Loneliness: Struggles of Isolation

Loneliness doesn’t mean I’m alone; it means I’m isolated. I can be hanging out with people, or sitting right next to my own husband, and I can still feel deeply alone. For me, I can grin and bear it most days of attack. But not all days. And not everyone can.

The ironic thing about loneliness or isolation is there will always be those people who say “oh I’m here! you can talk to me anytime” …Anytime? How about the last time we hung out and we never talked about real life? How about last weekend when I had nothing going on, and I dwelt quietly in my own silence. “Anytime” seems like a pretty flexible word when it’s only heroically attached.

Besides…

Loneliness isn’t defeated by distractions.
To engage in friendship long term is something I feel utterly inadequate to speak about, and yet…these are they who we depend on. If someone wants to help defeat loneliness in another’s life, they must also help defeat boredom, incessant questions, empty chatter, and yes, isolation itself.
We must be a people who act like…well…people.

The last thing I want to do is create a formula to nullify loneliness. That would be the epitome of recreating the problem. Formulated relationships are isolating. Maybe that’s why it has little effect when someone says “I’m here for you” but then never is “here” so to speak. Or they’re around and yet still very distant.

Nothing kills like the silence of my closest friend. Nothing nullifies my worth, like my husband dealing with something on his own. Just when I thought we were a team. I’m locked out.  I’m on my own, waiting, alone. Isolated.
Marriage isn’t the key to escaping loneliness, and this is a myth that I long to dispel for those who sink headlong into this new arena. Loneliness doesn’t mean a marriage isn’t working; it means you’re human…very human.

I have a big family that I love, but sometimes there’s nothing lonelier than being in the midst of that group. When there’s an argument on, and I’ve taken a firm stance on the minority side of things… whew! It’s pretty lonely out on that branch. It’s isolating. And they’ll wait me out. …so they think. Instead…there becomes a rift.
They’ve forgotten all about the argument…or most of it… and I still feel the burn of scorn in my inner being. Oh God! What’s more isolating then pretending nothing hurts? Few things are. I won’t lie. I know a few things are worse.

I grew up playing a part. Being known as a title instead of having a name. That’s what happens when you have a parent working in public service. …That’s also what happens when you have a charming charismatic brother who all the girls think is hot. From one title to the next, I was pretty use to the shadows.

So something happened when I got out on my own. A freedom that I wasn’t use to. Some people saw me, and I wasn’t use to being seen or noticed. I wrote it off …for the most part. Yet it was fun too. And then… I got married, which was awesome! But it didn’t take anytime at all before I sunk back into a shadow. My man…the theologian, the musician, the science man, the darling religious dictionary.
And I…I grew up to be the distasteful hard-nosed confident woman who shares her opinion…her unwanted opinion… without even realizing that it was an opinion or unwanted. Here I thought I was making jokes, making friends, and stating the obvious.

I can be such a fool.

Loneliness doesn’t require a lack of people or contact with people. It only requires isolation. Sometimes it’s people and dear friend which are exactly they who bring it.
I’m sure I’ve been a villain as much as a victim. I am not careful. I am only sincere.

Instead of being or finding a cure, I try to learn to walk -long walks- in isolation without it fully killing me. What’s a little more death? I make it through. I live. I’m strong. …and people hate my strength. Around another corner will be another thoughtful person waiting to take me down… down into isolation. My fire swamp. I’ve lived there quite happily for sometime now. Why should I care what becomes of me?

One. Two. Three. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. Repeat.

And yet… like many other human beings… I would theoretically like to be known, be seen, be remembered affectionately. Yet if my choice is self-inflicted isolation of the shadows or isolation of the strong being attacked for their strength. I hardly know which one to choose. I switch between the two like my life is a game of hot potato.

The hardest part is finding the strength to know others suffer this too.
Or so I assume. When you’re isolated it’s hard to tell.
I want be strong enough to say I suffer, not for sympathies sake, but because I fear someone else might think they are alone in their isolation, or that their loneliness is consuming and who can see them now?
It is hard to see from here, but sometimes I can still here a voice calling to me. Or I can still here my heart begging me to get up, one more time. Maybe if I feel this…maybe someone else does as well. Maybe I still have a voice that can be heard, that can help.

