Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Ring

First off, let me say that I am aware that my blog's header may not be showing, and that you might be seeing an ad in its place. I have reached out the the blog designer and asked for some help with that, but am waiting to hear back from her. One way or another, I will get that resolved.

So yesterday, my youngest niece got engaged. She is the happiest I have ever known her to be. Her fiancĂ© just brings out the best in her, and I think they are going to be really happily married. Yea! Marriage can be so good! I highly recommend it. She received the prettiest engagement ring from her young man, and she was just giddy about it. 

After I had been a widow for two or three years, I stopped wearing my engagement ring and I moved my wedding band over to my right hand. I was open to a new relationship (still am), and I didn't want to appear unavailable. That was really the only reason I removed them - because of what others might think.

I still wear my rings together on my left hand whenever we travel because I feel like it sends a message that there's a husband and father around somewhere, and he could be nearby. But when I get home, within a day or two I reluctantly remove my engagement ring and put it away. I don't like doing so, but I feel some sort of imaginary pressure to do so.

But last night, watching my niece revel in the newness of her engagement ring (and preparing to marry the love of her life, of course!), made me want to wear my ring again. So today I got it out and put it on my left hand, and moved my wedding band over to my left hand, too. It makes me very happy to wear my rings together. When I was married, I called my engagement ring "Shiny Goodness" and it really is. I may not have the biggest diamond, but all the pave diamonds around it really make it shine.

I think I'm going to keep wearing it, too. It's the nicest piece of jewelry I've ever had, it's incredibly meaningful, and I just can't think of a good reason not to do so.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Why I Don't Want to Go to Church

I love Jesus.

I love God's word.

I love worship music.

I love expositional Bible teaching.

But I don't love going to church.

This is not an easy post to write because... Well, it's just not. I don't enjoy criticizing the church and God's people. But this is something that I feel strongly about.

Three years ago, I decided to move us from our mega church to a smaller church closer to home. My intention was that Michaela and I would have a more intimate church home in which we could make good friends. The church I chose for us was so much of what I was looking for - wonderful worship music, great preaching with an emphasis on expository teaching (chapter by chapter and verse by verse teaching as opposed to topical teaching), and small enough for us to not get lost in the crowd. I can't speak highly enough of the pastoral and non-pastoral staff, and the great programs they have for kids. It also has an awesome K-8 school that Michaela now attends. 

After about six months of attending, I signed Michaela up for Vacation Bible School and I volunteered to help out. I thought that experience would help us make some new friends. However, it was almost a year later when we finally made any friends from church.

While that friendship was flourishing, I was still keenly aware that the other acquaintances we had at church were not developing into anything more. I attended a couple of women's Bible studies, continued to volunteer in Sunday School classes once a month or more, but gained no friends. People would say hello in service, or while passing in the halls (sometimes), but that was it.

Now, I have to admit that I am an introvert. I'm not painfully shy by any means, but I am reserved. Nevertheless, at church I would go out of my way to talk to others. Some people returned the friendliness, but many were aloof. If I have to generalize about who was typically friendly, I would have to say that the older people are. While the people closer in age to me were the ones that are aloof.

I do realize that it could just be me.

Maybe I am socially awkward.

Maybe I say or do things that prevent acquaintances from becoming friends.

That is possible.

But while that may be part of the equation, I think there could be more to it than that.

Maybe people are uncomfortable with me because I'm widowed. 

Maybe they would prefer to socialize with families that have a wife and a husband.

Maybe they are comfortable with the group of friends they already have, and they aren't looking to have anymore friends.

Those are my impressions.

I have noticed that we have fewer and fewer visitors each week and that there are more empty seats than I remember when we first began attending. Maybe my perception is wrong, but I think that other people may be feeling like I am.

So for now, I don't want to go to church.

And that makes me sad.

I know that God has told us believers that he wants us gathering together (Hebrews 10:25). That when we come together, we can be an extended family, and a source of encouragement and help to one another. The Bible says we are the body of Christ. That means so much, but one of the things it means is unity. Being together is part of being in unity.

I am praying that if we do move to Idaho that we will be planted in a church with solid Bible teaching, wonderful worship music, great kids programs, and friendly people. Because widows (and kids without both parents) need good friends to do life with - friends that share our values and beliefs. Friends who like to have fun. Friends who can forgive us when we are not at our best. Friends who can point us back to Jesus when we get off track.