Friday, April 2, 2010

Church has Died

I am friends with a great many Christians. They are group whose company I've enjoyed for years. However, I've been feeling a concern for many of them lately. I do not fear that they are straying from the throne of God only to meander into Satan's clutches or anything like that, but there is something happening.

It's a story that is replayed quite frequently among people I know. Friday night hits and the group starts slipping away to go home. Somebody, usually my wife, calls out, "See you in Sabbath School tomorrow."

There is a shifty-foot filled silence as eyes dart about the room. "Yeah, we'll try to be there."

It seems that sleep is the ultimate deterrent for most I know. This issue has been something that has bothered me for more than four years. At that time, most of the people that would choose sleep over church were college students who would say up front, "Nine-thirty? That's so early. I'll still be in bed." God wouldn't wake up early for you either, was my usual response. Since then, I've tried to tone it down. What bothers me is that if something demands your time, such as a job or school, I know that people get up and move. But there is something casual enough about church that allows so many people to roll over and sleep on.

This whole irritation magnified a few months ago. Having a 3 month old child is no simple thing. And getting said child ready to go anywhere is task that doubles my normal preparation time. Still, my wife and I do what it takes (getting up early, mostly) to get our whole family to church. Never before has sleep been a more enticing option, and yet we still do what we can to make it to our Bible study classes as close to on time as possible. With this is mind, my rage (maybe righteous indignation) flares. How hard is it to get up in the morning? If I can make it with a child, then I see no reason others can't do the same thing without such a time-handicap.

This is becoming a rant, not what I intended. Reality is, I fear for communal spirituality. In college, I was all for skipping church, all the while declaring, "Going to church doesn't make you a holy person." Though I still believe that, I've found that a community of believers is more than beneficial--it is spiritually mature. Church is a place to reestablish faith, and in many cases, defend it. To find God in the morning among people who carry their own beliefs, so way off-base, is an excellent exercise to engage in. Also, my wife and I often try to get other searching-for-God Christians to attend. My wife's sister, for instance, brought her boyfriend (for all practical purposes, an atheist) one week. The room was nearly empty. My closest friends did not attend. Nothing in my recent history has pissed me off so thoroughly. Here's a situation that requires a gathering of Christians to show an example, to dispel many pre-conceived ideas. But when the time came, they chose to stay home. They were ready and willing to socialize afterwards, but by that time I was furious, brooding, and crabby.

As I said earlier, I do not fear for the salvation of any of my friends. Our conversations smell of spirituality, and our Bible studies seem ripe with blessings. But there appears to be a lack of concern for church, an issue I've never before concerned myself with. Recent times have shown me, though, that when Christians don't gather together, damage is done. Whether it be in the minds of the few that blog their frustrations weeks after the fact, or the damage is done among the searching, the damage still exists and strains to maim relationships and weaken holiness.

Fatherhood: Loneliness

The greatest irony of having a new person join your life forever is how lonely you can become. Playing off my last post, life is more lonely ow than ever before. I have a son (still fun to say), but so much has changed that I have felt pangs of loneliness that I haven't felt since high school (which so sucks).

I thrive on social gatherings. I need them. It is a rare day that I will say, "You know, I want to stay by myself for tonight." During my first four years of marriage, my wife and I have been social butterflies flitting between groups every weekend, and often during the week. We'd stay up late, play games, have 24-hour movie festivals. Now the boy has arrived, and so much has changed.

I'll never say that I'm not thrill to have my son. I'd take him in a heartbeat over anybody else I know. But there is no denying that he has been a handicap to our social activities. This is no surprise. Yet, I am still stunned by the magnitude of the impact he has had. V mixes well with our friends, they love him much. But what drives me bonkers is knowing we have to go home early and that I know we've been left out of other plans. This is the high school feeling all over again. "Don't you like me? I thought we were cool." Bleh.

As mentioned in my other post, I know there is no malice being slid back and forth, but the brain and heart can take off in all sorts of different directions and pull your logic and reason with them.

I mentioned in my last post that there will soon be another father in my social arena. This thrills me to no end. If nothing else, these posts are a way to sort through my thoughts and goofy feelings. But before too long, I'll be able to actually have a conversation about them. For fatherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me. But it has been the most trying experience in ways I never would have expected.

My Own Road

Satan's being a brain fuggler again.

Through the last month, I've felt it--the devil is messing with my head. March is usually in my top four months of the year, but not so this year. Instead it has been a month of panic, guilt, depression, and meltdown. Reasons for the turmoil are already being assembled in future postings, but one of the main reasons is this--I'm on my own road.

For me, sharing a common human experience is one of the most important realizations for me. It's what drew me to literature, writing, and language. Growing up, I shied away from most literature because I saw it as the musings of the pompous and snotty--pricks that could never have an understanding of what I had to deal with in life. It wasn't until college when a brilliant professors made it all click for me, spun that magical thread that showed me how I was connected to everybody, that out there, somewhere, hundreds, if not thousand and even millions, of people know what I go through daily (sort of like I Heart Huckabees, but less crazy). Lately, however, I've been feeling a lot more of the solitude of life.

I dealt with this when my wife was pregnant. For this reason, I loved lamaze classes because it let me connect with people, I rediscovered that thread. Now, that thread seems to have disappeared. Being the only expecting couple among my friends was tricky. What my wife dealt with was unknowable by any of the other wives, and the anxiety of becoming a father was unknowable among the husbands.

It's happening again now that my son is here. It's interesting to see how the dynamic of the group has changed. Some of it may have been unavoidable even without a child, but with a car seat in the back and a diaper bag across the shoulder, it feels more obvious. None of the changes were intentional or malicious, but they are very real and quite odd to deal with.

As the only father in my social circle (but there's another on the way. Yippee.), I feel I am on my own road that is heading in not a different direction, just a different route. Maybe I'm taking Route 66 while the others are blazing along the interstate. I don't know. Whatever it is, though, I feel a unique tug and direction to my life right now that I'm not sensing from the others I hang out with. More of this to come in soon-coming, perhaps slightly depressing posts.