Wanted: Worship and Community

church_doorThis morning I went to church, making it two Sundays in a row for me. I picked a church that claimed to be welcoming, from what I could gather on the website, and that looked to be aware in doctrine. I did research. They have music groups, a book club, and are supposedly an:

“open-minded, outreach-oriented church”

according to the website. I’ve been to many churches as a “guest” many times over my life. I wasn’t afraid the first time I went, in fact, I was excited. I was a member of a church called University Bible Fellowship in my younger days, my memories of that and my other church going experiences are largely positive. I avoid churches where I know I won’t fit in, or which are the sort where you need to be born into to feel welcome.

Well, people look at me at this church like I’m an alien. The little old ladies are nice to me, but I think it’s because they feel obligated to. I’m old enough to know the difference between a genuine and a forced smile. These people are not interested in me. They called me “brave” for coming to the church by myself. Sometimes, depending on the context and tone, the use of the word “brave” is interchangeable with the word “stupid.” Is it so odd or suspicious to be looking for community? Suspicious is the best way I can describe the general attitude toward me. I really wish I had someone to go with, but should I really have to be accompanied by another to be welcomed into a congregation? I thought that Christianity welcomed and loved all of us?

I’m hesitant to keep going to this church. Part of me thinks that it will just take a little time for the people to warm up to me. Honestly though, I didn’t see very many people I could relate to there. Also, my job seemed to be a turn off. On a side note, I looked up some groups to join yesterday, and there is an awesome feminist group I would like to be a member of, but it turns out you need a degree to be considered for membership.

Is this going to be my normal, suburban life? Being judged for not having enough friends or education?  I stink of strangeness. Where am I going to find my new community?



The other side of the coin

Lombard Maple Street 001Looking back on my blog posts from over the past few months, I realize that I have gone through a rather rocky period. I mean, I knew this already of course, I lived it- but reading my whining, which was recorded when the wounds were fresh, colors in the strength of the emotions at the time.

I feel really good about my life at the moment, especially having reflected on my “priorities” post. I now have a home! Well, an apartment. It is the apartment that I have been dreaming of. It is spacious, clean, and (largely) free of vermin. I have room for all of my things, in fact, I can find myself some more things if I so desire. (Namely a desk. A desk of my own will be had.) It is in a lovely suburb, that is safe, but not devoid of history and culture, and not so expensive, or snotty, that I don’t fit in. There are cute places to eat nearby, as well as convenient stores, and other little places to shop. And, also somehow I have managed to find an apartment on a patch of woods, near the edge of a forest preserve and nearby not one, but two major bike paths. I have a lovely view of a little thicket outside my patio, and every day I watch various birds and furry creatures coexist. I am really very over the moon with the whole situation. I feel profoundly blessed, and I thank my lucky stars morning and night.

So, check one, home. Check two, family! I have my sister here with me. Having some family close by (that I actually get along with) has completely changed my life for the better. We are good for each other, and the relationship is functional… it’s a very heartening development.

So, home and family are check, as well as work. I started a new job, which I was resistant to, because of the normalcy of it. Working first shift for a low wage sounded like hell to me. After my options quickly narrowed, I had no choice but to accept an offer at an assembly facility where I had an in. My therapist had advised me to take a job where I would rise and rest with the sun, but I really had no intention on following through with that guidance. It turns out that I love working there, and while the pay may be shameful, I have full benefits, 401 K, vacation time, paid holidays off, 40 minute lunches, and really wonderful coworkers. It’s almost too good to be true. It’s not glamorous, but I am happy, and I have stability, as well as time to myself.

Even with all of this good news and happiness, and my mind still finds things to worry about.  My health was a big concern for awhile, but now that I’ve gone to the doctor, I feel much better about that. I found that I have gained a bunch of weight. I have a kitchen that I can easily utilize, for the first time in almost two years. I am so enthusiastic about it; I will never take it for granted again. I spend most of my time at home in the kitchen. The rest of the time, I am usually outside trying to walk off all of the delicious food. I am trying hard to appreciate all of the little luxuries I took for granted with my foray into the life of a vagabond.  I have lost most of my possessions in the many hurried, and disorganized, moves I have made over the past couple of years. I am heavier than I have been in my entire life, but when I look in the mirror, I see someone who eats well, who exercises their body, and who has clear, well cared for skin and hair. It seems like a stupid thing to mention in a blog, but I grew up never learning to care for myself. The one thing I have managed to hang on to during my many recent moves is a collection of toiletries, and it is really helping me right now. While mid 30’s is late to learn self care, I am glad that I am finally taking the time to love my physical body instead of abusing it.

Another worry would be the people I left behind in yet another lifestyle shift. This would be the third time that I have up an disappeared from my old circle, and I have a feeling that this time they are not going to be looking for me to come back. I catch myself looking back and feeling a yearning, or feeling some regret, but I have to remember that doing what is healthy for me is important. I am not responsible for the emotional health and well being of other people, and my absence should create no major catastrophe for them. I do feel sad that some people may miss me or wish that I was around. It’s so hard for me to cut ties, even though logically I understand that the choices I am making now are more healthy. I am learning to think through my emotions, I have to remind myself to not just follow my feelings blindly down a spiral until I end up doing something I will later regret.

Part of the allure that my old lifestyle held was the fact that we held ourselves to a standard outside of the societal norm. We were cool, hip, artists and freaks that didn’t need to pay bills on time or worry about things like health insurance, or retirement. Placing myself into the main stream has caused some ugly comparisons, ones that I haven’t thought of for a long time. I run into disrespect and judgement from people almost everyday, which is nothing new, however now I find myself feeling tempted to care. I have my little base to build on, but now I need to find a new group of friends.