Leaving Behind Unrealistic Expectations

Sigh. I'm never going to get away from this church-leaving topic.

One of my big religious/spiritual issues, I've realized recently, has always been unrealistic expectations. For myself, it's one of the reasons that I always felt dysfunctional as a minister - I had impossibly high expectations for the role that I should be playing and the moral and intellectual standards that I should live up to in that role, and found myself consistently disappointed. For the church, my problem has been expecting it to be more than it can realistically be as an institution comprised of human beings, and being inevitably disappointed. I've experienced that disappointment as spiritual damage because I've had such high expectations for myself.

Stepping away has, in part, been about me letting those things go and just letting myself be myself and the church be what it is, as a human institution struggling along with a set of ideals that it can't possibly live up to.

I accept my fair share of the responsibility for allowing myself to develop unrealistic expectations for myself and for the church. Anyone familiar with the church will know that I didn't just develop them out of thin air though. Ministers are generally treated as a higher order of human being (and Bishops as transcendent) both in the formal ritual and the informal interactions within the community. 'The Church' itself is often viewed in reverential terms - the Body of Christ, the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, Christ's hands and feet, and so forth. These reverences, which are well intended (and probably quite valuable in a lot of situations) I think, seem unrealistic to me and seem to set up a potential prejudice that's not just a little unhealthy.

I'm of course not the only one who realizes this, and lots of religious people are able to maintain a healthy balance between ideals that are aimed towards and realities that will be expected to be experienced. Psychologically and emotionally, somehow I'm not very good at that, and intellectually I'm not very interested in it.

Realistic and healthy community, spirituality and leadership are what I'm interested in, not perfect.


Anonymous said…
Ah, the optimism of youth...

You need to bear in mind the following song:

Unknown said…
classic and good advice for every situation. I might go to an half-ass affirming church.