MY Choice – Online Church

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Posted @ QUOTEZ.CO

Six months ago, I made the choice to visit an on-line church service.   Nowadays, Sunday mornings from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., I am in front of the computer.

What Critics Say

To find out, I did a Google Search.  I found critics, both pastors and parishioners, who felt there were major missing elements within the on-line churches.   For example,

  • Corporate worship, praying and studying the bible together.
  • Serving one another and reaching out in mission together.
  • Encouraging each other through personal face-to-face interactions.
  • Taking Communion.
  • God needing your physical presence in the church.

Why I Made the Choice

Hubby and I retired and relocated to Florida four years ago; and, we spent the first three years visiting church after church looking for the right one to call our home.  Unsuccessful, I decided to accept a cousin’s invitation to visit her church service online in Chicago.  I had two options to worship:

  • On-Demand Recording at my convenience; or
  • Live Video Streaming during the actual church service.

Because, I wanted to hold on to the tradition of attending church on Sunday mornings, I chose the Live Video Streaming option.

After the first visit, I knew this was the church for ME.

First, the biblical teachings, mission, and focus on social justice mirrored MY former church.  I wanted to keep worshipping within the  “comfort zone” I had grown accustomed to.  And, these two churches embraced MY religious needs as a Black Christian seeking a positive spiritual, ethnic, and cultural experience within a church environment.

Second, the weekly Live Video Streaming church services connects ME with family members who attend this church.   The opportunity to build a stronger religious relationship, though we are separated by thousands of miles, has improved the quality of my life.   On any given Sunday it is possible to briefly connect with:

  • Cousin G, a Deacon in the church, singing in the Men’s Choir.
  • Cousin S’s young granddaughter, member, Children’s Praise Dance Team.
  • Cousin S, an Ordained Minister and long-time church member.
  • Cousin-In-Law D, a Deacon in the church, sitting in his designated pew.

Oftentimes, I will text, telephone, or e-mail Cousin S about a service.

Initially I had serious reservations about worshipping at an on-line church:

  • Self-Doubt made me ask, “How will others view this decision?”
  • Self-Awareness stepped in saying, “Who cares, it’s your choice.
  • Self-Empowerment gave ME the courage to accept, acknowledge, and embrace MY choice.

Though HUBBY supports MY decision, HE has yet to join ME for an on-line church service.   I’m just waiting.  After all, we have been partnering as a married couple for almost fifty-four years.  He’ll come around.

 

My Journey: Building Self-Awareness and Living Non-Judgmentally

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It is not our purpose to become each other;

it is to recognize each other, to learn

to see the other and honor him for what he is.” (Herman Hesse)

For the first time, I “recognized,”learned to see the other, and “honored my neighbor for “what she is.”   She was the first neighbor to come over and welcome us to the neighborhood when we moved in three years ago.   Within a year, she had her first cancer recurrence.  As she went through chemotherapy, Hubby and I, along with other neighbors drove her to treatment.

Recognized

Until our long conversation over breakfast several days ago, I only recognized my neighbor as a:

  • Sister Breast Cancer Survivor;
  • Religious Person – Interdenominational Religion that promotes evangelism;
  • Single Female, Never Married, with No Children; and
  • Far Right Conservative Republican – Follower of Fox TV, Glen Beck, Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc.

Politically, as far right as she is; I am as far to the left —

  • Religious Person – Protestant Christian Denomination with liberal views on social issues, social justice and equality; and
  • Far Left Progressive Democrat – Follower of Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, with the exception of Morning Joe, all the other MSNBC news shows.

It wasn’t long before we both realized that talking about politics and/or social issues were toxic to our “friendly neighbor” relationship.   We avoid these topics, but we still:

  • schedule occasional lunch dates and other outings;
  • attend church services together from time-to-time; and
  • watch each other’s homes and act as designated emergency contacts.

For more than three years, we have been just “friendly neighbors.”

On Saturday, I invited her to breakfast to celebrate my Six-Year Cancerversary.  I really wanted to celebrate with another survivor.  Before, I could tell her the reason for the invite, she said the dreaded words, “cancer recurrence.”    After hearing this, I deleted Cancerversary as a discussion topic.   I sat quietly and listened.

Learned to See the Other

I truly listened.  I opened my heart.  I looked beyond differences.

