Recently, I came across a blog post that I found really insightful. I am going to cut and paste it below this for my readers. She is sharing her experience of why she left her church. She has no connection with the meeting church but her experience is similar. When you are reading her post, might I suggest that you replace the word ‘church’ for ‘meetings’ or ‘going to church’; whichever might fit your experience. The questions she raised are almost verbatim to questions I asked at the time and again more recently when I began to find it difficult to attend the church I have been attending the last few years. I also especially love the possibilities presented near the end for friends of those who have left the ‘church’. Let me know what you think.
I am sending this link now because I am deep in the throes of trying to figure out what to write next on the blog myself! I have ideas rambling around in my head and some are on paper. Satan is working overtime on me telling me I can’t do this but I REFUSE TO LISTEN! I am telling him repeatedly TO GET LOST IN JESUS NAME. It works!
Here is the link for the referenced post and below in its entirety.
When we leave the Church, there is without a doubt a reason for it. When we leave the Church, we do not need to hear Bible verses or have you “hold us accountable” and tell us to return. When we leave the Church, we don’t need you to judge us or walk out of our lives.
“But, the Church is the bride of Christ.”
“But, going to Church is biblical.”
“But, having fellowship is biblical.”
We don’t need you to tell us that. We went to church. We read the Bible. We know what it says. We know already.
What if church isn’t a safe refuge, but something we had to take refuge from?
What if church isn’t a place of comfort?
What if we were abused in and by the church?
What if the church is where we experienced the greatest hurt?
What if we learned more about faith when we were away from the church?
What if the leadership took advantage of the congregation’s trust?
What if we were taught false doctrine?
What if our search for truth led us outside of the doors of that building?
Some of us are trying to make our way back, while some of us simply cannot even handle the idea of walking into such a building right now. What the Bible says is real, and I’m not arguing God’s love for the Church. But, we aren’t just another Christian, number, or statistic. We are real people who have experienced real hurt. We are people who have experienced immense brokenness and have found that we cannot experience the healing we need in the confines of a Church building–though we desperately want to. We are people who feel so terrifyingly vulnerable to more pain that we cannot imagine going back right now.
Just because we walked away from the church for a time, does not mean we don’t love God, nor does it mean we don’t love people a part of the Church. Just because we walked away from the Church for a time, doesn’t mean we won’t be back some day.
“But the Church is made up of people, and people are imperfect.”
“You’re going to have some bad experiences anywhere you go.”
“People are going to disappoint you outside of the church, too.”
“You can’t expect perfection.”
I don’t believe any of us are expecting perfection from the Church or from people. We’re not looking for flawless pastors, leadership or relationships. We’re looking for people who care about the brokenness of our hearts. We’re looking for people who want to genuinely be in relationship with others. We’re looking for people who want to go past the fluffy garbage and get down to the nitty-gritty stuff that everyone avoids. We’re just looking for love, compassion and grace. We’re looking for the fruits of the spirit. We’re looking for truth. We’re looking for acceptance. We’re looking for people who won’t hate us and condemn us for not reaching their expectations, or for messing up (heaven forbid).
What if instead of people judging us for leaving, someone would care enough to ask why?
What if instead of sending us bible verses online, you would meet us for coffee?
What if instead of talking about us, you would talk to us?
What if instead of walking away from us, you would walk with us?
What if instead of caring about losing a member, you would care about a broken person?
Will you stand with us, when everyone else forsakes us?
(Please know, I love the Church as a whole, and I love what many churches are doing in the communities and countries of the world. Please know, the Church can be beautiful, and I would never wish to lead anyone away from it. I’m not intending to hate on the church, or even harshly criticize it, I’m sharing mine and many other people’s stories. I also know many people who have had incredible church experiences.)
(End of pasted blog post). Again, I think she has raised really good questions from both sides. I am fully convinced that for those of us who have left the meetings and find it difficult to attend another church at times, that the Lord truly does understand. It just takes time to readjust, to “detox” if you will, to heal, to let go of the past and be ready to be in the present. It’s a wonderful time though; it’s life changing to have peace, but being misunderstood by family members, by others who still go to meetings, is just part of the process. God is faithful to send you new friends and the best part is the increased depth of your relationship with God. Also, after reading posts like the one shared here today, it helps us to realize that we are not alone; nor are we unique in this process. Many have gone through it. In fact, Jesus said it would BE part of the journey. A line from a hymn comes to mind with new meaning, “God understands me; this thought will suffice.”