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Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Пятница Ponderings: The Awareness Factor

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian

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Last weekend, I had some thoughts in my Weekend Reflections post that I normally might not have shared, but did anyway. You can go back and read it, it its entirety if you want. In essence, I talked about my frustrations with serving and giving and doing, but feeling like your efforts are in vain. I talked about my frustrations with obligation. Feeling like you are obligated because of relation or associations. And, I talked about my frustrations with church.

And I know that people frown on actually expressing frustration or disagreement with their church. But, sometimes faith wavers. Sometimes you just get tired of organization. Because any organization comes with its hierarchy and management levels. In churches, they're just given different names.

People find their way into organized religion for different reasons. They want fellowship. They love the music and praise. They believe in the doctrinal teachings. They go because they were taught to go as children.

People also find their own joys and contentment in organized religion. For some, it comes very easily. They find their faith or their testimony and it never wavers. For others, they search and attend many different churches until they find the one that fits, whether it be the doctrine or the coffee shop in the lobby.

For others, they find the church they like and they ride that faith-filled roller coaster and it is full of ups and downs and twists and turns. And sometimes, a wicked corkscrew turn pops up and the sensation of falling and turning just makes you want to puke and get off as soon as you can. But, you can't quite get off the roller coaster completely. The ride hasn't come to a full and complete stop yet and jumping out mid-stream isn't the best course of action. So, you ride it out. And soon, you come to a smooth section that is almost pleasant. The ride is no longer racing and you can actually look around at the scenery. You even come up to a station and have the option to get off, but the ride is comfortable now and you decide you can handle it and you stay on. And soon, it picks up speed again. And you're trying to simply stay in your seat and not fly away. And people are calling to you and asking you to do so many things that you just want to curl up in the corner and hang on. But, you try and reach out and do what is asked anyway and the cycle just repeats. And in the twists and turns of that roller coaster, you see the same people over and over again. Some are next to you hanging on as well, and others have a premier seat to watch.

It's exhausting.

I have a strong faith in God. But sometimes, I don't have that same faith in church. To me, they're different. A church is the avenue by which belief is spread. God's teachings are true, but people in a church are human with faults and flaws and problems. I am weary of church. Because sometimes we take advantage of others at church. Sometimes we take those who serve quietly and well for granted. At the risk of upsetting people with this analogy, the Doctor and I call it the curse of the squeaky wheel and the shining stars.

In any church, you're going to have the people who always have needs above everyone else, whether they are emotional, financial or whatever. They are the squeaky wheels; they take energy and time. And then you have your shining stars. Those people who are always in a leadership position or whose children are always put before everyone else as the shining examples. Those people whose real claim is that they live in the right neighborhood or have a high property valuation, not that they are skilled or qualified. But they stand before us and shine. And then you have your regular people. Those faithful ones who do what they're asked to do, who always show up when asked to set up or take down chairs or drive the youth someplace, or teach a class or take someone a meal. Those people you know won't flake out on you. But, just because those people may not be out in front squeaking or shining, that doesn't mean they don't have needs. They do. They need to know they matter; they need to know they're heard. They will burn out too. And I'm weary of church responsibilities. I am weary of that roller coaster.

But, will I get off that roller coaster? Probably not. Because, like I said, I have a belief in God. And the belief I have and the teachings I choose to follow, come with this church and all of its human flaws.

And church life isn't all bad. My kids have had great leaders and experiences. I have friends here and I do enjoy opportunities to serve others. The Doctor and I team teach a Sunday School class of 15 year olds and we love those kids. But, I enjoy those opportunities more when I'm not so exhausted and burnt out. And I will admit that the burn out isn't only church related, but the church pressures don't always help. I enjoy most of my Sunday worship experiences. But, I struggle with people. And, I'm sure some of those same people struggle with me. Still, for whatever reason, if we stay with our church, we need to try and work together.

After I posted my reflections last week, it prompted an honest discussion between me and some blogger friends, several of whom have experienced their own religious frustrations, and all of us represented by different denominations. One of those friends shared my post and then said that she had been unfriended by a church friend who didn't appreciate that she'd liked or shared my post, but who wouldn't talk to her about why. That saddened me because had the other person been willing, they could have had a fantastic dialogue.

I don't think it's a bad thing to question, especially if that questioning strengthens what you already believe. And even if it doesn't, if that questioning helps you get to a better place, then question. And don't be afraid to talk about it. Sometimes talking helps.

Like I did last week, I ask today for you to be aware of those around you. Be aware of those with whom you work and serve, whether it is at church or your place of employment. Be aware of those in your family. Pay attention to the quiet person at church or the one who is usually more animated, but hasn't been for a couple of weeks.

Just because someone doesn't squeak and live out their troubles on Facebook doesn't mean they don't have them.

Be kind. Do good. Love is a verb.

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