Friday, March 28, 2008

Takeaway Story #4 ~ *The Last to Know*

It’s been awhile since I’ve told any takeaway stories. I’m not really sure what got me off track, but I’m back with another good takeaway. All ye who have no freakin clue what I’m talking about, click here.

Recently I was trying to figure out exactly what happened to me and the church. As some of you know, we’re not getting along all that well these days. We can’t agree to disagree either, as my disagreement seems to condemn me to hell. Not exactly a friendly compromise, in my opinion.

Anyhow, I couldn’t put my finger on one thing that had driven me away from the church – only a lot of little moments that culminated into the angry mess I am today that is constantly trying to find some sort of peace with the discrepancies between what Jesus said and what the church actually does. Not that I’m discrepancy free, mind you, but I’m a little less on the hook as:

  1. I have not taken it upon myself to assume I know how people should live and teach them to live as such.
  2. I don't actually believe much of anything right now anyways.

As I tried to sort through these little moments, one big moment kept coming back to me. I realized that this one moment has been coming back to me at frequent intervals throughout my adult life, so maybe I’d better pay attention to it. I thought about it and thought about it and realized – this is a takeaway. So here we go…

Once upon a time, I had a friend named Jake. Jake and I were in the second grade together, but parted ways until middle school. When we re-united at the tender age of eleven, we quickly became close friends. Jake was in every choir class and every drama class I ever took. We sang together, we learned to dance together, we acted together… basically, anytime an arts opportunity was offered to us we jumped on it – together. I can’t even count the scenes we rehearsed together or the number of times I accompanied Jake on the piano as he sang, or the number of times I just sang along with him – duets in our talent shows, opposite roles in our plays. By our senior year of high school we’d developed our own little signatures – Jake always carried me offstage at the end of a play and we always had cast parties together.

Even outside of drama and choir classes, we were pals. In high school I’d pick Jake up in the morning and drive him to school. We’d sing along to the radio and laugh at the bumper stickers we saw – “What kind of blue-green algae do you use?”, “SUPER, thanks for asking!”. Nevermind. Jake was there when I took my first drink and when I sang my first karaoke song (not at the same time, mind you – it takes a lot more than a first drink to get karaoke going). He was there when an angry potential suitor left us at a diner and the time when we almost got snowed in at the bowling alley. He was definitely there for all the ugly breakups, too. Later on, when I was in college, we took a swing dance class together and found that we already knew almost everything we were being taught. We skipped the last class and went for martinis instead.

You’ve probably inferred a few things about Jake… he’s an artist and a musician and someone who I spent a lot of my youth with and whom I love very much. I could tell you a whole slew of takeaway stories about Jake and the things we discovered together, but I’m not going to do that today. Today I’m just going to tell this one story. But I’m sure you can start to see what kind of guy he is, just by looking at our past. You’ve probably inferred this about Jake as well…either he was madly in love with me but stuck as the friend – you know, the guy everyone thinks of as a brother – or he was gay. Those are the only two options. No other type of guy other than those two types just mentioned sit with pretty teenage girls and listen to their break up stories with real attention. No other guys dance and sing and act with pretty teenage girls over and over and over again. It just doesn’t happen.

Through high school there were always people making little jokes about Jake being gay. I’d never really put much thought into it. To me Jake was…. well, Jake. Just a friend I loved very much and had a lot of good times with. I figured if Jake was gay he would just tell me he was gay, and that would be that. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it if he ever told me that as I really didn’t understand the whole church/homosexuality/religion/sin thing, but I figured we’d be okay. Jake would be Jake and I would love him and we’d sort it all out. Not to say I didn’t think it would be a big deal – I did think it would be a big deal, especially back in high school – but I figured if things went that way we’d deal with it and be okay. I loved Jake for Jake – not for who he wanted to sleep with. Even at 16 I was smart enough to figure that out. It was hard for me to imagine what my reaction should be if Jake were to come out, but I knew it should be a reaction of love.

Fast forward to my third year of college. I was living in a little studio apartment downtown. Of my close friends from high school, I was the only one living on my own. So when winter break strolled around, guess whose place we gathered at for drinks and catching up. Are you guessing? Have you guessed H’s place yet? Good, you’re on track.

