Back when I was talking about GA, I mentioned in my post entitled Simmered-down GA thoughts
that I'd been questioning my own identity as a UU. I thought I'd talk about that today.
It's hard for me to verbalize exactly where my discomfort originates. Am I having trouble relating to the general concept of UUism? I don't think so, at least not on an intellectual level. Am I having trouble relating to my specific church? Possibly. Am I having so many general problems and disappointments with life right now that it is blurrying the focus for me so that I don't know where the unhappiness is coming from, I just know that it is? Very likely.
I don't think my major problem is with UUism itself. I am now, more than ever, right on board with the Seven UU Principles
and can't imagining following a faith that doesn't embrace them. However, I am also a UU Christian and sometimes find myself not exactly fitting in for that reason. I do think that the online community I've discovered through blogging and through the UUCF email list has gone a long way toward showing me that there is a place for UU Christians within the UUA.
I often find myself frustrated with my own congregation. While we espouse the values of acceptance of all paths, I have to admit there isn't a very visible presence of UU Christians within our congregation. These days we are dominated by the older "founders" of our church (from the 1960's) who are generally Humanists and the new-age pagans (we have a newish CUUPS
chapter which is taking off and growing at a surprising rate). I have no problem with either group and I'm happy that they are both such thriving communities. However, as a UU Christian, I am often uncomfortable there. Three friends and I have formed a UU Christian Circle and we meet in each other's homes once a month, but the congregation does not know about it. We have not advertised it. I admit that that makes me feel a little bit ashamed and fearful and I don't like that. I am not a big fan of evangelism (which is one of the things keeping me from switching to a mainline Christian church), but I do believe in what is written: "Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all." (Mt 5:15) I don't want to convert people, but I would like to stand as a witness for liberal Christianity. I see this as an opportunity to show those UU's who've been hurt by traditional Christianity that following Jesus can still be a path of love rather than one of judgment and close-mindedness. I wear my celtic cross necklace to church every time I go. I want to teach by example. But still, I am frustrated by our group's sense of secrecy. I know the names of two other people who are interested in our UU Christian Circle. There may be others who would be interested if they knew we existed. But there are members of our circle who are afraid of "coming out" to the congregation. I don't blame them, but it frustrates me.
Of course, there is also the possibility that my discomfort has nothing to do with the church, but is instead just overflow from my discomfort with life in general. There are a lot of things going on in my life that leave me feeling depressed much of the time. While I think church ought to be a strength during those times, for me it just feels like part of the problem. Yesterday I helped to teach the children's RE class. At our church, the children begin the morning for the first 15 minutes or so in with the congregation until they are released to go to their classes. During that 15 minutes, I just felt like I was in a bubble. I felt almost no connection to the rest of the congregation. It left me feeling very empty and sad. Now, working with the children was much better and that was enjoyable. But I wish I felt more connected with the adults.
At the end of the day, however, there was a bright moment. As we were cleaning up and preparing to go, the woman with whom I was teaching and I had a long and lovely conversation. We've worked together and known each other for years, but this was a more personal conversation than we've ever had. We both shared difficulties we are having in our lives right now and we were able to connect and commisserate. Just when I was feeling disconnected from this congregation, it was almost as if God was speaking to me through this woman reminding me that there are people out there with whom I can connect and that I shouldn't give up hope.
Labels: Church Relations, Identity, UU Christian Circle, UUism