Maybe not losing. Maybe changing. But changing usually involves losing.
Of all the things my recent medical emergency has done to me, enhancing my piety is not one of them.
Nor was my medical counsel all that helpful; because no one -- not the ER docs or the neurologist or my doctor -- is exactly sure why light anesthesia that I've had before with no ill effect would suddenly rebound in my system. Was it a function of sleep apnea? Something wrong with my liver? No conclusive "why" has shown up in any tests. This thing happened to me, and no one knows why, and no one knows if it will happen again or why it might.
For a full week after I got home, I was afraid to go to sleep each night because I wasn'the t sure I'd wake up again. I was well on my way to zombiehood before my body finally cried "Uncle" and I surrendered to an 8-hour rest.
So let the record reflect: I'm not going gently into that good night.
There was that. And then -- I don't know how I can describe my feelings without sounding like a diva and a whiner, but...the response of my local faith community (as opposed to the rest of you all) other than our pastor, who showed up to help Fellow Traveler the night I went into seizure, was...well, kind of a whole lotta nothin'.
But, thinking about it....we really don't have a lot in common with a lot of people at church. We really don't. A lot of them are part of a hard-living, hard-partying, country-music blaring, oppositional-behavior-embracing local culture that we don't find charming or fun or something we want to join. We can count on the fingers of one hand households that we're on dropping-in-on-friendly terms with, and maybe another hand of households we'd consider first-name-basis acquaintances. So why should we expect anything from the others? (The other day our pastor was asking me -- I guess I'm the resident social media expert -- about some cat-fighty Facebook drama with individuals at church who weren't getting along, and I had to admit that I didn't know who the hell he was talking about.)
I know that the mainline-denominational party line is to emphasize that we're part of a community, not all off having our own me-and-Jesus experiences in a corner somewhere. But, seriously folks -- real community is a rare commodity, and I think in an effort to reject me-and-Jesus-under-a-blanket-with-a-flashlight quietism we tend to oversell both how much of it exists in our churches and how church community informs our own faith.
And I also wonder how much community we want, deep down. I've observed Evangelical acquaintances where "community" has morphed into a near-cultish insularity and group control that includes "shepherding," tattling, peer shaming and a lot of other crap that most of us in Mainlineland wouldn't tolerate. When I think of FT's and my circle of friends and aquaintances -- we tend to like to spread our social capital wide instead of depending on one sector to provide the bulk of our emotional and social support.
Long story short: We're stepping back from a lot of our involvement in church, including the compulsion to provide warm-body ballast at random church activities and to be volunteers of last resort. We're tired, and we're just not feeling it. I've been doing my assisting gig on schedule, but when the alb comes off I leave. And while my inner nag is telling me that I should feel guilty about all this, what I think is the healthier part of myself is telling me that this is something we need to do for our own health.