I had two best friends in high school. I’ll call them Bev and Audra. The three of us were virtually inseparable in high school and we frequently drug Jake along for our adventures. Jake and Audra had dated at one time, Audra and Bev were best friends, Bev and I were best friends, and Jake and myself were very close. We made a complete circle. Bev and Audra left town to go to school so seeing them over winter break was a treat. We made arrangements to hang out at my place and called Jake to invite him along.

Bev and Audra arrived at my apartment first. The three of us chatted and shared our girl talk while mixing drinks and trying to make ourselves comfortable in my tiny studio apartment. As we chatted the conversation turned to Jake. They skirted around him for awhile, their eyes darting back at forth at each other, trying to figure out how much was okay to share with me and what to hide. I’m not sure who told me, but finally one of them spoke up and said that Jake had come out.

My response: “What?”

Yes, they confirmed, Jake was gay. I started to think that something had gone very wrong with this conversation, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. It wasn’t that Jake was gay – honestly, at that point it wasn’t much of a surprise. As I sat there listening it dawned on me – I figured out what was wrong - Bev knew about this before I did. I asked Bev if Audra had told her the news. No, she told me, Jake had told her himself. Bev and Jake had never been close, so it seemed pretty off that she would know and I wouldn’t. When had this happened? I wondered aloud why he hadn’t told me yet – why I was the last to know.

After a full minute of contemplations exchanged by Bev and Audra through those quick, darting glances, somebody responded: “Jake was afraid to tell you because you’re a Christian”.

Me: “Oh.”

The conversation continued, but all I can really remember is being told that Jake didn’t want to have to tell me he was gay because I was a Christian and he was afraid of what I would say. I was sworn to secrecy so when Jake arrived I never said a word. Four drinks later – four very strong drinks later - he finally ‘fessed up. My heart broke. Jake had to get drunk to share his news with me because I was a scary Christian.

I don’t remember how I reacted. I don’t remember what I said. Mostly I just remember being completely and totally heartbroken – not that Jake was gay; to me that was just another detail of our friendship, something we’d figure out how to adjust to – but that someone I loved was afraid of my judgment. Once he finally got the news out, the evening was lighthearted. We chattered on about which of our ex-boyfriends Jake thought was hot, whether any of us shared the same taste in men, who he’d shared his secret with so far – you know, the usual things you chatter on about when your best guy friend has just come out. At some point we played a game that involved drawing pigs. I honestly have no idea what that was about, only that I have random pig drawings in my memory box to this day. The evening concluded without any fanfare, and my friendship with Jake went on as usual. Several years have passed and we don’t see each other like we used to, but he is still someone I love and respect. Ironically, I most often see him at a gay bar in my hometown, though I have never seen Bev or Audra there. Funny, huh? I’m the one who was so scary to come out to, but I’m the one who ended up frequenting the gay bar. Who would’ve guessed?

When Bev and Audra told me Jake was afraid to share his secret with me, I felt a deep unease in my belly. I was nauseas with confusion and embarrassment and guilt. My heart hurt. When Jake downed four drinks in 30 minutes to dull the pain he thought I might inflict on him… well, I got angry. I didn’t know who to be angry with, but I got angry. As much as I wanted to be angry with Jake for not knowing me better and knowing that I would love him no matter what, I couldn’t be. I’m not na├»ve. I’ve seen the church. I’ve heard story after story of Christians ‘loving’ homosexuals by protesting them, trying to convert them, and threatening them with eternal damnation in an effort to ‘save’ them. I’ve heard so many explanations on how to ‘hate the sin and love the sinner’ that ultimately end up simply devaluing the ‘sinner’ and justifying judgment. I couldn’t blame Jake for being afraid of my Christianity because I’d seen what Christianity had done.

I was angry at myself for not having portrayed something more accepting and loving. I was downright pissed at myself for not having demonstrated in some small way that I was open to his sexuality - it wasn’t like I never saw it coming. I felt like a fucking monster, and why shouldn’t I? Someone I loved was afraid of me. I should’ve done something different, or said something different… or been something different.

But mostly, I was angry at the church. I was angry that I was being judged by what judgmental Christians had done. I was angry that someone I loved feared me because the Church had done a shitty job of loving homosexuals. I felt I had lost something with Jake, all because the church couldn’t fucking lighten up and figure out that when Jesus said, Love your neighbors he actually meant Love your neighbors. Not Convert your neighbors or Make rash judgments of your neighbors or Condemn your neighbors or even Make sure your neighbors don’t have gay sex. Just love your neighbors – love Jake. I knew I could love Jake, but Jake just knew that a billion other Christians couldn’t love him and threw me in with the lot. Fair? Hell no, it wasn’t fair. But I don’t know that I would’ve done any differently if it had been me.

