I don't usually like to unload my spiritual problems on anyone. And even less so on my blog here since most of the followers of my blog are not Christian. But recently, I began making some fundamental efforts to rejuvenate my spiritual life and strengthen my connection to God and His people. I feel like I'm really making strides in this regard, but one thing I feel is really missing for me: a way to give back, ministry-wise. I've wanted to get involved with a ministry at my church, but kept getting a "no" from God, and this is starting to get frustrating now with this newer and more concentrated effort to reconnect. I mean, right now the most I'm doing for God is defending Christianity on internet message boards. Whoop-de-doo. I'm not changing anyone's minds really about anything, or anything that can even be considered remotely close to saving a soul or converting someone. The best I'm doing is just showing that not all Christians are complete douchebags, and considering I just used the word "douchebag", I'd say I'm not exactly doing this job all that perfunctorily either.
So, I've really wanted to get involved again with the church. Back in... oh man, how long ago? 2003 or 2004 I'd guess... I had thought about joining the choir. I'm not gonna be added to the cast of "Glee" anytime soon, but I'm no William Hung either, at least I think I'm not though nuclear family members have told me otherwise growing up. Well, one Sunday morning in August or September, just after the morning service, I was having juice and cookies with a friend from high school and her then-boyfriend (they're now married) who had just transferred to the graduate program at MSU, just talking with them. The choir director walked up to us and introduced herself to the three of us. She was fishing for new recruits. Keep in mind, I only knew who she was because she's at the front of the sanctuary leading the choir... we'd never met. She looks at me and said, "I've seen you around before..." and she then turns and looks directly at my friend and starts trying to recruit her. I'm still standing there, kinda upset that she didn't even ask me if I'd ever considered joining choir. While my friend is being invited, my brain and heart are screaming, "HEY! Where's my invitation?!?!?!!! Ask me to join!!!" I left the building feeling... pre-emptively rejected. Like walking onto a Broadway stage and hearing "NEXT" before I even open my mouth. I left that day fairly certain that God doesn't want my larynx melodiously meshed with the men and women of the chorale.
Two or three years later, once again in fall, I had asked if there was gonna once again be a Welcome Back BBQ for the students, like they'd done in years past. I was told that there had been no plans made, but hey great idea. So, I was thinking maybe I should be a leader in the Campus Ministry program. Why not? I was familiar with the program, and last year, there was no leader, causing it to just fall apart for the school year. As I was cooking burgers and hot dogs that morning for the cookout (not really a bbq, but you know what I mean), I was thinking about asking the senior pastor about possibly heading it up or at least leading in some capacity. While I was cleaning my grill, the pastor got up and welcomed everyone there, and then proceeded to introduce the new campus minister, who'd be leading the program. As the pastor kept talking, I felt God put His arm around me and say, "See I have provided for them already. This is not for you." I just about cried, and probably would have if a friend hadn't walked up to me that instant and made chit-chat with me. It still makes me tear up a little to remember this.
The next calling I felt pulled towards was prison ministry. Our church has a group of volunteers that regularly goes to a prison in the next county over and in addition to sharing the Word, also helps inmates in the process of getting ready to re-enter society. I thought this would be great for me. I called the lady at the church who headed this, and she put me in touch with the prison chaplain who gave me a phone interview and said everything looked in order. I would hear from them soon about going through orientation. Only, that was the last time I spoke with them. I even asked the lady from our church about it. It just simply appears that I must have been lost in the bureaucracy and wouldn't be allowed to join them. Another rejection.
That was maybe a year ago. The latest one happened last week. Our church's full-time custodian is retiring, and they were looking to hire two or three part-time custodians to help fill in. I sent a resume, had an interview and tour of the storage areas in the church. Then Friday, I got the call. I was not selected. For other reasons I don't wish to get into here, this made going to church this past Sunday slightly awkward for me.
And the worst part is, there is a ministry out there... our denomination's version of the Boy Scouts, that my mother has suggested to me in the past about getting into. On more than one occasion. It feels like nagging. And when the head counselor got wind that I'd been one such scout when I was a boy, he started talking really friendly to me about it. The thing though is.... I don't WANT to do this one. There are a few reasons that I haven't tried to get involved, but the main one is I just. Don't. WANT to do it! Nothing about it feels or sounds right. Me a role model for young boys in our church? Are they nuts?! Me trying to teach them about tying knots, map reading, or building model rockets... me, the guy whose tool sets are filing for separation? This CAN'T be it! But I feel like others are trying to SHOVE me into it. And I'm resentful and angry about it. How can it POSSIBLY be a calling for me? Isn't a calling supposed to be a gentle, friendly invitation to serve? It's not supposed to feel like a forceful push over the cliff! I know following Jesus involves taking up a cross, but how can I go into His service with a feeling of DREAD towards that particular ministry? Surely there has to be something else God wants me for! (cue voice from above saying, "No, and don't call me Shirley!")
So, among the other aspects which are actually coming together relatively well, this is just a rut for me. It's something I've felt and said before, but I feel the need to say it again: it's a horrible, horrible feeling for me to believe in God but be left feeling like maybe He doesn't believe in me. Maybe this is one of those things that won't fall into place until after I move to British Columbia and start my new life with my true love, but for right now, it hurts so badly.