October 7, 2013

When Going to Worship Hurts

How many times have I heard clergy spouses share stories of pain? Way too many--even some of my own experiences in churches brought challenges.  

One of the most difficult aspects of pain in ministry has to be seeing persons in church each week who have made unkind remarks or caused disturbances in committee meetings that have hurt my husband and consequently have an impact on me and our family.

I hear lay people comment that attending church is a source of renewal and comfort, a time to gain support in the body of Christ and to celebrate those occasions that bring joy.

What can clergy spouses do, when Sunday becomes the hardest  day of the week. (I've heard these words so many times, especially recently).  Where can spouses go to seek God's presence in worship? 

Something I did a few years ago, helped me greatly.  I asked my husband if I could go somewhere else to church for a month of Sundays. He knew I was supportive of his ministry, but circumstances at church were just too overwhelming, and I needed a break. He agreed.  

Since I knew every United Methodist pastor serving a church within a twenty mile radius of my home, I decided to attend four different Quaker churches. I walked into the sanctuary and came to a place where I could be present to God. I did have a sense of community experiencing worship in the body of Christ even though I didn't know anyone.  

I found the Quaker service one of peace and quiet. The ten minutes of silence in the middle of worship was an opportunity for me to drink God deeply into my soul. I appreciated my time away from my own church, and returned refreshed and renewed.

An interesting aspect of my time away was no one missed me. No one asked my husband where I was. I realized I did what was necessary to care of myself. It just did not matter what anyone said or thoughy. 

I pray that if your church is a place of pain that you can find another church to attend for worship, even for one week to care for yourself and re-connect with God.


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