Angry. So very, very angry.

I went to the church that the fibro support group was at, only to be cornered by the pastor for half an hour while waiting to find that the meeting had been canceled. (The facilitator is in the hospital, so no one else showed.)

While making initial small talk, I mentioned that I'd moved here not too long ago, and that I ended up staying because of school and the fact that I got engaged. He asked where we went for premarital counseling, I told him, and he asked if that's the church we went to on Sundays. I said no, I don't go to church and C's an atheist.

And he was off.

I am angry. Angry because he automatically assumed that C has no morals, simply because he doesn't derive them from God or the Bible. Angry because obviously I must be making a rushed, ill-informed choice, getting married that quickly. Angry because I'm only 24, and so that means that I'm making a mistake no matter how well-intentioned I am, because he was just like me at that age. (So it must be true!)

He's not only a pastor, he's a counselor. That means that he's insufferable in his certainty that he knows more than I, and he can counsel me into doing the right thing. Here's the deal: everything he told me during that half hour (including the sermonizing on God's love and his plan for my life, etc. etc.), I already knew. Talking about baggage and how my baggage and C's baggage will compound and we won't be able to work it out... Yeah. I already know the effects of negative life experiences on relationships, thanks. He drew the "love triangle"- you know, agape, phileo, and eros? As soon as he drew that triangle, I labeled it for him.

*Pointing at each tip of the triangle* "Agape, eros, phileo."

He didn't even pause. He just wrote down the names and kept going. Oh, yeah, but he drew a heart in the middle and labeled it Jesus, I think. Because none of them are possible without God's love.

Dude, I went to Bible college. An SDA Bible college. You can't pull something as basic as that (thanks, Hope!) and expect me not to call it.

It was just so angering. I felt so invalidated as a person, like my experiences and thoughts and life don't matter, because this guy knows more than I do, and apparently knows more about my life from the six sentences he heard, and he can tell me how to run it better than I could ever do on my own. And because I'm young, I can't make valid decisions. Right.

He gave me a piece of paper that he signed, and said that I should bring it back to him in a year and tell him how miserable I am in my marriage and how I want a divorce, because it's going to happen.

Yeah.

He blatantly said that I will be unhappy and get divorced. Mostly because I'm 24 and too young to make good decisions yet, and because I have baggage (which he just assumed I haven't dealt with at all, ever), and because C's an atheist.

All that was interspersed with the predictable Christian spiel about God's love and salvation and healing (the healing stuff came after he found out that I had "baggage") and how he planned my life down to the very details. I was getting real tired of this, so I outright told him that God's planning sucks, because my life has been terrible.

Then he changed his tune and said that it was because of the pain other people have caused, and then went off on this tangent about the people that he's counseled and how he helped them find healing, etc., and then he got back on the baggage tack again, which was unfortunate. And annoying.

Sometime in there, mixed in with his testimony about how empty his life was before God even though he "had it all" (Right. Like I said-- predictable.), he asked if there were ever a time that I felt really hopeless and empty. I said yes-- while I was at Bible college. (Probably not what he expected to hear. But he forgets that he doesn't know me.)

So then it was because religion; religion doesn't save you, only God's love. Only Jesus.

Ugh. Get me OUTTA HERE!

I'm just... seething.

Like, dude. You don't know me. You don't know anything about me except for the surface things that I mentioned to you. Just because you're a counselor you think you automatically have me figured out? And that you can "fix" me? How dare you presume to tell me that I will be ready to divorce my husband in a year? Who do you think you are?!

Oh, because love is blind, and you don't see the flaws when you're in love....

Yeah, well, I think that C and I must have something else going on besides "love" then, because we've faced plenty of real struggles and obstacles together, and we're not in "happy floaty fairytale time" like you assume we are.

So I was tossing around the idea of maybe going back to church lately.... but now I'm just like, "Oh. Yeah. Christians. I forgot."

I hate knowing that I used to do that to people in my quest to be a good Christian. I feel shame and regret.

And the worst part is that he's probably off whistling through the rest of his day, happy because he "witnessed" to some cynical girl who was going to make a terrible mistake.... and I'm over here, steamed and seething, wanting NOTHING to do with happy-sappy-love and dire predictions of doom because I won't accept sage wisdom.

No wonder C steers clear of churches.

Ugh. Insufferable.

Later Note: I forgot to mention that the pastor also wrote his phone number down by his signature, in case I ever needed to talk, because he can counsel me and recommend some books and stuff.  Sure. Thanks, pastor.

He also emphasized that he didn't mean it as a challenge. It's not a challenge. Um, yeah, actually it is! When I told the story, all of us had the same reaction: "Challenge accepted." 

C is of the opinion that I ought to troll him-- keep his phone number, get his e-mail, and keep him forcibly updated on the continued health and happiness of my marriage. You better believe that I will be hunting him down in a year, paper in hand and C by my side, to prove him wrong. I want to frame that piece of paper for reasons that I can't fully articulate here... but partially as a reminder that naysayers do not determine the fate of any of my choices or the success of my marriage. It is up to me to choose a healthy and happy marriage each day.

The guys all tell me they're proud of me. I'm proud of me too, for standing up and vocalizing some of my disagreements with him, rather than just nodding along and smiling.

C laughed and laughed while I vented, because now I understand from personal experience what he goes through when he talks to "church people".  The automatic assumptions and blanket generalizations that are so infuriating are not unfamiliar to him.

It's funny, but I feel closer to C now, after this annoying incident... I understand him better, empathize with him. Funny.

1 thoughts:

  • Jolene | November 25, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    That part about the pastor giving you his contact info for you to contact him when your marriage is falling apart... that left me boiling. The nerve! Not acceptable behavior, in the least.

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