failing social studies

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i go out on a party, to look for a little fun
but i find a darkened corner, 'cause i still miss someone
--johnny cash

not that i've ever been much of a social butterfly, but d4mn do i get lonely now. tamara was my constant companion, and there was a lot of security in that. i'd pretty much forgetten what it used to be like, going places and feeling like i was completely alone all the time. now i find i'm all by myself with very few friends and even fewer social circles, and unfortunately i'm not much of a joiner (i'm sure that comes as a surprise to those of you who know me ;). i really would like to be able to get involved in some kind of xian circles, but there are a few problems: [1] i don't really like church culture, [2] as earlier mentioned, i'm not much of a joiner, [3] i don't take the initiative in social settings (which has always been true of me), and [4] i don't know of any i'd be excited about getting involved with.

i've been going to houston first baptist with jack and sue, and it's okay. they just recently started a sunday evening service, more "modern" and "hip" or whatever. but contemporary worship music is still worship music i don't like, even if it's got more drums and louder guitars and more energy. at least greg (the pastor) seems fairly intelligent and sometimes has some good stuff to say. sometimes i think i should try to get more involved somehow, and sometimes i think i should just give up and stop going.

still, i tend to think the problem isn't so much church as it is me. i'm not sure what it is i need or think i need, but i'm not finding it. if i took the initiative to meet some people, who knows what might happen? but instead i just wait for something to happen, and rarely does it. which means i'll go through the rest of my life jaded and lonely and wishing things were different, which is kind of stupid... but that's me i guess.

8 Comments

I think the mutual lack of social circles and the lack of wanting to participate in social circles is why you and I used to hang out. I've been a joiner at times, but that has most often been for the opportunity to participate in an activity than to meet or be with others.

I think I've mentioned this before, but if you want a church experience that is truly out of the ordinary, try an Orthodox church. It may turn out to not be your cup of tea (as with me), but IMO it was a truly interesting experience.

Living as a nomad, I have found upon occasion to be in a situation where I can't find a church that fits. I can relate to that.

I remain uncomfortable taking initiative in social situations as well. I certainly have no insight here.

at some points in college i had a decent amount of friends...or acquaintances, perhaps i should say. but i do think our shared interests and general willingness to be outsiders led to our hanging out.

i like to hang out and be with others, but as you described, for me it has generally been about doing something or participating in something or an interest. i have a hard time doing things just because i'm "networking" or "rubbing elbows" or "making an appearance" or whatever. i find purely social events with lots of people i don't know to be somewhat uncomfortable and generally boring. it's just not my way of thinking. i want to feel like there's something deeper and/or more meaningful going on.

tamara was getting interested in the orthodox churches, and she and i both spent some time reading about them and such. i got fairly interested in them too. we both talked about going, but we never did. maybe she eventually did, or does now, i don't know. she always wanted to go to churches that were so far away from where we lived. i hate driving very far for what in my mind should be a short trip (short being 10 to 15 minutes or less). now part of my problem is some societal fear of doing things by myself. i feel much more comfortable doing stuff if i'm with someone else. maybe one of these days i'll make it to one.

looking at the above, obviously some of my issues aren't the best for asking people on dates or meeting people who i might want to ask on dates. since that stuff tends to involve social interaction and going out on a limb by yourself. gee, i'm so glad i get to experience this all again. ;)

Jo and I have had some problems finding a good church in Seattle. You can read about it on past blog posts if you wish. We are at a decent place now where the music is not great and we don't have too much in common with most of the people there, but they seem to be doing things right, not popular but right. It is different going to a church where the "leadership" respects the opinion and viewpoints of the congregation. I'm pretty sure that if we had stayed in Houston, we would be without a church too. I can almost guarantee that I would have been booted out of Ecclesia or at the very least "asked not to be a deacon" because I definitely would have challenged the status quo. The people who have done so since we left have left the church. It would have been interesting (if not fun) though.

As for social interaction, I think we are about the same. We (Jo & I)almost have to be forced to meet people. We certainly aren't going to go out and do it on our own. I am learning that I enjoy the company of people I have very little in common with though. The stranger they are, the more interesting. They do need to have a little in common with me though, just so we don't kill each other.

