Sometimes love don’t come easy

Otto has one of these, and this morning I played with it for a while. I wanted to take a picture of something I love that feels like it’s hard to grasp, right now, because Lensbabies pictures always look like you’ve captured something fleeting.

Last night I finally gave voice to something I’ve known for a long time, but I’ve been wishing really hard for it to not be true.

I know I don’t talk about it a lot here, because it’s a lot more interesting to yammer on about swearing at telemarketers or whatever, but my involvement in church is a big part of my life. A big part of who I am, or at least who I want to be.

A huge part of how I connect with worship is through music, and so although I had misgivings about this church we’ve found ourselves in, I finally joined the choir because I thought “Okay, THIS will give me the connection I seek.”

And it didn’t.

So then I was invited to join this quartet, and I thought “Well, finally, THIS will give me the connection I seek.”

And it didn’t.

Understand me: There’s nothing wrong with this church. Or the choir, or the quartet. And hopefully there’s nothing wrong with me. (Oh, there’s plenty wrong with me. But you know what I mean.) But there’s a connection I crave that I am just not getting. We’ve been going to this church for eight months, and I still feel like I’m a visitor.

And that’s because this is the wrong church.

Leaving them now means leaving the choir, leaving the quartet, going back to stilling my voice until we find the right church home. It means allowing light to fall on the fear that I will not find my home, and that I will not sing.

I need to sing.

Leaving them now, right before Easter, drips with an irony that’s a little thick even for me.

I will try to hold fast to the conviction that my place is out there, and that I’ll know it when I find it. I am trying to tell myself that this is not a cop-out; rather, it is a courage that took me a while to find. Better to seek than to settle. Yes?

And when I find where I belong, I’ll sing again.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.

54 Responses to “Sometimes love don’t come easy”

  1. 1
    Steff March 13, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Wow! “Better to seek than to settle” very inspiring.

  2. 2
    Jeni T March 13, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    I just want to hug you through this post. You have made a good decision. It is always hard to leave a church, esp. when you are involved but if you aren’t getting what you need it’s the right move. I hope that you will find the connection that you are searching for very soon.

  3. 3
    saucygrrl March 13, 2008 at 10:16 am #

    XO. You’re doing the right thing Mir. It is better to seek than to settle. For both parties involved. Happy Love Thursday. :)

  4. 4
    Sara March 13, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    I feel you. I’m in a church where I feel no connection but stay for the sake of my family (looong story). Music is one of the ways I make my connections in worship and fellowship and I’ve had a hard time with both in my current church. It’s been a long, dry season for me. I pray that you find a place where your voice and soul can sing again.

  5. 5
    All Adither March 13, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    Sometimes the searching can be exciting and hopeful and profound all on its own.

    Good luck!

  6. 6
    Laura March 13, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    Isn’t Otto connected to a university type thing? As a spouse, would you be eligible to sing in the Univ. chorus or whatever they call it at least while you’re auditioning churches?

    Keep looking. I know you’ll find the right place.

  7. 7
    Courtney March 13, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    I know exactly what you mean. I sing in my church choir, I’ve been singing since second grade, so it’s a deep part of me too. When I moved and had to find a new church, I went to a few different ones before I found the right one, it’s not the closest one I could go to or the biggest or the smallest, it fit’s me, and I love being part of the choir.

  8. 8
    Flea March 13, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    You’ll find it. You ever read any Sue Monk Kidd? She was extremely inspirational for me when I was in a similar place. Lessee … this one in particular stunned me:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=gm3_GwAACAAJ&dq=inauthor:Sue+inauthor:Monk+inauthor:Kidd

  9. 9
    Megan March 13, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    So sorry you’re not finding the community you need there. I hope the right place is there and that you find it soon so your heart and your voice can sing again.

  10. 10
    Not the Mama March 13, 2008 at 10:42 am #

    I’m sorry that this hasn’t worked out. I know how difficult it is to feel perpetually stuck on the outside. I hope you find the right church for you soon.

