Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Invalid by invalidation

This word "invalid" seems to keep popping up lately. It's one of those words with multiple meanings. We studied the biblical story of Jesus healing the invalid at the pool of Bethesda in our weekly Bible Study, and it has also come up in a number of discussions over how I/we have felt over the last few years.

One definition of 'invalid' is "one who is sickly or disabled." That's the case of the man in John 5 whom Jesus healed. Another use of the term has to do with someone feeling 'invalidated.' This is when someone feels they've been rejected, ignored, or judged.

So today's whine is about how I feel like an invalid because of my feelings of invalidation - not only in how I was dismissed from my church, but also treatment by denominational leaders afterward, and even now in trying to fit into another church group.

Now, to be clear, it doesn't matter if this was done TO me or not... I FEEL invalidated. So, while I'm not blaming anyone, it just seems to me the people I most expected to understand my situation, can't seem to understand why I feel rejected, hurt, ignored and/or judged. Not only is it very frustrating, but now I also feel somewhat like an 'invalid' - like I've been disabled, displaced, disapproved of, and disposed of.

As a couple, my wife and I not only spent 14 years of service in ministry as pastors in a local church, but before that we spent countless years serving the church in other capacities too (small group leaders, teachers, board members, etc.). And now, not only do we feel like no one is interested in us, but I question the validity of anything and everything we've ever done. Has any of it been worth it?

Last Sunday we sat in a service at the church we've been attending for two years. It's a very popular church. So much so that when we arrived Sunday we had to get our own chairs out of the closet and set them up in the back in order to have a place to sit (and we weren't late). Their Sunday service is slick and I can't fault anything they do. However, as the speaker ended his talk and we prepared for communion, he suggested that we could pray for one another as we milled about the room. He even went so far as to say our church is good at praying for one another. This clearly showed how much of an "insider" he is, because, as an "outsider," we have not felt that at all. Anyway, if I dare bare my soul... I took communion, and stood and waited. I was praying that someone might notice how much we (or at least I) needed prayed for. And I waited. And waited. Pretty soon I either started saying it to myself, or satan was whispering in my ear: "No one is coming." No one did come. No one ever does. I don't think anyone ever will. No one is going to help us. Maybe no one can.

I know... we're not supposed to put our hope in other people. God is "always there." Jesus has already "paid the price." We need to "just get over it." Yada, yada, yada.  Yes, I know I'm wrong to feel this way. I have so much to be thankful for. I need to just get off my duff and bless others, or some such thing. I know I should. No one has to feel sorry for me, or tell me how pathetic it is.

But my prayer today is... how? How do I do this, Lord? Where do I begin? What can I do to feel validated? I want to be a part of a church. I want to belong. I want to do Kingdom work. I simply don't have the confidence. And I'm scared. I'm afraid that, what if nothing works? What if there's nothing there? What if I'm just done and this is as good as it's going to get? What if I simply just don't understand? What if... I dunno... what if it's not even real?