And yet more thoughts on the subject of leaving our church.....
This week has had an odd air of unreality about it. Every few hours I think suddenly, "Wait. This can't be real. This cannot be happening to me... we are going back next week, and everything will be fine."
But it's not. Tomorrow is the first morning that we will not be at our church... because we no longer belong to our church. I had to drop something off there today, and it was the first time that I have set foot on the campus... as an outsider. As someone who does not belong there any more. It was heart-wrenching.
Dear little church, I miss you so much.
This has been a hard week. I meant to have all of our "John Dear" letters written to our friends, but found that I couldn't manage it. (Side note: I used to think that those were "John Deer" letters, and wondered what tractors had to do with anything!) I only got through two communications - one to our pastor, and one to an elder. A very surreal experience.
I'll have to try to get through the rest next week. I've been procrastinating, I know.... for one thing, it's extremely painful, and for another, I keep hoping that DH would change his mind. But he hasn't. And in some ways, that's a good thing - because I'd be extremely angry if he was vacillating and I'd gone through this much pain for nothing!!
However, he believes, and I believe, that he is doing this for our family's good, and I'm very grateful to him for standing up strongly for what he believes in the face of as much pouting, sulking, lecturing, and general blame-casting as I've cast in his direction these past few months. Brave guy.
And I will be the first to admit that my spiritual life has not been what it should be these past few years. That is not my church's fault, of course, but it may be that I need something as shocking and unsettling as a church change to jump-start my faith journey again. I don't know. I'm trusting that God has a plan in all of this, but I think it will take a while to see. Hopefully I will see it at some point to convince me that we're not making the mistake of a lifetime.
One really great thing is that my parents have been visiting this week. As I decided not to fill them in on this situation (I need to deal with it first before dealing with the advice/comments/input/opinions of family), it has been a blessing to have uninformed outsiders around before whom I must put on a cheerful face and avoid discussing the situation. It's saved us a lot of bickering and my husband a lot of hassle. Now that they've gone home, I am having to consciously refrain from discussing it and am trying to keep (most of) my turmoil to myself.
We had actually planned on being at church this Sunday in order to say some in-person goodbyes, but having been advised against it, we have decided to refrain - and we know that in a tiny church like ours, it probably would have created somewhat of a spectacle, regardless of how private we tried to be. So we are officially done and out.
My goodness, this hurts.
I can't help but remember constantly how much of our life is with this church. We've been through so much with them.... the conception our three babies and subsequent one loss and two births (the first thing after both of our births was getting to the computer to send pictures to our church family)... the conception and either losses or births of at least twelve friends' babies.... the death of a dear friend.... the fun musical performances... the potlucks, the Christmas programs, the Easter mornings and Christmas Eves.... the graduations, courtships, marriages, celebrations, moves, joys, sorrows, of so many friends over five years.
I don't know how the next few months are going to go. In some ways I'm looking forward to reaching a point where I'm not constantly on the verge of tears... but on the other hand, I don't want to "forget and move on." One way or the other, my heart is still at my church. We may have relinquished membership, but I'm still there in spirit - a "ghost member," if you will.
So this is definitely a season of mourning. But I will try to focus on having a loving husband who cares about our family's spiritual growth, two beautiful babies, wonderful friends, and all of the other things in my life for which I am truly thankful. This will pass.... it just hurts horribly for now.
(Church member readers - and there are more of you than I thought, LOL! - I need not say that the above is confidential... I don't need to spread my whining around. And I also want to present a united front whenever possible in real life. I've been very proud of myself this week for presenting a "we" rather than "he" when dealing with people!)
And I promise to cheer up in my writing soon!