Monday, September 6, 2010

Post Traumatic Church Disorder.

I didn't go to Church today.

I don't have much of an excuse. I have a job that often precludes the ability to attend, but I was free today. Not that anyone would notice my absence. I'm a little paranoid, but I feel like the bishop sometimes makes a conscious effort to avoid me. Nevertheless, I should have gone to Church, but just thinking about walking into that chapel made me shudder.

Maybe I'm still gun-shy from the last time I went to Church -- about 3 weeks ago. It was midway through the second consecutive sacrament talk about the blessings of the Temple and families. I was on a side bench, without a family to sit with, and I started to hyperventilate. My own reaction surprised me. I'm usually thick skinned, and let little things run off me like water off a duck's back, but that day somehow the weakness in my armor was exposed. I'm sure the speaker meant no offense, but her comments struck a cord. I felt very much alone, surrounded by others who were obviously more worthy to have the blessings of children and a spouse.

Silently I kept asking do these people know how lucky they are?

Do they know what I would give to have what they have?

Listening to the self-satisfied tone of the talk I noticed my anger start to rise, and my face redden. There was something about the speaker's delivery that made me feel excluded; a stranger in my Church Home. I couldn't have felt anymore out of place if I had been wearing a Santa suit to Church in August.

I had to get out. There were thirty minutes to go before the closing hymn, but I couldn't sit another moment longer. Walking up the isle I had to resist the urge to speed walk to the exit in a panic, and in my car I had to sit for a minute while my heart rate normalized before I could drive away.

Then once alone in my apartment the questioning hit like a storm: am I doomed to an existence alone, unloved, and unremembered? How many more years of this can I take? I thought I'd wept all the tears I have on the subject. Why am I now suddenly so pathetic?

I'm just not ready to go back. I guess that's why I stayed home today.

There are Sundays when Church is just too painful to attend.


Hope said...

A quote from my father in a letter he wrote me a few years after I came out: "I believe that God is far more generous than most religious people give Him credit for. The love that Christ talked of sets the bar higher than I think I shall ever attain. And because I possess a love that falls so far short of the ideal, I cannot comprehend the possibility that God with His perfect love will deny his gay children re-entry into His presence. Just as people in all ages have created clubs, schools and associations that excluded people of other races, social classes and norms, so too have religious people created a heaven that excludes people who make them feel uncomfortable. Man's heaven is exclusive. God's heaven is inclusive.

Good to be Free said...

What a great quote Hope. I don't think I could have said it better, and coming from a father, how amazing.

Jack, those moments of feeling alone in a crowded room are rough. If you ever need a friendly hello, shoot me an email. You do have a family, and we're here for you.

Beck said...

As one who dictates topics to be expounded upon at Sacrament Meetings, your reaction gives me pause and makes me think twice about how some comments (innocent or otherwise) can have insensitive and stifling results.

I feel for you and wish I was there to run after you in the parking lot!

Rob said...

I can't do better than Ogden Nash:

I didn't go to church today.
I trust the Lord to understand.
The surf was swirling blue and white,
The children swirling on the sand.
He knows, He knows how brief my stay,
How brief this spell of summer weather.
He knows when I am said and done
We'll have plenty of time together.

There are plenty of times I find God a lot easier when I seek Him from someplace other than a bench in a plain Mormon chapel.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

I think most of us understand what it's like to find ourselves feeling somehow inferior.

I suppose I've found it most frustrating to live up to gospel standards only to feel like that's not good enough and that I'll never be good enough for the expectations I'd been presented with for the first 23 years of my life. It's up to us to find the balance or other solution, unfortunately.

LDS Brother said...

That's why I just fall asleep during church. :)