Thanksgiving and the Middle-Aged Single Christian

Holidays are hard on single people.

And they’re hard on single Christians.

orchardI’ve been visiting a church in the Collierville area for the last few weeks.  It had impressive so far, although today I had two things that kind of bothered me.

The first was the pastor calling poor people “under-resourced families.”  I now have concerns that this man who is supposed to be a pastor in line with the Gospel Coalition is really PC Pastor in disguise.

The second was tonight’s “pre-Thanksgiving feast” that the church held for the members and attenders.

It’s not the event per se, but it’s just how it reminded me how much it sucks to be single.

I showed up at the event and for the first 25 minutes, I had one person talk to me.

The one who told me to “get out of the way because we have to move these tables.”

A few minutes later someone actually said hi to me.  One man.

 

tedcruzAs they added tables because there were more in attendance than they obviously expected, I noticed the tables with signs for small group members only.  Families stuck together.  The youth were in their enclave.

Basically, as a new person, single, with no relatives in the area with me, I fit into this church about as well as Ted Cruz would fit into the Democratic National Convention.

The pastor walked past me three times and didn’t greet me once.

Even though I was standing there, alone, obviously unsure of where to go or sit, not a single member of this church invited me to their table.

 

So what happened?  On the plus side, I was standing up already when they said to go get the food so I was near the front of the line.  The food was good.

 

I eventually found a table where it appeared there was an open seat.  It WAS open…unfortunately the rest of the table had already been “reserved.”

duckoutA 50 something woman and her 20 something nephew.

Another 50 something woman and her 20 something daughter.

Another 50 something woman who knew the previous two 50 something women.

So basically after the chit-chat and obligatory “what’s your name” stuff that happens at these events, I was shuffled out of the conversation.

The 20 something dude was hitting on the 20 something woman bad.  (For what it’s worth, I hope it works out for him.)

 

I ate my food and then walked about for 20 minutes or so hoping someone…anyone…would say hello.  I ran into a couple I met at a small group whose daughter began to throw up and they were rushing out the door.

 

Now, I’m not the most outgoing in these situations, but before you say “well, why didn’t you try?” I did try to strike up conversations with a few people.  They were polite but would rush right back to their friends or family.

 

everybodyswelcomeIt was clear that I wasn’t really welcome.  Another church that SAYS everyone’s welcome…but unless you have connections already, you’re just a burden.

 

While I like the church’s theology, after tonight, I’m not sure I’m going back.  I’m just not part of the cliques that encircle the church.

And the fact that pastor walked past me three times, looking right at me at least once that I caught in my peripheral vision, and didn’t even say “hello” or ask if he could help really bothers me.  And it’s not that he was directing traffic or anything.  He was just standing there talking to people.  It’s as if he couldn’t be bothered with someone new to make them welcome.

 

I really didn’t need this in my ongoing battle with severe depression.

additionI’ve been having to take drastic measures to protect myself in the last few weeks because the breaks were beating the boys, so to speak.  So many of my friends…well, now I know acquaintances and not friends…have been getting married, engaged, etc. that my Facebook timeline was a daily updating reminder of the fact I am completely alone.  So I deactivated my account two weeks ago today.  (It’s active today, but I’ve logged out and not used it.)

I’ve had four people in two weeks notice I haven’t been posting.  At one point my “friends” list had almost 500 people on it.  There’s a lot less now.

But it basically reminded me that I really have very little people who give a crap about me.  My folks, the boys, my boss Russ, my pastor pal Michael and 3 other folks who at least bothered to message me asking if something was up.

And what really hurts?  If you had asked me to list the top 10 people from Facebook that would message me asking if I was OK, only one of the top 10 was in contact with me (or the record, my folks, the boys, Russ and Michael aren’t being counted as I was actively involved with them outside of FB) and a few folks that I thought I had good relationships without OUTSIDE of FB didn’t bother to message me.

I could disappear and no one would really notice.

