Posted in Church, Emotions, Grace, Rant, White Knight

Standing Here

Ever feel like you’re just treading water?  Holding onto a cliff and neither climbing up nor down as your arms start to shake from the grip needed to just stay put?  Or maybe you’re expending energy waiting for something or someone to go or do something?  Anything?  

Waiting is exhausting!

As I wait, I have noticed how sensitive I am to anything that seems like a ‘go’ sign – an opportunity to go somewhere, do something, be with someone, anything.  Doesn’t he know, I’ve just been waiting for the sign?  Why does he tease me with random moments of ambition and inspiration only to withdrawal after an initial frustration?  Doesn’t he know I’ve just been waiting in the wings for him to get this show on the road called life?  I’m moving restlessly from foot to foot, watching the game, thinking to myself ‘put me in coach.  Let me show you what I got.  I can do this.  Let me do this.  Let us do this.’  Instead, I grasp on to any bit of ambition he gives me (or I take it?) and feel like I have to ride it for all it’s worth.  It may be the last little bit I’ll see for a while.  I want to do this with him not despite him.  That’s no way to make a like together.

It’s not his fault that I don’t have any family, friends or mentors in my life.  That I rely on him to be both my lover, my best friend, my confidant and my partner.  It’s not his fault (entirely) that I’ve lost all but the most superficial of relationships with my parents.  It’s not his fault that my sisters got caught in the fall out with my parents and now, with young families of their own, have little time for the insecurities of their big sister.  It’s not his fault, I moved away from my close-knit family church and as a result lost contact with the wonderful mature women who should have continued to mentor someone like myself through these new trials of life.  It’s not his fault (entirely) that at the same time, I left a long-standing commitment to music and youth and, following several other transitions, am left with not a singe artistic outlet – other than Pandora playlists while we’re making out.  It’s not his fault I never formed close relationships with my fellow college or high school students.  I was too busy working, performing, pursuing two degrees and volunteering in church to hangout with anyone and actually do those ‘get to know you’ activities.  It’s not his fault (entirely) I’ve owned an incredibly needy business for the last 8 years and probably only had time to get together with him, because I saw him and worked together pretty much everyday.

But . . . I like spending time with him dang it!  He IS my best friend.  He IS my business and life partner.  He IS my only confidant.  <sigh>

I might need to go back to being ok with just being by myself.  Stop caring about what he’s doing or wanting every minute of the day and letting that determine what I am going to do or say.  Maybe I’ll start volunteering again.  I just realized today how much I don’t do in a night or week just so I am available for if he wants to do something with me.  How ridiculous is that!  I’ve stepped down from every nonprofit I’ve ever participated in.  I have no hobbies or classes outside the home.  I no longer belong to a church.  I have no friends that I would hangout with apart from my husband.

I tell myself that it’s all good for me.  This is teaching me to loosen up, to go with the flow.  I like to control the situation around myself, maybe this is an opportunity for me to mature, be more flexible.  But that’s just not reality.  We are not called to ignore our gifts and talents and I am a planner by nature.  I am all about process.  I wake up thinking about what I’m going to do in a day, including how it will end.  I think about the most efficient way for us to leave the house.  I think about what the kids should do when they get home from work with the 20 minutes we have before we jet out again.  Do not get me wrong, I adapt well.  I have to with a husband that won’t plan more that 20 minutes ahead.  But because the times are so few, I find myself tripping over myself to jump on ANY wagon he finally gets hooked up.  We’ll talked about it off and on for a while.  Me trying to be the supportive wife, encourage the positive and trying not to respond too negative in response to some of the more unorthodox or outrageous ideas.  ‘You want to go somewhere, anywhere, do something, anything, let’s go’, I say.  Controlling?  I don’t think so.  I have desires left unfulfilled so long I don’t remember what’s it’s like to be filled to overflowing with happiness, peace, belonging, being loved, being cared for, being taken care of, secure, sure of myself, confident, inspired, and committed.  That’s what is really happening.  I am going to need to see some maturity here real soon, or I will have to start protecting myself.  Pearls before swine, right?

So . . . what am I supposed to do?  He arranges to have his shift covered 7 days before Christmas, wants to go into town and I’m not supposed think we’re going Christmas shopping?  Apparently, he wanted to shop by himself.  Didn’t sound like fun to have me (or Joshua) around.  I don’t think he meant it as hurtful.  He was just expressing HIS frustrations.  Apparently, I don’t let him do things.  I’m always trying to control him even with something as simple as watching a movie.  Am I that needy?  Maybe I am.  Maybe, I’ve allowed my entire life to revolve around my husband.  Maybe every plan I make has one end goal – to get done or get home so I can be with him.  Is this too much?  I just thought my energies should be given to those I care about most.  Is that so wrong?