I did not challenge her decision to forego any further chemotherapy.  She wants to take whatever time that remains to travel and visit old friends.  This meant tapping into her 401K, but at 60-years-old she believes “death will arrive before retirement.”   Also, after meeting with her Financial Planner, she feels comfortable in drawing down some retirement funds for travel.

Her first stop is Scotland in 45 days.   I enjoyed listening to her stories about when she lived and worked there — the culture, her friends, her work, and the food.

Within 30 days after returning from Scotland, her plan is to visit a close friend in Hungary.  Again, I could have spent hours hearing about the young college students she worked with from all over the world.  She is excited about reuniting with the young man she had mentored while living there.

She is from Massachusetts and we talked at length about the annual vacations with my daughters to Martha Vineyard.   Though she lived in Massachusetts for a number of years, she never visited the Island.  But, she definitely said a visit is in her future.

She talked at length about the close relationship with her mother.  After the death of her father, she gave up world travel, accepted a position in her home office and joined her mother in Florida.   She cared for her mother who died six years ago from Breast Cancer.  And, shortly after that she was diagnosed.   I talked about what it meant to care for my mother the last two years of her life.

After talking with my neighbor yesterday, I no longer “focused on our differences.”  I listened.   I opened my heart.  I “learned” our “similarities” outweigh our “differences.”

Honor

I honor my friend, a Breast Cancer Survivor, for her strength and courage.  She is choosing to follow “her path” on “her journey” to live life to the fullest.

I am grateful our paths intersected and our relationship blossomed from “friendly neighbor” to “friends.”

We both want a  “healthy friends” relationship, and have agreed to read, “Conscious Communication:  How to Establish Healthy Relationships and Resolve Conflict Peacefully while Maintaining Independence,” by Miles Sherts.   As stated in the book’s introduction, we want to:

“learn to communicate with each other in a way

that supports our individuality while also

recognizing our interdependence.”

“Healthy friends” ought to have discussions on politics, religion, social issues, etc., and still respectfully disagree without being disagreeable.

I am on a journey to build self-awareness and live non-judgmentally.

Grateful for My Breast Cancer Mentor

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I will never forget February 8, 2008.   The date of my breast cancer diagnosis.  I immediately went back to 1988.  Remembering, the eight weeks I was a caregiver to my sister-in-law who had breast cancer and died quietly in our spare bedroom.   Caring for her was a gratifying experience, but it was painful and heartbreaking to watch a loved one slowly departing this life.  On February 8, 2008, I saw myself going down the same path.

But several days after the diagnosis this wonderful woman, who is a breast cancer survivor, entered my life.  She was the founder and president of a newly formed organization, Sisters Network, Inc., – Milwaukee Affiliate.   An organization dedicated to providing supportive, educational, and advocacy outreach services to increase breast cancer awareness for African-American women in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and surrounding areas.

At the time, she was employed as a full-time nursing instructor and simultaneously implementing this new and innovative non-profit organization.  Yet, she found the time to lend individual support to a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient. 

My Breast Cancer Mentor was there or within reach as I went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation.   Utilizing the information and tips she provided, I navigated through the treatments with little or no distress.

For the past five plus years, I have watched my Breast Cancer Mentor build a strong organization.  One that is well respected throughout the city and surrounding areas known for providing survivors, caregivers, and others with a broad range of programs, events, and activities designed to increase breast cancer awareness.

Because of the long-relationship with my Breast Cancer Mentor and the other survivors at Sisters Network, Inc., I have been able to make the transition from:

  • being a Victim – I lived in fear of the “unknown.” Always seeking an answer to the question, “breast cancer, Why Me?”  
  • to living as a Warrior – I will not let breast cancer define who I am.  I live in the present moment expressing and demonstrating gratitude, daily, for the wonderful Gift of Life.

As my Cancerversary date grows closer, I wanted to honor and express heartfelt love and appreciation to my Breast Cancer Mentor, she continues to:

  • inspire me to look beyond my condition;
  • uplift me spiritually (a praying woman)’
  • educate me on the positive benefits of mindfulness, wellness, and spirituality.

Thank you, Phyllis Holder, for all you have done, all you continue to do, and all I know you will continue to do in your untiring effort to promote breast cancer awareness for the under diagnosed and undertreated population in the Milwaukee community.

My Mentor – Cancer Retreat

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Cancer Help Program-The New School of Commonweal

My Mentor – Top Row and Center

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NAACP Young Professionals Adult – Fundraiser:  A Tribute to Services Provided by Sisters Network to the Community