My dear friend Barbara Cornell used to say that everyone has baggage but what happens at church is that people bring their baggage...and they unpack.
Our spirit so close to emotion tied up in identity makes for a place ripe for rough edges and conflict.
I am wildly fortunate to serve a church who knows this deeply. I spent Saturday at a Committee on Ministry workshop focused on conflict.
The first amazing thing about that is that they thought to invite me. Of course the Religious Educator should be invited, but I am sure many folks wouldn't even think of it. The next amazing thing is that our Committee on Ministry has evolved into a Compassionate Communication Committee, thanks to the inspiration and guidance of that same Barbara Cornell who was our student minister last year, and they understand deeply that conflict is good and can be healing and help us grow. One more amazing thing? There were eight of us from our congregation there. I think even more folks than the hosting church.
Church life is messy. Sometimes things that are said to me hurt me deeply, they make me cry. Sometimes I feel used and abused and like the maid and butler rolled into one; taken for granted, dismissed. Sometimes I think if I have to clean that multipurpose room one more time I will scream. But I know that this is just part of the deal. This is part of being in a mature, healthy, loving church and serving them. It's kind of like my 20 year-old marriage, it has it's trouble, but it's sacred light brings me deep contentment. Sometimes I am the oaf crashing through and causing trouble, and sometimes I'm the firefly, light and happy.
We value each other. We are committed to forgive and to begin again in love. They are simply amazing people.
I feel deeply blessed to serve a congregation who holds board meetings with cupcakes. And laughter. And love.