Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm a church mom reject...

I think I have probably whined about this before on here, and if I have I do apologize. I'm having a weird experience at my church that I'm struggling with.

It all started last year, when a group of us younger Moms (I'm 37, but in my church anything under 60 is considered young) decided to join in on the Wednesday craft days by making cards for our annual craft fair.

I'm not tooting my own horn, but it was actually my idea, suggested to another Mom who I knew was a scrapbooker and crafty, because I thought it would be a great way to use our scrapbooking "scraps" and tools for a good cause.

Well, the whole experience left a really bad taste in my mouth, unfortunately. As it turns out, another younger Mom was already supposedly in charge of the craft stuff (although my mother-in-law who attends every week had never seen the younger ladies there working at all). So she somewhat took over midway for our efforts, but not in the way that was helpful.

Honestly, I could care less about coordinating another thing in my life, so I was fine with this. I already coordinate our children's liturgy, am the webmaster for the church website, and am on the communications committee. However, she suggested that I bring some things and maybe bring some examples to show everyone the type of things we could create, because she knew I was very into scrapbooking.

In the end, things started becoming a huge burden on me, and no one else. People would come with barely any tools and want to use all of my paper, glue, supplies. I had planned to not be reimbursed as a donation to the church, but it was getting out of hand. A few of the ladies were actually demanding that I bring examples for them to copy, instead of everyone finding examples in magazines and bringing their own things.

Then, the coordinator lady suggested that I might not bring as much stuff for everyone and let everyone else sort of fend for themselves. After a few of my things went missing one week, I happily agreed with her.

The next week, I showed up with my cards half done and just enough to finish my own stuff. And, the coordinator and her friends all acted very huffy with me about the whole thing--shooting me looks of shock and awe that I wasn't helping everyone out again. WTF???

I wasn't happy, but decided I would just continue coming and bringing my own stuff to work on and be friendly, but not be a doormat any longer. The last meeting we were asked to all bring something for lunch. As we started discussing it in our small group, I was amazed at the gall of these women for what happened next. When the one mom and I started talking about appetizer dishes we could make, the coordinator lady basically told me in front of everyone that my appetizer could be doubled and would work great for the main dish and to do that. Then, the rest of them turned their backs to me and planned what snacks they'd bring (crackers, fruit, veggies). I sat with my mouth open.

The next week, I brought my tortellini salad with chicken added to make it more of an entree for all the crafters there (there are many older ladies who work too). It ended up being quite expensive to do the double recipe I made and took a lot of time as all of the veggies had to be sliced up for it. The other ladies drove by the grocery and bought a box of crackers and some presliced fruit or premade dip as their contribution. And as had to stand and served everyone, they all sat around too.

That day, I decided to back out of the craft days, as much as I love to make cards. I gave the excuse that my magazine work was too consuming and I left the group, and everyone seemed quite content with that.

From that day on, I have been nixed by the younger ladies in my church and pushed out of their little circle. And, the behavior continues on. This morning I showed up to help out with the liturgy teaching I was scheduled to do with the the card coordinator lady. She pulled me aside and asked me why I was teaching if I was the coordinator--didn't I just organize things and wasn't there someone else who could handle our shift?

I have never felt less welcome in my life. After church, my husband asked what the problem was with this lady and her family. Not sure what he was talking about (because I hadn't told him yet), he told me that the woman and her husband quickly moved and avoided eye contact with him, choosing to not even speak when he walked up by them for our Palm Sunday processional. Again, WTF???

I hate to use that acronym when talking about church, but I think this is unchristian-like behavior. And, I am left feeling really hurt because what did I do to these ladies but try and help out really? I have never spoken a unkind word, even in the midst of all the craft day mess. And, randomly, they'll be super friendly to me as if they haven't seen me in ages and ask how I am. But, in between those rare occasions are ones like today--things like this go on.

I'm not typically someone who gets left out of things. I am no queen bee or popularity winner, but I've always blended quite well in social circles and consider myself to have a lot of friendly acquaintances and several close friends. So, I am completely baffled by this all.

After brewing on it some today, I announced to my husband that as soon as I was done with my commitments at the church for this year, and provided my mother-in-law decides to not attend much anymore because of changes in the service style, I would want to look for a new church. As I told him, I don't want to be in my 50s attending this church years later and making the 30 minute drive to do so, only be be treated this way from the other women in my peer group.

I think church should be a safe haven--the one place a person can go where they can feel community and acceptance and love from their peers. And, right now, I don't feel a lot of love at all. And, to me, that's really quite sad...

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Blogger Babs said...

Gosh, I totally get where you're coming from! Many of my experiences with feeling excluded have come from the church environment. I've always figured that I'm too sensitive... or that I just feel too vulnerable in those situations to truly fit in.

Those women sound crappy. I agree that you should look for a church where you'd feel more comfortable participating. I don't think you'll be happy if you can't put your "whole" self into it!

3:19 PM, March 16, 2008  
Blogger Dipu said...

Unfortunately, some people are just like that. If you don't do everything exactly the way they want you to do them, to the letter, even if they haven't told you as much, you've just offended them to the depths of their self-centered souls. There's really little you can do other than limit how much you interact with them. You never know how you'll offend them next. I second (or actually, third) your moving on to a better church...

3:37 PM, March 16, 2008  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Yeah, the sad thing is I've put a lot of time and effort into this church. But, we have to drive so far anyway. I'd be more open to a more contemporary church close by here even (although I never thought I'd agree to that prior to this), but I'm not sure my hubs will go for that. So, we're limited in where we can go unless we change denominations.

Why do women have to be so catty? And, why do I find myself a lot of the time feeling like I'm tired of my gender and how we rip one another apart constantly. UGH!

5:41 PM, March 16, 2008  
Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

Why don't you just church hop for a while and just worship? I'm thinking about doing that myself -- and I'm a member of my vestry! LOL!!

I'm sick of the crap - I totally understand where you are coming from... You might even consider just taking a break for a few weeks.

I got a church job at a different denomination's church and now I'm the pariah at my own church (not considered that by my friends, just the pastor!). So be it! My friends still love me. They don't begrudge me my whopping few dollars and some fun.

Take a break. Walk away for a while...
It will do you good.

8:19 PM, March 16, 2008  
Blogger Nicole said...

I know what you mean about catty women! In many ways I wish women were more like men: They say what they mean and mean what the say and they aren't so damn petty.

That's too bad that that is going on at your church. Sometimes I think people just stir up crap like that because they have nothing better to do. I think it's a good idea to shop around for something else. Or you can just do like we did and flat out quit. We just have family Bible studies at home now and the boys love it.

10:45 AM, March 17, 2008  
Anonymous Angela said...

And this is why I don't go to church, and don't really get involved in community groups. I know it's terrible of me, but I've been burned and see friends or family burned far too many times. It makes me sad, because I know that churches and volunteer activities can be very fulfilling, but I just don't care to risk having my feelings hurt again. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with their cattiness. Hopefully they'll grow up and realize how silly they're being, but sadly, they probably won't.

1:04 PM, March 17, 2008  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

First of all, remember, the church is made up of people. And, they are far from perfect. Christians are no different than others in a lot of ways - we gossip, backbite and get our feelings hurt.

Maybe the other ladies were under the impression that you were providing all of the craft stuff and you were getting reimbursed by the church.

If this church is not where you ultimately want to be then by all means visit around. But, I promise you, you will not find a "perfect" place. I only know this because I am 7 years older than you and have been down this very same road.

6:59 AM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger kristi said...

That is why I hate women.

2:57 PM, March 28, 2008  

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