Suddenly alone, in an old familiar place.
As I look around, all I see are the new faces.
Scared of reaching out
Filled with fear and doubt
I was never good at making friends
Sometimes it’s like trying to mend
The edges of a frayed piece of cloth
I don’t think that I fit in.
Peter Heath – 1984
In my last post, I mentioned how three years ago I entered the wilderness once again.
I used the phrase “once again” because it seems like the wilderness is a place where I find myself more often than not.
Looking back over my fifty-five years of walking this earth (okay, 54, because I didn’t walk for my first year), I counted the number of years where I have felt at home in a church. The answer…
That’s it. Just five short years of feeling that I belonged.
Don’t get me wrong. For the past 30 years I have been very participatory, as an Elder, small group leader, Sunday School Teacher, Worship leader, Pastoral search committee member, or leading the college group. In most of those places though, I have felt like a square peg in a round hole.
There have been a number of reasons for this: Geography, Personalities, World Views, Theology, Philosophies.
As I have moved from church to church, there has always been some reason why this new one hasn’t been the right one. I think that is why at seminary so many of us were interested in Church planting. “If we started a church that did A, B, and C, wouldn’t it be wonderful!”
Last Friday, Burro pinned the tail on his proverbial half-sibling when he commented:
Particularly after the Reformation, the notion that correct doctrine would produce a correct Church gained increasing acceptance. Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Restoration, Oxford Movement, Latter Rain Move of God, the endless forays towards some new, imagined excellence, were the founding ideology of the various modern ecclesiologies.
This I think has been a large part of my problem: My desire to belong, to have people that I could relate to, talk to, dream with, has resulted in me chasing an ever elusive shadow, that seems just about visible beyond the next river bend.
Only it doesn’t exist at all.
I just finished watching Season One of “Alone” on the History Channel. Ten individuals get dropped off at ten different spots in the wilderness. Whoever lasts longest wins $500,000. Season one lasted 56 days. It is hard to thrive in the wilderness. But those who said “This is where I am, and I am going to make the best of it” were those who made it furthest. Spoiler alert – we could tell from about episode two who the finalists were going to be.
A large part of escaping the wilderness for me was realizing that what I was chasing was just a mirage. If you find a fresh source of water, put up a decent shelter, find a good source of food, and keep warm and dry, all of a sudden the wilderness doesn’t seem so much like wilderness anymore.
And that’s what I am trying to do with Church. It may not be perfect, but if I start making myself at home, then maybe it will start to feel like home.
As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome.