One Day

I was thinking back over the last few years & the different people that have come into & subsequently gone out of my life. A lot of it has happened in, around, & through this thing called "church..." which is quite the microcosm of society & is one of the more bizarre Social Environments I have ever encountered...

..so I guess I shouldn't be so surprised that when One Day, people that I thought I'd been close to, disappeared. I didn't know if they were gone, gone, or if they were just on vacation. I bet that if people are looking to drop out or leave a church, doing it post-vacation would be the way it happens more often than not. After all, you're already on the move, & your absence wouldn't really be noticed until you were Out There.

What runs through my head is: Are you supposed to call people that have gone M.I.A.? How long qualifies as MIA? How much time does one give between calls? Is it considered stalking or pressuring people to check in & ask them what's up & where they've been?

My thought is that what people do or don't do for 'church' is up to them - & I don't want to be the High Pressure guy that is in your grill trying to get you to justify why you haven't been coming to church. Or (Gasp!) why you don't go to this one anymore... But it would be nice to know what's up - a short, "We're going somewhere else. Thanks!" would be great. No drive-bys, no wondering "Whatever happened to..."

'cos really, I want to know, but I don't want to try to chase people down - if they wanted to communicate, wouldn't they have initiated it? I don't know. Weird.

It's pretty darn easy to be selfish - to focus on how other peoples' behaviors are so bad, & how sad it makes us... but I really think that a lot of that has to do with how their behavior, choices, actions, etc. affect or reflect on us. We don't want to be the guy with the friend that blew it, like somehow, the bad choice & the resulting consequences could be pinned on us, & somehow, someway end up taking us down a notch or 10 in the eyes & esteem of others. I can say its about them, but really, its probably about me.

16 launchings into the blogosphere....:

Jeni said...

I always wonder what happened to certain people that I used to enjoy talking to... And I assume that they must not care because if they did they would have called-- but that's pretty selfish, because it's not like I ever called them either, so they could be out there thinking I didn't care either.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this... I think there are some people I need to go e-mail now. :)

TPluckyT said...

And this why I'm glad I'm not a Pastor . . . I feel for you on this as it would drive me crazy if I were in charge . . .

TPluckyT said...

BTW . . . I really enjoy the Dilbert widget . . . I check it most every day . . . Thanks!

(No implied expectation intended, just a casual expression of gratitude in a world rife with conflict and dissatisfaction . . . :-) )

laura said...

- i agree that church is a bizarre social environment... it surprisingly reminds me of high school and at some low points middle school even. luckily, i got pretty good at navigating those years, so its a bit easier now.
- i can't believe that it has been almost a year now since the "vacation"
- i personally believe it is the responsibility of the person leaving a church to let the leadership know that they are leaving, and why as a courtesy (kind of like leaving a job), but that's just me and what i would do. in my opinion, if there is someone that you genuinely care about and miss talking to, you should contact them. if not, let them be. so in short, i am agreeing with the next paragraph.

-your last paragraph resonates with me in a big way, and is very true. i am sure you know why and i don't need to say any more.

sorry for the very long comment. its time for american idol.

David said...

I moved to Kansas. I'm not going to church anywhere right now. I'll always be friends with you and your family.

There - happy now?

noel said...

to the first paragraph- all i have to say is "true dat" in slang of course.
also on that same paragraph, the older i am getting and the years now that i have spent in this social fish bowl the more i want to jump ship and go find a bigger ocean to swim in but then i know i am not the only one who feels this way and that this would not make baby jesus happy nor myself really and so out of obedience i stay.
that being said to the rest of the blog-
we left a church without communicating to our said pastors but we sure did communicate clearly to all our friends. our pastors at the time did not know us more than they knew that my name was actually a male name given to a female. a story i will share with you, and no i am not bitter.
our friends understood why we left and our still our friends even though they decided to stay.
all that to say maybe you loved them a bit deeper than they loved you. friends talk openly and freely even when it's painful to do so.
dunno.
i hear ya on this one though.

scoey-d said...

jeni- I know what you mean. It is a 2 way street...

tim- it would drive me crazy if I were in charge too. And I love meesa Dilbert.

laura- time flies when you're having fun :). And any group of people together seems to have elements of the worst parts of high school... church gets it worse because God & God-cards & God-endorsements & religious stuff gets put into the mix.

david- I was wondering where you were. Thanks for still being my friend. You know I don't watch American Idol, don't you? So you can be sure we'll always be friends then.

no..el - for me, the communication about leaving has more to do with people that I thought I was close to, people that I had in my house & I was in theirs - not strangers, not people who I didn't know their name. Friends should be able to talk openly, so maybe I just wasn't their friend. Or the idea of talking openly & saying difficult things was less important than avoiding a tough conversation & wanting to 'keep peace.' I want to contend for real friendships. & that's why I like you & Moses.

