Friday, May 27, 2011
Things Are Different Than What He Expected
My dad is finding this reversion quite interesting. My husband, on the other hand, doesn't quite know what to think.
When he and I got together, I'd been through a bad marriage and a... well, strange relationship. The one thing I didn't have was an overt relationship with God. Oh, I'd talk to him from time to time when things weren't going well, but I pretty much relied on my own abilities to get through things. And my own ability was pretty good, since I'd learned how to be self-sufficient and self-confident, but it was missing something that would have made me feel like my choices were absolutely the right ones.
When my son began having troubles in school with other kids, I was at a loss as to how to help him deal with it. He's a gentle soul and not inclined to hit back when hurt. As I pondered what I could do to help him, I remembered my own uneasy youth and how I found a place to fit in with my church's youth group. We really were a mixed bag... cool kids, music kids, nerd kids, athlete kids... all kinds of kids - so there was no real clique to find yourself on the outside of. My first couple of stabs at getting the boy to go to church were spectacular failures, but then things turned around and now, even though he's still not enthusiastic about the church service part, he's interested and almost eager to go. He loves his little youth group, which is much smaller than the one I was a part of. They accept him for the wonderful person he is and don't try to make him be someone he's not.
But something funny happened on the way to getting my boy involved. I got involved. It started with dinner on Wednesday nights when the youth group met. The kids would go one way and the rest of us would go to evening prayer in the chapel. After the short service, we'd go down to the parish hall and have a marvelous dinner concocted by Lou and cleaned up by her husband Mark. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that no one ever helped clean up... it was Mark washing dishes and Lou putting food away. We use A LOT of dishes - so one evening, I volunteered to help and have been helping ever since. I washed a lot of dishes in my youth and when there's a family dinner out at the farm, I still wash a lot of dishes. It's a lonely job - especially when it's as big as the one after the church dinners. Wednesday nights is when I really started to get to know some of the people at church.
Before I knew it, I was helping the Youth Group by sewing felt bunnies for their easter basket project. Then I decided to be a layreader and went through the short training course (I probably won't actually do it until August as the schedule is already set until then). And then there was that little innocuous meeting after church one Sunday of the ECW. "Episopal Church Women" were trying to decide if they would continue to exist and if they would, what projects would they be taking on? I guess there was enough interest shown in the turnout for that meeting to continue on - and guess what? We're doing a covered dish dinner next month!
My husband turned to me the other day and asked, "You're not going to turn into one of those "church ladies" are you?" It makes him a little nervous. As a former played-in-a-rock-band guy, Sunday-morning-bike-ride guy who takes life as it comes - this whole going to church and attending meetings and such has kind of thrown him for a loop. For most of our relationship, I've exhibited no interest in going to church. We went briefly when ZBoy was very little, but when the new priest was finally installed, we discovered a very basic divergence in points of view and we left. And never went back - until now.
As with my son, I'm not forcing anything. If he wants to come, he will. He's come with me a couple of times to dinner. I don't expect him to change to fit what I'm doing now. But I try to make sure he knows that if he does decide he wants to be more present in this area, he's more than welcome to join me and Z.
For me, this change in my life has been a positive thing. I have a feeling some rough times are ahead and I'm going to need a bit more than my own will to get through what is to come. I'm going to need the fellowship of people like me to help balance things out. I've also discovered that going to church is like my own personal reset button. I walk in there, lose my self in the quiet and ritual of a service and walk back out feeling calm and ready for whatever the world throws at me.
If that makes me a "church lady," so be it and thanks be to God.