I often read, and sometimes comment, on other blogs. In one recent discussion I expressed my troubles with attending church meetings due to MCS and the loss I felt. Another person commented that perhaps I was expecting church meetings (and the people at church) to fulfill too many of my needs. Perhaps my expectations were setting me up for disappointment.
I have thought about this over the past couple of weeks and have come to the conclusion that, indeed, I have expected way too much of my church community.
Before we moved to Montana, I was very involved in volunteer activities at the schools and in the community at large. I also worked part time at a retail book store and had many friends and acquaintances outside of the church setting. I went to church on Sunday and felt that my physical and spiritual needs were met, but I didn't rely on the church community to fulfill all of my needs, particularly my social and intellectual needs.
When we moved here seven years ago, our children were all adults and we worked out of our home, so I really had no place but church to meet and interact with other people. At first, as I was making new friends, this was quite sufficient. But, as time went on, I felt starved for a stirring literary discussion or someone with whom to share my political views. When I couldn't get these needs fulfilled at church, I became frustrated. Then, on top of that, I started having serious problems with chemical sensitivities at church. When people weren't willing to change their habits to accommodate my needs, I felt rejected and unloved.
The truth is not that people don't care, but that they don't really know how to meet my needs, and they can't possibly meet all my expectations. Truly, my expectations were just too great for the available resources.
This past Sunday, I was able to go to church in one of the other buildings in our area. I went expecting nothing, except to enjoy being with some of my family. There were no great stimulating conversations, and I couldn't tell you what the talks were about (I was holding a one-year-old on my lap through the service). I didn't make any new friends or have any great new spiritual experiences. However, I did enjoy being around other people and it felt good to do something on Sunday other than sit at home and read a book (my usual Sabbath activity). It isn't easy to lower one's expectations, but it does result in less frustration and anger.