One. Two. Three. Breathe…

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Self-Hatred: A Profile Picture Story

Have you seen those post on social media where it instructs you to post your first profile picture and your latest one side by side? A sort of comparison. A sort of looking back on your journey.  Yet how can you choose your first ever and latest one and not see all the ones in the middle? And how does anyone look at a photo they’re in and not remember that moment or how it feels or the stories one was attempting to convey at that point?
At least for me, this is some of what happens.

I know that my pictures say one thing to people, and that I see another thing. In my profile picture journey, I see someone who has learned, and yet is still learning not to hate this face. Learning to be comfortable in ones own skin, and learning not to hate oneself.
Too honest?

No. Not too honest. If only we could all be something close to this volume of honesty with ourselves. For we have all been on a long journey throughout the days, week, years of our lives. We posted words, pictures, videos, and essentially hints to other people …but did anybody see it? Have we seen it ourselves?

We have seen our own flaws. We have ignored our own wounds. We have stoned our hearts towards others on an occasion. We have been broken, transformed, affected by still others on different, rare, occasions. We have morphed into whom we are today.
Did we notice?

I like to take an account of my life once every so often. I like to ask myself where I am, where I want to go, if I’ve missed anything, if there are things I need to take care of now, if there are things I can’t yet deal with. Essentially, I like to run a systems check. Sometimes all it can do is make me aware of errors that I do have, whether or not I can readjust them at this time or not.

Because I don’t want to make it another age in life, and say to myself, how did I get here? I want to be aware of the journey that takes place along the way. Sometimes hindsight does give a fuller explanation, but I don’t want to miss this just because I can’t yet understand.
If it hurts, I’m still here to feel it. I don’t just turn it off. …Though maybe I try sometimes.

All too often, I know that when I look back, I didn’t do great. I see a lot of wounds. They’re not all healed. They don’t all make sense. But I look at them anyways.  I treat them the best that I can for now, and I move forward.

On a good day, I fight lies that have incubated some of the wounds or infections therein. On a bad day, I think about the ugliness of the scars that will come of this even if it does heal. But one thing that has changed, I stopped needing to fix myself. I stopped needing to change. I stopped hating myself more than anyone else hated me so that they couldn’t hurt me worse than I’d done to myself. I stopped trying to control nonsensical judgements, expectations, and imagery …all of which changes so fast and so frequently that it left me in ruins every time.

I started finding the most solid foundational things I could possibly believe in. I went way down to the bare bone of my soul, and I just sat there for a while. It ached. I longed to be covered up, but I refused to put on these destructive presuppositions.  I learned to be in my own skin and just feel what that felt like.  and I learned there was a lot –a whole lot– of ache in there.

A recent reality check came when someone I knew as a teenager retired and I went to their party. I hadn’t been seen or heard of for a decade & half, but I decide to show up in order to honor this person. I was surprised to find everything the same. I was even more surprised to see that they assumed that I would be the same.
Was my mask that good, back then?

I ached and no one saw it. I hide and no one saw me. I survived and barely did more, and they thought I was living a fairy tale. No one saw the war I felt.
Thankfully I grew up, and I grew away. I got out and got healthy. I learned to live my skin, feel my own bones, breathe in and out, and to be here in this moment and to feel it and to deal with it.

I learned what it is to be me. Well…I’m still learning in some ways. This isn’t perfect, but I actually feel like I am here. I am see-able. Whether or not people turn aside to see, isn’t my problem. I am living. It’s okay if part of living is failing, because if I am still living I can still try again. …on a good day.

Ultimately I found, a lot of my self-hatred came from not actually knowing or being myself. So much of who I’ve been has been told to me. But now…now I’m telling my own story. I am living my own story. I’m finding I am part of something bigger than this tiny point in history.

I’m finding that self-hatred can even be fueled by to two different wisdoms colliding. A wisdom of well-oiled-machine world that tells you to comply to its systems, and a wisdom of a God-created-world that tells an engrossing story which we are part of.
Only part, but knowing my life is a piece of that story helps.

Once I choose to direct my steps according the God-created-world wisdom, a lot of things started to make sense for me. I started to see why I couldn’t be what people expected. I started to see why I hated who I was when I tried to comply. I found freedom to be imperfect, but at the same time strength to walk towards perfection without shame.