I’ve had a few friends come out to me since then and each time someone has told me, “I’m gay”, or “I’m bi-sexual”, or whatever they have to say, I always think back to Jake and wonder how much courage it took for the person standing in front of me to share with me. Am I still scary? I like to hope that I am not, but I honestly can’t say for sure. Until two years ago I still claimed Christianity, and even last year I claimed Christian spirituality, though I quit even trying to believe in organized religion. Does my past make me scary?

I loved Jake. Jake feared me. What got in the way? The Church. There is very little that is as horrifying as having someone you love fear you.

This is the first time I remember being ashamed of my faith – not embarrassed because the other kids didn’t think it was ‘cool’, but actually ashamed because it hurt somebody who just needed loved. This is the first time I remember being angry at the church. Maybe most importantly, this is the first time I remember looking at the church and thinking, "wow, something is seriously fucked up here, and I’m not sure how much I want to be a part of that".

I’m never going to forget the darting glances and being told that Jake was afraid of my reaction. I’m never going to forget Jake downing 4 drinks to drown out the judgment he expected from me. I am never going to forget the feeling of knowing that someone I loved was afraid of my judgment. These are moments that marked me; moments that broke me and shaped me into a woman who is determined to love as best she can; to give grace and acceptance as best she can. These are moments that gave birth to the righteously pissed off young woman who sits here writing this today, refusing to take dogma as the final answer when love is such a better alternative. This is my takeaway.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dingo the Wonder Mutt

Once upon a time, my husband thought it would be a good idea to get a dog. He had grown up with dogs all his life and apparently seemed to feel that something was missing from our happy home. I, on the other hand, am a cat person. I could not have cared less if I ever saw another dog again, let alone if one came to live in our home. Besides, I reasoned, dogs are so hard to care for. You’ve got to let them out every few hours to go potty, you’ve got to find someone to take care of them if you go on vacation, you’ve got to make sure they don’t poop in anyone else’s lawn, etc, etc, etc. You can leave a cat alone for a couple of weeks if you really need to – just leave out several bowls of food and water and get one of those self-cleaning litter boxes. Wha-la! You’re set. Pet the kitty, say goodbye, and head out. For the most part, cats are self-sufficient. But a dog… a dog seemed like such a hassle.

My husband went on wanting a dog for some time. I went on ignoring this as I knew he wasn’t going to actually get up and take action. As long as I didn’t physically go pick out a dog, I knew we weren’t going to get one. I seem to be the proactive one in the family, for some reason. However, that summer our house was broken into twice. The more D talked about a dog, the better the idea seemed. Still, I was slow to come around.

Please….” D would say, “I promise I’ll let it out and feed it and water it and walk it and make sure someone takes care of it while we’re away. You won’t even notice it’s here.”

Stupidly, I believed him.

I decided that fall that I would get D a dog for Christmas. For Christmas I brought home a dog kennel, food and water bowls, a collar, a food scooper, etc. I told D we could go pick out a dog, but I had to approve it. I’m kind of afraid of large dogs and D wanted a pretty big one. I had to approve of the size. We decided I would search for a dog that I could handle and then D would see if he liked the dog. Thus, the hunt for our Wonder Mutt began.

I started at the Humane Shelter. I decided I was looking for a medium sized dog with a fairly calm temperament. I looked over all the dogs and found one that looked just the right size – not too big so as to scare me, but not too small so as to be an ankle biter. He was pretty cute, too. I filled out an adoption application and they let me meet the dog. When you meet an animal at the Humane Shelter you go into a little room. The animal you want to meet is then brought into the room with you and you are left alone together for a bit. This helps to ensure that you are seeing the animal without the influence of the other dogs or cats or people and you can see how the animal interacts with you.

I can’t remember the dog’s name, but he was really cute. I was really looking forward to meeting him. I went into the little room and sat down, waiting for one of the volunteers to bring the dog in to meet me. The dog came in the room. I attempted to pet him. He ran around in circles. I sat there and stared at him. For 10 minutes, this dog did nothing but run around the edges of the room. I was starting to get worried. It seemed that this dog had a little more energy than I could handle. Then, to top it off, as soon as he stopped running around the room he started humping a stuffed animal. The staff had to take the stuffed animal away. Apparently, the dog wasn’t yet fixed. Gee, thanks for telling me.

