I hate Sundays. Wait, I should be a bit more temperate and not so indiscriminate with a term I tell my grandson not to use. So I’ll re-phrase. I really, really dislike Sundays with a visceral aversion akin to hatred. I approach this day with a combination of dread and loathing so intense I know it will generate a bile in my inward parts that I can almost taste. Several times today I will wonder why I am gritting my teeth so hard that my head hurts. Then I will remember. Oh yeah, it’s Sunday.
If it were possible to go to sleep on Saturday night and not wake up until Monday morning, I would happily take that option. Sundays are just too disheartening, frustrating, and painful.
Imagine a concert pianist who loses the ability to move the fingers of her right hand. Or a chef whose sense of smell vanishes so that he can no longer detect the nuances of flavor so essential to his profession. Life is not over for either of them. She can still teach and perhaps conduct. He can create quality cookware and advise kitchen designers on the most efficient use of space.
Nobody would blame her if she sold her Steinway baby grand because she could no longer bear the sight of it in her living room. And everybody would understand if he avoided restaurants, preferring to eat his bland-tasting meals at home. That’s me… and Sundays.
For most of my life, Sunday was a special day with its own special “feel.” Most Sundays, of course, I went to church. But even when I wasn’t in church for some reason, the day still felt like, well, Sunday. And it was a good feeling.
That all changed three and a half years ago. That was when the discouragement, the frustration, and the pain reached the “tipping point.” In his book by that title, Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” It is conceptually similar to “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Pressure builds, perhaps even imperceptibly, until that moment when everything changes. That moment after which things are dramatically different from the way they were before.
I never really saw this coming. I never imagined that my frustration and disappointment with organized religion, and the emotional pain it produced, would result in my inability to tolerate formal church services and my aversion to Sundays as a consequence.
Things may be getting better. I just read a friend’s Facebook post, in which he described his genuinely positive experience in a worship service this morning, and I didn’t even think about writing a snarky comment. And earlier today, I made it all the way through the liturgy for Holy Communion—reading it, that is, not attending it—without the sensations of gastric queasiness and disorientation which have accompanied that discipline for the past several months.
I could ask you not to judge me, but it’s probably too late for that. If I were only observing this scenario and not participating in it, I would probably be quick with a suggestion or two for how to combat these symptoms.
I can only tell you that, as simple and uncomplicated as the corrective may appear to an onlooker—“just pull yourself together, man; suck it up, let the pain go, and just get past it”—I’m not there yet. Either the pain is just too great, or I’m just too petty and small, or some combination of the two. All I know is that Sundays make me feel rotten.
Maybe I’ll just go back to bed. Tomorrow, after all, is another day, and it’s not Sunday.