Sunday, August 19, 2007

i don't want anybody over for dinner

I have this question: Since leaving the organized church, has my life worsened or gotten better? At times it seems as it has gotten worse, but I say that because I feel so completely present in my life that it is really messy. By really messy, I mean the practical things like being a husband who listens and communicates well, a father who teaches, loves, and disciplines seems to be elusive at best. And lastly, what does it mean to be a man among men is a question that plagues me.

For the last ten years of my life while I was in church, I was told that all of these things had to look a certain way. The problem was that very few people were really honest with the practical way these things looked. Everything was held up to the status of how God expects us to love and forgive. I went to teaching after teaching to learn how to live the christian life as a man of God. I think sometimes I was at so many meetings I had no chance at putting these things into practice. The busy life of a churchman not only blinded me at seeing the truth, but kept me running after a goal I could never reach.

So left alone to walk these things out, I find myself looking closely at how do I love my wife, my kids, and those I come in contact with on a regular basis? I feel so raw and insignificant that I can't tell if I am compassionate or not. Most of the time I feel like I am not. I say insignificant because my career and church life ended at the same time. And those two things really defined what I thought about myself. That is so ridiculous!

Do I believe that I matter even if no one tells me so? I should.

I say raw because that is what it seems like; everything has been stripped away and I am left to look at the way things really are. Reality is sometimes so difficult to see that I look for just about any distraction so that I don't have to deal with it, whatever "it" is. I am really tired of doing this alone. And I mean just me and my family are alone.

Hope is not lost. Last night a ray of hope and relief came by way of our friends Dave and Trish. They came over for dinner and drinks. Darla was honest about the fact they they had just caught us in one of those moments where we were just fed up to here with each other; I was not so honest. Dave and Trish just smiled and said "that's OK." The girls played a board game and Dave and I watched House of Flying Daggers. Without saying anything their visit spoke: we love God, and we love you, so let's be together in it.

Love came to dinner and lingers even still.


Anne said...

"love came to dinner". A lovely expression of church. I'm growing disillusioned with church myself...does that always happen to people, I wonder?

GoteeMan said...

Michael - great post. I felt much the same at times after leaving church... I even called it a "detox"... and it has been a long process. It has also changed the my view of relationships and who my "real friends are". What I have been made most aware of is that living out of who I really am leads me into the right perspectives and relationships.

At times, I still fall back into old patterns, but when I do, I am reminded gently, by Dad, of who I am, and I begin to move back into the grace to go forward again. We are blessed to have a Father and Husband who is so good to us, so kind and forgiving, and such an excellent example of what we are and how we should relate to our families as father and husband. At the times I am struggling, I commit to you to remember you and pray for you.

Here is what I hear the Lord saying about you today:
Michael is the man God I made him to be, and he is fully equipped to respond in the love and grace that I have filled him with. His name is "Strength". He is a man among men, and I have made his life and family a testimony to the love and good heart I have placed within him. As he leaps boldly with wreckless abandon into the fullness of My love and peace, all doubt and fear will be utterly eliminated.


Jacqui said...

amen to goteeman and amen to this post...

it is always so good to hear your objectivating thoughts... thank you for sharing.

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Seth said...

I am right here with you. Leaving the church has been one of the hardest things I have ever encountered. Church was my everything... but that is kind of a wrong way to live isn't it?

Shouldn't my God, my spirituality, my beliefs, emotions all make up who I am and be what I consider my "everything." I struggle with the same feelings of being alone in certain situations and experiences in my life.

The weirdest thing is... I felt more alone when my everything belonged to the church.

I am always here for you. I haven't been through much, and although I am young - we are at similar stages. I am glad to release my identity from work, church, and people around me. I am glad to have started the process of becoming me, myself, and I... but that is what it is... a long, rough process. There is finding, there is losing, and there is winning, but throughout it all we have each other.

I love you, Michael and Darla, for always being there for me, loving me, and accepting me for Daniel. Thanks for consistently listening and constantly caring. Your friendship means more to me then you know.

Lets do dinner or coffee sometime SOON. We have even more talking and catching up to do.

How do you like your soul? Raw, Medium, Medium-Well? Lets go with raw - I am tired of mine been over-cooked to the point of being unrecognizable, and all because of the "church."

"Freedom reigns in this place, showers of mercy and grace, falling on every face, there is FREEDOM."


Anonymous said...

Oh... Excellent post. I've been thinking a lot lately about whether my life has gotten better or worse since I pushed the idea of God out of my head... To be honest, it's impossible to say at this point.

I miss the comfort of feeling like there was some overriding cosmic justice system that would right all of my wrongs. And I guess I miss thinking that someone hears my prayers at night--even though most are pretty terrible.

Your honesty is admirable; I think that, of all things, brutal honesty just may be what makes everything better.

Hearing what you're saying,