I wrote in my last blog post about my experience as forever single in the church, and I suspect it is a shared experience; one I’m not alone in. Judging from some of the response, I suspect my experience is common. The sad part is it’s not a shared experience in the literal extent, because I have no one to share it with.
Since then, I have conducted a little experiment. I haven’t attended my church since mid-November, a period of about three months. I wanted to see how many people would contact me thru a personal email, Facebook message, phone call, or visit to see how I was doing, to ask where I’ve been. Now in fairness, my church is a large church that has multiple services, but also one of the ministries I participated in were present at all of the services. And I realize many of my “friends” in the church were attending different satellites, so frankly I didn’t expect any different level of contact from them.
Well, so far the level of contact has been about what I expected. ZERO, not one of the persons who I ministered with, not one who I saw in the lobby every Sunday, and not one of the members of the small groups I attended (which were both dissolved), or pastors, thought I was worth the bother. Now I want to be clear, I don’t intend this to be an indictment of my particular church or style of church. I’ve attended two other churches with in the last dozen or so years and I doubt it my experience would have been significantly different. In fact one smaller church I left without any malice and no one from that church attempted to contact me. I simply wasn’t missed.
Now I’m sure many Christian posters here will reply with: It’s wrong to leave a church because “it isn’t meeting your needs” or “you’re not getting feed”. I couldn’t agree more, one of the priorities I’ve always had in my life when joining a church has been getting involved. In fact in a few cases the ability to get involved in a church has affected my career choices and in some cases my financial decisions. But what do you do when every attempt at getting involved in ministry is rebuffed or not valued?
This bothers me on two levels. One, as I have commented before, being in church alone isn’t easy for an older single. I haven’t found a church yet that doesn’t constantly remind me how out of God’s blessing I am. Or how “temporary” my situation is at 56 years old because God has a “perfect mate” waiting for me. If I can’t get involved which at least gets my mind off the situation, just being a pew sitter isn’t a lot of fun.
And two, I find my church to be a constant reminder of my failures or weaknesses without any promise of healing. If “I’m not good enough” to minister, and I’m struggling for employment and just to get by, and I’m not valuable enough for an email, or phone call, much less some time, why am I even alive much less sitting in a pew? Simply, when I’m trying to find a way to make a living, doing it alone, I don’t need another place in my life to get rejection notices. I get enough of them just job-hunting in this great “recovery”.
While I’m trying to work on my relationship with Christ (which lately has contained a lot of shouting) and I’d be the first to admit I’m far from perfect. I no longer see church as community. And being alone, I’m not sure I’ll go back until I’m part of couple, because I don’t need any more places in my life where I sit alone.