try and always stop and chat a bit.

What I believe is that if you are see a person, you have an obligation to extend your hands in any situation. If I'm standing five feet from you I will acknowledge you, even if you haven't made eye contact. I'll usually go tap you on the shoulder. Most people think, "If I don't look at them, I don't have to talk to them". Humans do this in every social setting. It is why we can see a beggar on the street and never feel a thing. We don't look so they don't exist. It's simply not true. Even I've looked the other way but I try not to. But when someone is down, they can't see anything. It is up to those around them to assist.

Jerry and I chose this church for our sons after several visits. There was a group of wonderful young men that welcomed my boys. And the men welcomed my husband. My husband loved it and we remained even after our sons left. But the first two years, I hated it. I never wanted to go there but I did for them. I tried to make friends and just get acquainted with other women. I couldn't seem to get anywhere. I even invited one woman and her husband over to our house our first year there. She replied, "You and your husband are quite a bit older than we are." I was stunned and never ever tried that again. Later I learned I am four years older than she...the same age as her sister!

However, I continued to go for my family. I believe that God blessed me in other ways because of that. Over time, I learned to love the pastor and his wife. They so obviously care for these people. And when she died, it was terrible. He is older, too and we will, at some point, have a transition. It has already begun. Jerry and I were uncertain if we would stay when that happened and now, I do not know if I will stay. The replacement is a good man and I believe sincere in his walk but I'm not crazy about it. I have prayed for God to give him wisdom and his wife also and to make them more approachable because since I've been there, they have been the most unapproachable people. Only in the last year has she really changed at all from hardly speaking to actually asking how I am.

But honestly, I don't know what my plans are at this point. I do not have a sense of loss at the thought of leaving there and that strikes me as odd. As I said, there are people I like there. But I don't think I'll be missed very much, if at all. I doubt anyone will notice when I'm gone, unless it is the pastor.

However, I never make such changes without praying about it first. When it is time, I'll leave. I'm not sure that isn't what I'm feeling now but they say don't make any decisions for at least three months. So, I'll wait. April will be three months.

When I was going to college, I attended a different church. They were pretty much the same way but even my husband and sons felt isolated. During that time, I prayed for a friend. I met a woman in college who became my best friend. She was not and is not a Christian. Since college we haven't seen each other much as we live in different towns about 20 miles apart. She teaches and I work so our lives have diverged. But I remember thinking, how sad that my best friend can't pray for me or share spiritual things. She was a non believer but she was such a good supportive friend in other ways. We'd study together and complain about our families, classes, professors and go to lunch and talk about the interest we did share. I'd pray for her but she just wasn't interested in religion. Still isn't.

Today, another one of my best friends is a person who doesn't share my beliefs but shares many of my hurts and frustrations. I can't sit and discuss a lot of things I would like to discuss but she is the person who, who alters her lunch plans to go meet me for lunch so I am not alone.

God uses stones if he can't use his people. And, then, He showed me blogging. And I have all of you with whom I can discuss all those other things!

I figured out long ago I don't go to church for friends. I go to worship. Real friends find you, you don't have to go searching for them.

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