It was brought to my attention this week that I have a lot of issues. I mean, I always knew I did, but I’ve never had someone say it to my face before. Of course, I love the person even more for being brave enough to say it and I also love the fact that I could answer back with a solid, I know, sista, I know.
We all have issues though, right? In some capacity or another? Daddy issues, Mommy issues, attachment issues, marriage issues, commitment issues, middle-child issues, food issues, shopping issues, entitlement issues. Issues with anger or jealousy or pride or complacency. Issues with our weight, with our children, with our extended family. We have issues that stem from our childhood or our teenage years, from those early days of marriage or motherhood. We have issues because we lost, we gained, we felt betrayed or abandoned.
I have church issues.
Yes, church issues. There, I said it.
Now, here’s the thing with issues. Just because we have ’em, doesn’t mean they’re logical!
I’m not a professional on this matter but as a complete amateur, I would surmise that most of our issues stem from fear. Many of our issues come from a one time thing in our life. And most recently, I learned, that many of us aren’t over things quite as much as we think we are. Thus – issues.
Hurt is a dangerous beast. It strikes and from it we may never look back. It doesn’t have to happen repeatedly to bear a mark. It only takes one slash across our flesh to leave a wound and so it is with hurt.
It only takes a child being hit one time for them to develop a flinch at any sort of raised hand. It only takes one string of harsh words to a developing teen for her to feel a lifetime of failure. It only takes one fat joke to cause an eating disorder and one death to feel abandoned. It takes just one husband walking out to begin commitment issues and one wife cheating to begin the myriad of issues that come with betrayal. It’s only one inappropriate touch that wounds the child’s soul and only one over use of power to cause the most trusting to have deep, deep issues with trust.
It’s not necessarily a repeated action that causes our issues. Rather, it’s the severity of the wound. How deep it went into us. How much we trusted or loved and thus how deep the hurt hits and the sense of agony runs.
If we didn’t love our spouse it wouldn’t hurt when they leave. If we didn’t love our child it wouldn’t hurt when they died. If we didn’t need so much approval from our daddy it wouldn’t hurt when it wasn’t there. If we didn’t trust so much it would never hurt when power was misplaced.
So my issues with church was a one shot deal and yet it has left it’s mark.
When approached about the women’s retreat at our church I gave the classic answer. I laughed, shrugged and shook my head. “I don’t do those.”
The past few weeks in my life there has been a lot of chatter about why. Why exactly, “I don’t do those.” There have been many laughs over what I think it might be. There has been downright nonsense coming out of my mouth as to why I’m somehow above it all:
Everyone cries at those things. I don’t. So I look like the cold, calloused one in the back corner. It’s awkward. All the snot and tears.
Everyone hugs at those things. I don’t like to be touched by my friends, let alone strangers.
Women get weird when they’re in large pods. They get loud. They cackle. They think they’re really funny. Did I mention they get loud? I contend that at some point it reaches a screechy level that only the huggers and criers (and neighbourhood puppies) can hear and I’m left sitting there seeing mouths move but unable to hear anything. It’s awkward.
I’m not a large group game type of person. I’ll just be in the corner with my book.
I don’t need anymore recipes. I have the internet for that.
I’m not crafty. I’m not even on pinterest.
I can’t clap for Jesus after a song.
I don’t have a specific softer voice that I use for prayer.
Sometimes I swear.
I truly don’t think I’m alone in these. I know there is a tribe of women out there somewhere that is nodding their head with me here. It’s not that we’re too cool for chubby bunny or charades. We just don’t get how that’s fun. It’s not that we think we’re better than you because we don’t hug – it’s just that we don’t. We truly want you to be the loud, weird, huggers that you are. We don’t want to change that in you. Go for it! Clap away. Cry it up! We’re just not joining in! Which is why we don’t go on the retreats.
There is truth in all of the above. There really is, and much of it is the superficial reasons that I don’t go on women’s retreats. Or go shopping with all of my friends at once. Or go out for dinner with more then 3 women. All of these are scene-causing and I’m not really good with being a scene-causer.
But it goes so much deeper than this and I didn’t realize it until just recently. It goes to the place of old wounds and places of hurt. It goes to misplaced trust. It goes to the shame inflicted. It goes to the harsh words. The power.
It goes to that one person who once hurt me who happened to be a part of a church.
And that wound runs deep. Deeper than I even knew.
Yet, after agreeing to this women’s retreat thing (What the *%$# was I thinking, you ask? Clearly, I wasn’t.) it has brought these feelings to the surface. It’s made the wounds hurt again. It’s pulled the stitches out too soon and shown me the wound wasn’t quite healed. It’s brought up strange fears bordering on paranoia. This was my honest to goodness text to one of the leaders:
Be honest with me. What’s the deal on Saturday night at the retreat? I just listened to the bonus podcast that talked about Saturday night “fun” where “memories are made” and I’m now debating leaving after Saturday mornings session! I’m scared. Is it like charades and chubby bunny? Neither of which I’m okay with!!!
But it truly has nothing to do with charades and chubby bunny and everything to do with vulnerability. When you make yourself vulnerable and someone abuses that position it causes you to become wary of ever putting yourself in that position again. It makes you skeptical of motivation. Caution tells you to keep your distance.
It’s taken years for me to rebuild to this point. Laugh. Laugh away, but it’s true. Why do you think we attend a church with thousands of people? To blend in….
Over the past 5 years I have slowly, oh so slowly, rebuilt around me a tribe of women I trust completely. They have allowed me this time to be known. They haven’t pried or pushed but have given me the space I needed until I was ready. They have trusted the Holy Spirit’s work in my life and done nothing but encourage and love me. They have shown me that my one experience doesn’t have to be the normal. They have taught me that there are people who love endlessly. They have taught me to heal and to trust and that it’s worth it to put yourself out there again to the point of vulnerability. They have challenged me and grown me. They have sharpened me in so many ways.
Yet, as the hours tick by and Friday evening approaches, I’d be lying if I said my heart hasn’t randomly started pounding the anxiety sort of pound. That my palms haven’t been cold and clammy at the very mention of ‘cabin time’. That I almost bailed altogether when I heard the words, “where memories are made.”
But I’m going. In the face of my fears, I’m going. Lord help me, I’m going. I’m going. I’m going.
Please don’t hug me.
p.s. I’ll be live tweeting the weekend as a form of therapy. Find me at @Rhondafast and follow along in the