This week has been an interesting one so far.
Monday evening was the low point.
We had an appointment with our Vicar, his wife and a friend. We've met with them a few times throughout this journey. The last time we met we discussed my changing which services I went to, I'd offered to go to the evening service but was told that I should carry on going to the morning service.
In between that meeting and last Monday's the church council and a lot of our cell groups have been told about my transitioning from January.
On Monday evening we discussed my involvement in the church in all its forms. I was left a bit disappointed and was ready to have nothing more to do with the church.
We have a system where people pair up with someone else in order to provide support, friendship and to pray together. One of the conditions of that is that you can't have a man and a woman as a pair. Two males, two females, a male and a couple or a female and a couple is all acceptable. I currently have a male prayer partner and so will have to change. However, rather than simply finding another female that I can talk to and pray with its been suggested that I pair up with a couple. I can see that it would make it easier for a couple to be able to provide support and prayer both to me and also each other along my journey but it does make life really difficult for me as there aren't going to be any suitable couples that I can turn to. So I'm not going to be finding myself a prayer partner.
In addition to that I was also informed that because my other half goes to the cell group as me that the group had decided that they couldn't support both of us and that they were going to support my other half. For that reason I'd have to find another cell group.
Now I know that it was going to be difficult for them to support both of us but there are a lot of other groups that my other half could have fitted into a lot more easily than myself. Especially as I've been with that group since we started using cell groups nearly 10 years ago. To suddenly be told to find another group and not even given a suggestion as to which ones might be suitable was as big a kick in the teeth as they could have given me.
I have to admit that I was all set to walk away from the church at that point. If I wanted to go to church then
I could find one that was more accepting. Wouldn't be simple but not impossible.
Then last night, Thursday, I bumped into a friend from church. She knows what is happening and we've spoken briefly before the summer at a church weekend. We talked about her, me and a few other things. While we were chatting though I found myself deciding that I'd stick with most of decisions, I'd not get a prayer partner or join another cell group but I wouldn't walk away from the church. Instead I'd go to the evening service so that they have to deal with the fact that as Christians they should be learning to show love and compassion to everyone, not just those that fit within their experiences and understanding.
Also last night my other half and son went to a social organized by the cell group. I decided that after Monday I wasn't going to go. Besides I had some practice I needed to do for my burlesque routine and with the family out that seemed a great time to do it.
This morning I asked my other half if anything had been said about me not being there. She told me that our friend, who was at Monday's meeting, chatted to her during the evening and said that she realized that I wasn't going to be happy about being told the group couldn't support me.
I couldn't help thinking how funny that was. If they'd realized it was going to upset me then surely the decent thing to do would be to talk to me about it and explain why they felt that way and then get me to accept the decision, not to tell me that they'd decided and that I was being kicked out. That is so wrong on all levels and if I was an outsider looking at what happened I would immediately be thinking "do I really want to associate with a bunch of people that can turn their back on someone without providing them with any alternate support?" I already know that some people are looking at the way our church is behaving and wondering why anyone would want to be a Christian.
Come January we have another meeting scheduled with our Vicar, his wife and our friend. It unlikely that I'm going to go. My other half can go but I no longer feel the need to discuss things with them. If I do go then it will be to see just our Vicar and his wife.