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Posts Tagged ‘forever friends’

I left church and organized religion sometime around 2005. I was just done. I loved my friends, loved church, hated “the ministry”. I was never called to “the ministry”, but I volunteered for a couple decades. My husband and I partnered in several things: running an outdoor ministry and ushering. It was a chance to be together after his odd work hours, and to take ownership of our faith.

I’m not going to hash out our decisions to leave. It’s counter-productive to list the sins of the church and the sins of leadership. You have to forgive and move on, and while you never forget, you should never dredge it all back up and enumerate the many things that went wrong. My husband left first, and I tried to stay on for another two years. It didn’t work. There are many reasons, but the final straw was being treated as if I were a newcomer to the church and a single woman. I left the church, a bitter taste in my throat and a promise that it would only be “a sabbatical”.

I have kept in touch with my friends from church. Once or twice a year, a small group of us that date back to “the cult” days get together for lunch and catching up. We laugh, pray, and watch our babies grow and have their own children. We joke about “the cult” – a brief stint for me, but a longer stint for some of them: we are all survivors of Wayman Mitchell and his Christian Fellowship Ministries. I’ll just let you research that on your own. It wasn’t God. I occasionally visited the church until about 2014 when I ceased to go entirely.

Back in May, my sweet friend asked me to go to a Mother’s Day luncheon at one of the splinter churches that came out of or former congregation. Happens that one of my dearest friends (and her husband) had taken up the reins of ministry at this new splinter church, and I hadn’t seen or talked to her in a few years. I agreed, but I made no commitment beyond that brief hour of hugging and meeting her grandson.

A couple weeks ago, the same sweet friend asked me if I’d like to go to a women’s retreat and room with her & one other friend. I usually say “no”, but I had just decided to retire at the end of the year (yay, me!) and I thought, “why not?”

It was a wonderful evening and day of ministry. There were a couple speakers who related more to the younger women, but two that resonated with me, in my current spiritual state. The weather was beautiful. I was among people who hold my very basic faith (albeit we might disagree politically, and I was grateful that no-one brought up those political differences the entire time).

The theme was seasons of life. The first speaker was a scientist who talked about how we can change our way of thinking, using scientific facts (I love this kind of stuff – science!). The next two were aimed at young women and mothers. My dearest friend spoke of seasons of life.

I am in the winter of my life, physically. I will be 62 on Friday of this week. Dia de los Muertos. Day of the Dead. November 2.

I am not in the winter of my life, spiritually. I died in my thirties. Those two decadesĀ  (30s & 40s) were some of the worst years of my life. I turned 50 and felt so free from death and the stark contrasts of winter. I felt like I entered into a Springtime of life. I had a time of blooming and warmth.

I feel like I am entering my summer as I turn 62. My body is failing me, but my mind, my spirit, my soul are alive and blooming. I see things from a different perspective. I am tolerant of other faiths. I am open and embracing of other walks of life. I have so much to accomplish before my final waltz down the aisle to meet Death.

I had a very good time, and I am still processing everything (an Introvert and HSP thing). I opened up to strangers. I felt accepted, but I am still wary. I hugged and teased a young woman who I half-raised when she was a toddler. I feel like God is bringing me full circle, but I can’t say if that means going back to church or now. I do know it means all id forgiven between good friends. I know I have been prayed over and loved, as I have prayed over and loved others.

1929

I love you, my friends. I may always be the odd one out – the one who celebrates Hallowe’en, does cosplay, and votes Independent – but I love you. (I’m the dork in glasses and dark hair in the middle.)

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