The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Lost

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Gentle Reader,

It’s #fmfparty time! Linking up with Lisa-Jo and all the fabulous bloggers. This week we are: lost.

Go. 

I like to joke that I’ve failed at every formal church ministry that I’ve ever been part of. I’ve led Bible study groups, headed up a library project, hosted book discussion groups, taught Sunday School, helped with Wednesday night kid’s classes and even had a board position for a (very) brief period of time. The groups fizzled out, the library never got anywhere, the book group lasted about 4 months, the Sunday School job was never more than fill-in, I recently had to step aside from Wednesday nights and, yeah, boards are NOT for me.

I try to keep it lighthearted. I try to remember that there are seasons and times.

But behind the joking, there is frustration.

The truth is, I feel lost.

Belonging is a real soul craving. Every one of us feels it. This need is one of the reasons that God instituted the Church. We need community. We need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We need to contribute. We need a role and we need to fulfill that role.

Purpose, really, is what we’re after.

And when you don’t know what your contribution is supposed to be…

It’s not spiritual gifts. I know I’m a teacher, because I will absolutely tell anyone and everyone what I’ve been learning if given the chance. I also know that I’m an exhorter (Chris refers to this as bluntness, but whatever). Basically, I love the God’s truth and want to know all about it so I can tell other people. Pretty straightforward.

It’s how this is supposed to work out that gets me. How are these gifts to be used in His Body when my body keeps me at home so often? When I can’t promise that I’ll be at every class, every meeting? Should I even try anything when there’s a very real possibility that I’ll have to bow out?

I’m going over the five-minute limit here, but there are some deep questions that chronically ill people wrestle with. The Church hasn’t done a very good job in helping to answer those questions. It seems that if you’re not able to be on 6 committees and attend 3 services per Sunday, plus mid-week classes, don’t bother. If you’re in a wheelchair, don’t bother. If you’ve got cancer, don’t bother.

I don’t think that this attitude is intentional. I’m sure that many assume that ill people simply can’t or don’t want to be involved. And there are definitely limitations when you’re sick. But being sick sucks. It’s boring. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I get tired of myself. I want to be part of something and get my mind off of my belly-button. I want to be asked. To be included.

That’s all anyone wants.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

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41 thoughts on “The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Lost

  1. I think in five minutes (or a bit more) you were able to eloquently explain the same struggle I face every day as a chronically ill person. We want to do things. I want to help. I want to teach, but I get sick, a lot. This is every day and impacts every aspect of my life. It is my sincerest hope that you find that niche you seek, and I have no doubt that the God you are constantly introducing me to had big plans for you.

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    1. I am so sorry that you have to deal with this, dear Crystal. It’s a big, fat, pain in the butt. It’s isolating, too. If I could take it away from you, I would.

      The interesting thing for me about being ill is that it’s brought me closer to God. Odd, I know, but true. I have to depend on Him for the sanity and strength to get out of bed every morning. I firmly believe that He has good plans for me and that this will all click together. It’s the waiting that’s hard. Again, odd. But I am learning that God works in odd ways. 🙂

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  2. I know that longing to belong. Honestly for awhile I longed so much to belong that I got very people focused and it took walking away from the church for a time. I am not proud of it….but during that time where it was only God and I, I learned a lot. I was able to dig deeper into His word, without needing to meet what others expect. It helped me when I returned to the same church to stand on my own knowing that I only need to listen to Him. What changed was really my perspective alone, I became committed to following Him and not being distracted by people. What this did, was it freed me to enjoy the community that was there, without getting so caught in people pleasing. I find that as I find who I am in Christ, I am more able to simply be and I belong more now than I ever have.

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    1. ” I find that as I find who I am in Christ, I am more able to simply be and I belong more now than I ever have.”

      This is beautiful, Deanna, and something that is going to have me thinking for awhile.

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  3. Ah friend – I can’t wait to see what all God has planned for you when the time is right. Your words and your love for Him will change lives {and frankly, your whole first paragraph resulted in a whole lot of “me, too!” moments. Boards. Yikes.}. Praying God will shed a little light on the where & how of it all for you to replace “lost” with “found.”

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    1. Welcome, Courtney! I pray that God clearly reveals to you the way in which He wants you to be sharing right now. Until then, keep loving Him and sharing Him!

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  4. Marie, I can relate to what you posted. Even people who are not chronically ill feel exactly as you described! It reminds me of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman: “Every little thing you do, do to the glory of the One who made you. Cuz He made you TO DO every little thing to the glory of His name, it brings a smile to His face”. Another line reminds us “little stuff, big stuff, in between stuff – God sees it all the same”. You are a blessing to Him just by being willing to do what you can, when you can! He doesn’t ask or expect any more than that! Love you!

