I went to a different kind of Christmas service tonight, a Blue Christmas service. The concept is to acknowledge that not everyone finds this to be a joyous season for a variety of reasons, and to give those people experiencing loneliness and loss the opportunity for a time of “remembrance and reflection”. And for this year, it was more meaningful than pretty much any other service I could probably have attended.
There were only two Christmas songs. The music was a man playing guitar and a woman singing along. Simple. Calm.
I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. Things at work, mainly. I thought. But there’s more to it. As the service progressed tonight, we were called to remember those we had lost. It wasn’t this job and the people who’ve sent messages there that I’m not a part of the team that I remembered.
Seven years ago in 2009 I lost my church, and every friend I had there, plus every friend I thought I had or wanted so badly to have. I lost hope that I would ever fit in there, that I would ever be accepted. I lost confidence in myself, and I lost faith to a degree as well. Not at first, but over time, year in and year out as I faced additional rejection in nearly every church I attended, through three moves and five job changes, and finally even from some of those friends I’d thought I made since leaving who called themselves Christian. And now at work, while a coworker who sits near me says the same things I heard in church: ‘You’ve got to trust God and just leave it in his hands. You can’t care what’s happening. Toughen up.’ Don’t feel. Don’t care. Don’t love? Wait, that’s not God. When did Christianity come to this place?
There is nothing wrong with hurting when people hurt us. And when people hurt us, it’s not because God wanted them to. That would mean God wanted them to sin, because that would mean God wanted them to do something unloving.
I’m not sure I ever allowed myself to completely grieve the loss of the friends I left behind in my former church. I miss them. I want to know what’s happening to them. I definitely haven’t given myself an opportunity to grieve the loss of the positive things I left behind in my former church. So perhaps the fact that I haven’t felt like celebrating this Christmas is a good thing, a way to move forward. And then maybe I can celebrate again.