  11. 11
    jennielynn March 13, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    You will find your place and when you do, the knowledge that you made the right decision will settle on you like a warm blanket. Having a church that feels like “home” is so essential to our walk.

    Sorry, gonna quit yammering now.

  12. 12
    MomCat March 13, 2008 at 10:55 am #

    Sing anyway! God has great hearing.

  13. 13
    Headless Mom March 13, 2008 at 11:00 am #

    I wrote about this back in January
    http://headlessfamily5.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-would-you-do.html
    I really know where you’re coming from….

  14. 14
    diane March 13, 2008 at 11:06 am #

    I left my church right before Christmas, after nearly twenty years of singing in the choir, on worship teams, acting in plays and generally being connected with and part of a very close body. It took nearly two years of searching to find a new church.

    While it was frustrating, that period of inactivity really focused my intentions, the desire I had to connect with people through worship. The melody goes on in your heart, and is stored up to burst forth when a new opportunity presents itself.

    I’ll be praying for you and your family – that your search is short, and the ending sweet.

  15. 15
    liz March 13, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    I can’t sing at all. You should just call me and sing. I’l appreciate it.

  16. 16
    Stacey March 13, 2008 at 11:35 am #

    I left my church after 20 years, a year and a half ago. I still feel like I have not found the right place. I found a place that two of my children are happy at, and for now, I guess that will be enough. But I mourn. And, I feel guilty for what I have taken from my 16 (almost) year old. There’s no way to go back, and it feels like no way to go forward. This, in many ways, literally feels like hell to me. Good luck to you. May God bless your journey.

  17. 17
    Sharkey March 13, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    You’ll find the place that’s right for you. When we left MN for PA, our pastor told us that we might not find a Lutheran church where we felt at home (because they aren’t on every street corner here like they are there). She said we might have to look at other denominations to find a good fit for us. We lucked into a great Lutheran congregation on our second try, but it’s something you might consider if you’re not finding anything within your current denomination (and you’re okay with the doctrinal differences).

  18. 18
    becky March 13, 2008 at 11:37 am #

    wow. i haven’t sung in such a long time. you reminded me of how much i miss it (so much that it brought tears to my eyes). we all need to connect somehow, especially when it comes to church. i hope you find a place to belong, mir. i really do.

  19. 19
    Heidi March 13, 2008 at 11:43 am #

    Same boat. It’s crowded in here, isn’t it? My husband and I have spent a lot of time talking/reading/thinking about what true community and fellowship mean and about how we can BE these things with others even if we don’t have a place to go for the gatherings. I’ll be thinking of you on Easter when we try to decide if we visit a congregation or spend time on our front porch.

  20. 20
    Ei March 13, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    Mir, it took me 35 years to find the right fit in religious beliefs and spiritual home. I think you can do way better than me ;)

  21. 21
    Katie in MA March 13, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    > It’s not always churches, but I think an awful lot of us readers are searching for a place to sing right now. Thank you for having the courage to seek out loud.

  22. 22
    Anne Glamore March 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    I’m guessing you’re like me– fairly liberal for the South, so how I ended up in such a conservative church is still a big mystery, but I love it. I don’t agree with EVERYTHING but I figure we’re all better off if there are a couple of people to raise the other side of the issues in Sunday School. No sense in having ALL the sheep follow the shepherd without question, right?

  23. 23
    carrie March 13, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    “Better to seek than to settle” Perfect. You should embroider that on a pillow.

  24. 24
    Anna March 13, 2008 at 12:59 pm #

    Oh, Mir. I am fairly happy in my church home, but I haven’t been able to sing- really sing- since I left college seven years ago.
    Look into community/university stuff.

    Flea, I had no idea she wrote non-fiction, too!

  25. 25
    Heidi March 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    It’s important to not feel like a visitor. You’ll find your “home”.

  26. 26
    Shannon March 13, 2008 at 1:07 pm #

    I’m experiencing a very similar thing, having moved to a new city and trying to figure out what I want and really missing that community but knowing that it takes a long time to build that kind of thing up. Sigh.. Good luck to us both. :)

  27. 27
    mimipz5wjj March 13, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    It is hard to find a church you feel comfortable in.

