Have I been away long enough?
It was bothering me that the ol' blog had sat idle for so long, and I wanted to get back to writing regularly. Every time I sat down with an idea, though, I struggled to stay with it. Before I knew it, a year had passed.
About six months ago, I was given the opportunity to write a story for our biweekly newsletter at work. It proved to be successful and I was encouraged to continue writing, and I ended up with a regular column. I mined this blog for a lot of material for the new column, adjusting it for an office environment, and it was just what I needed to jumpstart my creative juices. And here we are.
To say that a lot has changed over the past year is an understatement. Between the massive changes I've experienced in my work life, and the personal challenges with my health and family, things have hardly been normal. That said, there's a lot of stuff to write about.
What I want to start with, though, is Faith. Proverbs 3:5-6 -
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
I stared at this verse for a long time when my church made significant changes to their service times at the end of last summer. The big thing, which impacted me and my daughter the most, was the elimination of the service on Saturday. We had been attending that service for about 7 years, when it was started, and to say we enjoyed it immensely is an understatement. Our whole week seemed to revolve around the Saturday evening service, and it was a principal part of our faith. Socially, we connected with so many people who became our close friends, and their daughters prayed, worshipped, and did activities with my daughter. Because of our lifestyle, which included the opportunity to sleep in on the weekends (particularly Sunday morning, and generally after a long difficult week of school and work), it was a wonderful and refreshing alternative to the typical Sunday morning worship times with which I had grown up.
Our routine on Saturdays generally allowed for running errands, cleaning house, doing laundry, etc., then attending worship at 5:30pm, followed by dinner out, either just the two of us, or with our friends from church. It was comforting to know we had this to look forward to each week. Our church is very large, and even after calling it our home since 2003, it was difficult for us to get involved. I had attended small to medium sized churches my whole life. Attending a church with several thousand members was intimidating. The Saturday service was much smaller with a few hundred attending each week, and it was so much more relaxing. It allowed us to get to know folks that we would not otherwise have known.
Due to significant mental stress, mostly from work, I had developed difficulty with anxiety, and large crowds in particular made it difficult for me to attend the severely overcrowded services on Sunday mornings. In fact, the crowds on Sunday were the main reason the church started the Saturday service. This was a Godsend, really. I had gotten frustrated with finding parking, and even finding seats, on Sunday mornings, as the crowds got me down. It was great for the church, though, to see the kind of growth that many other churches could only hope for.
For my shy daughter, the smaller youth gathering Saturdays allowed her to become more intimate with other kids her age, and praying with and for each other was so important to her spiritual development. The student's program saw significant changes to the weekend services, too. The high school program changed to a Saturday only service every two weeks, so instead of the smaller gathering, now ALL of the kids were together on Saturday evening. My daughter has told me repeatedly that the change was not something she liked, and her interest in doing anything with the youth has greatly diminished.
The news of the elimination of the Saturday service was a punch in the gut to me, and I didn't take it well. Even worse, it felt like our church home was turning its back on us. I honestly feel like, given how large the church is now, losing a few attenders who could not make the switch from Saturday to Sunday, was no big loss to our church. I reached out to the church elders, but they didn't give us any alternatives.
The last Saturday service was on September 2, 2019, and that was the last time I walked through the doors of my church home since 2003. I love my church. I can't put into words how supportive the people there were when my wife, Teresa, passed away in 2004, and how much Pastor Mark helped me find significant healing. I don't want to leave my church home. Why did this happen?
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."
The verse kept going through my head, and as hard as it is to do, I have to believe that there is a reason for these changes to me, personally, even if I don't yet know what they are. I've already put out some feelers to other churches in the area that may end up being a good fit for us, but I'm not ready to walk away from our church yet. I keep hoping that something will change to bring us back. Unfortunately for my daughter, however, it's her friends that she misses the most in all of this, as school functions seem to take away much of her time, even for the biweekly Saturday gatherings.
So we will continue to pray for the Lord's guidance.
In the meantime, I'm feeling energized about writing regularly again. Stay tuned for more content here on the ol' blog.
Have a great weekend, everyone.