I found home in the midst of a journey. Because more than getting somewhere, becoming something, doing some great thing in time …more than those I found myself as part of something timeless. I found an identity in the midst of ancient story of a people.
And all those expectations that people have, they don’t depend on me to accomplish it for them, because I am only part of something so much grander than myself and my little life. I am one, and as one, I am part of many.

This is my beautiful life.

Faceless in a Selfie World

Sometimes when I scroll through my more recent pictures to see what I’ve essential recorded in history. Sometime while I’m looking I think to myself: where am I?  I’m just like everybody else in this modern age, I’ll take a photo of myself (now called selfies, used be called polaroids -just saying-), because I want be recorded, remember, or sometimes…just seen.

Pictures are amazing; photography (believe or not) is still an art. A beautiful, expressive art. I don’t just want my face or a place where I was recorded. I want some sort of beauty, isolation, joy, jest, contentment, some amount of invisibility recorded. I want someone to know what it’s like to be me. …but not so much for my own sake, anymore. But because I understand my life is so similar to so many.

If I feel this way, then I am not alone.

Sometimes I do feel like a picture is a way to relate. It’s not just about me, where I’ve been, or something incredible. Selfies aren’t always about vanity, peer pressure, or feeding the social media machine, but sometimes they can still capture something more. Sometimes they capture a light, or a missing light, within someone’s eyes. Sometimes the person is saying “I’m strong and confident” but I can see the loneliness of wanting to be seen, or wanting to be treasured, or wanting to share this life with other loved ones, or missing the actual nearness.

Our whole lives we create memories. Only a few are captured by pictures. Social media has allowed us to project an image of ourselves. Photo editors have allowed us to remold that image of ourselves. Likes, hearts, comments, and shares have allowed us to assume some companionship in a single moment that we didn’t actually share with all who participate in the this post-moment posting & commentation.

It’s like we can still attempt communal. Even when communal is just as lonely as it has always been …on our own.

In my own collection of pictures, I see that I get lost. I see once in a while my husband likes to tease me with a photo he snaps where I’m glaring or being goofy. …Then he post it for the rest of the world. I can’t convince him that no one else in the world thinks that I’m cute or beautiful in the way that he sees me. It’s unfathomable to him. Yet the when my face receives significantly less “likes” then a sunset picture or a goofy joke, what is one to think, but that I must be right? That I am more faded in the world of our “friends”.

Yet even with this… my pictures make me wonder how much am I participating in life? Or how much am I just a side observer myself?

In our modern age, we can connect to people miles away, but we can’t always stay connected to those who are geographically close to us. Old friends who aren’t social media savvy can fade, and new friends who socially stalk in-friendly-terms can seem better antiquated than what’s truthfully there. Yet it’s not just social media.

I can spend multiple days a week at my parents house, and barely know more than seeing my brother a few times a month or my other brother a few times a year. I can live an hour away from friends, and not see them for years, but make a special effort to see friends who live multiple hours away from us.

Community doesn’t just happen. We choose it. Capturing moments in life isn’t just the luck of being there, it’s being aware of the moment your in already. Cherishing what’s already in front of us.
Memories are made all the time, but we don’t always put them to mind. I am always here, but I can still feel as if I don’t exist without some acknowledgement of my existence.

Can I deal with less selfies, so that I can take more pictures of sunsets, long drives, quirkiness of nature, and a moment I lived but yet it didn’t involve me?  Can I deal with people saying “wow” “That’s beautiful” “awesome”  to those moments, when those same people don’t say “I miss you” “you’re beautiful” “I love my friend”?

It’s not a modern problem. It’s only a more instant problem in our modern age.

I think I can do this. I think I can acknowledge that I am here, even if I am unseen. I think I stand, even if it’s awkwardly, in a room in a moment in the isolation of the crowd. I think I can make through this day whether or not anyone else cares that I am here. I think that okay for today.
I’m not going to think about if I’ll have strength for silence tomorrow. Just today.  And if I need cheap friendship, I can always repost a meme.

But I want to be strong even if the world is silent towards me. Maybe just today…I can. This will be a memory: I made it.

Struggles

How far must we go until love is exhausted? Further than one can fathom in a single day.

I am watching a friend struggle and I am seated at a great distance away. I wish we could get there or that we could bring this friend closer, but patience does not fail. I wince with every new injury and I sigh with new tears. But he’s alive and so I’m still happy.

