We showed up at your churches on fire for God, some of us anyway. We may have even announced our entrance into your families with bold phrases liked “called here” or ”led by God.” That fire in our belly melted away all boundaries, if we even had any to begin with, and we were your go to girls and guys. Your guaranteed yeses. In the classroom of your sanctuaries we sat in the front with our hands raised and flailing. You need something done? PICK US! PLEASE! WE WILL DO IT!
Maybe we wanted to prove ourselves. Maybe we thought it would make God love us more. Maybe we wanted to do something BIG for the LORD like we were promised at those not so distant teen rallies where we wept in the arms of our best friend in Christ. Maybe we just never learned to say no to the church. Maybe we never wanted to before.
But now? Now we are leaving , leaving the church we were once on fire for. Leaving the place we call home. And as we walk out the front door we are called whiny, entitled, self absorbed. And I don’t know, maybe we are. But maybe, like the baby boomers quietly leaving out the back, we are tired. Maybe we are just so tired. We have grown from the barely out of our teens eager selves into mothers and fathers with very small children, working parents (even if we didn’t plan it that way) we are stretched too thin at work. We are constantly needed at home. We are tired when we get to you, every week. We are tired before we get there, and the last thing we need is someone or something else that needs us.
At one point it may have excited us, the new program, the fresh sign up sheet, and maybe it isn’t your fault we changed. But we have, and it seems to be at least partially your problem. We don’t need another program, certainly not one that you are going to ask us to be a part of. We don’t need another night of the week where we are not around our own dinner tables. We don’t need another book to scribble answers in in the car on the way to bible study because we don’t want to be the only one with blank pages. What we need is to go to bed early, or the babysitter for a date night.
We need to rest, need to breathe, need to once be the one with the needs. We need there to be room for that. Need there to be someone to say it is okay to be the one who needs in this season,.
We have been volunteering n the church setting since we were the only first grader able to memorize Mary’s lines. We graduated to Jr. Deacon passing the plates around the congregation, to nursery duty and vbs assistant. We have taught Sunday school and brought casseroles, sung in the choir and written prose. We have picked up people, and trash and canned goods for shelters. And though we are accused of it, we are not complaining about any of that service. We found Jesus in the grind, volunteered for all of that after all. We did so willingly. But when are we allowed to be tired? When does someone pick us up? I wonder if we are leaving the church because what we need is to put on yoga pants and have some tea and really see each other. We need to spill the tangled mess of our harried lives to each other and just cry together. Instead, what we are being offered is more programming that someone has to run. Maybe us.
Maybe, in the heat of the on fire for God that was our teenage years, our boundaries about volunteering for the church melted all away, and the church doesn’t know how to stop asking, only how to use us until we are all used up. Maybe we are leaving to protect our families and fight for our marriages that the church taught us to hold so sacred in the first place. Maybe we are leaving because we are tired. Maybe we need to have needs.