And it's not hitting. It's punching.

SeƱor H said...

First off, I had a soccer game last week, so Jami and I stayed home; we're not going anywhere. :)

I think this issue works from both ends. I think 'breaking up' is awkward for both sides. From the other end, there might always be the "will they even know we're gone"; "should I tell anyone that we found another church with better programs"; "how long would I have to wait till no body remembers that we were ever there" type of questions.

I think it depends on the personality to determine how a person would handle this. Are they the type of people that dive into the Fruit Loops at the local Wal-Mart when they see people they used to know (or in Diga's case, pray for morphing abilities), or do they enjoy seeing an old face and catching up with them? I think that would determine how they would 'break up' with a church.

I'm the second type of person.

Murdoc said...

Here are a couple reasons people just leave & don't communicate:
1- You had something to offer that they liked for awhile & don't need/like it anymore. It's easy. Church relationships are generally shallow in nature, so leaving them is like changing the radio station.
1.5- Pride. Selfishness.
2- When people are leaving & talk to the pastor(s) & explain why they're leaving, they know all too well that the possibility exists they will be labeled as the people who were just disgruntled, or the people who didn't want to be part of the solution, or the people who were never really with us. For some the risk is too great & don't want to deal with the pain before.
3- They hurt, damaged people. Any confrontation is like death to them, especially with a "pastor."

laura said...

p.s. about a year ago Jay told me that if i made him change churches again, he was becoming jewish. so if we are gone... you can assume we converted.

Erica said...

great post Louie, the last paragraph really hit it on the nail for me. Selfishness hinds behind many different faces. For andy and I, we seem to be in the dark regarding noticing when people are gone and why. Almost scary how we don't know, guess this is a blessing in a way. Letting a pastor who is also a friend know you weren't going to the church would seem to be the right/courteous path.

Celeste said...

You are still in my heart, I stay connected through reading this blog, and the prayer chain. I love you all, miss you, and think of you often. Especially to Louie and Joanie, after all our talks, needing to not come and then waiting toooo long, is not always intentional. Just a bit thoughtless, and please forgive me.

digapigmy said...

it's like quitting a job and not bothering to tell your boss off on the way out. i don't get it either. isn't that what it's all about?

scoey-d said...

Mr H - I was wondering... first the worship team, then you're playing soccer... :) I think that you & murdoc both speak to a bit of truth on the 'why's' of this phenomena...

laura- hava nagilah, & how bout 2 bat-mitzvahs for the girls?

erica - I hate being in the dark, esp. if there was some perception or reality that could've been addressed, or at least brought to light. The 'exit' interview is also a great place to learn... plus, I know a few great churches in town that are a bit different from us (& maybe even each other.) Talking to someone on the way out may allow some input into a new potential church family for someone. Its happened a few times in the last couple of years, & is definitely my favorite way to say goodbye.

celeste - good to hear from you! I'm glad you're lurking in the shadows :) keeping up with what's going on - I know that time flies. Thank you for reading & for writing - hope to see you soon!

brintus maximus - yes! exactly. I'd love to hear about what exactly is fueling someone's motor, even if it means its not all Pollyanna. Thanks for playing...

Matty C. said...

I think if I was to leave, the only reason I would tell someone is out of respect because I've been friends for so long. If I wasn't such good friends, I would leave without saying anything because I don't like dealing with awkward situations.

I think that is what you are dealing with. People don't like awkwardness. It's easier to not have to deal with stuff.

scoey-d said...

Yep. You're right Matty. It is awkward.

I've been pondering this for a long time & think that when stuff is awkward &/or there will be some sort of conflict, people bail, avoid or go aggro... & then end up missing out on a lot of life, growth, & potential fulfillment.

Sigh.

Makes me wonder... what else do we avoid because it's awkward? I think I'll blog it. Tomorrow.