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.