Lately, we’ve all been sick of a few things in our group. So, this is what I want to say to our fearless leader, Bro. Matt. I didn’t really read through this thoroughly, so bear that in mind.

Dear Bro. Matt,

I know that you have noticed my absence from things lately, and I also know you understand part of why that has been happening. But I doubt you understand the source problem that has been affecting our group and causing this recent increase in people calling in sick.

We’re tired.

We’re the good kids. The kids who came to every Youth Group, every Youth Conference, every Bible Study, every Sunday service (morning and evening), and every Single’s Retreat. We’ve done this through high school, during grueling semesters of college that took everything we had. Now, we’re not drifting as you may fear. We’re just burned out. Every single event in our lives is a church service.

You once said you didn’t understand when you were little why people would describe Heaven as “One big, long church service for all eternity!” and still want to go. But… this is our life right now. Our lives our one big, long series of church services, and we don’t see an end in sight and we’re no longer seeing the point. But not for reasons you may think.

Let’s look at our current situation, broken down by the week.

Sunday School. Recently, Pastor put a couple in charge of Sunday School for our age group. Not a married couple your age, but a couple from… our group. A couple that married at 21. And both spouses were raised extremely sheltered, and have experienced no physical or mental illnesses. Their only life experiences are being married and visiting another country. They can’t tell us what it’s like to look for a spouse in an empty sea because they have never had that experience. They aren’t older, or wiser, or any more mature than the rest of us. You know I love the wife dearly; if I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t have stood in her wedding. And I’m not saying that we can’t learn from them, I’m just asking how far anyone thinks that can go with a couple as young and inexperienced as they are.

Sunday Mornings are fine. They’re great. But they’re exhausting. And most of us have ministries that we do. We spend the whole week at work, try to run every errand we have and meet up with people on Saturdays, then spend Sunday morning at church. We go home, eat food, start to relax, and then turn around to start the whole process over again. Is it any wonder some of us have a headache EVERY Sunday afternoon? The thought of dragging ourselves back in is just too much sometimes.

Mondays are our social night. We come, eat food, fellowship, and do Bible Study. But for a lot of us, it’s one of the only social nights we have. Especially with this group of people. We love the study, we need the study, but we also need the socialization that comes from it.

The only complaint here is our Weird Guy. We were reprimanded a few weeks back for not being social with a visitor. Here’s our excuse: We all saw Weird Guy sitting there, and booked it away before he could engage us in a meaningless conversation about his latest business book and didn’t even see the new guy. It’s sad, but so true. Weird Guy sits through every Monday night with headphones in, laughing animatedly to whatever he’s listening to or reading. He doesn’t talk to anyone. When you do engage him in conversation, he rarely takes the headphones out. And when he does, his conversations aren’t genuine. He just answers what he thinks he should to give us the impression he desires before trying to coach us about business (he’s woefully misinformed), and putting his headphones back in. Here’s an example:

New Guy: *talking about how friendly Weird Guy has been* “And we were having a great discussion about (insert topic here).” He then asks Weird Guy a question.

Weird Guy: *Headphones still in* “What?”
NG: Repeats question
WG: *Headphones still in* “What?”
NG: Repeats question, looking embarrassed now
WG: *Removes headphones* “I’m sorry, what?”
NG: Repeats question
WG: *Weird body movements* “Oh, yeah! (Insert scripted answer here)” *Re-inserts headphones*
NG: Continuing conversations with us, trying to include WG. “What are your favorite books?”
Girl 1: Answers novel name
Guy 1: Answers book name
NG: To WG “What about you?”
WG: *Removes headphones* “I’m sorry, what?”
NG: Repeats question
WG: “Well, the Bible, of course.”
NG: Specifies a bit more
WG: “My favorite book in the Bible? Um… I’d definitely have to say __________, but ___________ is a really good doctrinal book.”
NG: “But, aside from the Bible”
WG: “What’s my favorite business book?”
NG: “No, just your favorite book.”
WG: “My favorite business book?”
Girl 2: “No, just a book. Your favorite book.”
WG: “What’s my favorite business book?”
Me: “Noooo. No business books. A real book. Something you read just for pleasure. A novel or even a non-fiction, non-business book.”
WG: “Well, I’d have to say my favorite business book is ______________. Non-business book? Ooh….. I’m not sure. I really don’t have an answer for that one.”
Me: Trying to save NG “Just A favorite. I have lots of favorites, but one default favorite that I answer for conversation and security questions. What’s your security question favorite book?”

He never answered. Not a real answer. New rule proposal: No headphones at Bible Study.

Wednesday Night. Pastor is doing a series on Acts. He did this series 3 years ago. I remember because after he went through it, you went through it with us in Bible Study.  That’s 3 times in 3 years we’ve sat through Acts. He’s taken over a year to do it this time, and we aren’t even half-way through it. And every time a new person comes in, he starts reviewing. If I come in just to work on the bulletin, I can’t say I receive kindness from people either. It’s mostly Mom’s ministry anyway, but it’s not a motivator when I received cruel comments 3 weeks running from God’s people.

