A few years ago a friend of mine made a simple but profound comment concerning her plans for her life. I'd known her to be a bit of a gypsy who was always sure life was going to be better somewhere else--the end of the rainbow has to be here. No wait. There . . .
After two or three moves in a matter of a year she realized she was dragging her disabled husband and children through an endless decision-making process that might not ever reach a conclusion.
"There are no Heather shaped holes in the world," she told me "so I'm just going to have to make the best of it where I am."
I sighed a sigh of relief for her and I'm sure her husband and kids did too. She'll be graduating from nursing school soon, at the top of her class.
My hippie up-bringing effectively cured me of looking for rainbows. For me, the the metaphorical pot of gold is my family and home. While I love to travel, having a home base and a certain amount of routine is terribly important to this earthbound creature.
(There had to be at least one of those, otherwise this entry would be a lot shorter and maybe less interesting, depending on whether you're still reading at this point).
This does not apply to my place of worship. In that area of my life, change is terribly important. I intensely dislike ceremony and formality and am drawn to contemporary, relaxed services where there are uninterrupted opportunities to worship.
Looking for this, we've visited a number of churches and been members at three in the last eighteen years and I was the one who pushed for the change every time.
The church we attended when the children were small came the closest to being a perfect fit. But in a scant ten years it went from a group of genuine grassroots people--homeschoolers, repentant old hippies, college students, and back-to-earthers who were sincerely seeking God's presence to a different group of successful people with money who saw the church as a business opportunity (read: super church).
The second church was . . . well, let's just say they came with a lot of rules and regs and three services a week and an almighty, "Weeee mmmisssed you at church this morning. Why ever weren't you there?" if you were absent. Liquor was out. Disney was out. Santa Claus was out. Dancing, rock music, card playing were all out. It didn't take me long to feel like a hypocrite, but it took four years to leave. The people were kind-hearted and loved my husband and my kids, but their judgemental attitudes drove out more than one searching young family. I only stayed as long as I did because the people from group I played gospel music with worshipped there.
The church we've attended for the last five years was full of nice people when we joined and this is still true. However, when we joined, they were nice, younger people. There was at least an attempt at a contemporary worship service led by a younger minister with kids of his own; I taught Sunday School, led the youth group, sang on two different choirs (one contemporary group). Now it's nice older, retired people. My kids are the only ones in Sunday school so someone else is teaching them. I'm the only one younger than sixty. This change came about because the younger minister transferred to another church and the very nice older gentleman that took his place is on the brink of retirement himself. The music has reverted to older hymns, responsive readings, and what is--for me--a lot of spiritually dead ceremony. The sermons are nice middle of the road chats made up of antecdotes that make people smile and nod and little else.
Quite frankly, I'm not happy at all, but Gary and the boys' are and, as Gary is studying the possibility of becoming a minister with this church, I'm trying to figure out how to make myself happy.
Gary is willing to try another church, but it's just not in me to drag the children through another change. And if he's happy (and believes God wants him to preach) I'm not anxious to drag him through it either. And, frankly, as he's ostensibly the spiritual leader in our home, I'd really like this idea to come from him, just once.
So I'm working on my prayer life and learning how to be okay part from corporate worship. I have an ongoing relationship with God and we've talked about my unhappiness a lot, but I think I'm about to conclude, like my friend Heather, that there aren't any Mary-shaped holes in any church pews anywhere so I'm going to have to make the best of it where I am.