Taking it Personally

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners

 

Dear Chuck,
Recently our only child graduated from high school and we celebrated by having an open house for him as many parents do. It was perfect in every way except for one very important thing, very few people showed up! I was very embarrassed and hurt as we have attended many gatherings for most of the people invited -- not to mention how hurt my son must have felt. I have to admit he received many gifts of money in the mail, but I feel I will never get over the hurt that these people -- who I thought cared about us -- didn't want to give a bit of their time to show it. We have attended our church for 13 years and have helped in many ways, but the only ones who attended the party were one couple, a widower, and our pastor out of about 300 people. There were a few cards sent by church members but those were the only acknowledgements we received. It is now hard for me to go to church because I felt these people cared about us more than we were shown. Would you consider changing churches? I love my church but feel very hurt.

Chuck's Response
 
Thanks for the note about the open house for your son that didn't get the support from the church you felt should have been given. I don't blame you for having thoughts about leaving, but I think this is more the result of busy lives than you not being valued by your church -- especially at graduation time, with kids out of school, vacations, and other activities.

I don't know if you go to every anniversary, graduation, wedding, and shower that you are invited to, but most of us have to pick and choose. We have to prioritize our time to make sure our own family is taken care of first. From my standpoint I have to decide whether honoring someone else's child is more important than taking one of my grandchildren on a date, or having dinner with my wife. We get invitations for open houses all the time at Christmas or other holidays and we simply cannot make room for one more thing on our calendar. Therefore I would guess that the people in your church have very busy lives and someone graduating from high school would not get very high on their priority list. It has nothing to do with loving the people involved. It has everything to do with terribly busy lives inside and outside the church and having to choose priorities.

Therefore I would not take it personally. Of course, it would have been wonderful to have lots of people come by, and if you go to everything you are invited to I can see where you would be hurt. But from an outside viewpoint, I am not surprised that it did not meet your expectations. It might have worked better to invite his church friends from the youth group over for a pizza party at your home. Maybe you can still do that. I know how you feel, but I'm sure the people of your church love you very much and would not hurt you for the world. It's a fact of busy lives. Whether we agree with other people's priorities is beside the point. They are God's servants, not ours. At least that's my take on it. Let me know if you want to talk further.

Chuck Snyder
 

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Contact Chuck: chuck@chucksnyder.org
Updated 05/24/2005