Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stage fright

Sunday afternoon, the thyroid strikes, and I nap.
I wake up in a panic.
Congratulate me, I have a new anxiety dream.

I dreamed that I was in a play, Romeo and Juliet to be precise, and I had the lead role. Problem was, I had forgotten that the play was tonight and I hadn't learned my lines. I'm on stage, trying to figure out how I am going to wing Shakespeare, when I look down, and realize I also am not in costume. Everyone is watching! How did I not realize the play was tonight? Where is my pretty medieval Juliet costume? How can I get a cheat sheet for my lines?


As soon as I came out of my fog and realized that my Juliet disaster was only a dream (whew) I begin the analysis. I know enough about these kinds of dreams to know that they are provoked by real anxiety in my life. What is it this time? What subconscious insecurities are coming to the surface now?

Last week, for various reasons involving no drama whatsoever, Walker and I decided to return to the church we attended previously. We were members there when we married, but our trek to suburbia caused this church to be 27.53 miles away. Three years and three babies later, we joined another church, located a glorious 3.17 miles away.

Our "new church" was very different from the old church. But we really liked it. The preaching was wonderful, we loved our Sunday school class, and most of all, the members are friendly and unassuming. I confess that the snob in me would occasionally have thoughts run through my head like, "Would it kill you to slap a bow on that child's head?" or "Uh oh. White shoes in January." but I also liked the laid back aspect of it. While I love dolling up my kids on Sundays, it was nice to know that we could all show up as ragamuffins, and no-one would notice nor care.

The "old church" has many elements that we love and have missed. Namely, they take theology very seriously, and that sends my heart aflutter. The music is divine, and we especially missed the sacrament of communion that is offered weekly. But there is another aspect to our old church that I didn't miss. The church is, well, Where the Pretty People Go. The women are beautiful and slim and fashionable; the hundreds-dollar purses abound; the children are definitely be-bowed. One of my first thoughts when it was determined we were returning was, "Well, at least now my smocking will be appreciated." I do love choosing from my girls' closets of (second-hand) beautiful dresses. But there is an element of stress to this as well, and now I worry about what I'm wearing too. And, while no one at the church has ever been anything but kind to me, it's a little clique-y.

So, although part of me is very happy to be back, another part of me is in ninth grade again, and I just tried out for cheerleader, and I'm pretty sure I didn't make it.

It's time to perform, but I don't know the right lines to say, and I'm afraid I'm not wearing the right costume.

Today after church, Shep, Eva Rose, Maggie and I attended a birthday party for one of the children in our neighborhood. All of the moms there are my friends. All of them are marginally involved in a church, at best. While I love them, our friendships can only get (hold your hands about twelve inches away from each other) this close. The most important thing in my life, my faith, they just don't understand. We drive by different compasses. When I am with them, I constantly feel like I have one foot in the world, and one foot in heaven, and I frequently lose my balance.

So today when one of them mentions that she went to see Kathy Griffin last night, I am struck dumb. I think, Kathy Griffin is the most crass, vulgar, offensive comedienne today. I can't watch her on TV for five minutes, much less pay money to see her. The fact that you did just illustrates how different we are, how different I am from everyone in this room: I'm the weird Christian chick.

On the drive home, I think, Wow, how judgmental can I be? I didn't even ask her if she had a good time.

Where do I fit in? On the one hand, I am the Christian girl who is becoming more and more bold about her faith. Then I am reminded of the times I have "sunk" with them, and shared in some gossip, or drank a glass too much wine at bunko. So much for being Christ's ambassador. There goes my fantasy of leading a neighborhood bible study, shot to hell. (Pun intended.)

It's time to perform, but I don't know the right lines to say, and I'm afraid I'm not wearing the right costume.

I'm insecure around believers. I'm insecure around non-believers. I'm almost forty years old, I'm the mother of four, and I am still so flat out insecure it gives me nightmares.

I lie in bed and wonder with whom I can discuss this epiphany. Walker won't get it, it's a girl thing. Should I call Carol, in whom I can confide anything? Or should I call Jenny, or Lisa, who both know the old church very well, who'll totally understand why returning there makes me anxious?

Then the Holy Spirit, my comforter, literally sings this to me:

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

I guess he's saying I should call upon the Lord.

Father, I thank you for the blessing of having two wonderful churches to choose from. I thank you for the opportunity to have friends from both worlds. I thank you most of all for the fact that I am your child, and therefore, have no reason to be insecure about anything. Forgive me for being anxious. Forgive me for my pride that leads to my insecurity. You have placed me in whatever church we are in, you have placed me in this neighborhood. Every single one of my relationships has been divinely orchestrated by you for my sanctification and for your glory. Show me how to be bold without being judgmental, how to be in the world but not of the world. Teach me to focus on others instead of myself! Guard my mind and my heart in Christ Jesus and give me peace.

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