Someone finally came in and took the dog back to his cage. I said, “Wow, he certainly has a lot of energy”.

The Staff Member: “Yeah, that breed of dog is bred to herd cattle. They need to run about 10-20 miles a day.”

Me: “Oh.”

It became apparent to me that this dog was not coming home with me. There was no way in hell I was committing myself to running 10-20 miles a day. I don’t even get that far by car on a typical day.

My search continued.

My next stop was the SPCA. At the SPCA I saw two dogs that caught my eye. One was a black lab – a little bigger than I really wanted, but I knew it was more what D really wanted. The other dog was some sort of Shepherd mix named Dingo – but pretty small for a Shepherd, maybe about 40 lbs or so. I asked the staff about the dogs and I was told that the little Shepherd dog had previously been abused and was very shy. Immediately, I had to have her. Poor little thing – she was abused! I’m such a bleeding heart. The staff also told me that she was afraid of men. For some reason, I did not think this would deter her from being the perfect Christmas gift for my very manly husband.

The SPCA staff brought me into the room where Dingo was kept. Instead of being in a kennel with the other dogs, she was living in one of the offices – apparently she was such a ‘fraidy cat she couldn’t be left with the other dogs. I walked over to her and she sat perfectly still. I petted her and checked her out and talked to her. She did not move the entire time I was in that room. She just sat there and stared at me nervously, with her tail tucked. Somehow I equated 'previously abused, scared out of her mind, jumpy, paranoid dog' with 'calm, low-maintenance, ideal-for-my-lifestyle dog' and decided she was perfect for us. Calm? Yeah, she was calm – because she didn’t want me to beat the crap out of her. I don’t know if that really counts as a personality trait so much as it counts as a defense mechanism. Poor puppy.

I took D to the SPCA with me two days later to make sure he approved of the dog I had chosen for him. When the shelter volunteers took us to see Dingo, she barked and growled at D. She jumped up and bared her teeth and growled low in her throat and acted as if we would make a particularly tasty lunch for her.

D looked at me, looked at Dingo, looked back at me and said, “Are you sure we should get this one?”

I looked at him like he was insane. Not get this dog? What? Of course we should get this dog. Just because she was barking and snarling and growling and baring her teeth and acting like she wanted to eat us and wouldn’t come within ten feet of D didn’t mean she wouldn’t make a great Christmas gift for him.

“Geesh,” I thought to myself, “he sure is picky.”

What I said was: “I think we should take her home. I’ll bet if we love her for awhile she’ll start to get better.”

D: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Well, no, not really. But we can’t just leave her here.”

D: “Well, okay.”

D is not a bleeding heart himself, but he always seems to sympathize with my bleeding heart convictions. I have no idea why he has so much faith in me, but he does. I don’t ever have that much faith in me. I never think I’m going to be able to really make any sort of difference even though that’s all I want to do, and I express my bleeding heart convictions in these sort of half-assed pleas – hoping I’ll do something for the best but terrified that I’m digging myself into something I can’t really handle. For some reason, D always goes along with it. God bless him.

Four days later we brought Dingo home.

Correction – four days later I brought Dingo home. The SPCA staff, D, and myself all thought it would be best to bring her home without D there so she wouldn’t freak out. Way to go, H. Some fucking Christmas present. For weeks she ran downstairs every time D went upstairs and upstairs every time D went downstairs. We’d take her out the front door, through the yard, and into the gated back yard because she was afraid of the linoleum floor in the kitchen and wouldn’t cross it to go out the back door. We tried to teach her to play Frisbee but she ran away from the Frisbee and looked at us as if to say, “Why are you throwing things at my head? What did I do now?”

Two years later, she sleeps next to D at night in our bed. I attribute this to a great deal of love and patience, as well as a small fortune in doggy treats. I can probably count the number of times D has walked her on one hand and somehow I end up letting her out every single morning, but I think I’m getting the hang of having a dog. Dingo seems to be getting the hang of having a family as well.

