Dear Theo

Social Anxiety Soap Opera

I have been attending a new church. I love the worship, and the people are nice enough, but I am having a hard time getting past the surface and finding real friends. As an introvert, coffee hour terrifies me. When I do manage to go, I only make it about 10 feet into the parish hall, and give it about five wrenching minutes before I flee. It pains me to see all those people laughing and having fun, and having to feel on the outside of things.


Not Retired

I read about the 20-year-old who feels a call to ministry and it made me wonder about the other end of the age spectrum. In the church I have been in there is an upper age cap because they fear someone trying to scam a retirement benefit. I know that the Roman Catholic church will accept older men as priests because I know several who became priests later in life after they were widowed (Rome=no married priests, you know). What is the UCC position?


Is Heaven for Real?

My UCC pastor recently talked about Heaven being a relationship. I don't understand that at all. I believe it's a physical place that I can't wait to see the beauty of. What do you think?   Also, please pray for me & my family. One year ago, out of the blue, my 20-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe form of Bipolar Disorder. It has been a very difficult year.


Mad About the Music

This seems petty but I really hate the music in church. A few years ago we were told we needed new hymnals and the Pilgrim Hymnal was out of print so we got different hymnals.


Distant Daughter

Are there generational approaches to grieving?? My dad died abruptly this summer, and Mom leaves several states away from any of us kids. Whenever I call, and ask, 'How are you,' she is 'fine,' and only wants to talk about me and the grandkids. I know she has friends and a busy life, but... well, I'm worried about her, and don't know how to show it if she is 'fine.'


Hindered

I met a guy while working on his house and his "girlfriend" was living with him at the time. Since working on his house we have been dating since she was already in the process of moving out. It's been 5 months and not everything is out yet and she still has the key. I haven't been over his house yet and he says he just wants her completely gone before I go because she can try and start problems. Do I continue to date him and wait? Or do I leave him alone until her things are all gone. She only has a few things left there and they don't talk and he is done with her. He is 27, and I am 24 if that matters. Please help. I am so unsure. 
I know they are done but I am ready to move forward with him and this is just hindering it.


I'm only 20 and I have a calling to be a minister

I believe I have a calling to be a minister, preferably in the UCC. I'm only 20 and trying to get into college. I worry about what to do for seminary and how it will affect what I do for my 4 year degree. Where do I begin so I can answer God's call? Thanks so much.


Marriage

My wife and I have been married for about a year and a half. Might you suggest some progressive Christian resources we can use to strengthen and deepen our relationship together?


Blessed but Disappointed

I am the parent of a child with a disability. Recently you answered a letter from another parent of a child with a disability, who talked about how they felt like they’d been slapped in the face when people said to her that they were "blessed" to have a healthy child.  I was disappointed in your answer, which was a devotional about the difference between "lucky" and "blessed." Can you offer parents like me something more?


Neglected in Nebraska

I am 15 years old, and am a PKx2. Although my mom has a part time job and is able to support me in my struggle with mental illnesses and life in general, my dad is so absent from my life. He's always either working or watching football. There is no time for me in his life. I feel like I'm just a burden on him financially, physically, and spiritually; but he's always available to people in his congregation. He says that he loves me more than anything but those words don't translate into actions. What gives? I'm afraid to talk to him about it. Can you help me?