    But you are right, better to seek than settle.

    Good luck finding your place!

  28. 28
    Stew March 13, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    Since you moved down there I’ve thought you were in the wrong church for you. You just didn’t have the same tone when you’d talk about church. I’m glad you’re on your way to finding the one that is.
    Love, a non-believer who’s OK with a lot of churches

  29. 29
    Tina March 13, 2008 at 2:10 pm #

    I understand as well! When we moved, we ended up spending over a year at a church until I finally put my foot down and said “This is not it. I’m not feeling this is our church home.” We spent 3 months at another one, same thing. NOW we’re at our church HOME. I try not to look at that year with regret (What would have happened if we’d started there? Why did we “waste” a year at the other place?) and try to tell myself we appreciate the new church more because of the other. I hope you’ll find the right place for you & your family.

  30. 30
    bonggamom March 13, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean. I was happiest at church when I was in the choir and singing my heart and soul out. Even my agnostic husband says he would go to church if he found one with music good enough to touch his soul.

  31. 31
    Leah March 13, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    I understand wanting to find a church that feels like home. I go to a Victory Outreach church, they are all over the United States and world. If you are near one check it out. It’s like family.

  32. 32
    Chewie March 13, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    I totally get what you are saying…

    I think I would curl up and die without an outlet for my music/singing…I hope you soon find a spot where you just snuggle in and feel at home….find your voice, my friend.

    Chew

  33. 33
    Heather March 13, 2008 at 3:27 pm #

    I’ve been in the same church for 8 years, and it’s been so much like home, that I just don’t understand why I’ve felt like a visitor the last year or so. I hope you find a place you can stick, and sing.

  34. 34
    Deb March 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    Good luck finding a new “home”. You should never feel like a visitor.

  35. 35
    Mandee March 13, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    Gosh, you have a lot of singers reading, huh? And we all know exactly what you mean. When a friend of mine recently quit coming to choir because she doesn’t enjoy the preacher’s message, I asked, “You mean you listen to the sermon?” I grew up the daughter of a Methodist choir director. Our ministers leave every 4 years or so. Who cares what they say? If you get one you like–great. It’s all about the music for me.

    Good luck!

  36. 36
    Sheila March 13, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    The season of Lent is all about self-examination and transformation, so I don’t find it ironic at all that you’ve made this decision before Easter. It’s about new beginnings, right?

    Good luck in your new chapter.

  37. 37
    Andrea March 13, 2008 at 5:34 pm #

    I cannot sing (my mother will vouch for that!) but I do totally understand the need to find a church “home.” When we moved to Virginia, we found an AMAZING church on our first try. We moved out of state 3 years later and boy was it hard to say goodbye. I love some of those fellow moms and women like sisters. I barely started a new search here, 2 years ago, when I thought I found a new church, decided it wasn’t right and I have yet to restart the search. Music in worship is very crucial to me too.
    I don’t know your denominational choice, but you might be able to find something at WillowCreek.org…a resource of demoninational and non-denominational churches. A starting point…

  38. 38
    Michele March 13, 2008 at 6:25 pm #

    Good luck. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. We’re still trying to find that… thing… That “home” thing at a church since we moved from another city a few years ago. It’s an important connection – a sort of know it when you feel it thing – so I look forward to hearing you found “the one.”

  39. 39
    Aimee March 13, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    How can it be a cop-out if it doesn’t feel right for you? Would you be saying that if it were a pre-Otto romantic relationship that didn’t feel right? I think the right place is there. Go forth and locate it!

  40. 40
    elswhere March 13, 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    I feel for you, and am in a similar dilemma: I’m just not comfortable with the music at the congregation we’ve joined in our new city. We have friends there, their theology and politics are great, and MG is friends with the rabbi’s daughter, but the tunes they use don’t do it for me. I’m just sitting with it for now, but it’s definitely a huge factor.

  41. 41
    Ani March 13, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    We “lost” our church home when the order that ran it decided they had to leave, it’s been taken over by the local diocese and it’s not the same. Not the same at all. I know what you mean.