So that’s my story – the acquisition of Dingo the Wonder Mutt!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

AIDS Walk 2008

It’s that time of year again…. time for the annual AIDS Walk. The AIDS Walk will take place on May 3rd and is a 5K walk that will take us out of Headwater’s Park, through Downtown Fort Wayne, and back to Headwater’s Park again. I will be participating in the walk again this year with my dog Dingo. Dingo immensely enjoyed the walk last year, and I think other people immensely enjoyed Dingo last year. I will be working on a very cute AIDS Walk outfit for her in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

All proceeds from the AIDS Walk will benefit the AIDS Task Force, Inc. of Northeast Indiana. Funds will be used to educate people in Northeast Indiana, prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS, and serve those living with HIV/AIDS in our community. Participating in this walk is one expression of my commitment to love the people in my community who are hurting and need some love and support. It isn’t nearly enough, but it is one tangible thing I can do that might make life a little more bearable for someone else.

AIDS does not discriminate – no race or color or sexual orientation or gender or religious background is immune. Click here to see face of HIV/AIDS. This exhibit shows the diversity of the disease – and tells beautiful stories of hope and redemption as people cope with their diagnoses. Last year this exhibit was present at the AIDS Walk. I hope it is also present this year, and that all of you have a chance to see it. If you care about people and if you value the art of storytelling you simply cannot miss this.

Please consider supporting Dingo and I as we try to love the people in our community a little bit better. We would be excited to have others walk alongside us. We could also use some encouragement and cheering on! And, of course, we’d be thrilled if you’d contribute to our campaign with a monetary pledge. Anything you can do will be greatly appreciated. Contact me if you’d like to walk with us, or just head straight to the AIDS Task Force web page to sign up by clicking here. To give your pledge, simply click on the firstgiving button on the right hand side of the page. I will also be taking pledges in person until May 2nd. To encourage giving, this year I have committed to matching the highest pledge up to $500.

Last year Dingo and I raised over $900 for the AIDS Walk. This year we’re hoping to beat that. Please consider helping us out. Even if you can only give a very small amount, every gift counts. Every gift goes to improve the quality of life for people in our community that we interact with every day.

Thanks for listening to my PSA. I know my blogs aren’t usually so direct or so serious, but this is a cause that really means a lot to me. I promise I’ll be back soon with a tale of Dingo the WonderMutt!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Tutorial for the Church

This weekend my husband went to church. I try to be a good and supporting wife and I don’t begrudge my husband his faith, even though mine seems to have gone AWOL at the moment. I’ll get him up in the morning and send him off to church if that’s what he wants to do. I don’t belittle his faith; I don’t imply there’s anything wrong with him or that he is stupid if he believes what the church is telling him. I try to respect that when he goes to church he learns things and he thinks it benefits him. If that grows him, fine. Doesn’t mean it has to grow me – but it does mean I have to respect his desire to go.

Last night my husband told me what he had learned at church on Sunday. Apparently there’s a series going on that addresses the problem of pain – though I’m not sure they’re wording it that way. I think they’re talking about adversity and persecution and some other stuff. I’m not there so I’m hearing it second hand through my husband who – while I love him dearly – will always be more of an accountant than a storyteller. Thus, I don’t think I always get the entire story but rather the basic outline.

In the words of my husband, they’re talking about ‘when we go through stuff’, which I take to mean the problem of pain. What my husband learned this week, among other things, is that when we ‘go through stuff’ we must surround ourselves with Christians and believers. The rationale for this? If we surround ourselves with people who aren’t Christians, they will be a bad influence on us and turn us into cynical, angry people.

The vast irony of this is that being around a lot of Christian people is what tends to make me cynical and angry.

Throughout the course of my life, I have consistently failed to find true solace or support in the church and have consistently had better luck with people outside of the church.

Example: Someone in my life dies, which is a fairly big deal. The Pastor of the church I attended scolded someone I love on being sad about the death – after all, we should be happy we’ve got Jesus. Meanwhile, my pagan friend Rhea held me while I cried.

Example: I am repeated sexually assaulted as a teenager. My Christian friend says its going to be okay because Jesus was there with me the whole time (apparently Jesus is a stalker, and great for healing but not so good at preventative care – my insurance company would not like him). Again, it is Rhea who carries the brunt of the load, telling me that it sucks and she’s angry for me and I have every right to hurt and she loves me.

Example: I don’t take too well to marriage at first and I spend the first 7-8 months depressed. My Christian friend observes that I’m obviously not putting my husband first and submitting to him – that must be the problem. If I could only be more biblically perfect, things would be fine. Cuthbert and Lisey (ex-Christian homo and agnostic; respectively) tell me it is hard to adjust to big stuff like marriage and its going to take some time and they’ll be there while I grow.

