For 2 years my husband was mostly in military hospitals with only a few weekend passes and I was either in TLQs, staying with family or in rental homes where I could ‘work out’ the rent by fixing up the places. We had 3 small children and no paycheck b/c he wouldn’t agree to sign a release for ‘severance’ pay even though they offered up to $200,000, which at that time was a small fortune. He was wise enough to know that in his condition that wouldn’t last long—I was ready to take the money and take our chances –he was much wiser than I. 🙂 Most weeks, our only income was $40 the Red Cross would give us for food. I spent $19 on Christmas that year, buying used FP toys and cleaning them with bleach –the kids thought it was a great Christmas. 🙂
Finally, after 2 years, the USAF put him on TDRL and gave us 2 years of ‘back pay’ which was several thousand dollars. We moved to the town we lived in until recently b/c it was close to medical facilities and the climate and area was good for the disabled. We bought a house. Eventually, my husband was put on the permanent and totally disabled list and everything pretty much stabilized –still lots of medical junk going on even today, but life did become more normal and we had a nice income, free medical, benefits, etc.
After a long drama, we finally began to live again, albeit a very different life. Hiding his hip to foot brace under his pants and removable back brace under his shirt, few people were totally aware of my husband’s condition; the kids were always a bit surprised when someone said something about him being disabled, they truly never realized he was. 🙂
For several years we went to a pretty normal UPC (United Pentecostal Church) church. The pastor was originally from my home state of Ohio and for the most part wasn’t a bad guy. There were a few incidents, like the time I developed numerous boils. I had never had a boil in my life and these were huge painful ones that put me in the hospital. The pastor in all seriousness told me ‘some people’ felt boils were a sign of sin in one’s life. I am not kidding! We called him a ‘Job’s comforter’ hahaha. One of the Drs. thought it might be something in the city water that I couldn’t tolerate and we bought a water system for the house. The boils disappeared and even though we later moved and didn’t have a water system, they never came back. We do drink bottled water and have a filter on the fridge though —just don’t ever want to go through that again!
There were upsets in the church and good friends left (we had no involvement and stayed) but things were never the same after –people became paranoid and things were always tense. We bought a nicer house in a better neighborhood and changed to a different, closer UPC church. We didn’t ask for a letter and had no issues so were pretty much accepted at the new church, but it really didn’t surprise me that we seemed to no longer exist for the friends left at the old church. We had found this to be an expected UPC experience. (Another person recently blogged about the loss of friendships.)
We stayed at this church for several years also; in both churches, we did outreach, taught sunday school, were totally involved, but in the new church even after several years we had no real friends. Our kids were cute, bright, sweet, well behaved and popular first in their home school groups and then in public high school, winning lots of awards, being president of clubs like National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, Key Club, etc. but inexplicably were never accepted at church. It wasn’t the standards, at this time, we followed them more closely than most of the church. It wasn’t their personalities; our house was always full of their friends, just not generally friends from church.
They were baptized and had the holy ghost from an early age. They went to the church camp each summer and participated in all the children’s and youth activities but were never accepted. In talking to other parents later, we found that very few kids in this large church felt ‘accepted’ and most are not in church today at all.
When my son started college on the other side of town, we moved and began attending a small UPC church that was frowned upon by churches in the area b/c of their lack of ‘standards’. By this time, our standards were slipping a bit, mostly b/c my daughter and I had done the ‘read the Bible through in a year’ program a couple of times and discovered that some of this stuff wasn’t in there. LOL
I went back to college when she did and we graduated together in 2000. My husband and I were fine with the little non-conventional church. It was kind of like a mission church with no formality and though we participated and helped out a lot, we didn’t really make any close friends, we really just didn’t have much in common with anyone, but I traveled a lot for work and we were fine with everything. The kids married and my son and his wife moved to another state to do church work at a college.
My daughter started a family and then when my grandson was 2 and there were no activities at the church for him, my daughter and son-in-law wanted to go to another UPC church with more kids and activities. Of course, we were sticking with the grand kids. 🙂 The new church was known for very strict standards and my husband and I thought this was not a good idea, but decided to go ahead and give it a try. At first it was ok –the kids and grand kids were a great ‘catch’ for this church and though they hadn’t come with a letter of permission, it was obvious the pastor wanted to accept them (they were and are nice looking, bright, educated, successful, what’s not to like hahaha).
We knew the drill, so my husband and I just played nice and ‘attended’ when we were in town. For 3 years the kids tried to belong, but without changing considerably –they didn’t make the changes of no more trimming hair or pants or makeup for my daughter, no more shorts, movies, etc. for my son-in-law– so they were not allowed to participate or ‘use their talents’.
They went to ‘discipleship’ classes that the whole church was asked to attend. My husband and I passed on these –been there, done that. 🙂 Finally, they were asked to ‘sign a contract’ stating they would follow all these ‘holiness’ standards to be a ‘real’ member of this church. That was kind of the end for all of us. My husband and I weren’t even asked to sign, I think it was pretty obvious we weren’t interested.
The pastor told my husband that cutting my hair was a ‘heaven or hell’ issue. My macho husband told him that how I looked was not the business of any man but him! hahaha I really love this guy. 🙂
At this point we thought we would just trot right back to the little non-conventional church and my husband called the pastor and was assured they would be very happy to have us back. My husband told him to ‘think about it’ and then let us know; we just didn’t want to cause anyone any problems. A couple of days later this pastor called and rambled on, barely taking a breath about why we were not welcome back –I at first thought it was a recorded message b/c it didn’t sound real. We were having a family get together and it was hard to hear the message (my husband just brought the phone in and before we realized what was going on, it was over and the pastor had said goodbye and hung up). We all sat there kind of dumbfounded asking each other –what in the world was that all about????
My son-in-law called both pastors to try to get an answer. Both wanted he and my daughter-in-law to come back –one with definite standards requirements, the other kind of ‘who knows what’ but made it clear that neither church wanted me or my husband. Ok, this was definitely new; we should have been upset or hurt or something but so far, we just feel kind of a relief that we don’t have to keep trying to make these churches work.
We have been through an awful lot in our lifetime; this blog has many blank spaces b/c our story would fill a book. We know who we are, we are happily married, we love God, we have great kids and adorable, brilliant, beautiful, sweet grand kids LOL. We have good friends, just mostly not in UPC. I have a great job and my husband loves traveling with me. We also have an adopted 20 year old daughter that I haven’t even discussed here –she would rotate between our house and my bio kids houses and is a happy, well adjusted, very sweet kid.
Life is good. Eventually we will find a group of people in a church we can attend and enjoy. No hurry.