The thrill of the hunt

I’ve noticed something after being part of a church for a few years. 

It will best be explained by remiscing.  (Cue cheezy synthpop song and bright colors indicating the 80’s.  Maybe a bit of blur implying the following is a flashback… which of course it is.)

When I was an adolescent, I didn’t keep romantic relationships together very well.  I went from girl friend to girl friend.

It wasn’t a sex thing.  But it was about the thrill of the hunt.

I was quite addicted to finding out if somebody would be interested in me.  And once I figured that out, I pretty much just got bored.  Something would come up, because something always does.  And this little voice in the back of my head would say “You know, there are other girls out there…”

Or just as often the reverse would happen.  Somebody would grow bored with me.  They’d dump me before I could dump them.  We’d move in to new relationships.

It’s fairly pathetic, all things considered.

I never learned how to commit.  I never had a need to discern minor annoyances from major issues.  I never had to decide what was my own baggage that I needed to deal with and what was really unfair from somebody else and needed to be worked out.  I never learned that there is a time to talk and a time to just shut up, that sometimes things just go away when you let them go.

Because, when things got uncomfortable, I just moved along.

I’ve been part of my current church home long enough to have been hurt by people there.  I’ve been part of it long enough to have hurt people there, too.  There are issues I have with a few people, problems I haven’t figured out how to resolve.

When I worship on Sundays, sometimes this makes it difficult.  As it probably should.  It’s unbiblical and wrong to just let these hurts fester.  I ought to let go of them or do something about them.  But I’ll be trying to just be with God during a song, or try to really let the message penetrate… and then that old annoyance, hurt, betrayal, whatever, it’s staring me in the face.  Perhaps I’ll see the person, perhaps I’ll look at the doorway to a room where I was hurt…

and there is this little, stupid voice that says “You know, there are other churches.”

Now, please know that I am 100% comitted to the church I am at.  Stupid voices observe lots of things that I’ll never act on.  But I watch people leave.  Sometimes for good reasons.  Sometimes for bad reasons.  Usually, for a mix of the two.

And I’m learning that if we don’t find some community to commit to, we stunt our growth.  If we just move on instead of working out our problems, if we just go somewhere else thinking that next place will be perfect, we rob ourselves of all sorts of opportunities.  And we rob others, too.

I’ve never been hunting, but I suspect that a real hunter would challenge that phrase, the thrill of the hunt… or atleast, a hunter would recognize that the adrenline-heavy, thrilling part is only a tiny fraction of the total time involved.  Hunters spend hours preparing gear.  More hours getting to the location.  They traipse through the woods for days.  Or they climb up in a tree and stand in it for hours on end.

Eventually they get the animals in their sights.  I’d imagine that’s a rush.  But how long is it?  Seconds?  Minutes? 

I’m sure that a hunted would rather that the whole time is those fun parts… Or if they are hunting for suvivial, I’m sure that they’d rather that the whole time is those efficient parts, close to the prey.

There are other rewards in this: hunting, staying married, mantaining commitment to a church.  They take more wisdom and discernment.  They require skills that many of us lack.  But they are no less rewarding.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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