Back in the days following my divorce, when I reentered the relationship/dating scene, it didn't take long for me to figure out that I was no longer the "catch" that I once thought I was. And eventually I found myself in one of those relationships where you realize that you are being kept around for reasons other than the ones you think you are. In the nutshell I was being used. When the light finally came on I decided to make that phone call(much easier than face-to-face). I thought I had the ultimate exit call when I told her on the answering machine that I was tired of being used and in a line from one of Jimmy Buffet's songs told her "if the phone doesn't ring it's me". The angry message I got back on my answering machine told me I had hit home. I haven't spoken to her since but have gotten feedback from mutual friends that I ended up being the villain in the whole thing. Oh well.
Several years later a buddy of mine and I were trading relationship war stories and I found out he had trumped my exit line. He was one of those guys who wasn't a good catch either because he was a nice guy and believed in treating women with respect. So he regularly got the "you're my best friend/like-a-brother" speech as he watched her run back to the abusive but "perfect hunk" kinda guy. One particularly rough episode ended and in his exit speech(think it was on the phone), he told her that he was tired of being there when she was hurt only to watch her run back to the "fix-it-up" (my word) project after she healed. He then asked her "What am I some kind of emotional tampon you use when your hurting, then throw away when you're done?". You can imagine the reaction! My friend now is married with a family and I pray that all goes well with him. The girl in the story I have no idea what happened to her.
I've been thinking that the "tampon" analogy might be a good way to describe my relationship with the organized "church" since I've left the professional pastorate. A few other leftovers like myself have come to the same conclusion. I know that the tampon analogy makes most women cringe and it's probably as popular a word in most churches as "condom". But for being an example of an extremely necessary item yet one which is regarded most often with disgust tampon seems to fit the bill. So how does this apply to ex-pastor/teachers and our relationship to the organized church? I'll explore that in upcoming posts. What do you you think?