Friday, September 19, 2008

Joys and Concerns

I’m an agnostic in the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition sense, “one who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable” – a state that can otherwise be known as “hedging my bets.” I actually, probably lean more towards atheist, but I do like knowing about other religions and I do think there is a lot of comfort and good that come out of them. (And a lot of really bad too, but we won’t even go *there* for today.)

However, I like going to church because: (a) I like singing, especially with choirs, and there are some hymns that are just so gorgeous and heavenly in melodies and harmonies that you can be SO transcendently moved. Soothing the savage breast and all that; and (b) there is just a whole community of (somewhat) like-minded people who are there to care and support each other, working together all for the purpose of what I call (probably very blasphemously) “putting on the show.”

The church I go to is one of the more hippie, liberal Protestant denominations, pretty close to Unitarian as you can get. Not a lot of decorations and doodads, communion is open to whoever wants bread and grape juice that day, and usual Sunday attire runs more along the lines of jeans/khakis/shorts/sandals – both guys and gals. Even before our pastor left, we had lots of “lay” participation and people in the congregation take turns running parts of the service and teaching Sunday school to the kids. We have a very energetic choir director, so we always have a (relatively) large amount of people in the choir, and on an off Sunday, the choir members look like they outnumber the people in the pews. On a good Sunday, we might have 45 people in the pews, on a summer Sunday we might have 15-20. We have lots of little kids in the congregation, most of whom are under the age of 8, so during the service before the kids get to go downstairs for Sunday school, there is always chaos of little ones running around and playing with toys. (Ours is not a “sit-down-and-shut-up” church for kids.)

Why am I writing this? I’m not sure, but I’m going with it. It seems to be the story I want to share at the moment . . .

Anyway, there is always part of the service, after the weekly sermon, called “Joys and Concerns.” This is when people can share any of their own joys or problems that they’ve been having during the past week with the rest of the congregation. It can be as innocuous as “My anniversary was this week!” all the way up to people talking about recurrences of cancer, job losses, sicknesses and deaths of family and friends, and heavy-duty personal struggles. The pastor writes all of these things down and mentions them during the closing prayers.

It is always amazing how much people feel comfortable sharing with everyone during these times – just letting a lot of raw emotion come out that has been stored up all week, trying to be brave. It is hard to describe. Sometimes it is very draining, but there is a wonderful, healing things that happens, when everyone’s heart goes out to the person talking, and the person feels like s/he is not alone in bearing his/her burden.

However, for me, there always seems to be a downside to all of the sharing – one that makes me feel . . . well, left out and apart . . .

You see, hearing about everyone else’s problems, makes my problems and issues seem *not very important.* Having money troubles? Well, somebody couldn’t sell their old house fast enough, was stuck paying two mortgages for a long time and is horribly in debt. Angst about paying for school? Some people can’t afford their courses any more and they have to drop out. Angst about horrible conditions at work? Someone has been out of a job for months. Not that it’s all a competition or anything, but how can you compete with that? So I keep my mouth shut, because my problems are not, relatively, problems. Even though they are, and they make me very unhappy. But I feel like I have to suck it up. Which makes it less of a safe space for me. But . . . who can help me, really? Where can *I* turn when I’m feeling bad, without feeling like I’m whining?

So I’m reaching the point where I’m getting pretty tired of the stuff I’m doing. I just see miles more road to travel to get where I want to go and I’m sick of traveling, but I’m also tired of where I am. It’s nice to have the blog as an outlet, but then I actually have to take the time to write all this out. So here I am.

My joys right now: my friends and family, having fun Saturdays, being able to go see plays, taking my college class.

My concerns right now: My Army sister (who is having problems with her legs), my grandma (who really needs someone to look in on her once a week, since she’s living alone and is now taking a lot of medications due to a hospital scare two months ago), Mr. Random and his family (mom, grandmom and sister – all having issues), my job (more people leaving, office is unstable, and I am unhappy every single day), money (Mr. Random’s student loans, pressure because of job uncertainty and debts), school (taking one class a semester is not getting me very far, will take me at least 3 or 4 years at this rate, plus it adds stress in dealing with work).

What are your joys and concerns at this time? Let’s lift them up and share!


Anonymous said...

Joys - My incredible kids, some very good things about the boyfriend, a home I love and a profession I find fulfilling.

Concerns - My sister's health, a little recent difficulty with the bf, my father, and the state of the world.

mommanator said...

I will start off by saying I am a Christian and have been nearly my whole life. Bear this in mind whilst I write and you read! That time of sharing is spoken in churches I have been to for others to pray with and for you. Many studies have been done on prayer, and recently published, that when you are praying for someone else particularily, you do find peace and they also feel better, even if they dont know you are praying for them.
Additionally, the idea of your concerns being trivial compaired to others is not right in my mind.
and I hope to God's.
Joys for me-my grandchildren, my family, Christ in my life, a new home, job, the wonderful Fl weather, should I continue?
My concerns-my grandchildren, the house not sold in NJ, finances associated with that, my older dau progressive failing health, my hubby's health.
SO I'm gonna pray for your concerns and thank the Lord for your joys! Love momma nator

Virginia Gal said...

Please take heart that your concerns are not minimal or less important than any others. To me it is all relative; it concerns you therefore it is important.

As for me, my joys are my family and friends, my health and freedom.

My concerns are finding a job and a man to marry me who will make me happy.

mommanator said...

hey you ok? havent seen anything new for a bit miss ya!

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