Saturday, July 7, 2018

Breaking up


I've written some about our church conflict, and sometimes an interesting development comes up that would be good to share, but then I run out of time OR it goes downhill again and I can't find the words anymore.

I will share eventually about the "dating" side of this period, but unfortunately right now we are still seeing relationships break down.

We have to say goodbye to being in close fellowship with a lot of long-time friends.

-they were my family for years when I was alone in a foreign country
-they walked with me through numerous trials
-they rooted for us when we were planning to marry
-they organized and witnessed our wedding
-they saw us become parents for the first time

Part of me doesn't even want to look at the wedding photos, or birthday cards from over the years, various gifts in my possession that came from these friends. Breaking up does that to you, right? You just want to erase the memories? I look at our different personalities and wonder what on earth held us together in the first place. Surely our friendships had the wrong foundations if they could disintegrate at the first sign of conflict.


But no, I will not say that any of it was a mistake. God was glorified. Early on, when I felt like an oddity in a local Russian church, I knew that it was God's doing, not only to form friendships, but also to have awkward moments, so that we could all work through the differences and grow spiritually. That is always something that I remind myself whenever other people rub me the wrong way, or vice versa.

A lot of departing members of our church had actually been together at another church in the past, left because of serious issues that arose, and eventually found each other again and served in our church together. However, in this case, Andrei is the leader whom some do not want to follow, so it feels like bridges are being burned and no one else is in our exact position. God can always work miracles and restore broken relationships, but at the same time we have to move on.

Forging new friendships feels like a daunting task. I remember being in this place when I had just moved to Russia! Even though it feels like a bad time to be in this position, on the other hand, my kids are little and we have only been married 7 years. There are lots of adventures yet to come. It can be a beginning, not an end.


5 comments:

  1. I find it so coincidental that I've experienced something so similar (and yet so different)....at least, in both instances, there was a break up - within the church, which should be a place of unity - and we feel like we have to start over.

    Plus, like you, my position of leadership does make things more awkward in all kinds of odd ways. Other people have been hurt, or have gotten angry and moved to a different parish - but because they were "regular" parishioners, they could say all they wanted to about it! They were doing the rejecting, not being rejected. All so difficult.

    And, that starting over.... Strange and hard, because these tactful explanations of "the situation' must be presented....and in a way that eliminates further questions or the invitation to gossip (or EXPLAIN - which one SO wants to do sometimes!)

    I'm still "between" communities. I have my Bible Study/Support group at my former parish....and it is a little difficult to creep in there to meet each week, hoping I don't "run into" anyone. There's my new work parish, where the people really are lovely, but so......far.....away...... And, there's the parish in town here, where some of my former friends ended up for various reasons over the years. In every way, it is actually a parish I prefer. The pastor is absolutely amazing, the community vibrant. It is a spiritually exciting and inspiring place. BUT.....because I work at the far-away place on Sundays, I don't even get to go to church there most of the time during the year. However - I should be glad that I have these three supportive communities...... We do become grateful for what we have, I guess.

    You commented about wondering what held you together in the first place.... Perhaps the Catholic Church is different? I'm not sure, but for me the excitement of it is how the Spirit binds together all of these different personalities (and gifts) into one. That's the way it is supposed to be (seems to me)... But all the more painful when a lack of unity occurs.

    One of my favorite youth group girls invited me to her graduation party. She shared that her whole family was so upset about what happened to me that they left that parish. I couldn't help but feel glad and satisfied in some way (some sinful way)....but when I heard that they are still kind of wandering around without a community....it made me feel awful.

    So hard, and so much to think about.....

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    Replies
    1. Yes, those "regular" parishioners have something in common and could always end up together again, or at least call each other up and commiserate. Yes, I did mean to say that the miracle of Unity in the Spirit does hold church members together. Although I loved other church members, I probably wouldn't have been friends with many of them in real life. As for feeling "satisfied"...I've done my own share of grumbling, but there have also been points when I know I don't need to do/say anything, because God will take care of it. Of course, now that everything has fallen apart, each person wants to say "I told you so," but for different reasons. Yes, I fantasize about people regretting their actions, or looking at us in a few years and seeing how "successful" we've been despite being rejected. That's the fleshly way of looking at it, and that's what makes me compare it to a romantic break-up: we want to show up at our high school reunion or whatever and show that person that we've done very well for ourselves and didn't need them anyway! However, in real life we are trying to focus on those who are near and choose to be in fellowship with us. What's done is done. And we do want everyone to find a good church community, although continuing on as if nothing has happened probably isn't the best approach either.

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    2. Maybe there's a difference is smaller communities like yours....where there perhaps SHOULD be something in common that would make you friends (of a sort, anyway) outside of worship.... A Catholic Community is so big, that I sometimes relish the way I can find myself sharing intimately with people of a completely different age and background as myself....i.e. someone that I'd never have anything (apart from love of Christ) in common with. How are things going with your church, now?

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  2. I agree that it's good to have fellowship with a range of people. I think that is the way it should be. Especially in a small community! I think I just meant that it's surprising that we made it that far thinking we DID have unity in the Spirit, only to have that become unraveled. It was sort of a rhetorical question, but also pondering whether our connection was more earthly, like a social club. I will write an update eventually.

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