Good luck finding a church or remaining at 1st.

that's cool you found some place there. especially if the leadership actually listens to and respects the church (i.e., the people of the church). obviously i had a horrible experience with the "leadership" of ecclesia, and sometimes it's hard not to feel like they're on some level faultable for the spiritual slump tamara went into. it hurt us both, but it really, *really* hurt her. although since i was supposed to be the spiritual head of our house, i certainly failed to get us in a church and working to get past what happened at ecclesia. so i'm not trying to wriggle out of responsibility that falls squarely on my shoulders.

because of the difference between my church/service style preferences and my cultural preferences, i seem to always be trying to decide between trying to find a church where i feel spiritually at home but have no meaningful fellowship/friendships with other people, or finding a place where i don't like the services and such so much but find meaningful fellowship/friendships with the people who go there.

i've always had a hard time getting over any initial phases of social interaction or whatever, but once i do then i think i am socially functional. that's why it's nice when i can rely on connections or someone else getting over that first hump.

all that stuff was much easier with tamara, because she was someone who (used to be) similar to me in that way. it's difficult being single again since i didn't have anything to fall back on after she left me -- all the parameters i had worked under because of my vows suddenly just vanished and were meaningless. i still pretty much feel like i'm trying to figure out what to do and how i can maybe still acheive the goals i had in my life.

Seeing as how the lack/fear of initiative/socializing/etc is a weakness, wouldn't you want to just confront it and work through it?

I hate the mall, big crowds, etc too, but I realize to get ahead, get support, etc that I'll have to do something I don't like to do. I think the church we're going to is good about saying to get involved to understand what's going on. Not saying that any church is perfect/etc, but they do encourage people to participate. Unfortunately they seem to need daycare/children assistance a lot which I'm not a big fan, but then they had a workday at the church where I got to hang out with a bunch of guys and we pressure washed the walkways, planted trees, etc. I figure that later I might need daycare help/assistance/etc and I'll go reduce my social distance and contribute(give) since I'll use(take) services later. I'll also have to go about "networking" if I'm to get a job when I graduate too, but then I might help someone else out too.

I think it's just one of those things that those that don't like social interactions just have to work through. Maybe working through social interacting in a church, work group, etc will help for one to interact in a relationship... ???

OR....

You could always be agnostic like me and not worry about finding any sort of a church at all. : )

And rather than approaching your social situation as some sort of intentional quest for finding people to hang with or date, you might consider trying something that I have had quite a bit of success (thanks to a suggestion from a very good friend of mine). I've found it helpful to take the focus off of people (potential friends, dates, etc...ALL people) and rather focus on activities and my own interests. I just sit down with only two criteria: 1. I have to think of something I am genuinely interested in, the more the better and 2. It has to be something that is outside of my home. Then I just find a way to get involved and somehow that always leads to all kinds of interaction with cool people. Cool people that can be friends or dates even!

Incidentally, that is how I met you Terry. Geek. I literally googled "houston geek" and it lead me right to you and your little gang of cohosts.
True story. And I am still hanging out with you freaks 19 months later.

I think that this can work for any level of relating to other humans - from acquaintances to serious life partners.
....I mean, I guess no one knows for sure, but it has really been helpful for me. It has gotten me out of *that place* that you seem to be in sometimes - when you just feel like everything is so hard and like all of the odds are stacked against you in being successful at any attempts you make to try to get things the way you want them in your life.

I've been there....well, I mean I've been to my own personal version of "there", anyway. Things are definitely better now. Although you never know, you could quite possibly be eternally doomed............
......... but I doubt it. : )

I always partially blamed the leadership too. It was hard to watch the slump even from my far removed vantage point. Part of the reason I kept going to the Dietrich's small group was that I thought it was the closest thing to church that she had and she needed it. I guess that is part of the reason I stayed at Ecclesia too. I hoped I could help to change things for the better just by being there. I hope I helped make a few people think at Ecclesia. I know of at least a few people who also challenged them also, and I hope it made an impact.

I understand the dilemma about choosing between spiritual meaningfulness and fellowship. I've always chosen the former myself. However, given the the current metachurch culture that emphasizes small groups within a church, there is the opportunity to do both: Attend worship services at a church where spiritual meaning can be found and attend a small group (which are always open to "seekers") at another church for the fellowship.

Having said that, you pretty much have to be invited to the small groups, while you can hunt down a church for worship on your own.

It's definitely easier to get involved with a church when you go with a friend, but I guess that I have gotten used to doing it on my own -- once again the result of nomadic life. I know that you and I tend to get different things out of worship -- my Christian existence demands it for the sacraments -- so I am sure my perspective is different.

I'm glad you are satisfying at least one of your two needs.

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