Things that kinda suck

Last week was a our VBS at the Church.  It was an awesome experience, as it always is.  Our VBS isn’t a typical “make some arts and crafts” VBS, we do a sports skills camp.  Each day we focus on one sport; basketball Mondays, volleyball Tuesdays, flag football Wednesdays, etc.  Which makes our church the place to be every summer.  And we offer it for $10 a kid FOR THE WEEK!  Gives us $10, drop off your kid, go have lunch with your girlfriends, return to find your kids have run all the energy out them just in time for an afternoon nap.

You’re welcome mommies.

But we also have the typical singing songs, memory verses, and of course Bible stories in skit format.  That has always been my favorite part.  I round up a few youth group members, especially the Jr. High students who were most recently participants of VBS themselves.  We tell the Bible stories through horrific acting, forgetting lines, and plenty of slap stick comedy. I usually play the bad guy, a bumbling Goliath, an idiot Pharisee, the self-righteous priest in the Good Samaritan story.  I over-act as much as possible.  I get as ridiculous as possible.  And the kids love it.  Every year the kids love it.

Joshua and middle child have a blast too.  I was watching them all last week.  Playing with all their friends in a friendly, not-too-competitive environment.  Jumping up and down, singing songs, grinning ear to ear, laughing at daddy be a crazy bad guy.  Princess seemed confused as mommy held her in the back of room.  She certainly wanted to play volleyball, but you can imagine this little toddler trying to catch a volley ball in mid air.  Hilarious.  But all the kids seemed to actually want her to play with them.

And our church pulls together for this.  We got old people filling water bottles and making snacks.  We’ve got people with no kids help families with registering.  We’ve got teenagers coaching kids on how to dribble a basketball.  We even get a few dads to take vacation to oversee things.

It’s sooo much fun.  It’s sooo successful.  And this is probably the last year I’ll be doing this.  That sucks.  My kids probably won’t have this type of experience again, and they certainly won’t have daddy running it all.  I kept thinking all last week about how much I’m going to miss my church.

I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer miss God (most of the time) but yeah, I’m going to miss everything about this church.  I’m going to miss occasionally playing piano while laughing at the drummer’s stupid puns.  I’m going to miss watching my kids on the church lawn run around with kids of all different ages.  I’m going to miss drinking bad coffee with people I only see once a week, but I enjoy seeing them at least once a week.  And to think that all of this was my “job”.

Side note: No, there are no U/U churches in my area

I was also thinking about the musical experience.  The only instrument I knew before I went to church was the piano. I have since learned guitar, bass, and drums.  As for the drums, that is an instrument I have exclusively played in a church setting.  I have never played the drums anywhere other than church.  Which made me think; wow, I was really banking on church for my kids musical education and experience.

My kids love church.  It is often the highlight of their week.  An excellent opportunity for socialization.  A chance to run around and be kids.  And we’re leaving that.  That just really makes me sad.

Sorry for the errors.  I didn’t get a chance to edit.

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12 thoughts on “Things that kinda suck

  1. I used to go to VBS when I was a pre-teen. It was the chance to feel superior to all the Catholic kids in the area. WE REAL CHRISTIANS were doing something important. (yeah I didn’t get out much) I found that the groups were mostly cliques and I discovered that I was not popular and was an outsider. Our church was mainly old people, very few children. I did like the games we played.

    You might want to check out the secular camps we offer. https://campquest.org/

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  2. Can’t your wife and kids attend these events anyway? For that matter, couldn’t you? Once you are not the pastor anymore, this is a free country. If I had a group of friends that had fun activities for me, my family, etc. and the price I had to pay was to mingle with a bunch of Christians, I wouldn’t mind (as long as I don’t get the usual “going to hell” rhetoric or the cold shoulder).

    As far as a UU church not being in your area, why not talk to the national UU organization and start a dialogue? It would be a job and it would give you the chance to start your own congregation without a lot of Jesus all over. Unless the gardener’s name happens to be Jesus.

