Monday, August 01, 2005

This is the end, my only friend... (?)

After leaving Family Fellowship Laura and I really wanted to attend church closer to home. The previous winter had dumped a lot of snow on the area and driving 20 minutes to church became an adventure I didn't want to repeat. We began to toss around ideas of different places we wanted to try, things we wanted to see, things we didn't want to see. I didn't attack the issue with much resolve because at this point I didn't want to go anywhere. I had no use for church and just wanted to have a breakfast sandwich and a Mountain Dew on Sunday mornings while I wrestled with the Scriptures.
There was a new wrinkle in the search as well. In April of 2004 my son Matthew was diagnosed as having some form of autism. He didn't talk, he wasn't toilet trained, it didn't even appear that he was listening to you half the time. He functioned at the level of an 18-month-old. This wreaked havoc on our ability to leave him with a church's childcare ministry while we enjoyed the service- they didn't know what to do with him. He was too old for church nurseries, and lack of toilet training meant that he couldn't be in most Sunday School classes for kids his age. Any church we chose would have to be equipped to deal with special needs children.
Easier said than done. One church asked us to take him out of the 4-5 year old class because of his being in diapers. Another church took him into the nursery but really didn't know what to do with him. A former church of mine flat out said they weren't prepared to deal with him, which in essence was inviting me to not join their church, because this is my son for crying out loud! If you reject Matthew then you reject me.

@#%&^^& Christians.

I had visited an Assembly of God church by myself one Sunday, and on their comment card I rambled on about how my marriage was sinking into the toilet and would they please help? I used church comment cards to guage whether they cared enough to respond, and this one did. The assistant pastor called me and we got together. He was young, mid-twenties perhaps, but that was cool with me. Laura and I visited together and Matt warmed up to their preschool Sunday School teachers. OK, this could be promising. We went to a couple of services. Preaching was decent, music was great. They were starting a new members class and we decided OK, what the heck, we were in.

This is the church we are a part of now. I wish I could say that I was happy here, that I finally found the place where I belonged, that the pastor's teaching spoke to my every need, but it would all be a lie. I attend this church for my son's sake, not my own. The pastor and I have clashed over his beliefs, my beliefs, counsel he gave my wife.... Laura and I should have shopped around more, but we didn't. The one saving grace here is that Matt's Sunday School teachers are going out of their way to learn about Matt's disability, how it expresses itself, and what they can do. Which is good, because our daughter Rebecca is showing signs of having a developmental disability too.

So this is where the story has wound up, August 1, 2005. A lot of loose threads remain. I love Christ, I hate Christianity. I love the Bible, I hate the multitudes of interpretations and the intellectual wars fought to defend them. I can't pray. I just can't go through the motions of asking for things that God already knows that I need. Things will happen or not happen regardless of how much I pray. I tend to think that we miss the point anyway, that the goal of prayer should be union with God and not grocery shopping with God, but that's a subject for another post I suppose.

My plan is to tie together some loose ends in one or two more posts and then... who knows? Does the world need another self-indulgent rambling blog?

Stay tuned.

2 Comments:

Blogger Carla said...

I read your post at my blog, then clicked your profile, then... well you know how all that stuff works.

I just wanted to leave you with a note of encouragement. I read about your experience with different churches not being capable of dealing with your son, and it just touched my heart.

Last night I was talking/whining/sniveling/lamenting to a friend of mine, and she said what she always says - what I always need to hear:

"stay in the Word" So I'll pass that nugget on to you.

God bless you,
Carla

7:30 AM  
Blogger The Wretched Sinner said...

It is amazing that you are experiencing everything that I felt in my waning days of protestantism before converting to Orthodoxy. I have never looked back my brother...let the heterodox have their so-called "christianity" and all the divisions and disagreements that come along with it, I'll take the ancient faith of the Holy Apostles.

1:53 PM  

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