I don't know. This is going to be disjointed and whiny, I know that much upfront. But I've had a bad couple of days.
The scarf photo was posted before most of the stuff blew up, but there have been things simmering away that bother me and I've tried to push them aside and ignore them, but it's gotten to the point where it's really hard to.
Many, many problems:
First, someone came to me Friday afternoon with an "issue" that "upset" them. (I had nothing to do with it; I was merely a convenient ear). I listened for a bit, offered sympathy, and then apologetically motioned to the journal articles on my desk and commented that I was trying to get some stuff done. The person came back two more times with more ways they had been wronged. I hate being a "trouble tree." (Yes, I suppose I could have packed up the articles and gone home to read them, which I may well do next time).
There was an ugly fight (well as ugly as it ever gets on there) on one place online I moderated. Accusations were flung, and although I went in and asked people not to air that kind of stuff in public, to work it out between themselves privately, it still led up to a declaration of flouncing on one of the party's parts. And I feel terrible about it: was there something I could have said that would have made things better? Should I have come down harder on the offenders? What? (And I reminded myself of Sayre's Law, but that didn't really help). I've kind-of-sort-of been apologized to by a couple of the parties, but the damage is still done.
Then I went to the grocery. Oh man. First of the month. I had forgotten how bad it could be. Five or six couples fighting, a couple cases of kids screaming at and being screamed back at by parents. (In my family growing up, we didn't scream. That would have been reserved for, I don't know, a jet engine falling out of the sky and my mom or my dad trying to get us out of its way. When we were in trouble, my parents would get very quiet and very controlled....but you knew you were in trouble. So screaming sets off all my HUGE EMERGENCY ABOUT TO OCCUR senses). I was shaking when I walked out of there. It didn't help that I tried to use the self-checkout, and it told me I had to scan my package of Newman-Os a second time for some reason, even though that meant it was then charging me for them twice, and I had to call someone over for help, and she knew not what to do, so I finally handed them to her and said, "You know, I really don't want these that badly, just void both charges out."
Then, today....and this is the biggest thing and is related to the stuff that's been simmering away and bothering me.
A family left church. This was the one family with a teenaged child. Their stated reason was "Lack of a youth program." Well, **I** was the "youth program" for the teens. I tried. I tried really, really hard. I tried to invite people, even though I know few teens and few families with teens. I showed up every week prepared, there wasn't always someone there for me to teach. But as I said: I tried really hard. But it's difficult when you have one or two kids in your "class" and they don't always give you the impression that they want to be there. (I suppose, letting a cooler head prevail, the "lack" could be more a "lack of other kids her age" than "the teacher was somehow lacking." But still).
And this is where I wish I could be the kind of person who could throw up their hands and say "whatever" and then move on, but I'm not. I think about things, I question myself: Was there something I could have done better? Was there something I did that I shouldn't have done? What?
We've lost a few families over the past couple of years. In most cases, the reason they've given is what I would consider less than compelling. One family that left, it was apparently because Someone allegedly said Something to One of Them, and They were upset about it, so decided to leave.
And, I don't know. I suppose this is where all the rejection, all the teasing, all the crap that was said to me by my peers when I was a child maybe made me a stronger or better person than I might be: My response to Someone saying Something to me would be to shrug and go, "They're having a bad day." Or if it was a really bad thing, ask to meet with them (ideally, with a neutral third party) and say, "You know that Thing you said? It hurt me and I want to understand what you meant by it." Or, I might have just tried to ignore it, maybe with the caveat of "don't count on that person as friendly support in the future." But I wouldn't leave over it.
And of course, all of this raises the giant specter in my mind of: Are we still going to BE a congregation in three years? Will there be enough of us? Will we be able to hire a new minister, being so small? I really really really don't want to go looking for a new church now. The next nearest one of this specific denomination is a half-hour away, and the thought of driving an hour total every Sunday does not appeal to me (Oh, I know, some people do it. I just don't want to). I suppose in town I could try one of the Presbyterian churches, which is the next-nearest-neighbor, doctrinally speaking, to what I am....but like I said, I don't WANT to. (I might just decide, if the worst happens, to take a few months off - to heal emotionally - before trying to find a new church). And yes, I've tried to invite people. Everyone I know either currently is active in a church, or is hostile to the idea of attending church, and you don't win over people who express hostility by hounding them. So it just feels kind of futile to me. (I've never liked or been good at "evangelism" of the knocking-on-doors type, anyway).
And, I don't know. It just seems that lately, so much of the human interaction I get involved in is broken and messed up and awkward and feels wrong. Maybe it's me. I don't know. I don't mean to hurt people's feelings or say the wrong thing....but I guess sometimes I do. I wish they were better at calling me on it when I do, rather than just getting angry or storming off. Or, I don't know, maybe it's not me. Maybe some people just look for reasons to be offended. Or maybe I'm interpreting the situation as "I offended them somehow" when it really wasn't my fault. I don't know.
And I'm back in that feeling (mainly over the failed youth program) that even though I try my best at stuff, it's just not quite good enough. And that makes me miserable. Because I feel like a failure and I don't LIKE feeling like a failure.
I was sitting thinking about the whole thing before church this morning. (I mean, right before church: sitting in the sanctuary waiting for the service to start) and I could feel myself start to tear up, and I told myself, "Now, none of that!" because I hate crying in public. (I mean, I hate it when *I* cry in public. I don't care if other people do because everyone is different and that's how some people are). I partly hate it because someone will ask me why....and if I start to tell them then I will start to cry harder. So I managed to dry it up for a while, until the communion hymn, which was "Be Still my Soul" (in the version we use, the tune is an arrangement of the main theme from Finlandia. So at first I was all, "Oh, nice. This is an easy one to sing for me because it's within my range and I know the tune well.") But then some of the lyrics hit me: "Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain./Leave to thy God to order and provide;" And granted, it's probably overdramatic for me to even try to claim that what I'm experiencing now is a cross of grief or pain, but still.
And then later: "Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake"
And dangit, that did it. Because my hope and confidence are pretty shaken right now. I'm in that mode where I want to go and hide in my sewing room and not talk to people. Not that that helps much; it's just avoiding the problem.
And my eyes did fill up and start to overflow. Luckily we only sung
those first couple verses (we had a guest speaker and he ran a little
long) and I was able to rummage in my purse and find a tissue, and right
after that was communion, so I could just keep my head down and people
would think I was praying. And I figured if someone remarked that my
eyes looked red as I was heading out the door, I could blame it on allergies. (Which have been pretty bad of late, even though I've been maxed out on antihistamines.)
The thing is, as much as people continue to disappoint me, I can't just throw up my hands and go "whatever" and forget them. I keep going back, I keep trying. Even though it's like punching a brick wall sometimes. I think of the list of things that is attributed to Mother Teresa: "People are illogical, unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway..." but I sometimes wonder if there's going to come a day when I get smacked down/mired in self criticism one too many times and just snap and stop trying to love people any more. I don't know. I'm just TIRED.