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  5. stopping by from FMF.
    Just a thought, would it be possible for you to co-lead / co-teach something with another person? Someone who could step in when you are unable to be there, but could get together with you to prepare together? That way you could be involved in sharing your gifts, but the others involved would have stability and consistency, too.
    Anyway, I hope you find a way to share your gifts!

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    1. That thought did cross my mind, but it’s not something I’ve actually pursued yet. I know that I’m supposed to be resting right now, even though it’s frustrating. Thank you for your suggestion!

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  6. I feel like you all too often, why even begin if there’s a chance of not finishing? I just finished a post about that very same thing earlier this evening…. haven’t posted my FMF post yet, but glad I stopped by yours to see that I’m not alone!

    Be blessed

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    1. You are definitely not alone, Boni. I completely understand your frustration. Let’s cling to Jesus. Wrap our selves around His chest as He carries us close to His heart.

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  7. I am sorry you struggle with illness. I know that God has huge plans for your life. I am on staff at a church, and I would agree that the church needs to better at including those who are struggling in their bodies. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. Have a blessed weekend.

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  8. Now I just don’t ‘even know what to say…you’ve taken my words away with this refreshingly honest post.

    I don’t tell a whole lot of people about my chronic illness. If I wear something to cover up the leg braces, it can go unnoticed by most people. But it hinders me, and zaps my strength and willpower somedays. Sometimes it’s more in my head than in my body too. I try to hide it away and explain my weakness and lack of stamina away, using other excuses. Because I hate the look in people’s eyes, or the endless questions. Or the “Oh, okay….well, how about the weather?” D This whole “chronic illness” thing is a new thing to me, and I’m still trying to navigate the waters here.

    Also…hehe bluntness. 🙂 That just makes me smile. Exhorter sounds fancier, but I certainly like the bluntness of bluntness!

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    1. I didn’t know that you struggled, too, Jen. That stinks. I completely get the lack of stamina and strength. I’m not sure what it is that you’re dealing with, but I pray that God sends you an explicit reminder of His love today!

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  9. You keep looking for institutional ways to serve the body but the fact remains, the body of Christ is more than what happens inside the walls of a church. Who’s to say that if you talk with some individual about Jesus that it doesn’t make a difference in that person’s life, and for that moment, you are serving in your “ministry.”

    Just because the Pastor or a Sunday school teacher has a well defined role that they act out at specific times or days doesn’t mean it’s that way for each of us. Truth be told, our ministry is to do whatever God wants with our every waking moment. That could be with our spouses, with our children, with our neighbors, with the cashier at the supermarket, with another person we speak with in the waiting room of our doctor’s office, anyone, anywhere, anytime could be an opportunity to teach or to witness about Christ, sometimes just by being the person God made us to be and by doing His will.

    You, I, and probably most believers will never realize how we’ve changed the world for good or for bad until Messiah returns and we stand in judgment.

    Relax. Chances are, you’re doing what God wants you to do, even when it doesn’t seem “formal.”

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    1. Thank you, James. As I’ve been wrestling with this for the last month or so, I have noticed that God tends to “take away” or only allow for a short season anything that isn’t centered on writing and prayer. So maybe a “within the walls” type of serving really isn’t where He wants me.

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  10. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this… while I don’t have a chronic illness, I too have struggled from time to time in finding a place of belonging, where I can use the gifts He has given me and be a part of Community. I know the frustration and loneliness… the questions and doubts that it can stir up. In face, I have a friend who just the other day was saying these same things… she has fibro and has been out of work and trying to find a job part time… as well as trying to connect in her church but is limited to what she can commit to – not out of lack of commitment, but out of the not knowing from day to day how she will feel. I pray for her… and you… and I pray for the Body to begin to see this issue more clearly and make ways… make room… we are missing out on your gifts!

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  11. I’m struggling to find the words to express how wonderful your words are. You know those moments when someone speaks your truth and you realize you aren’t alone or that your heart is understood? That’s how your post made me feel. I’ve struggled with my health for so many years and I feel like I’ve lost so much in the process. Yet, each day I get up and I continue to try, but those efforts aren’t always met with success and then I’m left wondering why I bothered when it cost me so much physically. I’m so thrilled I found your blog through #FMF. Hugs!

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    1. Welcome, dear Heidi! I’m so sorry to know that you’ve had to have illness in your life. It’s awful. I do genuinely believe that God has good plans for you and for me, though! Praying that you see His goodness today!

