For all you readers who may not know me, just be forewarned, this post is a little personal. Okay, a lot personal. I had another bad experience today, and I'm broken. I've yelled, and screamed, and cried, and cussed, as you'll discover if you continue. And now, as a good little millennial, I blog.
I've never confessed this to anyone.
When I was in the sixth grade, I said my first cuss word. I remember it very clearly. It was "damn." There was no reason for me to say it, other than that I was angry. I didn't know it at the time, but I was just simply angry at the church.
My father is a minister, an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. That means he's itinerate - he's under the appointment of the bishop, at the bishop's will as to where to move him from church to church within a conference, or across conference lines if the bishop sees fit.
I'd lived with this. We'd moved every few years my entire life. It was a part of life. It's helped shape me into the person I am today. But so long ago, I just didn't quite understand it.
We had been living at one place for two years. Not a very long time, but I had actually made some very good friends. Those kind of friends that when you graduate high school together you reminisce about your entire lives together. It didn't matter that we'd only known one another for two years, we'd become close. Sure, we fought, and I'm sure I romanticize it all now. But for the first time that I can remember, I had good friends.
And I really liked the church. Turns out, I didn't know a whole lot of the goings on and they didn't particularly care for my father very much, at least a small portion of them didn't. But I felt at home. I looked up to my sister and all of her friends in the youth group and looked forward to the day I'd be there. I was friends with some of the kids, and even had a crush on a particular boy. Life was as it should be for any fifth grader.
Then my father was moved. I remember telling one friend who's grandmother lived across the street from me - we were in a homemade tent in my room, and I said, you know we're moving, and she said, I know, and that was about the end of it.
Anywho, to make a long story not quite so long, after we moved, we were invited back to a picnic. There was this park in the town, and they had just worked to build this wonderful playground, and we'd had many picnics there with friends. So, they invited us back, as friends, and we went.
I was playing on the playground, and I don't know there was just something in me that was angry. This wasn't my playground anymore, these weren't my friends anymore. And as we were playing tag, running around the playground, I started cussing when someone would get away from me. I did it over and over and over again, just like it was natural. I'd moved away, i'd changed, I wasn't the person they used to know. They weren't my friends anymore. I didn't belong there. I felt so out of place, so...
A boy finally stopped me, the older brother of the guy I kind of had a crush on. He told me that I couldn't say words like that because there were little kids around. I told him I didn't care. I wanted him to think I was cool, better off for having moved. Or having been moved.
I cussed again today because of the church, a particularly bad one, much worse than that first one. Oh, I've said many cuss words between then and now, but today after it came out of my mouth I remembered that anger at something I felt I had no control over. Basically, I work for the church, and I was let down, once again, and made to feel worthless, less than, unworthy. Like I don't matter. Left angry...furious.
So it leaves me up at 11:54 at night, wondering the question that's been rolling around in my head all day. How long do I stand it? How many times do I let the church walk over me, drive me into the ground, deeper and deeper before I finally say, enough. Can I let myself be hung on a cross with Jesus? Can I pick up my cross? Because I want to change things. I want to make a difference. And I don't know how. God, if Jesus felt this helpless, this hopeless. I don't even want this cup to be taken from me, I just want to know that my cup is doing the right thing. I want some affirmation that I'm doing the right thing. Just a small piece of proof.
I remember another time, returning from a youth event. I was getting my stuff out of my car, and as I walked down the driveway, I don't even remember what prompted this, but I remember thinking, I have a choice, and I have to make it now. I can give up on this church thing. I can say enough, I've had it, and walk away. Or I can throw myself into it and do everything I can to change it for the better. I chose to stay. To devote myself to it, to learn its ways so that I may become knowledgeable and wise, and understanding, and the work to mold it to look more like the church Jesus had in mind. I felt it was my calling, to change things from the inside. Truly.
There have been several times since that point that I have wanted to remake that choice, today being top on the list. I just feel like I can't do anything. I feel powerless, as I watch others much more powerful than me make decisions and actions that are so wrong and hurtful, often without even realizing it. And I feel like my efforts at change are futile. I understand the change process is slow, and that we don't always get to see the fruits of our labor, more often not than so. But when I don't even know where to begin to change something...
My friend told me to begin with Jesus. Crawl into his arms and start there. But I've never encountered God in that way, as a comforter like that. I encounter God in an intellectual manner, a conversational manner, God I don't understand this, help me to understand. Because what I know of the church, who has taught me about God, is that its rational, its cognitive. Decisions are made not in the heart but in the head. But it's become so emotional, so heart centered. It always has been, I guess, as evidenced - anger like that comes from the heart, from being heart sick and broken.
And so I return to my question. How many times can I be broken before I can't be put back together again? Before I won't let myself be put back together? I guess my friend was right. Begin with Jesus. If I could just find him in this mess.