    I wish you much success finding yourself “home”. FWIW…I find congregations affiliated with universities/colleges are dynamic places to be.

  42. 42
    Chris March 13, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    Beautifully written. A “metaphor” for life.
    Happy Church hunting!

  43. 43
    Karin March 13, 2008 at 9:14 pm #

    Oh Mir. I totally understand what you mean when you wrote “I need to sing”. I’ve had to change churches before and it’s always so scary, but you know what? Every time I did it just got better. I know you will find the right place because God will guide you there. *hugs*

  44. 44
    TC March 13, 2008 at 10:22 pm #

    It’s a synagogue for me, but I truly believe that you have to feel like you’re coming HOME when you go to worship. Sometimes home just isn’t the first place you look, though. That’s OK. You’ll get there. Being brave enough to admit when you’re NOT there is the first step.

  45. 45
    Damsel March 13, 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    I totally hear you, Mir, and I empathize completely. I’m sorry that you didn’t land in the right one immediately. Your home is out there, though… and you are right about seeking.

  46. 46
    lindasands March 14, 2008 at 9:38 am #

    Hey, there’s always karaoke.

  47. 47
    prophet March 14, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Dear Mir,

    Like you, singing is a big part of my life and part of worship. Like you, I have found that singing with others holds out much more promise than what it delivers. Like you, I have struggled with the stones, mortar and people bit of “church” locations. Unlike you, I no longer expect to find the “right” church, with the “right” music. . . . I think He’s doing something different in these days; He’s giving us a longing that is not satisfied in any “church” – with any music. Something’s always still missing.

    I think this is a good thing. It’s summed up in the first and second commandments. The Infinite is not to be made finite.

    But I miss singing. . . . How I hope that true worship – in song – will once again be heard, and that you (and I!) will be in the choir.

    soldier on.

  48. 48
    Michelle March 14, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    I’ve never seen a Lensbaby before, some of the photos on that site look amazing!

  49. 49
    Daisy March 14, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    Lensbabies? Oh, boy, I think my daughter will want one.

  50. 50
    Lori March 14, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    Are you sure the church you were attending believes what YOU believe? All churches do not believe the same thing. Find the one that believes and teaches what you believe is correct and that may be the way to finding your church home. As the wife of a pastor, I find it sad that so many people are going to church for the music. Certainly music is a vital part of the worship, but I wouldn’t make it my #1 deciding factor. You will find the place that fits — maybe they don’t have great music now–they may be waiting for you! Best of luck in your search.

  51. 51
    trinity67 March 14, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    Holy hannah – you’re brave.

  52. 52
    Jenn March 14, 2008 at 3:43 pm #

    Mir, baby, to seek, not settle, is a soulful way to groove and move your way through life. I honor you, sista. xoxo

  53. 53
    Cynthia Samuels March 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    Fear not – you can never let your soul settle. AND singing is part of you — your writing is actually singing a lot of the time so I KNOW you will find it.
    Music is also profound for me; one guy at our synagogue picks us up and carries us into the music every time he opens his mouth so I know what you mean.
    It took us most of our lives to find the right synagogue – and it’s been the most profound experience since raising children. You will find the place– I hear that in GA there are more churches than gas stations, right? We’ll pray for you at the Jewish place and hope some vibes make it south.

  54. 54
    SheilaC March 14, 2008 at 11:49 pm #

    My sympathies. I hope you will find the right church home for you and for your family. In the meantime, I hope you find somewhere fulfilling to sing. Singing in church is my favourite, but for now while my schedule doesn’t allow that twice-a-week commitment, I enjoy a community choir that has just 2 concerts a year. I too need to sing; I’m not the same person without a musical challenge and creative outlet.

    Your post reminds me of one of my favourite books. It’s called “How can we keep from singing? Music and the passionate life” by Joan Oliver Goldsmith. It’s partly about the joy and the discipline of singing in a choir, and a lot about finding your calling in life, working towards a goal, seeking your passion… It’s a great read – I hope you can find it at a library somewhere.

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