I know about addiction. Although chemical dependency has not been my field of struggles, I know about darkness. I know about being alone. I know about feeling like you’re in a hell, and somehow the world continues on without noticing your struggle or you. I know about sinking. I know what it’s like to have good advice and good intentions being your prisons walls. I know about fear, hopelessness, persevance, anxiety attackes, lonely walks, bouncing prayers, the endlessness of days and nights blurring together. I know about these things, and I do not fear them like I once did.

I know I can look back know and see a spirit within me that was fighting things other people couldn’t see. There was a spirit in me that was fighting when my body was being wasted with bad choices, bad mindsets. Freedom was calling me, and something within me dragged me to place in need to get to in order to begin healing and rehabilating my empty shell. I don’t know how I made it through alive, when I look back, except that there was a spirit within me that wanted more than I’d yet experienced at that point.

I made it.

I made it to today. I’ve made to the point of both compassion and hard love. A place where I can remember my story, and understand the persevance has given more than the gift of life, but perspective and character as well. I need these traits as I walked into a new chapter of my life.

I need perspective and character as I watch another friend struggle in a place far off that we can’t yet get to. I need to know how I, myself, made it out alive and how I can believe that same spirit can bring life to another. I need to know that even prayers that seem to bounce off the ceiling make some difference. I need to know this journey is a long one, and I can pace myself for the long haul. Because that’s what Love is capable of. It’s not just a distant prayer, but love is also joining one in their suffering.
We wrestle not against addicts and broken men, but against principalities and powers of the dark world. We wrestle because Love compels us to know “the least of these” is the face of Jesus. If there’s a chance that love can make the difference, then I am compelled to share the love I have for one who looks, to me, like Jesus. Maybe it’s not the miracle we’re looking for right now, but maybe its a first step. I think I can do that.

Come home. You are loved.

A Modern Woman’s Struggle with Beautiful

I struggle with beautiful.

Sometimes I have a very strong concept of what it means, and I get it. I’m strong. I’m ready. Other times, the interconnectedness of beauty and strength lay me to waste. I am nothing. I have to be strong if I want to beautiful, there is no other choice. This balance is not easily maintained in all stages of life, yet it has been my best solution this far.  What are the options? What is healthy in pertaining to beauty in modern day women?

We must be strong. There is not a second option. Sharing the load is a nice conceptual sentiment with the interlocking of relationships, but some weights are not evenly distributed and it is useless to argue the utopia of other theoretical paradoxes. What happens in the quiet isolating moments of a modern woman who is not strong? Utter ruins? Silent ruins? A cracked foundation? A disappointment? Another wound, another scar? The questions of is it worth getting back up again? The questions of how many more times can I do this? The questions of how long will it continue to be this way? The questions of strength.

Does my value lie in what I can be, and not that which I actual am, in those moments that I am not enough? Do I hope that past value is sufficent to cover a day or a night or era of lacking strength? All I am worth today is who I am, but does it add up at the end of any given day? What is the value of a modern day woman that allows her to feel beautiful even in the midst of weaning strength?

In an age that does not love mysteries, except that they should be solved, corrected, or fixed …in such an age as this, what is the value of the complexity of a woman?

When I work on my body, good results cannot come fast enough. When I long to include others, my desire for true friendship consumingly stands before me. When I hope in this path I’m walking, I am ever-presently aware of my responsibilities and foolishness. My failures and short comings are ever before me like natives and locals of my thought-life, and they never foreigners or tourists in my mind. Agony is present with honest reality. Suffering keeps company with hope. Guilty accompanies bravery. Fear shadows truth.
I am never alone. …but my strength isn’t always sufficient to host this company. My beautiful character can be frazzled, and frazzled is not beautiful.

If I am not strong what value do I have? If I am frazzled what beauty do I have?

As a modern day woman, I could consider the titles that give long-lasting worth, and consider them. I am a sister, an aunt, a wife, a daughter, a friend. But if I choose not to be a mother do I lose points from the worth of being a woman? If I reap disdain as a daughter and a sister, have I decreased my value in this role? If I am pushy as a wife or a friend, then do I represent that despised thing of what a woman ought not be and therein devalue myself and my role? If I am honest with myself, is my outer being depreciated in value at my current age, and therein a wasteful representation of the beauty of a woman?  Can any of my roles add up to being more than a disappointment if my strength lacks for a day or for a moment? Is beauty alive still in the tar pit bog of imperfection and disappointment?

