Since leaving the church that we had been at for six and a half years I've gone through a lot of emotions.
Before I go in to that, I have to preface it by saying I know I haven't said much about the whole leaving the church thing. I have really, really wanted to because over the past several years I've talked a lot about all of the good things about the church. I've been really vulnerable and open on this blog. And, I think the flip side deserves to be told, too. The reason that I've held back is because I know people that I love, that still go there, read this blog. But, that's also why I think it needs to be told.
The first emotion that I experienced was relief. I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was finally free of obligations, of being at something almost everyday day or night of the week, of saying things to people that I didn't necessarily agree with so I wouldn't get into trouble, and just not having to worry about getting in trouble in general.
But, like leaving an abusive boyfriend, I also felt like I constantly had to look over my shoulder. I felt relief, but fear that it would come back. That I would get into trouble again. That the phone calls wouldn't stop. That I would run into someone and they would look at me like I had cancer and say, "How are you?" (Better than I've been in a long time, thanks.) I couldn't fully enjoy my freedom because, was I really free?
Then, I felt indifferent. I don't care about any of that stuff, because I'm moving on in my life, and I'm much happier now anyway. I poured myself into being the person that God had created me to be all along. The person that I was taught to be in word, but not really allowed to be. We were told that our priorities are God first, then our families, but when the pastor gets divorced that isn't quite true, right? I was never encouraged for focus on being a wife and a mother because if ministry wasn't a priority than it was because I had "fear" or I wasn't focusing on "what really mattered."
But, I wasn't really indifferent. Because I'm really, really hurt. I'm hurt that people were told that Eric was in "sin" and I just had to submit to him and that's why we left. (His only "sin" was that he was vocal about the wrong things going on there). I'm hurt that people were told not to talk to us or hang out with us after we left. I'm sad that I lost pretty much all my friends (with the exception of my best friend and all of my friends that also left.). I'm also angry. I'm angry that someone told me, "I miss you." And, I said, "I miss you, too. We should get together." And she said, "God has given me a promotion, so it's not right for me to hang out with you." (Creepy much?) I still love Jesus. I'm still a Christian. I still live my life for God.
The whole thing is just so messed up. And, the longer I'm away the more thankful I am that we left. We're in a much healthier place now and I feel really relieved. If this is the way that we're treated than how much more does that confirm that it was the right decision that we left.
And, there's a heck of a lot more to say about that, but I'll leave it at that for now. And, I'm sure I'll have more again later.