Hello, blog-friends. It's been a while, hasn't it? I have so many thoughts circling around in my head, so many issues that I'm thinking about. And yet, I've put off coming back. Partly because I'm overwhelmed by all the ideas and thoughts and issues. But I'm starting to realize that there's one issue, one problem that is weighing on me so much more than any of the others: It's been almost an entire year since my family last attended church. I miss it. My spirit needs church. My mind needs it. But it's complicated.
My husband and I bought our home, in the suburb that he grew up in, just over five years ago. We were just beginning to plan our wedding and were looking for a church that we could join, where we would feel welcomed and where we could raise our family with faith in our lives. It was not easy to find that. We tried several. We went to the church that my husband had been raised in. They hugged us when we walked in the door, handed us programs. And proceeded to hug us again and again. Ummmm....creepy? We went to a Lutheran church that several of my co-workers were members of. The pastor gave a sermon about how we need to "fight against the liberals who are destroying the moral fabric of our country". Yikes! My husband and I consider ourselves liberals. We went to an Evangelical Lutheran church just down the road from our home. It was Senior Sunday and the service was given by the students who would be graduating high school in the spring. We didn't get the right vibe. I decided to schedule a meeting with a pastor from each of the two Lutheran churches. The first meeting went okay, but it wasn't any kind of WOW. The second meeting was a different story. We met with Pastor R. He was young. Honestly, he looked like he was about 12, but really, must have been about 30. He was married to a lawyer who had run for political office (on the Democratic ticket) in the most recent election. He was GENUINE! He believed in what he was saying about God, he believed wholly and completely that his calling in life was to be a pastor. We felt an instant connection with him. We felt pulled towards God through him. We loved him. We joined his church.
Sounds great, right? Well, here's the complicated part. Pastor R was an associate pastor. His fellow associate was Pastor Jan, an woman in her late 50s-early 60s, who was nice enough, but never remembered our names or faces. There was a member of the church who was in the process of earning his pastoral degree through the seminary. Just over two years ago, he graduated with his degree and the church hired him on as the pastor in charge of family ministries. He became Pastor J. Unfortunately, the church did not need two young male pastors, right? Politics played it's part and the church board did whatever they did and eventually, Pastor R left the church to become the senior pastor at a different Lutheran church, just a few miles from our home.
More complications....my husband and I were married in SPLChurch. I was baptized there. My children were baptized there. It's a beautiful church and we're familiar with the buildings, the grounds, the routines. We didn't connect with many people there, but we did connect to the church. My husband made more connections to the church than I did as he was asked to help them with some website updating and things. I didn't connect to the church nearly as much as I felt connected to the church through Pastor R. Does that make sense? I felt inspired by him. He made us believe that it was okay to not be perfect, just so long as we tried our best and put our lives in God's hands. I never felt that connection with Pastor J. In fact, to be quite honest, I was repelled by a few things that Pastor J had said. Perhaps the most significant was something that he stated during baptism class before we had Leo baptized. He stated that baptism wasn't anything magical or amazing for our children. He didn't think there was any point in baptizing our children so young since they wouldn't remember it. The only point was to satisfy ourselves. I still want to cry over that statement. To me, there is something incredibly profound and magical in receiving the rite of baptism, regardless of the age at which you receive it. Perhaps he didn't mean it exactly as I took it, but it still damaged my view of him as a pastor and a man of Faith.
Here's the dilemma; my husband would be happy to continue attending services at SPLChurch. For me, I feel like my connection to the church was severed, cut clean through, when Pastor R left. Pastor R isn't far away and we could attend his church without much trouble. In fact, his new church is one that I know a few of the members at and would be happy to attend church with them. My husband doesn't see things the same way. He doesn't know anyone at the new church and he feels that since we were married and had the kids baptized in the old church, we should just attend there and wait to see who they hire as a senior pastor. I'm just not sure that I can do it. And so we've been stuck in this dilemma for nearly a year. No decision has been made and we're just missing out on church. I need church. I need the boost it gives my spirit, the reassurance that it gives that there are good things out there. I need the reminder to put things in God's hands and trust him to lead me through the challenges that life throws my way. I want my children to go to church, even if it's just to play in the nursery. But I don't know how to settle this difference with my husband. I don't know how to just give in and go back to our old church. Which is more important, the connection to a spiritual place or the connection to a spiritual person? I just can't figure it out and I don't know what to do...