In case you haven’t gathered, the “theme” for this set of posts has to do with recent changes in my life. Part I discussed the most significant and painful transition: the loss of my father. I had been reluctant to post it, but I felt like I needed to. It happened and likely nothing will affect me as much in the coming months as I mourn. I have to work on what is next and this is a part of the process.
So… I’m helping launch a church. In a movie theater. Yes, I know. “What the **** am I thinking?” I guess that’s what this particular post is about.
Just to be clear, this is not my first foray into the music ministry. Years earlier, I had served as a minister of music at two parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The first one – St. Andrew Catholic Church – merged with three other African-American parishes to become the Church of the Resurrection. The second one – St. Anthony of Madisonville – I only stayed at for a year, when it became clear my parents’ medical conditions required more day to day care than I could manage while employed an hour away. We parted on great terms and I still substitute there from time to time.
When I started attending Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, I just showed up, shut up, played keyboards in the band, and left. Since I wasn’t an employee, I wasn’t responsible for anything. I didn’t have to attend meetings or make any decisions. I could choose whenever I wanted to serve. I was free to sub elsewhere if I felt like it. (I made far more money as a sub.) If Dad needed to go to the emergency room, I could drop everything and deal with it. It was a completely different relationship than I had with the Catholic churches, which suited me just fine at the time.
Then, I ****ed up everything by attending, getting baptized, and becoming a member. Yes, I’m apparently good at self-sabotage.
Then it gets worse.
From Christmas season 2015 through the start of Lent 2016, I substituted for the minister of music at the Church of the Resurrection. It was a two month period with choir folks I consider family in a capacity I was plenty comfortable in. After almost five years away from directing on a continual basis, I was back at it again with a little bit of a different approach. The light went off in my head. I actually missed doing this. The stay was temporary, but I knew that what I had been doing otherwise – just playing piano – had to change.
Easy to say, isn’t it?
I was a 38-year-old man who lived with his parents and hadn’t worked a regular job in five years. Sure, I had credentials, references, and always managed to keep busy, but did that really make me any more employable? Does anyone really want to hear about how I organized my schedule around doctors’ appointments, dialysis treatments, medications, and lunches/dinners? Does anyone care that something as simple as taking both my parents out to lunch meant walking my blind father to the car, loading my mother into the wheelchair, and pushing her to the car? And repeat the same thing into the restaurant, out of the restaurant, and back into the house? Or that my phone would have to be on at all times in case my father had a medical emergency because I was the one who knew his medications or what happened at doctor’s visits? Or that I would drop everything at any moment if Dad had to go to the emergency room? Or that I tried not to leave my parents alone for more than a couple hours because if Mom fell, Dad would not be able to pick her up off the floor? Or vice versa?
Maybe the whole thing was blown out of proportion inside of my head, but I felt like no matter what I did, I had the Mark of Cain. Hell… I still feel that way.
If anything else, though, I figured it was good practice to get into the habit of putting myself out there, even if I was considered bad news. Over the next few months, I would periodically apply to positions. Some of them had a ****ing ridiculous application process. I even had a couple of interviews. Most applications were never acknowledged. Only two churches bothered sending me a rejection letter and one of them was the church I was attending! (Thanks, RE! I did appreciate it.)
For real, Dudes. All it takes is an email. When the churches don’t even bother rejecting you properly after an actual interview, it says they did not respect you. After that, I decided the “experiment” was over and I was done with music ministry. Yes, I was that disgusted.
So, what changed?
I went to the movies. Seriously. I’ll explain it in more detail in Part III.