These are the things we cannot ask aloud, lest someone else should feel uncomforted by these thoughts. Our strength, fortitude, and even quiet desperation are the only recognized packaging of beauty.

For those who have a moment of friendlessness, isolation, or self-contempt… I know. I get it. I hurt too.

I can’t always solve a problem in time. I don’t always pick up the signals. I can’t always forget or shrug it off. Wounds acclimate and there isn’t always healing. Sometimes the infection of inadequacy spreads. These all feel like failures. I feel frazzled. My steadiness weans. My need for shelter is meet with contempt for my lack of loveliness and I too am turned away in my weakness and I must learn to care for myself when I have no strength to do so. …because I am a modern woman this has been and will be my fate in many of times.

If I was softer, gentler, kinder, more girly …I would still suffer these fates. But I am strong, rough edged, determined, and at time brutish …and I still suffer these fates. I am a modern day woman with an age-old struggle. I struggle to find my own beauty. I struggle to find it where I found it yesterday. I struggle to know where it will be tomorrow. I struggle to congeal myself within it today.

When I am weak, I am plain and lowly at best. When I suffer, cringe to smile. When I hurt I find no comfort, no value, no super human strength… I just hurt. I am a woman in a modern age, that has not changed as much as it publicizes itself to have changed. I struggle to feel beautiful if I am not strong enough. This is my only worth. There is no second option.

My beauty, my success is I know it’s not just me. I am one face, a name, an honest moment in the history of everyday women. Women whom I love, because I know …I get it… I hurt too. I struggle with beautiful.

Dream Dreamer

I want to start talking about what people perceive “church” to be. I want to talk about how the feminine and/or romantic side of religion. I want to talk about the maternal instincts of both church and God. …and how the LORD God isn’t a single parent (so to speak). But this is going to take a few steps at a time. Do you have the patience for this? Do I?

Before I even get started with an introduction, I can hear Stevie Wonder sing, “Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?” playing in my head. If you don’t know this song, I’ll just tell you that it was written for his new baby girl when she was born. The thing that puts the song over the top, IMO, is that Stevie Wonder is one of the great musicians known also for being a blind-man. This man didn’t have to literally look at his baby girl to know she was lovely, he just held her in his arms, and he knew… Life was never going to be the same.

There’s differently a few lessons we could all learn here.

I readily acknowledge that I live in a culture where the best of us long for the stories of true love. Not just “true love” of romantic stories, but even within the family, even with best friends who can & do stay true friends. Whether fiction or real life stories, we long to hear about people who might actually live outside themselves and regard the well-being of others, maybe even more than themselves. Stories where people benefit by giving one to another fearlessly, in love (or because of love).
It’s what to true romantics desire, not just romantic love-stories, but something even deeper than romantic sentiments. A chord striking all the way down to the depths of one soul where one’s core-person must respond with truth or totally cut themselves off of truth all together.  Deep calls to deep, and I particularly long to hear it!

Yet somehow, there are a multitude of people who can live without even flinching over these deep truths of love, fearlessness, self-sacrifice. As a matter of fact they’ve written these things off to fantasy, chivalry, stupidity, romantic-notion, unreality, idealism.  I might boldly wonder aloud if it isn’t these types of “realist”, who can’t enjoy these depths, may actually have contributed to incarceration of those who do dream, hope, and seek. Because if the story is too much to even entertain in one’s mind for a single moment, than how much worse to actually participate in such things in real life? Maybe a different system could be built to confine such foolishness and even write it off as “romantic notion” or better yet maybe we could just subjugate a segment of those who think like this, blame them, and then rewrite what “the rest of us” should practice & believe!

Sound like a bitter conspiracy on my part? Well if you like conspiracies hold on, I’ve got a good one for you. But for this moment I’ll use the simple riddle by an old band called GS Megaphone, back in its day.

“A ship on a voyage could sink in the deep.
A ship in the shallow could crack on the reef.
But only ashore is it safe where it is built
And only ashore is it useless.

Imagine the world without romance.  Imagine the world without music.  Imagine the world without someone imagining.”

