things you learn in an ER waiting room and other stuff

I spent last night in the waiting room at the Southwest Hospital ER.

I’m fine, no worries. My dad had a mole removed earlier in the week and the doctor hit a blood vessel. He was fine until yesterday. He must have done something to agitate it, because he started bleeding really heavily. No kidding. The bathroom looked like a crime scene. My mom was concerned about the amount of blood he was losing (and the fact it wouldn’t stop bleeding), so she called 911. The paramedics came, got the bleeding stopped & told him to get to the ER asap for some stitches. A neighbor happens to be an ER doctor came down & took a look at it and basically said the same thing.

Which is how I ended up in an ER on a Sunday evening. Because hospitals make me nervous (read: batshit crazy), I stayed in the waiting room. Honestly, I don’t know which was worse: the back with all of the sick people or the waiting room with the crazy people. In the two-ish hours I was there, I witnessed an old lady screaming at her husband, a teenage girl behind an intake door for at least 45 minutes that was either laughing hysterically or crying hysterically, a homeless-looking dude wandering around and muttering to himself, and (my favorite) a guy complaining about his hernia that was SO drunk I could smell him from across the room. Since I was sitting down at a small table, writing, he thought I worked there. He repeatedly asked me where the bathroom was and then bitched that the hospital didn’t have enough staff when I told him I didn’t know. I felt I needed a flea bath when I go home.

the good news: Papa D is FINE. And he had a McRib yesterday, which made him happy.

Now I’ll turn my attention towards something else entirely.

Religion.

And, no, this isn’t going to be some preachy, you-should-all-believe-what-I-believe post. This is simply about MY faith journey and how I’m continually struggling to stay on path.

I grew up in a family that went to church, even though we weren’t all that religious. We all believed in God and in Jesus and my siblings and I all went to Sunday school, made our first communions and were confirmed. God was never an issue in our house because we all believed. We were far more likely to disagree on what to watch on TV or whether or whether or not David Cassidy was the greatest teen idol to ever have lived (and the correct answer is yes, he IS the greatest).

Even though there was no question about my belief in God, I never felt any sort of real connection to my faith. I never felt ‘home’ in a church. My family had been going to a church in my hometown for a few years. It was (is) one of the larger Lutheran churches in the area & a ton of people that I went to school with went there. It was a fairly young-ish congregation and a pretty involved youth ministry.

I HATED it there. Hated it. No question.

I hadn’t been confirmed there. I was confirmed in a church a few cities over, a much smaller congregation (I was confirmed with MAYBE 10 other people) and a much older demographic. Because I didn’t go through the program at FL (“First Lutheran”), I didn’t really know anyone. And I was NEVER asked to get involved. You would think that a church with a thriving youth ministry would see a family with 3 teenage (or pre-teen) kids & would try to get them involved. You would be wrong.

But that was whatever. My REAL issue was with the pastor of the church, Mr. Chuck Knerem. That’s his real name. I don’t care if he (or someone he knows) reads this because he should know how HORRIBLE he made me feel. Go ahead and send him “un-fan” mail (not hate mail because that’s sort of mean. but “un-fan” mail is totally appropriate).

Chuck knew my family. He knew my parents and my siblings (they were both going through confirmation at the time). Every week we would go to service and afterwards he would greet my ENTIRE family by name. Except for me. I can’t tell you how many times my parents would introduce me. And he NEVER remembered my name. If he didn’t know anyone’s name in the congregation, it wouldn’t have been an issue. But he seemed to know everyone (and I’m not exaggerating) and called them by name.

At 14, you’re already feeling pretty self-concious and weird. And if you were me, you often felt like a loser-y misfit that didn’t really fit in anywhere and that no one REALLY liked you. Church was supposed to be a place where you should feel good going to. And I never felt good going there. In fact, I dreaded going more than I dreaded gym class (and believe me, I HATED gym class).

Because my brother was such a star confirmation student (note the EXTREME sarcasm), my mom began what was a weekly phone call with Chuck, in which she would explain why E was missing confirmation classes, not paying attention during them, etc. Seriously. They spoke all the time. I’m not kidding when I say Chuck knew my entire family. During a conversation my mom mentioned to him that it would mean a lot to ME if he greeted me by name at church and that we had met numerous times.

Chuck’s response? He had FAR too many other important things to do & couldn’t be bothered to learn my name.

I’m not kidding. The PASTOR OF A CHURCH SAID HE WAS TOO BUSY TO LEARN A CONGREGANT’S NAME!

I never went back into the church again. If I meant so little to a pastor that he couldn’t be bothered to learn my name, I was obviously not welcome in the church.

Thus began my own spiritual journey, or as I like to call it. “Stacey’s Excellent (Religious) Adventure”  Continue reading