Well, I went to church yesterday. I am ultra-conservative. Was raised Lutheran of the Missouri Synod, which is pretty close to Catholic, with a closed table and all that. We also believe in the transubstantiation (sp? — we moved before I was confirmed so I never saw that word in print, no idea how to spell it, and I could have googled it quicker than explaining it, but whatever). The thing is we believe that the bread and wine in Holy Communion becomes the body and blood of Jesus.
Over the years I have been Baptist, and Church of Christ, UCC, and I have studied with JWs and Christian Scientists and Methodist and Lutherans of the American Synod, Nazareen, and Catholics. So I have been all over so to speak. And presently, I belong to a UCC church, which is ultra-liberal I have my reasons. My brother is gay, and I don’t want to hear that he is going straight to Hell because I don’t believe that.
I listen to Catholic radio, and heard today the guy saying he would get up and walk out if a bishop was introduced with his husband, and went on to say that, well the jist was that it’s a huge lie and it is likely to cause people to fall, meaning lose out on salvation.
But I am still ultra-conservative, especially when it comes to religion. I found this church 29 years ago when they offered a Bible Study, and got into therapy after going through a pretty intense weekend and having that meeting with the pastor. And I got really active in the church, missions committee, counsel, taught Sunday School. And when my niece (my oldest brother’s daughter was 4, I started bringing her to church every Sunday. I did this for about 3 years. And I started to bring her nephew who my brother and his wife were raising as well. And then my brother started coming with his wife and his daughter, and I, well, I was not comfortable going to church with him, and I started watching my older sister’s girls they are 12 now, and I started watching them 10.5 years ago. But my niece is 25 or 27 now, so that wasn’t the reason I dropped out of the church. I dropped out because of my brother.
I continued studying with other groups around town, and then my Sundays were taken up by my nieces. I don’t know when my brother stopped going to church. No idea. When his daughter, my god daughter was confirmed, they never let me know that was happening. So I missed it. Bad God Mother! I am God mother to my older and younger sisters’ daughters as well.
I came back to my church, the only one I became a member of, the one my brother had been going to. Last summer, about a year ago. So yesterday, this lady I knew from way back, comes up to me, “Oh, how nice to see you here.” I always love that. People who haven’t been to church forever, because maybe the have a summer house and winter house far away, and they’re retired and all that. But they come like they’ve been there all along, and walk up to you and say they are happy to see you there. Whatever. It’s good to see you here. Yep, it’s good to see you here too lady.
Ok, so yesterday, besides that, the minister is on vacation and it is a communion Sunday, and this open and affirming guy does his speel to explain that everyone is welcome at the table, but he goes way beyond that. I don’t care about the gay or straight thing, we are open and affirming or in the process, and that is certainly part of it, but saying that we can be Christians or not — that is going way over the rainbow in my opinion. As I was walking out, I thanked him for being there, wondering whether that was the common stance for our church, and seeing if I could snag Bob (adult SS teacher) and ask him. But I didn’t want to bother the visiting pastor.
Bob was busy, so I left and outside one of the ladies asked me what I was thinking about, so I told her and after a brief conversation, she says, “Let’s ask him.” I’m like, “uhm, no, uhm, I don’t want to bother…” and she’s heading for the door with an I’m not going to take no for an answer.
So, he tried to explain and I tried to explain where I was coming from and how that made me feel. I mean, if you are Muslim or Jew or Hindu, or aethist, that square of bread dipped in your choice of grape juice or wine, is not going to stave off starvation or anything. It’s not sweet, you are not missing anything if you don’t know/believe what it is all about. And saying that folks don’t need to believe very basic Christian belief, enough to identify themselves as Christian, I.e.: Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. I’m not demanding the virgin birth of Jesus, and we’ll work on the trinity, but the idea that the table is open to non-Christians, to me that cheapens it. And I said that. Finally the guy said he should probably stop talking, because he wasn’t convincing me, and everything was becoming more and more confused, I suppose it is something that the ultra-liberal church I belong to believes.
I have another reason to maybe not go here now. But I’ve known these people for nearly three decades off and on. Mostly, I can agree or disagree without walking off and not coming back. Ok, when they refused to hire the black lady for interim minister, (our church claims to be all into social justice, but one of the church worthies told me the reason I was the only one that voted for her, was because “people would leave the church” so that was the other reason I stopped going, it wasn’t all my brother), yeah that really bothered me. At the same time, I wouldn’t consider the lesbian applicant. But it was not because people might leave, I just thought. since we weren’t open and affirming at the time, that it would be better for the congregation to experience a woman pastor first, and not have their only experience of a female in the pulpit being gay as well. Which probably makes me as much of a hypocrite as I thought they were.
Which sets the stage for posting this at all here. Last week, I was asked how I was by the adult SS teacher, someone I have known forever, 30 years, in fact I went to school with his daughter. I told him, “not so good.” He comes back with this stupid statement about how “he used to worry when he had no shoes until he met a man with no feet.” First of all, the guy is a retired politician who has never known life without owning a pair of shoes. He has no clue what want is. I know more about that, than he does, and I am sure his using a economic hardship allegory was at least somewhat because I am not well-to-do. But whatever. I then remembered it was his wife who shamed me so many years ago for counseling with the pastor. I was so stupid at that time, that I thought I was probably wrong. But she had no clue what was going on, and that I was in counseling outside of the church — Pastor Mark got me started with that, and he continued to counsel me for a while. There is a spiritual aspect to all of this. But that is ancient history.
The thing is, I wanted to tell this guy, about the fact that there are real handicaps that are not visible. Depression can be very debilitating, especially when it has sunk to the level of suicidal ideas or worse. Of course I did not. It is frustrating that I have a family and I have a church-family, and I cannot share, I cannot talk about what is killing me in neither place. The pastor knows, and I have talked to him, but he is on vacation. And, he gave up on our group we were going to put together, and that would have really helped during this transition, nothing from the CRCC. June has come and gone, like April, and January. Whatever.
Thinking about this today. I told the lady at the CRCC that I did not feel the need to keep the secret any longer. I was so pissed at Brian, I told her she could shout it from the mountain tops. This was many months ago. But if I were to get up in front of our church and tell them about having been sexually abused and having survived incest with my brothers, well, there are folks in that church that know my oldest brother. His wife is fighting breast cancer. His kid is in college. I may not care about tarnishing my brother, but I don’t want to hurt his wife or his kid. Even Brian who lives 2 hours away, his wife is from here and her folks, people know them. So, if I tell even one or two folks at my church who I am and what happened to me, there is the possibility that it comes back and doesn’t hurt my brother, but his wife, and his kid. I don’t want that.
So, like it or not, the burden of the secret is on me. I can keep it from my parents. I can keep it from my church. I would be perfectly ok being a lesbian or being a drug addict or alcoholic in my church. But I can’t be me. And that sucks. I don’t really want them to know, I don’t want pity or anything. But sometimes I wish I could be sad and not have someone make stupid comments about being glad for having feet. I wish I could counsel with the minister without someone making a stupid comment about how I shouldn’t be. I wish I didn’t have to feel like I needed to explain why I am not married or dating, don’t have kids, am not in a relationship, and am not gay.
I don’t know, there are things that the church is good at, but I feel left behind. Inject pity party here. Ah well. I am still very depressed, and am trying to work my way out of it.