I've really struggled with writing this post. As you know, church is a sensitive topic for me. I've written it and re-written it and decided just to come back to my original post.I didn't want to not write it. It's something I want to share, so here it is:
We've struggled to find a church to connect in and that we really connect to. In the past three years, since leaving the abusive church, we've gone to three churches for over six months and visited several others.
That bothers me, not because I feel like God is unhappy with me or demands I go every week, but because the people pleaser in me feels like I should. "Where do you go to church?" "Well....uhhhh...."
You see, at our old church, the pastor and many of the leaders (us included, embarrassingly) would constantly put down other Christians and other churches. When people would leave we would say things like, "Oh, they're not going to church? Yeah, figures." Or, the pastor would talk about how other churches were just church goers, but we were actually doing things (so humble, right?). He never came right out and said it, but he would constantly allude to the fact that we were the best church and the best Christians. To leave the church and go anywhere else would be a step down and you would be worse off for it.
Like I mentioned before, when we left we jumped right into another church. The Sunday after we left we visited a home church, the next Sunday we visited another church and we continued to go to that church every week for the next six months until the tragedy happened. Subconciously, we threw ourselves into the next church to prove to the pastor and the church people that no, we weren't like that. See, we WERE going to church. We WERE involved. So, everything you say about us is wrong. (Yes, they were saying a lot of untrue things about us.)
We didn't go to church for a few months after Finley was born. She was born at the end of December, right during the Winter and sickness season. We probably would have stayed home, anyway, but it was also a nice rest. After those few months we went to another church for about six months, then took a few months off again, then went to another church for almost a year. Yes, we are "church hoppers." The way that our old pastor talks about church hoppers you'd think that they were on the same level as the anti-christ.
Again, us going from church to church bothers me, not because I think God doesn't like it or me, but because of what I heard for years and years from that pastor. Because of the fact that I'm still living in the same town and occasionally run into those people and what will they think of me?
Another thing that bothers me about not going to church, not being actively involved in a church as a family, is the idealism in me. I didn't grow up going to church with my parents. I started going every week in junior high on my own. My parents would drop me off and pick me up or my grandparents would give me a ride and when I turned 16 I started driving myself. More than anything I wanted my parents sitting next to me in church, us being that perfect, happy family.
Now I know that perfect, happy family never existed. Those families sitting in church were imperfect, just like my family. I don't know why I'm still holding onto that (it's definitely time for the idealist in me to die). I don't want my kids to grow up in a family that looks perfect from the outside. I want them to grow up loved, healthy, secure, happy, and, most of all, loving Jesus.
(Oh, and a little update. I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but this week we went back to the church we've been going to the past few months. It isn't perfect, but I want to be connected somewhere. Not for anyone else but myself.) Next time I'll be talking about "community."
Thanks for letting me share part of my spiritual journey here. I know we all have different beliefs and experiences, but I appreciate your support, your insight, and hearing your story more than you know. Feel free to join in the conversation and share your point of view, whatever that is. Know that this is a safe place.
If you missed it, you can find Part 1 here. I'll be sharing Part 3 soon!