I just had a bit of a discussion with Arwyn. It was a light enough discussion to start with, but it suddenly turned into something a lot more heavy. VERY heavy. To really and truly grasp it, you’ll need to catch up on the entry below this one. Because this conversation with Arwyn fit neatly into the conversation I just had with you all.
Last Sunday, I taught Sunday school and the topic was more or less the Relationship-based Christianity. One of the objects of my pointy jibes was the whole concept of appointing greeters to be stationed at various points in order to make people feel welcome. The point is, that when you invite people to your house, do you have a designated greeter who stands by the door, away from the rest of the party, in order to greet people? No, of course not unless you are wealthy enough to have a butler or someone hired for the purpose. But not a family member! The idea of greeters is something very institutional that has really and truly become an issue in CGM churches designed to bring in maximum numbers of seekers.
On Wednesday, I got the church newsletter/flyer, and there was an entire page devoted towards the greeter ministry. It seemed to be a response to what I had taught the previous Sunday. So I considered submitting a written response to our local council on ministries. So I got the newsletter and my Bible and my PDA and began working on it.
Arwyn came in the bedroom and asked what I was doing. My usual answer is “Writing.” and I leave it at that. But this time, decided to tell her, just in the interest of having a conversation. As it turns out, she did give me some good perspective on the institutional mindset, which was helpful. People do seem to need to be told what to do and how to do it sometimes, and the greeting program gives people that sort of structure. It meets a need. Granted, it’s a need created by the institution but a need nonetheless.
However this discussion morphed into something else along the way. Somehow I began pointing out that her church, Saddleback East ( or Willow Creek South, if you prefer) has many of these same difficulties as the Methodist church and seems to be intent of making a program out of everything! She goes there 3-4 times a week and yet wants to go yet another time for a small group meeting. She pointed out that it wasn’t the meeting she wanted, it was the relationships.
Which is where I spring the conversation back to my last post. I asked her if she expected God to honor attempts at relationship outside of our household when we struggled so much within our own family. “Don’t you think we should work on our relationship?” I asked. The next three words were a bombshell.
“I don’t know.”
Don’t know? Don’t know?
“You don’t know if you want to work on our relationship?”
“No. I don’t know where to go with it. I’m not sure if I want to.”
At least she’s honest.
Still, this did sort of floor me because somewhere in the back of my mind I was hoping that she might come ’round to wanting to show up and work on our marriage. Now she’s flat out saying that she is not sure she even wants to make an attempt. And this is perfectly consistent with her actions for the past several years. She basically has not lifted a finger to help in various efforts that I’ve made to improve our status. She is simply not that into me. And she might be on her way further out. The conversation ended abruptly as the kids were fussing about something and she was about to break down in tears.
The thing is that this really does impact everything. Or to be more realistic, there is very little about day-to-day life that this does not impact. For instance, the small TV that I owned before we got married and had in our bedroom went on the blink. Arwyn stated that she wanted some say in replacing it. However, now I’m thinking that I need to think about a post-Arwyn life and what sort of TV I might fancy, if any.
And then there is this boat-anchor of property we have in S. Georgia. The renter who was not paying rent has been evicted. I’ve been working on selling the place. However now, perhaps I’m thinking that I might need it as a place to stay for myself.
People deal with major stresses in different ways, and Arwyn’s is to clean and organize which she commenced to doing while I tried to write this post. We had a small conversation about the property and she seemed to think keeping it wouldn’t be that bad of an idea. But neither would getting rid of it. She is not interested in living there so it would be just me if it happened that way.
Basically, we are at a point where we are sort of on the same wavelength. In her own mind I think she is thinking about a post-Digger life. She’s thinking about going back to school and/or getting a full-time job. While I think she handles a lot on her own, it’s difficult for me to imagine her being able to handle both boys by herself.
It’s all sort of depressing. Arwyn gave up on the marriage years ago and has never even tried to check back in.