I grew up Lutheran. Well I have parents that were Lutheran. Although my mom was Catholic and I was baptized Catholic but then my mom converted to Lutheran.
On Sundays when it suited my dad we went to church. I attended catechism classes at a Lutheran church and was confirmed in the church. Mostly during classes my BFF and I would scribble notes. I remember one note that we scribbled was a picture of a thumb with a red circle with a line through it – we called it WAT – Woman Against Thumbs. I believe it was during a lesson about how a woman should serve her husband. Yup I had a little feminism in me back then – ok still do.
When I was 16 I didn’t want to go to church on Easter Sunday. My mom didn’t have to go. Ok she had worked until 2:30am and wasn’t feeling good, but since she didn’t have to go I didn’t want to go. After a screaming match with my dad where he “gave up” I decided I would go screw around with friends only he had removed the spark plugs from my car. No church – no friends.
Sometimes my folks would let my older sister and I skip early service if we agreed to go to late service. We would get into her car to go, stop by the church and pick up the church program then go out for breakfast. We were such little sinners.
In college I proclaimed I was an agnostic. I barely know what the heck that means now let alone then but all my college friends were the same so I assimilated.
While in basic training in the United States Air Force I attended church service. It was a nondenominational service. They played great music. It was two hours a week where the TIs (Training Instructors – think drill sergeant) couldn’t yell at us or pop us in the forehead with the brim of their TI hat. Once during service the pastor asked those who felt the spirit of the Lord to stand and at that moment I did so I stood. (Although I may have just been hungry and thus light-headed). Still in letters home to extended family (aunts, uncles, grandparents) I wrote about a new-found love for the Lord. My mom told me some of them were afraid I’d joined a cult.
After basic training I attended technical training. I was learning to be a contracting agent for the USAF. Basically learning how to spend tax dollars. It was a lot to study and thus church on Sundays didn’t continue – also church got in the way of hanging out with other airman and watching TV.
Despite my requests to be stationed abroad – Germany, Italy, and Spain I was assigned to Lackland Air Force Base – the same base I completed Basic Training and Technical Training. That worked out well though since I met my dear husband in the contracting office.
We were young – early 20’s. We fell in love and were married. My folks pastor at the Lutheran church where they lived agreed to marry us despite the fact my husband was not Lutheran and didn’t practice any religion. (I think my parents might have lied to the pastor but I went along and so did Chad.)
We didn’t attend church at all during our four years in the service. Our first child was born and we took her back to WI to be baptized in the Lutheran church. It’s what Lutheran’s do – baptize – so we did. We both finished our 4 years in the service and became civilians again. Chad started a new job that allowed me to stay home with our daughter. When she was nearly two I wanted her to be in a mothers-day-out type program to be around other kids and I wanted to work a little. Thus I became a mother’s-day-out teacher in a Christian mothers-day-out school at a Lutheran church. Being around the church and teaching Christian lessons in my class drew me closer to the Lord once again. I got more involved with the church, attended service occasionally and my spirituality grew.
Our second child was born and we baptized him in the Lutheran church I worked at and had joined. I had to stop working while he was an infant although I continued to volunteer in the nursery on Sundays, teach music to the students at the school and attend church. At some point, and I can’t remember exactly why but I think it had something to do with the pastor retiring and me not liking the new paster, I switched Lutheran churches. Our third child was born and we baptized him in the new church. The pastor of the new church seriously ticked me off the day of Sugarboys baptism so we stopped going.
It would be two more years before we stepped into a church again and it was because I wanted to teach again. I was offered a job at a Lutheran Pre-school and I accepted. Yes – yet another Lutheran church – there was something comforting in knowing I could attend church then go out for beers and wings with the pastor and congregation members after late service.
All was going well. I started attending service again, began teaching Sunday school and felt my spirituality returning although watered down.
Then Sugarboy was diagnosed with diabetes. Oh that day sucked. It was a Wednesday. After we checked into the hospital with my tiny little 2-year-old I had to go collect my older kids from a neighbors. I hadn’t cried in the hospital. I didn’t want my baby to see me cry. But after I left the room and got in my van all bets were off. I sobbed. I wailed. I asked WHY WHY WHY. It was rush hour on I-35 in Austin, TX. So many cars. I couldn’t see straight because of the tears. I had to pull onto the left shoulder of the highway. I sat there slamming my fist into the steering wheel. Screaming and cursing. I knew I had to get it together. I had to get my older kids, feed them dinner, explain what was happening, take them to see their brother.