Not exactly a good thing when you’re fighting depression.

 

And it’s impacting my faith to be honest with you.

It’s hard for me to talk about Christ with folks when they bring up things that in my life I struggle with almost daily.

no4For example, I want to be married.  It’s a desire of my heart.  Even God says it’s “not good for man to be alone” and for someone to marry rather than to give into lust.  But God says “nope, Jason, you get to stay all alone while almost everyone you know gets what you want to have!”  And I get it rubbed in my face all the time.

How bad is it?  Well, two weeks ago I was so down I got into my car and drove 2 hours to a small lake in the middle of nowhere.  The nearest town has maybe 100 residents.  When I get there…there’s a couple from Memphis with their PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS taking engagement photos.  Seriously.  Not mama with a Nikon.  Full camera setups with lights and the whole she-bang.

I admit laughing at that because it was so over the top Monty Python would say it was too much.

Then there’s money.  I need a second job because the one job I have I love so much doesn’t pay enough to cover all the bills and things like groceries.  Yes, God has provided to this point, but it’s always stressful to live daily with that specter of the almost empty bank account.  And I pray, and I fast, and I seek…and nada.  No guidance from above, no doors opening….another “I know it’s what you want, Jason, but again, nope! Can’t have it!” from upstairs.

And then I want to find a church home where I can belong, plant roots and grow.  A place that is spiritually grounded and not a country club.  A place where the preacher actually uses the Bible and people can feel welcome and part of “God’s family” like I’ve been told can happen in a church.

And tonight was God giving me another big old middle finger to a heart’s desire.

And next weekend, I start the church hunt anew at another church.

 

face3You know, when you give your life to Christ and you say “do with me what you will God” and you honestly mean it (as I did and still do) you have to be prepared that God may decide you don’t get anything you want in life.  And you have to find a way to be “content” in the fact that you will be denied the desires of your heart.  That He may take you where you don’t want to go, that you may be put into situations you don’t want to be and that you may never have happiness in your life.  And if you surrender to God, you’re just getting that which you said you wanted…Him to be Lord of your life.

But I’ll be honest…sometimes it really sucks.

 

 

Jason

Author: Jason

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  • Sadly, this happens all too often in the church. We try hard to not allow this to happen. I’m sure it does though in spite of good intentions. You may find this hard to believe but I do care.

    • I have zero doubt you do, Bill.

      In fact, I suspected when I posted this you’d be the first and possibly only comment on it.

  • Anon

    Jason, I have followed you on both Mustard seed year blogs, and here.
    I relate to everything you write. I feel like we have attempted to interact with the same churches. If you don’t bring tons of money, or charisma, then you are not worth spending any time with to get to know. How many other people feel this way every Sunday?
    The Christian church in America is failing everyone who comes into the church and leaves feeling like they were at someone else’s private function, and while somewhat polite about it, not really welcome, or wanted there. I have spent more time this past month speaking about church, with the missionaries that came to my door to seek to increase attendance in the Mormon church.
    There are times I feel like I am just here as a filler in other Christians lives, like I am here to be a statistic or an example. I have not really felt the hand of God blessing my life, or even hearing my prayers. I realize that men in the bible felt the same way, but they had victories to point back to. Times where God came through in a really big way, to remember that gives them encouragement that God is hearing them. That blessings are coming their way.
    I have only 5 people on my facebook page. 2 of which are my kids. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t do any drugs, and I have never been arrested for anything. Sounds like a good catch right? But I find myself alone. I have a great laugh, or at least I used to. I so want people in my life.
    I love Jesus, and what he did, and no, I would never take my life either. But I hope God doesn’t mind a bunch of questions, because, I just don’t understand why he blesses some with such overflowing abundance, while others, like me, hope to be in the right place to have some of the overflow fall on them.
    Jason- Have a great Thanksgiving, you have more people pulling for you than you know.

  • Yeah, it sucks. Wish I could say anything more than I understand. The FB thing especially. Wish you well, man.

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