We left our church after 18 years under less than ideal circumstances.
The feeling of being burned is still with me six years later.
We started going to a small congregation church where my kids attended homeschool co-op classes. They were kind and friendly and gave us time to heal without asking us to get involved with anything. It was the first time in nearly 20 years that we didn’t have a class to help out in, a cafe to run, or groceries to buy (for the cafe). We didn’t have to be there two hours early to set up. We didn’t have to drag ourselves out of bed earlier than we did on other days of the week. We were surrounded by kind people who didn’t place expectations on us.
It was nice. It was exactly what we needed at that point.
After about a year, it seemed as if we were starting to hear repeat sermons, and we were wanting a change. We’d been insulated and now it was time to branch out.
We switched to a much larger church, where we could still come and go but had a completely different feel and style of music and preaching. Very different, but good.
That was good for a while until I began noticing that the lack of connection, while it worked for us, was also a sign of a disconnect in the church. We changed churches thinking that was the answer, but it wasn’t. The hype was real: Everyone gets all excited about Jesus and singing the Jesus songs and praising but when you meet face to face the conversations were all the same.
“How are you doing?”
“We’re doing really good! How are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine.”
“Well, it was great to see you. We should do coffee sometime.”
Move along now. Rinse and repeat every single week.
I realize that not all Christians are “the religious right”, but many are.
Most that I know are, and anything that contradicts what they believe is automatically deemed as wrong. There is no room for discussion and debate is futile. But I’ve always been more in the middle. Moderate? I think that’s the word for it. I’m moderate in my views on politics and religion and parenting and education. I don’t swing way to the liberal left and I don’t swing way to the religious right– but I did for over 20 years. Why? Because when I became a Christian I bought the whole package.
Swing right. Stay there.But the hype. And the songs. Music has always been my connecting point. It runs through me. I don’t play an instrument but there is always a song in my head. I love music like nothing else. In the church, I dove headlong into Christian contemporary and rock music and shut the door on my music roots. I jumped on a pendulum and let it swing me far to the right when I had been somewhere in the middle.
And then the hype hit me. I just can’t sing those songs anymore. I can’t have those conversations anymore. I can’t stomach the extreme prejudice and hatred anymore. I. Just. Can’t.
- If you say that you love people, then love them.
- If you believe in unconditional love for your family, then love them without conditions, despite their poor choices or differing lifestyle.
- If you claim that serving others is your mission in life, then serve them without reservation. Don’t just serve within the walls of your church. Step outside, see the needs and fill one.
- If you believe in the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control), then demonstrate these in your daily life because when you say you believe in these traits but then spout racist, misogynistic, homophobic words you make yourself out to be a liar and the gospel you claim is rendered impotent in your life.
It’s been hard to come to the realization that I don’t want to go to church anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe, but I am just so burned out on Christians and the typical Christian spiel that I can’t do it anymore. I’m working on me now, rediscovering what I like, what I want, and what I believe.
I am trying to find my balance again.