Questions from a New Member

Questions from a New Member September 23, 2023

Questions from a New Member

Questions from a New Member
Photo by RDNE Stock project:

Hey Sally. This is Ruby. Thanks for being my spiritual buddy and giving me your number to text.

I’m trying to make sense of all this. You guys bought me some groceries and accepted me into your group. Well, not completely; I still have to say a prayer, and then there’s the membership class. To teach or lead, I have to prove myself in various ways, and even my gender might limit me substantially. And I shouldn’t challenge the leadership or make any waves–listen and find a place to be useful…sorry, serve! After the initial love bombing, I quickly noticed your attention shifted to the newer, new person.

But all is not lost. I can quickly get noticed and fit in by volunteering my “free” time to help the ministries of the church. Maybe I could mow the lawn, work in the nursery, or take my kids to the sitter so I can load boxes for the homeless (no childcare for this one; we can’t risk the liability). Quick question: when I reached out to the associate pastor for advice, why did he scold me for interrupting his family/free time? Isn’t that when most of us do this? Our “free” time?

You mentioned the mission trip to Honduras. That sounds rewarding, but it also costs $1,500. But, aren’t we going to travel, then work like dogs for a week, and we have to pay for that? This brings up another issue. Sorry for all the questions. But, they told me in membership class that I should donate 10% of my income. I’m not a financial expert, but if I give you my labor for free, pay the church for the mission trip, and give them a tithe and occasionally a ‘special’ offering, how am I going to make ends meet?

The guy at the grocery store said they don’t take spiritual blessings as payment, and he didn’t understand the jewels in the crown reference. Maybe you could explain it to him sometime. By the way, groceries are how we started this little  “adventure.”

The next concern is very sensitive. I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I noticed the pastor and his wife wear very nice clothes and jewelry. Also, I see from the financials that they don’t have to pay for mission trips and have expense accounts for everything from gas to groceries to hair care. Just between you and me, she needs to get a refund on the last…sorry, too far? But last year, they went to France and walked the Camino for 60 days…what? Yes, I will meet with the elders.

Okay, I found out the problem is that I’m just not doing enough. I have too much free time to think about these things…doers of the word…Mary or Martha…yada, yada. I think I will quit my job. With all the childcare, it’s a wash anyway. My husband can pick up an extra shift…that’s right, “God will provide!” I’m not sure how he will keep up all the deacon stuff. I guess we will see each other at the Church Sweethearts banquet.

Sally, yesterday I was really sad about all this, and I went outside and sat under a tree. It took about 30 minutes to stop thinking about everything, but I just felt happy and peaceful, like God or the Universe was right there with me. I need more of that!

Yeah, you’re probably right. That does sound a little new-age, and I should be careful. A prayer class? A Retreat? Read the Bible more?

Listen, Sally. I’ll get back to you about all that. I think I’ll go outside.

Be where you are.

Be who you are,

Be at peace.

Karl Forehand

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Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Out into the Desert, Leaning Forward,  Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart, The Tea Shop and Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity.  He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast and community.  He is married to his wife Laura of 35 years and has one dog named Winston.  His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply! You can read more about the author here


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