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  12. Stopping by to send some FMF love! Awesome post, and so true, even for those who don’t necessarily struggle with health issues. The pressure of feeling like you have to be on every committee, attend every service, etc. is very taxing. Especially when you belong to a small church. I pray God’s best for you, and I pray you are able to overcome your health issues. You are a gifted writer and even though you may feel contained in your home, you are still doing God’s work and reaching His people through your testimony. God bless!

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  13. Marie, how I enjoyed reading this. Not because I am in any way smiling at the circumstances but because, as a Pastor’s wife, it is a reminder to keep in mind as we so often try to get people involved and on our end feel frustrated when people fail to commit. Sometimes, as leaders, we forget to see the individual, to stop and care for them and not simply see them a means of volunteerism. Thank you for sharing and for the challenge you gave me today. (visiting from FMF)

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    1. Oh, I absolutely hear you that it’s hard to get people to commit to things. That’s part of what is so deeply frustrating about being ill. I would love to commit to something! Anything! At the same time, as I’ve thought about this today, I think that I underestimate the power of pitching in where I can, when I can.

      I must confess that I actually get angry with people who are able to help and don’t. We are part of a small church and it happens all the time.

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  14. So glad to be linked up to you this week, girl! Thank you for writing so honest and real – letting *us* get lost in *your* story. I am hoping there will soon be clarity and a sense of being found – but am also hopeful that this very space we’re writing in will be a place of ministry.

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  15. Thank you for sharing this post. I just stumbled across it from following rabbit tracks from a Pinterest link. 🙂 I too have been struggling with health issues for years and had to retire from nursing in my 30’s due to it. One thing I have realized was that it gave me more time with my family in their growing up years and also it has really caused me to remember my very existence is maintained by God. One of the phases I put on my Bible Study bag is “Sustaining Grace”. Only those close to me may ever realize how much I cling to that hope. I too have been longing to lead out in Bible Study group but I have not done it yet because I am not sure that I can physically handle it. There are days that I am at my study group that I struggle just to be there due to pain and it would be difficult to lead effectively on those days but it means so much to me that I would love to share that experience with others. I pray that God will continue to lead in all of our lives (yours and the other responders) as we seek to honor Him with our whole hearts, minds and bodies. God bless.

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    1. Thank you, Peggy. I have a feeling that you lead others just by being in that Bible study group. Your input and encouragement is invaluable to all who attend. As you rightly led us to back to, let us fix our eyes on Jesus!

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  16. I have PTSD and with that i have really bad social anxieties, so in a way I understand what you mean with chronic illness… depression and all of that really stacks up and shows in new ways everyday and leaves me lonely a LOT. Fortunately I have formed very close relationships with a couple of people on the computer through chatting, sure its not the same thing but its as close to real as it can be and I love those people because I am able to put so much time into bonding and forming a relationship. While you are in this in-between phase with your church perhaps you could speak with the pastor, or find a new church home that is more accomodating, and see if they would be willing to have skype in bible studies or board meetings. I am not sure what your limitations are but perhaps you could help with Sunday school by researching curriculum, getting things ready and making both skype appearances and real life appearances when you are able. If the church has a lot of things that you would like to be a part of but can’t commit to because of your schedule changing maybe you can be granted access to the church with the key and alarm code and you can ask the people in each department what needs done on the days you are able to contribute on site. I realize that doesn’t necessarily help you have community but it could help you get out when you are able and do something for something you are passionate about.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with us, it is hard to expose ourselves like this each week and this one was a hard one for a lot of people. I am praying for you so that you can feel like you have a place, because you are most certainly loved and needed in our FMF Family 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Marisa. That was truly kind of you. I’m so, so sorry that you’ve got PTSD. I’ve not dealt with that, but I have battled depression and anxiety so I know how difficult things can be. I pray that the Lord will guide you in healing, whether through therapy or some other means.

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  17. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I think it’s easy for those of us who organize ministries to do so in a way that the majority can participate, without pausing to think of how others may feel left out. We, the Body, need you and others who are lost to speak into our efforts because I truly believe that everyone has a place at the table. I’m praying you will find the right person and place to do so. Blessings!

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  18. Wow Marie…this is your ministry…this is how you educate…this is your purpose..THIS is how you are “involved”. This is your “committee.” I just went to church tonight reading this. Psh…”failed?” I have no idea what you are talking about when you say this. I read your powerful messages full of raw emotion, and I am in awe.
    Melita

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