– GS Megaphone

We need dreamers. We need the romantics. We need people who can and want to imagine more. WE are still needed in church, religion, faith, relational spiritual matters, and in seeking truth. And we need to not be hurt or afraid or offended by all other who think differently than we do. I personally know dreamers, romantics, idealist are as soft as we’re always made out to be. We have our rough edges. The only people who don’t come with rough edges are those who live in a bubble. We need to be fearless. We need to rediscover the beauty of intuition, and we need to courageously engage forgiveness (because what’s a love story without forgiveness?). We need to shed division.

It strikes me how many times God says in the Bible that he will “drive out your enemies” and yet we think it’s own task. We must believe the LORD God has our best interest in mind. The Bible says that “perfect love cast out fear” How cool is that? Love makes imperfection disappear. Strength comes from right-living, also known as righteousness. We need to understand who we are and not be afraid to live it. What God created is still Good.

Are you ready for this..?

Who left the what?

The best thing about my married life is that I can & do talk with my husband for hours. And I mean hours! We recently traveled hour a 8-9hr trip and I think we talked the nearly the whole time. Worst part about this sometimes we forget that other people don’t actually think/believe like we do. …and I can’t tell you how many downfalls that brings. We are that couple that when people meet us, they love us at first, but then get sick of us seemingly just as quickly. We’re kind of a novelty item. 

This probably shows up the worst for things we believe in the most. 

We are Christians, and we don’t go to church buildings for Sunday, Saturday, or any other midweek services. So… Mostly that makes us outside “the church” …apparently. We’re ok with that! There’s a lot of work to do out here! Yet we find that lots of people begrudgingly even considers part of the Christian faith because of this one thing. Apparently we are being a bad example. Good Christians “go to church”, but my husband & I have no idea what that means. So we asked some people!

We asked some good Christian people what “church” is… And they told us: the people! 

We thought this was great news! We love meeting with people and talking about life and God and where we are in modern history, ect. But apparently that’s not church, either. We simple misunderstood and/or asked the wrong question. If one is to “go to church” one must ask a Christian “What is a proper expression of local church gathering within the confines of modern understanding of the forebears of ‘church’ history and interrupted through modern day theologians and promising statics?” 

Unfortunately my husband & I were too simple to understand what we we’re suppose to ask in order to receive the correctly mapped out answer. However we weren’t too stupid to know to check the answers. After asking “what is church” we sake those same people to describe their church (you can try it, this is fun!) and those same good Christians began to tell us about programs, events, low-level hype, and maybe conceptual rules of engagement. …but never about one living person, let alone the living system of people which supposedly all engaged in these events & programs.

  It happened every time and without a thought. These good Christians were trained to a cue that we didn’t even mean to trigger, and they had no idea of the unrelated-ness that was spewing out their mouth because they were trained. 

Years later…

My husband recently wrote a great article about how we “left the church indefinitely”. I think it went down really well. People started asking questions, questions lead to more questions, more questions lead to accusations, accusations lead to… Oh well actually we’re still dealing with it and not sure what will come next. It turns out we sent forth a different kind of cue this time. It turns out we do not define church as many others might define church, and this is has to be corrected …apparently.  

So the issue of “what is church” now hides under the identity of “what is local church look/act like”.  Yet I find this to be like those kids movies were the bad guy (or good guy) disguises himself with a hat & a pair of glasses, and somehow no one recognizes him. Or how about the idea of “healthy fast food”?

The disguise is weak. 

We are still justifying programs, events, and concepts and saying that proximity to other people counts as fellowship of the believers, which is basically close enough to the original idea of “church”. Seriously? 

If healthy fast food is all the more you want to do, then I cannot convince you of the joys of gardening. But I assure you, I know something you don’t know. 🙂  I’ve worked food service, I’ve worked “church ministries”. I’ve “worked” multiple gardens, I’ve lived & tasted life outside the buildings, programs, and glib concepts of self-declared “church”. The proof is in the taste.

Changing the wording does not change the issue, I assure you. The issue is the concept and practice do not match… and apparently everyone is ok with that! This isn’t about hypocrisy, it’s about sleeping on the job. It’s about sleeping while Jesus weeps because the hour grows nigh, and we didn’t even notice something different about this time. 

Ask me about God. Ask me about the Bible. Ask me about sports. Ask me about my husband. But don’t ask me to call that systematic machine “church”.  I love the church, she’s my mother, and that is not her…