Reflections on how I learn to live life with faith.
This post is based on an upcoming event about a group BBQ that I saw on my Facebook wall, that I am not invited into. That FB event probably triggered this post, however this is not the first time. The first time an event like this bothered me was when there was a home-based bible study with the group that I belong to, and the new person who “took over” me sent a message to everyone in the group except for me.
I was not texted on purpose as if I was not that person’s friend or a part of that group that this person took over. Another was that there was an all-female “fellowship” on a Tuesday, and everyone within my friends except from me was invited. Then comes the continuous ignoring of whatever I post even devotional ones from the hardcore members of that church. #WhatAnOutcast #SocialisolationMuch #YepIGotTheMessage
Ever since I left an old church for a new one, I have also left all the responsibilities that I used to serve in. At the same time, I cut myself away from anything related to planning or organising for any activities or event-related to that church, nor the ministries connected to it. Because I wanted a change in my spiritual journey, and I felt like I was suffocating on the old church. I’m not putting a bad image on that church, this is just my personal reason and experience as to why I left that church. We all know that no church is perfect, but every church is a bride of Christ, whom Jesus laid His life into.
I left alright, but I’ve made some friends, my siblings are still active there, plus, I’ve got old friends who are still there. So basically, in my opinion, leaving the church and attending a different church does not equate to cutting personal or friendship ties nor communication with others. I was reading the bible (Matthew 18:17) and I saw something about the church cutting fellowship with a member of the church and I thought to myself… hmm… could that be the reason why? The church did not disown me, I left the church. At the same time, I was not an official member of the church in the first place.
Being a science major, I tried a little experiment to see if my hypothesis, Are all the hardcore members ignoring me on purpose,is correct. My null hypothesis is that I’m just being paranoid. The method goes like this: I will post my devotion and compare the number of likes of that mini devotion to the mini devotion posted by a hardcore member of that church on instagram. And if the fellow hardcore member (not just one, but two members to make the post valid to score on my experiment) of the church will like that post and will ignore my devotion, then… hmm.. there you go, my friend. I did that experiment for a months. And yes, my theory was correct.
Then I went on to continuously reflect… The hardcores always accuses me and my friends to be exclusive. And to be really frank, we’re just a group of people who likes the company of each other. A group where we’re comfortable to be ourselves, and not being bible-bashed nor not being made to feel that someone just hangs with us because they are fishing for some information.
The reason why there were some people we did not have any connection with were not invited to any of our catchup, is just simply because — we have no connection or nothing in common for any of us to be comfortable with them. That “exclusive group” is not perfect… but what keeps the bond strong is because of genuine honesty. Plus, I also spend time with other people outside that ministry’s circle and the young ones — they probably just never saw that.
Then enough of my continuous criticism around my surroundings…. I reflected on this inwardly as well. I prayed and asked God, “Should I even be concerned? If the people I used to serve Your ministry with, are not welcoming me…. even when they were unemployed or bored, I opened the doors of our house to them. I offered an open-life – no secrets, no lies. Then this is how they will treat me, a dispensable person.” I guess being Filipino, we always honour the term “utang na loob” or in english, “debt of gratitude”.
Until BOOM! It hit me…. Why am I bothered by some events or some social media likes from these people… will that improve my relationship with God? NO.
I asked myself, “Am I turning into an approval addict?” An approval addict is someone who seeks to gain approval and avoids rejection. Why was I so concerned over events that I purposely was not invited to, particularly if it will not really help my growth in my faith? Should I be bothered for missing out or for not being included in any of the photos that I will see on social media?
Sometimes you know, it’s nice and courteous to be invited. Although early last year, I realised that I was hyped on always socialising or “fellowshipping” or endless meeting attendance or bible studies with others that my parents barely saw me. The time that I have spent with other people were also precious moments spent away from my parents. Yes, it’s fun to socialise or “fellowship” but, on days when I barely see my parents like on a Sunday where it is a family day — then, it is not actually that bad to not be invited. Sunday is a family day — that’s my time with my family, my parents, my first ministry.
I realised that as I grow old, my parents are also getting old… a time will come when I will have to move out of our family home, and will not get the pleasure of seeing and spending time with them as much as what I have the chance of doing so now. Our lives are short — like a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). And my attendance on events that will only take my time away from my parents, are wasted opportunities for me to spend on what should be my first ministry.
I remember a time when during camp, someone asked other people to drive for their parents but was more than willing to drive for other people. Like REALLY? Let’s try and look at a different perspective sometimes. Our parents are already old, and pretty soon our parents’ independence and ability will decrease and they will become more and more fragile… Working in a hospital and seeing a lot of elders hanging on to their lives without families to even visit them — it’s heartbreaking to see, and I don’t want my parents to ever feel or experience that kind of rejection.
Perhaps my bad for being paranoid. Perhaps my null hypothesis is also correct, and my hypothesis was invalid. At the end of the day, what will matter most is not the approval of man, nor the number of events that I have been invited to or attended…. No. God sees what no man sees. As per Proverbs (23:8) – Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw. And for what it’s worth, God has better plans — since cutting ties off with ministry service, I am more present than ever at home, enjoying the company of my parents, of my family, of my first ministry.
Anyway, no hard feelings. I just happened to notice the same consistency from the same people since I left and went to a different church. And this happened to be my learning and reflection from that experience. Whatever it is and was that bothered me, are ways of the devil from being critical of my fellow servants. At the end of the day, we’re all servants. We’re all serving the same God. We’re all servants in our own different way. And we’re all serving with the same purpose.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! …- Proverbs 3:5-12