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    • I tried that approach for a while with my own family. I found myself getting frustrated and bitter in the process. I think it is different if you are not in control of the message that is being presented to your kids. In my case it is probably exacerbated by the fact that anytime I went my wife and other people who knew always thought “this might be the day when he starts believing again.” I definitely miss the social aspects still, it just takes time to build new social networks…especially as a family.

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      • I see that can be a big issue. It’s a shame.
        I doubt you or the good pastor would approach each event as “let’s see how many people I can deconvert and send to hell today”.
        Maybe instead of just attending the events and hope for the best, one could try to reason with the congregation. Tell them how much he loves them and their company. How much they treasure their friendships and how much his conversion back to christianity is NOT going to happen because of it. If it happens will be for things completely outside of the weekly pic nic.

        Of course, I realize this is a low percentage approach.

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  3. As a child, I went to church Sunday morn, Sunday evenning, and Wednesday nights. It was the center of our social life. Everyone was great! I always thought that church was an opportunity to interface with people from all walks of life. Too bad that the glue was magical thinking and loyalty to an imaginary advocate. Maybe we need other excuses to get together with strangers and accept them for being themselves. What a concept!

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  4. Take your vacation and volunteer at an overnight camp you send your kids to. Yes, there are secular camps who do corny things like horrible acting, dressing in makeshift costumes and telling horrible puns. I miss camp as a counselor.

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  5. Hey J,
    I guess this is just one of those many moments of realisation that you have been going through and will continue to experience for a little longer as you break away from your old life and move into the new phase of your non-church based life. You suddenly realise that there are so many ties that bound you to this old life, some obvious, others not so obvious and it’s going to hurt when you find yourself breaking off some of those ties. Some more than others. But the best way to deal with those losses and broken connections is by creating new connections. By not allowing you and your family to feel as though your lives are somehow less enjoyable or involved as a result of your leaving the church.

    I know that others have suggested that you try and start some kind of U/U church or group in your area, but I’m not sure that you want to be trying to take on something like that right now. You’ve got to concentrate on finding work, working on your marriage and working through it all yourself. You don’t want to be spreading yourself too thinly at a time when you need to be focused on the important stuff.

    What do the kids/families of non-believers do during the holidays in your area? Or if it’s a pretty religious place that you live in; what are the secular activities and organisations (not necessarily non-religious, but irreligious, if you know what I mean?) that are available during holiday time? Sports related clubs? Youth groups? Is there anything that the schools themselves offer? Is there a library or museum that offers anything for kids during the holidays? Maybe you can attend some things with your kids, offer to be a chaperone for some of them. But maybe you can use some of the time the kids spend at other places, to hang out with your wife. Go on days out someplace.

    I don’t know what it’s like where you live or how church-centric everyone’s lives are, so maybe I’m being naive in assuming that there are non-church related activities available in your area. But I’m sure you’re not the only atheist parent in town! Chances are, there’s more stuff out there, you just haven’t ever had to consider them or look into them before, because you’ve had all the church related work and activities to keep you busy. It’ll take a bit of hunting about, trying to find out the other things you all can do, but you already know a couple of other atheists who might be able to help point you in the right direction. I don’t have kids, so I’m not used to having to hunt out this sort of stuff – I’m exactly the opposite! I look for places that specifically DON’T accommodate kids, lol! But that’s just my preference.

    Seriously though, I know you’re feeling sad right now. Everything feels like a bunch of potential losses and break-ups. But you just have to get proactive in looking for ways to replace those old activities and look forward to all the good times you and your family are going to have in future. It is going to get better. But in the meantime, it’s okay to be sad. it’s okay to be angry and it’s perfectly natural for you to be feeling a sense of loss and wonder if you’re doing the right thing.

    You’re only human, honey!

    Take care, much love

    Bex

    x

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  6. That does suck! It’s hard to let go of the good stuff. I still miss four-part harmony singing (Church of Christ), hanging out with some good people, even occasionally hearing an inspiring talk. Part of moving forward is grieving, acknowledging your losses and what you will miss most. As I think I’ve mentioned here before, when I began the process of deconversion I remember writing in my journal “I still love God; I just don’t believe in him anymore”. Makes no sense, but there you go.

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