His name was Hank (not really), and he sat in the back.
Hank never sang and pretty much just sat there with his arms folded. He had had some particularly tough stuff to deal with, throughout the latter half of his adult life — some of it his own doing, and some of it, his “lot in life.” (Side note: it’s not easy to find an image of someone like Hank. No one wants to be photographed looking like he did, and no one representing a church wants to publicize photographs of such people, either.)
I had no use for Hank, really. He was a poor excuse for a “member” of the congregation, although he had been in a previous phase of life. (This may somewhat explain, although not excuse, my lack of sense of mission or ministry toward him.) He appeared to be disenfranchised, disenchanted, and deeply disgruntled. A barely religious bump on a somewhat more religious log, he didn’t participate, and he would have been a discouragement to anyone who noticed him during the assembly activities.
Thus ends the historical caption of Hank. And here begins the retrospective introspection.
I think I have more sympathy for you now. It must’ve been so difficult for you to be involved when you were in a sinkhole of negative events and feelings.
I still think you were dead wrong in your shallow, uneducated, un-spiritual rant that day — a day when a good brother got excited while reading publicly about Jesus’ resurrection. And I nearly went to you several times to let you know how you were such a regular discouragement to leaders who glanced toward your pew. The longer I live, though, the more I find some justification for some of your dejected, human withdrawal.
Why couldn’t you be inspired along with so many others? I have more sympathy now, because I know you were in spiritual and emotional pain.
Please seek to understand me, because I am afraid of becoming Hank. I have some “stuff,” too, and can justify the periodic resemblance between him and me, but I don’t really want to be like he was.
I may be wrong in my manner and approach. It may well be primarily my own fault that I am unable to find an ounce of inspiration and encouragement in many church things; I experience so much of it as pompous drivel or misconceived game-playing or bland, social clubby nothingness. My head knows there is a lot of good going on at the hands of church people at other times, and sometimes wish I could feel the inspiration you others seem to feel, but my heart often beats slowly, nearly flat-lining in disappointment and disillusionment, “in church.”
I think there are a lot of others out there like us. Please empathize with us, because the experiences of our lives make church stuff seem disconnected a lot of the time.