Example: Two babies die in my womb less than four months apart. My Christian boss tells me its okay because God has a plan (plans apparently negate pain) and I can always have more kids (can I? Or will those die too?). Another Christian in my life tells me it could be worse and I should read the book of Job (obviously reading about somebody else’s shitty circumstances makes mine less shitty). Another tells me to have faith and the next time things will turn out alright (oh, faith makes babies live? Wish I’d known that 6 months ago!) But it’s my non Christian friends who do most of the hard work of pulling me through. It is Lisey who has checked up on me almost daily for the last six months. It is her mom who holds me while I cry. It is Cuthbert who gives me permission to grieve and tells me he has no idea why this is happening but he knows that I am beautiful and he loves me and he wants to see what beautiful thing I make out of this mess – because he knows my heart enough to know that I must make something beautiful out of it. It is Cuthbert who tells me he refuses to give up on me and he is going to be here, no matter how dark and shitty it gets.

Gee, the church looks so attractive right now.

Here’s the problem, plain and simple: The modern church does a shitty job of dealing with the problem of pain and an even shittier job of teaching its followers how to love the people who are in pain.

Just once I’d like to go to a church and have someone say to me:

“Wow. This really sucks. I’m so, so sorry you’re going through this and my heart is breaking for you. Its okay if you feel sad and I can see why you might be angry and that’s okay too. Just know that I love you and while that doesn’t make it okay, I hope it helps some.”

And then I’d like to see them follow up on that and actually LOVE me (as in the verb) rather than pretend things are okay so they don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable feeling they get when they see me in pain.

Just once I’d like to go to a church and have somebody do something other than minimize my pain or invalidate my experiences or pretend that I should be okay because there is a god who loves me and nothing else matters.

Just once.

But I can’t go to church and even try to get that because experience has taught me that if I lean on the church or her followers, what I will get is this:

* uncomfortable silence.
* “At least” statements – as in “At least they didn’t remove your tube,” “At least you still have each other”. You know, the kind of statements where people subconsciously tell you to quit hurting because it could be worse and – dammit! – you’re making them uncomfortable. As though I can just stop hurting because I can think of worse things that could happen.
* “God has a plan” – Fair enough. But even if god does have a plan, that plan FUCKING HURTS and I still need you to love me, okay?
* “Jesus is with you though this” – And we’re back to the stalker Jesus with no preventative care coverage.
* “Have faith” – does faith negate pain, too?

And the list goes on…

I just can’t bear the thought of having to deal with that. The last thing a hurting person should have to do is defend themselves and their pain against the church or her followers. A hurting person should never have to justify her pain or fight to see it validated: the church should accept it as real the moment she presents it and treat it as real until it is resolved. A hurting person should never have to hunt down love*: the church should practically smother her with it the moment her pain is presented.

*by love I do not mean warm fuzzy feelings. By love I mean physical action – love a hurting person by calling them once a week and checking up on them, sitting with them if they need it, holding them while they cry, making them a meal, doing their dishes, praying with them if they’re they praying type… By love I mean whatever physical action the hurting person needs you to take – and its okay to ask what that action is if you don’t know.

And yet…

All these things people say… all these things church people say that they actually seem to think are helpful… they all imply that the reality of god cancels out the reality of pain. And that is not okay. Pain is real. Maybe god is too. But if he is, that doesn’t negate the reality of the pain.

And yet…

The people who hunt me down and smother me with love are rarely the people of the church, with a few notable exceptions: my sister Velma and 2 or3 others whom I’ve never really even seen in a church setting. Of the time I’ve spent as a hurting person and the sheer volume of people in the church who’ve known me though these things, this seems like a poor result for the church.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. It started out feeling like a rant, but my heart is softer now that it was an hour ago. I hate that things are this way… I want to bitch and moan – I want my complaint to be heard and validated. But more than that, I want the church to love hurting people better. So, if you can, try to think of this as a tutorial for the church – a lesson in loving the hurting and broken. Look at Cuthbert and Lisey and Rhea and Velma – and imitate them. Look at the things I wish the church would say and then get up the guts to say them and mean them. Look at the things the church says that hurt me and resist the temptation to spout off these simple answers. Be willing to love the hurting – and be willing to define love as a verb.

Otherwise, stop telling my husband that the church is where I need to be.