I turned the radio on in my van. A song had just begun.
I hadn’t heard it before. I listened for a second. Then I felt something I had never felt. It was a whoosh feeling as if something had entered my body (picture some movie where a spirit/ghost takes over a body). The tears stopped. The shaking stopped. I could see – I mean SEE. I felt strong. I felt angry but with purpose like I was suiting up for a fight and I had an awesome coach whispering strength in my ears and I was pumped.
Over the next couple years the Lord and I became closer. I was reading the Bible and was very much involved with the church. It felt good. It felt right. It gave me the strength that I needed to be what I needed to be for me and for my kids.
Alas, the pastor of the church retired. A new pastor was called upon. He was fun, made jokes, and things went on. Although unrest with the congregation grew. Changes the new pastor was making with the school and church were not fully supported by many of us. I still had my faith but I wasn’t sure the new direction of the church was going to suit me and some of the things being said and done to co-workers was challenging my commitment to that church.
Then my daughter was diagnosed. With a faith already being challenged I was weak and this time I got angry. I got angry at God. I’ve been angry for nearly 4 years now. I quit teaching at the church school at the end of the school year. I stopped attending church. I put up my Bible. I gave God the finger basically.
I never stopped believing – you can’t be as angry as I’ve been at someone you don’t believe in.
The thing is – I’m tired of being angry.
I desire faith.
I long for and miss the feeling of a living spirit living within me.
I miss the strength I had felt after Sugarboy’s diagnosis.
I miss hearing the words of songs I love. I still listen to my playlist titled “moms spiritual music”. I mean it’s good music. Only over the last 4 years I would find myself listening to pop Christian music while rolling my eyes at the same time.
I still pray. Only I never pray for myself. I pray for others.
I really am just tired of being angry. I’m open to suggestions on how to stop being angry. I’m open to ideas on how I can forgive God because it has always been my understanding that He either makes something happen or allows it to happen. There is no middle ground. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, he is ALL. So why does he let so much ugly happen to the children, to us?
Yesterday I knew it was going to rain. My daughter knew it was going to rain. She didn’t take her umbrella. As it poured I considered taking her an umbrella. Her school doesn’t have a hallways – the students have to walk outside to switch classes. I had her umbrella in my hand at one point. I had to will myself not to take her an umbrella because I can’t always protect her from bad decisions or bad planning. Is it like that? Is God just not doing the helicopter parenting thing? Because that would suck. Diabetes isn’t because of a bad decision or poor planning.
I’ve rambled for a great deal of time. If you’ve read this whole post you are awesome (or have entirely too much time on your hands). This post was for me. Writing sometimes helps me recognize actions I need to take. I could use a map though. I tried putting God into map quest but it came back with – No results for “god”.
13 thoughts on “Hanging By A Moment”
Christina — it is good you are praying for others and that you want to have faith. I start my prayers with asking that I be given the words I need to offer in prayer and then say prayers as they come to me as I follow a loose structure. My suggestion to you is to continue this process you started with your post by asking to be less angry and to build the faith you once had in your daily prayers.
I volunteer to stand in the gap for you and say the prayers that you can’t yet say.
Thanks Amy – I sincerely appreciate the prayers. Im not actually in a bad place. Im quite happy with my life and my family. It is just a feeling of “missing something” and knowing what it is but not knowing how to get it back. Of course the anger doesn’t feel good either. I would be more worried if at some point I felt like I didn’t believe. There has always been a part of me that knows He will be there when I let go of my pride. It’s just like being in a fight with someone you love but not wanting to apologize first. Alas – thank you for your kind and supportive words. Ill get there and I know He will be there when I do. Thanks again for support and words.
I wish I had some magical advice to give, or something that would help. The truth is I can relate all too well with the feelings you are expressing here. So I am going to do the one thing that I know I can do, and that is to give you a big virtual hug. It won’t fix things, but I hope it will let you know that you aren’t alone in how you feel and that I care. *HUG*
Thanks Lyn – It’s good to know Im not alone (that sounds bad – I don’t actually wish this struggle on anyone). I have met a number of wonderful souls that walk our walk or have another difficult path to walk and have felt all that I feel. Perhaps it is true that at the precipice we change. My pride gets in the way of many things. I don’t like asking for help, I have a real problem with admitting I am ever wrong and I have a tremendous difficulty in apologizing. If I fail in life it will likely be due to my own hubris. Thank you for your words of encouragement and for of course for the virtual hug – back at ya.
