I left the meetings in November of 2006. Like Paul, after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and received a revelation of Jesus Christ and then he had to get away for 3 years to unlearn and then relearn so much, so did I for the next several years.
I was a good Pharisee also and there was much to unlearn about things that weren’t truly Scriptural and relearn a great number of things that were. Basic things about salvation, grace, works, the Holy Spirit. It was almost embarrassing the things I didn’t correctly understand but I just had never been taught Truth before about those things.
I want to encourage anyone else in that part of the process to be gentle with yourself. Just keep praying for God’s direction every day; immerse yourself in His Word and in solid Christian writers and understanding will come. Like I mentioned in the previous post, it’s traumatic to leave the meetings and the process isn’t over once you make the decision to not attend anymore. It’s a huge relief, yes, but our thinking has to change. We need our minds renewed and healed.
I also found myself assuming I knew in those first years what God’s will was for me. After all, we thought we had God figured out while in the fellowship. He only spoke to us about our calling in life, our spirits, our quiet time, being a better example, etc. Once the door to Him is fully open, we are staggered by all the areas He wants to speak to us about! The endless details of our life for example. The hidden parts of our character. Countless new ways to minister that we never considered before. Ways to worship Him that aren’t in church. I resisted the new process as much as I wanted it and that is how I found myself stuck for several years. This came as no surprise to God, however, because He knew the end from the beginning. I just picture Him patiently waiting for me to catch up to His plan!
I need to address also the fact that some have trouble reading the Bible at all for quite a while after leaving the meetings. They are so burned out with how it was mishandled. I think God gets that too. It must make His heart hurt to see that happen but He understands and just woos us back to His Word in time. I had to get a new Bible; I could not use my “worker” Bible anymore. I wanted to read the Bible fresh without all the markings I had in my “worker” Bible. Getting new versions of the Bible helped me also; and even getting ones with really pretty covers made it more appealing! No more black leather covers for me!
Another very common decision is made to just not attend any church anymore. Who can blame us? Everything else feels so uncomfortable and foreign. But does that make it wrong? We really have to be discerning and wise in this area. I went to another church right away and loved it, but now, all these years later; I’m finding it very hard to go. Is it because nothing else measures up to meetings? I don’t think so, or else we never would have left. (In my opinion, the meetings could have been awesome if they were formatted differently.) The meetings wounded us and frustrated us; we felt trapped there and so by association, we resist church in general sometimes. Just lately I have been aware that the Lord understands this area also. He has to. He knows what we’ve been through. Jesus never told us to go to church; he just said to follow Him. I don’t want to make excuses for myself but I also just have to trust this process as well. Trust that He will lead me to a group of believers that is right for me. It may be many or a few. I love the idea of a small home group and I also love the worship band at my big church. I really need to be open to the Holy Spirit’s dealings in this matter and I pray the same for anyone else in this position also.
It’s kind of like when I am walking my dog; she stops every few FEET to sniff and it can take 15 minutes to go one block! But she loves to sniff and needs to sniff; it’s part of being a dog and she is getting as much fun out of that as the walk itself. I just have to wait for her to move on; tugging on her leash only frustrates her and makes me appear as the impatient dog owner. (Which I hate when I see other people do that with their dogs!)
Once again, it comes back to a trust issue with God. I say I trust Him but do I really? If I did, I would be taking those leaps of faith more often and even those baby steps of faith more often. I wonder if there is any greater compliment that we can pay God than to simply trust Him.