I have many Unitarian Universalist themed projects going on. I am a stay-at-home father and caretaker of my disabled mother (which isn’t as much work as many others face in light of aging parents). I have a few hours a day to be writing and creating images, doing research. I am currently working up a few new projects, in fact. My name isn’t on most of them, because I am not doing it for personal glory, but because I want to help Unitarian Universalists understand our tradition, get invested in our movement, and be comfortable sharing their faith with the world.
It isn’t that I don’t have an ego. I am a ham and an emotional wreck who loves to be validated a little more than might be healthy. I have learned to channel that in a way that I can feel good about by putting my ego into a worthy project, and being validated by the success of the project. I’ve done that with Facebook pages and with Tumblr blogs. Most importantly to me, though I’ve done that with the community that is my congregation. I let my sense of self include my membership in the congregation, and I let the people of that community fill in for the extended family that I don’t have in my life.
These are the people who called to check on me while my mother was in the hospital, and even visited her, knowing that she didn’t have a lot of personal friends anymore. These are the people who were there for me when my estranged father died, and I had to cope with never having closure. It wasn’t even the minister, or the newly installed Director of Lay Ministry, but the people of the church, passing the need among themselves, and making sure that I knew I wasn’t alone. I let myself truly be part of this community, and the community has become a part of who I am in return.
It was a risk that, while it was happening, I never really considered risky. How could this place, full of these people, ever let me down? I knew there would be disappointments and disagreements, but when we work towards the same mission in love and respect, how could it ever hurt?
It hurts now. And I don’t know how to move forward.
I have, at times, given until I had nothing else to give. I have occasionally asked my family to make sacrifices for my faith in the congregation. I found a faith I could embrace because of them. I am a better person for that faith and the sense of shared purpose. It hurts to doubt that purpose, now, and how evenly shared it is. I am not committing to someone else’s personal vanity; I joined to be a partner, not a pawn and not a patron.
I’m waiting on some replies that will shape my continued involvement, or lack there of.