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7.30.2011

THE LAND OF DISAPPOINTMENT

"It's okay honey, you can let it all out.  I know you've been hurt and I know you're angry and confused.  So, go ahead and let it out.  It does a soul good to let the waters run once in awhile - the healing waters." - The large black woman, Elousa, said to Mack when he first entered the shack to meet her, a symbolic portrait of God (The book, The Shack).  That probably describes me now.  Right where I am - the healing waters.  I went to church Sunday, a new church, still on the quest to find a church home.  My attendance has been down the past 6 weeks.  There are a myriad of reasons why, but none of them fully capture the whole truth.  I scraped away at that to reveal this place of disappointment I am in with the church.  I spent all my growing up years in the church, and then was married for 25 years to someone in the pastorate.  The last 10 years of church ministry I began to crave pure church - less programs, more authentic people, less obligation and rules, more grace and love, less administration, less buildings, a purer view of God unobstructed by humanness.  I wanted true worship.  I wanted God untouched, unadulterated, unphotoshopped by religion and the church.  So before I think my disappointment with the church hinges purely on my divorce experience, it's that plus a journey I was on previous to divorce.  Divorce highlighted it.  It brought the lights of Las Vegas to it.  I'm not sure if there are levels of the divorce experience within the church (although I think there are but that's another blog post).  But being a former pastor and wife created a variable, a dynamic to it.  It added a complex component beyond the complexity of divorce that already exists.  My new husband asked me what I thought about church.  "Disappointed," I replied, "and not done working through my disappointment." I said with sadness, hurtness even bewilderment singing through the words.  I have found divorce in the church as a former pastor's wife a very lonely, silently condemning place.  The one former parishioner I told of my separation and ultimate divorce, was our last church's former church board chairman, a dear and close friend for 7 years.  He stayed close till my quick remarriage.  No one (we pastored for 25 years), barring one person who called me and asked, "So how do you have a relationship with God now?" and a friend of mine in the church who sent me somewhat preachy verses via texts weekly but has declined my invite to sit and talk, has called or emailed or written.  My life was invested in their lives, but the response has been cold and silent.  At first I tried to shrug it off.  Possibly people did not know what to say (probably somewhat true).  I knew it had to disappoint, disturb, confuse or even anger some.  No doubt it left some with some unresolved issues.  I tried to give grace in that regard.  But that no one reached out in love or care has left me stunned, disappointed and discouraged about the church in general.  I went on with my husband's question, "Disappointed I am deeply in the church.  But, not in God.  I feel close to Him and continue to want more of Him."  I have seen God clearly in my life post-divorce and in remarriage - both in tangible and intangible ways.  So much so that it has humbled me.  The love God has continually shown me has been a rich portrait of his presence in the midst of this event.  My husband went on, "Do you  want connections in the church?  Does it bother you not to have them?", he asked.  "Not yet it doesn't." I replied, "I had deep connections all my life in church and no one came forward."  Until recently, I have let that deep hurt, that disappointment lie still.  But now I think it's time to let it out - the questions, the wrestling with it, the tears which can lead to healing.  Soon after I remarried, my dear friend, the former church board chairman, quit calling or returning my calls.  I began to wonder by the silence of him and others if somehow they assumed my quick remarriage was the result of an affair I had been having while previously married.  I knew that wasn't true and God knew it wasn't true.  I couldn't and wouldn't defend myself to other people.  That seemed a defensive move.  I wondered too if I was being blamed in the divorce as former church people (and most of humanity's bent) had to find justification, blame for their ex-pastor's divorce.  I was and continue to be somewhat convenient to blame.  If I am blamed that allows them not to have to wrestle with the issue of divorce and God or to view their pastor as human, flawed. What they really don't want to believe or maybe even know, is that our divorce was a joint decision, a mutual understanding, an angst conclusion stemming years and years in the making. It has also been very personal and private, something my ex husband and I decided not to share with others.  We are not mud slingers with each other, nor to others about each other.  Sometimes people close to me will ask why I don't tell some things about my former mate, why I don't defend myself.  It's just not how I operate, never have.  I continue to hear God's voice say, let me handle others, let it go even the unfairness.  So I let the healing waters come hoping they will remove the disappointment, the hurt and heal the wound.  The land of disappointment is not where I want to stay.

2 comments:

  1. Ah my friend, just know that this battle buddy is here to walk with you through all your journey's. Not in front of you, nor behind you, but beside you as my friend:)

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  2. and That my friend, is why I love you!

    ReplyDelete