Only Child

I have grown close to my “church family.”  But the fact that I perceive them as “family” may be what bothers me as well. Since I am an only child, my friends and relatives are my reference points for what large families are like. The reader should remember that as an only child, one doesn’t have brothers and sisters with whom to fight and disagree. When I was growing up, I used to hang out at friends’ houses – friends who usually had brothers and sisters. There I would enjoy the chaos, the arguments, and all other “action” that often ensued.

Now, fast forward many years to my newfound church family. First of all, although I have attended church most of my life, I have never really felt a part of a church until now. This church consists of a warm, caring group of individuals who look out for each other. And yet…and yet…there is discord among them. Intent though many of them are on what they believe is the “right” way to do things, their insistence and lack of understanding of – or willingness to understand – each other seems to pull this family apart.

Doesn’t the bible say that when one has an issue with a brother (or sister), he should go off and resolve that issue first? Here, I see one faction, if you will, either holding it all in until they need to burst, or trying to convince other factions to come to their “side.” Just like family members in discord, some are hurt or insulted, some are righteous, and some remain unwilling to become involved.

“Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye…. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:1-5)

This is a family! This is a church body! I pull back when I witness or hear about the various disagreements. I resist the volatile reactions and what comes across almost as hate. The lack of willingness to understand from another perspective, to “love one another as I have loved you” causes me to not want to belong. I wonder if those who cause dissension recognize what they are doing to their family? I doubt it. Just as a brother or sister fights for his or her own point of view, so do these individuals campaign for themselves. While I do believe an individual should follow his or her own heart, I also wish that these same individuals would know compassion and understanding before proceeding with their attempts at thrusting their beliefs upon others.

I am trying not to be angry or judgmental. I am sad, for even within the walls of this wonderful church family, perhaps I am destined to remain…an only child.

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The Prisoner's Prayer Book

Louise is author of The Prisoner's Prayer Book which evolved as she became a volunteer in prison ministry. Retired from a career in social services, Louise resides in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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