Maybe we each need to prioritize the other’s alone time?  Then it’s something we are doing for each other, not making for ourselves.  I feel guilty for ever hour I’m not at home.  I don’t feel like I can just pop off and go shopping any ole free afternoon.  I don’t feel like I can take off for a cup of tea or lunch with my sister.  I DO need permission to have some time to myself.  And . . . I think it is a partner’s job to empower the other to do what is healthy for themselves.  Do I hold him back?  Maybe.  I feel like he is naturally inclined to be that social butterfly, life of the party.  I probably do hold him back.  Without me and the kids, I am sure he’d be at Adam’s one night, jamming with Michael one night, watching football with his dad another, work a couple of nights, and then veg the last.    Sex?  Sure.  But it’s I that get the kids ready and headed for bed each night.  It’s I that makes decisions all day about what I eat so I can, again, be available.  Why isn’t it about whether I’M in the mood?  Why can’t I be the priority?  He is my priority ALL THE TIME!  I am constantly thinking about making his life easier, happier, more fulfilled.  I am constantly thinking about his physically and emotional comfort.

I don’t think there is a single person in my life who thinks about my physical or emotion comfort like I do for him.  And that’s pretty sad.  He listens better to strangers in our  business than he does to me.  He goes out of his way to remember their likes and dislikes, to anticipate their orders and remember what was talked about the time before as well but can’t ask me nicely for help when he knows he’s messing with my time and a project I’m in the middle of.  Nothing is every as important when he has needs, certainly not whatever I may be doing or needing.  A misunderstanding with a long time customer led to his disturbed rest for days.  Our misunderstandings end in him walking away, refusing to talk or going to sleep if I can’t just get over it.   To the best of my knowledge, he’s never lost sleep over me.

Yeah, I matter.  

I can’t remember the last time he massaged me.  Take that back.  It was about a month ago and led straight to sex.  I can’t remember the last time he cuddled me in public.  I can’t remember the last time he said he appreciated me.  Take that back.  He appreciated that I was willing to go through thrift shops for clothes for him and the kids ’cause he can’t.  Great.  Even now, as I write, he is taking a nap.  After leaving me crying silently in the car on our trip home following our aborted shopping trip, he leaves me to go to work, or not, as he watches his movie and now, takes a nap.

Like I said, he’s never lost sleep over me.

Posted in Church, Community, Emotions, Life's Lessons, White Knight, Worship

Waiting for No Man

I don’t know where that phrase comes from – I wait for no man.  A movie I am sure, but it suits my revelation and thoughts of the last eve.  Why am I waiting on anyone else to make me happy?  That’s my job!  Not my husband’s, not God’s, not my workplace’s.  In my head, I’ve putting too much pressure on my White Knight to be all that I think he can / should be thinking I would only be able to be all that I can be when he does.  This is not true.  I need to do my best at all times regardless of anyone else’s performance.  If I’m not doing what makes me happy, I need to be the one to change it not wait for some external source or grand calling.

If I’m frustrated about the lack of music in my life, I need to make time for worship and maybe learn a new instrument or two (like I’ve been saying for months / years).  Not wait until he gets off his butt and learns to play the guitar he bought two years ago.  

If I miss church, I need to make time to go even if we work Sunday morning there are options in the evening or early or on weekdays.  

If I miss dance, I need to make time for a class or at least alone time with some music and an empty room.  

If I am lonely, I need to make some friends instead of relying on him to be my everything.  

If I miss making a difference in my community, I need to step out and step up to the plate, not wait for him to have the energy/interest/drive to help a worthy organization.  

Stop making excuses Grace!  

You are your own person.  Take some responsibility for yourself and your own happiness.  He’s not holding you back.  He’s missing out on life, but so are you!  No more.  I wait for no man.

Posted in Church, Theories, Worship

Worship Through the Ages

The family and I spent several months searching for a new home church, since finding that the church I grew up in was too far away to maintain relationships. From a previous post you may remember the check list.

1) Good message
2) Good worship
3) Good people
4) People our age (preferably with kids the same age as ours)
5) Good children’s program

Rare is there all five characteristics in one church body and while I do understand no church is going to be like my old church, its hard to know when you find your new church home and when to move on.

Anyway . . . I think we’re there! Good Message. Good People. A Children’s Program. (A few) people our own age. Added bonus – my mother-in-law goes to church there too. The kids love going to church with their Grammie and she loves having us sit in the pew beside her. The only thing . . . the worship sucks! No offense. I have great hopes for the future. There is talent and new church leadership is sensitive to their shortcomings.

Worship is EXTREMELY important to me. I don’t have words to describe it. I also don’t have the words to communicate the feeling of nails on a chalkboard uninspired squawking on a stage labeled as worship creates either. It drives me nuts! I understand making a place in any worship service for yourself even with the driest songs and worst leadership, but I also recognize the distraction bad worship can be for the congregation. Instead of preparing the heart to hear the word I spend the time being irritated about what’s going on on stage while the congregation zones out. All that aside, I spend way too much time thinking during the service when I should be listening. This last Sunday I was thinking about the shelf life of songs, in particular, worship songs. Here’s the theory I came up with last Sunday.