But I don’t go to Wednesday Night service anymore. Wednesday night services are supposed to be mid-week pick-me-ups. They’re supposed to encourage and energize you for the rest of the week. They don’t do that for me. I’ve worked all day, I’m tired, my anxiety has been taxed enough for the week, adding people to the mix is just not happening. I had a major mental breakdown a few months ago, and my parents finally agreed that if it’s not serving its purpose, then I shouldn’t go. So I don’t. And honestly, I feel much better when I don’t. I’m introverted, which doesn’t mean I’m shy, it means I need time by myself to process things and re-energize. No “being with God’s people” doesn’t fix it or make me feel better. It makes me want to commit homicide while screaming. I also have anxiety. Combining the two doesn’t make me a prime candidate for Wednesday services. Actually, Wednesdays have become my only “alone” time. And it didn’t take much time to love that. I suddenly understand why Wednesdays were “Mom’s Night” when we were at AWANA. It’s therapeutic.

Now, let’s add in the extras.

  • For a while, Deb had an extra Bible Study going one night a week. (No, I did not attend, despite her many attempts at guilt-trips)
  • We had small groups one night a week for a year.
  • Add in ministries we participate in
  • Every activity we have involves a devotional or service or both

ENOUGH!

This is why I’m not going to the retreat this year.

  1. Our group has shrunk to almost nothing
  2. I can’t have a conversation with anyone without being interrupted
  3. The married people are still coming to singles events and acting like they know better than the rest of us now because they’re married. Get. Out. Come to Bible Study, be with our age group. But stop acting like they know better, and stop coaching us on finding spouses. They married the first (and only in one case)people they ever dated. They have NO idea what we are feeling.
  4. I really don’t care for Chik-fil-a
  5. I can go to the shooting range at home
  6. I don’t like the family letting us shoot at their house. The youngest daughter is great, the dad is an absolute jerk and has never said a kind word to me. He has treated me and my friends and family like dirt. I’m not going to his house.
  7. There are no activities planned aside from the range.
  8. For some reason, y’all have treated me like I’m some social reject since high school. You’ve put me in rooms with people I never talk to or who are way younger than me rather than with my actual friends. I don’t have to room with Phoebe, but stop rooming me with Laura or the random girl who just happened to join us that day. It never works and leads me to my next point….
  9. I’m not paying $70 to be lonely.

And Finally

10.) We’re tired of church services.

We’re tired of them. I don’t need a weekend alone with my church group to sit through MORE services. I need a weekend alone with my friends. Having fun. No responsibilities and no pressure. A devotional or two? Fine. Last year Andrea did a fantastic job with us, as did you, with our separate services. But it’s gotten to be too much. I’m not in high school anymore. I don’t need that stuff anymore. I need a few days to just be me with people who are doing the same. I ONLY know these people from our activities together. But if we never have activities that allow that, then we will never grow closer. Give me something.

And there’s one final point that really needs to be heard.

You have multiple in our group with mental health problems. Multiple members have depression, anxiety, ADHD, or some combo deal. These aren’t issues that just appear randomly. They are constantly there. Always. Depression and anxiety are physical as well. And they’re constants in our lives, and sometimes we have good days. But sometimes we have bad days when things are just too much and we cannot physically bring ourselves to do things. You’ve acknowledged this, and have been very kind and understanding with that.

A while back, you lead a study on how frustration is just anger by another name. It’s anger with yourself or your situation, but it’s still anger. We use a lot of synonyms and euphemisms for things we shouldn’t.

Deb ran with that. And you’d better stop her soon.

Her next leap was that anxiety is just fear. Well, technically, sure. Ok. But she didn’t stop there.

What you missed in Peru was a group of us sitting together. Me, Eliot, and about 4 other people who have experienced (or were currently dealing with symptoms of) mental illnesses. Specifically: Anxiety. As per her habit, she turned our innocent chit chat into a Bible lesson. This lesson’s topic? Anxiety is just fear, so you need to work with God to figure out what you’re afraid of and pray for courage and it will go away.

Fantastic. Now all my problems are solved!

She told a room full of people with mental illness that they had a heart problem instead of a diagnosable head problem. Basically, Deb told us we needed to “get right with God.” She spewed out the same crap that churches across the country do every day, and expected us to swallow it. It doesn’t make us feel better. It doesn’t solve anything. It made us all glare at her and want to crawl into a hole. She has before and since acknowledged anxiety attacks and panic attacks. So, I’m not sure how a woman who has been around people with mental illnesses so much can be so callous about the topic, but it was way out of bounds.

So, that’s why I’m not going to Single’s Retreat this year. That’s why we’ve all been tired. That’s why we haven’t been coming around as much. And that’s why, for the first time ever, I’m not going to the retreat this year. I love you, and I’m not going anywhere, but I can’t keep stressing myself out because I’m “supposed to” go to things.

Love from us all,
Calliope

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