The Lester File

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jealous of My Church: Reflections on Guatemala

I sat alone on the 70th Anniversary of the foundation of my church in Dallas, Tx. It was an event honoring the growth and positive direction my fellow congregates had begun to adopt. My work in Guatemala is only one example of the vast amount of humanitarian aid my church is willing to send out into the worlds of great need. I went to support my Dad who was standing up in support of his fledgling ministry made up of the Latin community beginning to emerge and increase within the church membership. He is a pioneer and a sometimes unpopular reminder that things change. I am still in awe of his timeless innocence and his unassuming character that makes him almost universally approachable, likable, trustworthy. What better time to celebrate that sentiment than at a service meant to showcase the convergence of present, past and future, revisit founding principles, and apply those teachings to the present moment. I was so proud of my Dad sitting at his keyboard boldly performing the salsa praise music that was rarely heard in the large congregation hall, but that his small gymnasium following had come to call Sunday best. My heart swelled further as Pastor Miller, who I had met for the first time in Guatemala, reported on the ways in which my church was touching the lives of people in the farthest reaches of the globe: Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Peru, China. I knew of these endeavors, but as I listened their stories and his hopes for our continued patronage, a few strange feelings came over me.

I was jealous of my church. I wanted to be my church and do the work it was doing. I wondered how I had missed the boat. These were all locations (aside from Ethiopia) of which I had intimate knowledge. Where was my memo about all of this awesomeness? How do I get to be involved? Wasn't I already involved? I felt like I'd been passed over for a perfect position in favor of an institution. This was of course enormously irrational, but I am a 26 year old woman living at home once again. My tether is wearing thin.

I feel my life is meant to be spent in service, but my own church seems to swat at my attempts to give my time. Giving it away has been my usual practice, even now. I expect greatness from myself, but I cannot be sure that greatness expects anything from me.