I think there are very few songs that hold their power beyond the time in which they were written. This goes for songs of the world and songs of the church. The Beatles wrote a few songs that outlived their performance of them. “Amazing Grace” will always touch the heart. But, Lord knows, one hit wonders abound and last year’s hits are long gone. Even recent powerhouse worship songs like “Shout to the Lord” and “How Great is Our God” aren’t what they were the first ten times you heard them. I feel like most inspired worship music is given for specific times in the church body’s growth. God’s word is evolving as he gives new inspiration and breathes new life into the Word of God. He is not stagnant nor is our relationship with him. The same goes for worship music. New inspiration is given and new leaders and song writers step up each with their own skills and talents to be used. While there are a few universal messages that never lose their power, you don’t recycle sermons. Worship songs are endlessly replayed and recycled and rarely with the power and intention of the original writers and musicians. If you’re going to do an oldie but goodie, I feel like you should at least put a modern spin on it. I love what recent musicians have done with some of the classic hymns – adding a chorus to what is usually a bunch of wordy verses, playing with instrumentation and even the chords. Traditional Christmas songs are the best example of this. Wordy, traditional chords, no repetitive chorus, no emotional upswing just one feel the whole way thru. The list goes on. The words aren’t the problem for most of the traditional hymns. More often than not, they’re straight from the Psalms. The problem is you LISTEN to wordy songs, you don’t enter into worship with them!

I could continue to expound (or rant, if you will), but I think I have said enough for now.

Posted in Church, Community, Worship

Worship

Worship. God, I miss it!

It’s been over a year (with the exception of a visit to another church) since I feel like I’ve been a part of a GOOD worship service. The church we presently attend has a two out of five rating in my rating system:

1) Good message
2) Good worship
3) Good people
4) People our age (preferably with kids the same age as ours)
5) Good children’s program

They’ve got the people and the message. We should be teaching our kids at home and you don’t NEED people your own age to go to church with. But the worship. . . the worship just kills us! Its stale and old and totally uninspired. Today’s service for example. There wasn’t a song less than ten years old and most of them were over twenty -five (they print the dates in the programs)! The drummer played one beat the entire service. The vocalists stood perfectly still and stare at their lyrics the whole service. They clapped on the opposite beat and they read a pre-programed scripture between each and every song. Both my knight and I are very musical people. Its almost like nails grating on a chalkboard to sit through a worship service like this. That’s how much it physically bothers me, not mention the spiritual aspect I am missing out on.

Growing up in a charismatic church and being a part of that worship team for so long, I feel I have a unique need for worship. A worship team is (or should be anyway) three steps ahead of the congregation in entering into worship. You’re leading. The congregation won’t go where you haven’t prepared the way. Being on the worship team, I’d always been a part of reaching for that higher high. I also had the benefit of the natural high that can arise from being a musician and playing with other musicians. There is something incredibly exciting about being in that moment where you feel it all ‘click.’ Its an awesome feeling. All that to say, I feel it when the worship is off and I know that I have higher expectations than the average church goer.

Should we go back to my old church? I have a lot of history there. Its got a five out of five on my rating system. The only downside is how far away it is from where we live. Its hard to have relationships with people you can only see for a few hours on Sunday because the drive discourages more. As an added factor in my decision making, my sister recently let me know that the present pianist is stepping down. Am I ready to serve on a worship team again? Especially that worship team? It’s changed so much since I was there. My sister is the only musician left on the team who served with our original worship leader, Ron. We spent 6-7 years learning how to worship with him as our leader. A very inspired worshiper, the rule with Ron was follow. We became experts at ‘hearing’ where the song was going as Ron was always open to following the spirit. We learned to play by ear, transpose to new keys in our head, pull out leads from cds and figure them out on our instruments. Change is hard, but abrupt change after years of continuity is harder still. The last year I was on the team was a ruff one. I had to work hard at not being offended by various changes made by leadership. Even so, I spent the last few weeks on the worship team in tears half the time. Sometimes tears are a part of the worship experience, but not these cleverly disguised ones.

The piano had been my instrument of worship for years. In the six years I had been playing in church, there had been no other pianist in the church. Suddenly there was! Somehow, it was assumed that I would be playing the synthesizer now instead of the piano with the addition of this second pianist. Let me tell you, the creativity factor is nil on a synthesizer compared to a keyboard. I felt like my ability to worship had been stripped. So strong were my feelings, I would literally break into tears during the worship service as I had to listen to another pianist struggle through a song I played for years! I couldn’t participate, couldn’t worship like I had before. After practices, I would cry on the way home in the car, knowing I had just heard a beautiful song with gorgeous piano fingerings, and I would not get the chance to play it. She was a classically trained pianist as opposed to my self-taught ear training, so maybe the switch made sense to leadership. Not to me.

I WAS offended. I knew that offense has no place in the church having seen its ill affect on my mom and our family. That doesn’t mean I knew how to deal with it. Conveniently, my husband and I made the decision to find a church closer to home at that time. I never had to ‘deal’ with the offense. I avoided it. So where does that leave me today? We’re still looking for a church to call home. I know that worship is in my blood, and I will again serve on a worship team. Its just a question of where, when, and how.