How does an ice storm relate to issues of faith? It’s a long story.


So far our “ice storm of the century” is underwhelming. We have about 1/4 inch of ice, and the streets currently are passable. I wouldn’t care to take a walk down our slippery driveway, though. We don’t do salt or ice melt at our house. Not out of any grand environmental concerns; we’re just lazy bastards.

Anywhoo…the forecast, at least, is all I could ask for. Freezing rain and ice pellets beginning again late tonight (Saturday) and continuing into the day on Sunday.

And why is a Sunday morning ice storm a good thing, you might ask? Or you might not, depending on how bored you are so far with my tale.

Because I work for a fairly large church. And this forecast means a pretty good chance we’ll cancel worship tomorrow, to avoid broken bones in congregants making their way from the parking lot into the building. And that’s where the issues of faith come in. Now we get a little more serious. Because the idea of not having church tomorrow pleases me to no end.

I’ve been a full-time, paid lay minister in this congregation for 12 1/2 years, as Director of Children’s Ministry. My job description? Anything that has to do with families having children ages birth to 6th grade. And anything else I need to do to keep the congregation in good shape. Assisting with worship planning. Writing devotions for adults. Creating a system for keeping needed supplies in the building stocked. Creating and implementing a protection policy for children and the adults who work with them. Serving on teams that do work completely unrelated to children and families.

In other words, I know the workings of the congregation, its pastors, and its lay-leadership inside and out. I’ve seen behind the curtain. 

And I don’t like what I see. In fact, I’m fed up with what I see. It’s become so negative in the past year it’s a cause for constant stress and anxiety. I’ve had more confrontational conversations in the last year, trying to deal with some of the crap I’m seeing, than I’ve had in my entire lifetime. Confrontations, for this introvert, put my stress level way over 100%.

A good friend, who has also spent much of her life working in ministry, asked me recently if everything I’ve been dealing with at church is affecting my faith and my relationship with God.

Answer: No. Not at all. God and I are cool. God has absolutely nothing to do with the nasty bullshit going on behind the scenes in our congregation. (FYI, nothing prurient or illegal – just seriously wrong, as in deception, lack of communication, and extremely non-Christian behavior.) Everything that’s going on is purely due to human error. 

But the end result is that I have a very difficult time at this point engaging in my work, knowing what I know. I have to put on a good face for most people, be the cheerleader for an institution I believe in less and less every day. Individually, most of our program staff members do amazing, Christ-centered work. As a whole, it’s a sham.

If I could change careers I definitely would. And, to be honest, I would be unlikely to attend any church for a very long time. But I’m responsible for half our family’s income and all our health insurance. For now I’m stuck. Currently I don’t see a way out. 

Working in ministry, I’ve read plenty of pieces over the years about the damage done to so many people by churches. Generally those are stories about people being beaten over the head by some narrow definition of religion: gay people told they’re sinful; women told they’re value-less. This cold, hard truth about much of Christianity makes me ill. 

My situation is entirely different. One thing I can say with pride about our congregation is that we’re progressive and affirming. Nonetheless, I, too have been damaged by organized religion.

So…no church tomorrow? Time to celebrate!

And there you have it. How our ice storm and issues of faith are related. Thanks for listening. 

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9 thoughts on “How does an ice storm relate to issues of faith? It’s a long story.

  1. I’m glad an ice storm gave you a bit of a reprieve from the stress you have been dealing with at work. I don’t know your full situation but echo the comment about re: finding something else. I was in a bad job two years ago. I loved the work. I didn’t love the environment. And it ate at me. It impacted the rest of my life. So I found another job. It took a while – and a lot of effort – but I’m much better for it. It’s easy when you are in the middle of it to think “If I just do X, then maybe things will get better.” And maybe they will. But it sounds like you should start planning your exit strategy in the event it doesn’t. And you have a job, so you have the luxury of taking some time to find the right move fore you. All the best.

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    • Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience and give encouragement. It means a great deal, really. I think you’re exactly right. I’ve been telling myself I can change the environment, and it’s time to admit I can’t. It’s time to move on. Somehow being in the same place for so long has made me lose confidence, but with support from friends both in person and online I think I can do this!

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  2. You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and ‘where’ it belongs recently. And I keep coming back to the idea that strength of faith must be personal, it must come from within. If your faith is shored up or strengthened by the idea that everyone around you has the same faith, or if you fear losing your faith because those around you don’t share it, then the problem does not lie outward, but inward. From all of the posts I have read by you, I’ve never seen that. Your faith is where it should be, within your heart. The reason why I said all that is that whatever your decision is, and wherever your path takes you, you don’t need to worry about your faith.

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  3. Wow, you are an awesome cheerleader. Seriously, I deeply appreciate your thoughts and the fact that you actually spent time researching similar positions in the area – truly awesome. But to be honest, I’ve felt for a long time that working in ministry is simply not right for me. I have a deep personal faith, but my faith truly doesn’t seem to fit well with organized religion. I think it would be duplicitous of me to represent myself to a different congregation as someone who is intensely interested in developing faith in others. I really need to go in an entirely different direction – just not sure what that is. Probably something non-profit, but I also have to have health insurance, and so far I’m not running into any non-profit work that comes with a livable salary. However, your comments are helping to inspire me to actually get off my ass and start looking, so that’s a great thing!

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    • I can’t help but throw in the obvious joke here — your faith doesn’t seem to fit well with organized religion, so maybe that explains how you’ve done such a good job for the last several years, working in disorganized religion! (Given all you’ve said about the management-level problems at your current church.)

      Anyway, I can see how further lay ministry might not be the work you want to do. I know it’s not simple to find non-profit jobs that pay living wages, but there certainly are some, and there are also places where you’d have the satisfaction of knowing your work is helping people, even if it’s not for a non-profit. Good luck.

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  4. Judging by the weather reports, presumably you successfully got the day off from work. I hope you’re able to enjoy your time at home, and that you haven’t lost electricity.

    Given what you’ve been writing about your work situation lately, it’s clear how much of a toll the environment is taking on you. It’s hard to picture you working in this job until you qualify for Medicare, without completely destroying your sanity. You’ve mentioned a couple time how daunting it would be to change careers at your age. But have you looked into changing jobs without changing careers? I googled “children’s ministry jobs Kansas” and found multiple job openings, including at least one listing that sounded really plausible. https://www.cornerstoneks.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Youth-Director-Job-Posting-2017-January.compressed.pdf (My quick search found assorted other listings too, but for churches that sound like they might be rabidly fundamentalist.)

    Even if you don’t have a theology degree, between your teaching credentials and your extensive ministry experience, you would be a strong candidate for children’s ministry positions in any mainstream Protestant denomination that I’m familiar with. I’d encourage you to see what else is out there, since it’s clear you love the work you do, and are very good at it. You just need to be doing it for a different church.

    And now I will go back to prodding my son about applying for summer internships. 🙂

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  5. Wow. So sorry you are having such a difficult experience – and it must feel crummy to feel stuck. I do hope a path presents itself to you very soon.Sometimes getting involved with an organization shows us much more than we want to know about the behind the scenes goings on. I was very involved in our last religious organization. This go round, I’m blissfully happy saying “no” when I’m offered positions. Wishing you all the best.

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