Good post. You manged to articulate many things I feel everyday. We are walking the same path. Look, there you are, right beside me. Next time you should capitalize God.
I meant capitalize God so it shows up on Mapquest, not to be snarky…
Dear dear friend – one of my biggest regrets while living in TX was not getting to know you sooner. You brought an immeasurable amount of happy, intelligence and fun into my life. We are on the same path and I wish so much I could truly walk it with you back there in TX. Honestly Scarecrow I miss you the most. FYI – I tried Map Quest again and capitalizing God still did not yield any results.
I like this post, Christina. I’ve been an Orthodox Jew my whole life. I consider myself blessed/lucky/whathaveyou and I have a pretty good life. I have family and friends who love me. I have a skill that earns me an income even though it’s far from my dream job. I live in Jerusalem, the holiest city on earth. And overall, I am happy and pretty healthy and not limited at all in what I can and cannot do, if I take the right precautions. I pray every morning and am able to see God’s influence in my life.
That said, I get frustrated when my breathing craps up and temporarily limits me in any way, because I am doing all of the right things and it craps up anyway. And then I get angry at myself for getting frustrated and obsessing over it because I barely remember life without asthma. I’m used to this. I’m fine with the inhalers, etc. They usually work fine. And having occasional blips in asthma control is normal. Why is it making me upset? And I get upset at myself for being spoiled. Asthma can be permanently disabling. It can kill. And there I am getting pissed off because I can’t get a deep breath all the way in and out without hunched over body shaking coughs. But it’s not an emergency. My life’s not at stake. I’ll be fine after I put a few more rounds of drugs into my body. I remind myself that some people have symptoms like that and worse ALL of the time. Yikes. So that gets me thinking about those people. And the ones, including some of my friends, who have other complicated debilitating and/or life threatening medical conditions. And I wonder how God can let that happen to such good people.
Yeah, I hear ya.
Hi Ellisheva. It is so nice to hear from you. Its been a long time – my fault I got caught up in unpacking my life. I too find myself feeling guilty for being angry sometimes when I know things could be worse and are for many others. Still i ask the questions. I want to chat more but today is crazy busy. I will email you as soon as the merry-go-round slows down. It is so nice to hear from you though. chat soon.
MapQuest may not lead you to God, but you might find heaven at IHOP. I’m taking my kids there tomorrow, actually. (OK, enough joking around).
In seriousness, I’ve never been much of a believer in religion. (I am a believer in chance – that my diabetes came about simply by dumb luck, and not because of anybody’s will, act, or influence). I do follow the religion of my parents and their parents, and so on, but it’s more because of establishing a common bond than anything else. I find comfort in the familiar chants and blessings, and there’s something empowering about carrying out a particular holiday ritual in my synagogue while I know the same ritual is being done in congregations throughout the world. I wonder if it’s a similar allure that kept bringing you back to a Lutheran church.
But as far as reliance and expectations, I really don’t have any when it comes to the “supernatural”. Life happens, and I just do my best to deal with it as it does. Having said that, I think that the community-aspect of a congregation is paramount. Because of our common religion, we have common beliefs and values, and therefore can rely on each other for support – whether emotional, physical, or perhaps even financial.
Whatever your expectations are from, or your feelings are toward, the church, my belief is always to “do what feels right” – whatever your conscience tells you. Do you feel better being alone with your thoughts? praying with a community? finding a scapegoat? Whatever it is, you’ll likely be happiest when you do what makes you comfortable.
Now my “rant” is over. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts; I hope nobody else was hurt by them.
Hey Scott – thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do think some of what I miss is a congregation. Im not sure if it has much to do with wanting to be with others that share all my same opinions and beliefs because honestly I like my eclectic group of friends both online and off. I do miss some of the songs and and such but it isn’t so much the church community I miss – its the warm fuzzies I would get while in service, listening to a song of praise or just knowing He was with me. Ill get there again Im sure. Still not sure if to quote Forest “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”
Could probably ramble on for another hour but alas my kids will want to eat tonight and last time I checked dinner didn’t make itself. Thanks Scott for stopping in so often and leaving your thoughts with me. It means so much.
So I could give you a long reply or a simple reply, or I could ramble for a bit. I will just say this, at some point in all of our lives our faith will be tested. Even the greats Mother Teresa and others had those times of fear, doubt, and worry. We all encounter it and may walk away for some time. The great thing is though, no matter how long it has been He will always take us back.
Thanks Brian. I’m counting on it. Made me remember a poem I once saw on youtube. Sharing it with you.