The perky voice on the other end of the line responded to my decline to her invitation to church, “Well, it just really hit my heart when someone told me once that if I wasn’t going to church because of other people, then my faith was in other people, not God.”
All I’d said was that church doesn’t feel like a safe place for us right now.
I really feel that if you have to be showing up to church every Sunday, which isn’t God’s Sabbath anyway, to PROVE your faith, then your faith isn’t in God but is, rather, in an institution and isn’t based on obedience to Him but, rather, other people’s perception of your activities.
I don’t want to practice Churchianity. I want to walk with my God every hour of every day. I want to do scary things with Him, like create a life post abuse, unfortunately, without loving support from those who claim to be His hands and feet.
I’ve received comments on this blog, which I’ve chosen not to allow, stating that I’m not a Christian. I can’t be, not with my position and the things that I write.
I’m avoided by Christian home schooling moms and people we used to attend church alongside. They either look away and pretend they don’t see me or they introduce themselves and make a point of telling me they don’t know who I am, though we’ve run in the same circle for decades and have shared intimate conversations. I’m one of those who has “fallen away.”
I just don’t toe the line. I’m “out of fellowship.” I “need to have those kids in church.” I “should not speak evil against other people. We ALL sin and have fallen short.” I am accused of being “full of bitterness.”
Last week I shared a link on Facebook to a wonderful blog post about how everything doesn’t have a good purpose. I shared it with several people in mind whom I knew would find comfort in the writer’s words. The premise was that sometimes people die and babies are raped, and it just hurts. And, it’s okay to hurt. It’s cruel to tell a grieving mother that God has a plan for all of this and she’ll see someday how good this will all work out.
One very religious woman didn’t like that post and commented that she chooses to believe the word of God is true and that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28. I deleted her comment and unfriended her. This has happened just one too many times with her, and I’ve tried and tried through private messages to tell her how she comes off to others.
She didn’t hear the smugness in her comment. She didn’t even comprehend how that could be taken by someone deeply wounded and suffering in that moment. She was using scripture as a weapon, not a comfort. She wielded the Word as a double-edged sword with power to divide joints and marrow instead of using it as a soothing balm, reminding the weak of God’s great love for them and that He came to bind up the broken-hearted.
These types of people seem to always be prepared to spout off a suitable scripture to put people in their place, but they’ve conveniently forgotten those scriptural references that would stop them from such behavior. They are fluent in Scripturese and use it regularly to prove their spiritual superiority to those of us who experience any human emotions.
When Jesus arrived at the home of his friend Lazarus after Lazarus had died, Jesus wept along with everyone else. He was God manifested in flesh and knew His intention was to perform a miracle that day, to raise Lazarus from the dead. But, He wept. He stood there with all of those broken-hearted friends and family members and cried over the loss of a friend and brother. He didn’t stand and condemn them for failing to rejoice in Lazarus entering into eternal rest and peace or the temporal condition of all of this anyway. He stood with them and wept also.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Romans 12:15
By saying that she “chooses to believe God’s word is true,” she seems to be inferring that those who feel, say, or think that sometimes bad things just happen are choosing to believe God’s word is not true. Or, perhaps she just thinks we don’t love God? Or, aren’t even counted among the called??? Of course, that leads us to even darker places of doubt where we all too often go in our darkest moments anyway….Why is God doing this to me? Does He love me? He loves everyone but maybe I’m so awful, so sinful, so unforgivable, He doesn’t love me. Maybe I’m not even really saved? I’ve accepted Him into my heart and been baptised. I believe. But, maybe I’m not saveable? Maybe the abuse made me too dirty for His kingdom.
In the process of preparing for our eventual move, I’m fixing what needs or can be fixed and getting rid of what can’t be. It’s been an emotional three months of downsizing and saying goodbye to things I’ve held onto for far too long. So, I took the guitars in to the music store to see if they could be fixed. We attended church with the owner; my boys took lessons there; and he’s done repairs for us in the past. He has often prayed for us and with us.
The guitars were to be ready in a few days but weeks went by. One excuse after another. They even left town for a week and failed to let us know he hadn’t even started the repairs yet. We just kept waiting and waiting without notification of the constantly pushed out time frame. He finally called my son and told him his younger brother’s guitar was ready. However, my vintage classical guitar could not be repaired. It was too badly damaged by the abuse my oldest daughter inflicted upon it when she borrowed it. He wanted to know what we planned to do with it. If I was just going to throw it away he would keep it and just use it at his house as wall decor. At first I agreed to that, but I couldn’t sleep that night. Something about it didn’t set right with me, so I had my son call him the next day and tell him I had changed my mind. I would like the guitar back to hang on my own wall. Truth was, I didn’t believe him. I feared if I walked in that shop a month from now I’d see my guitar repaired and for sale with nothing but pure profit for him. I’m going to take it somewhere else to get a “second opinion.”
The day I stopped in after work to pay him for what he’d done and pick up both guitars, he, of course, wanted to pray with me and asked where we’re fellowshipping now. I told him we’ve been out of church for a year and a half. He was clearly disturbed by that. I shared with him that it’s difficult being divorced in church. The children and I are viewed as second class citizens in the kingdom. I shared with him some of the harsh and condemning ways the church has dealt with our emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and how it has extended grace to our abuser and how the church has compounded our pain. He acknowledged it’s hard to “come from a broken family” in church.
He updated my contact information in the computer system and wanted to know the story behind by fantastic email address. I shared with him that when God took my health and my marriage and my parents and my brother and my adult children, I thought it was death and hell on earth. But, God was emptying me of the toxic people and things in my life and bringing me to a place of TOTAL emptiness, so He could fill me with Him and Him alone. (And, I honestly believe that.)
He smiled that schmarmy smile the practitioners of Churchianity so often smile and began to speak fluently in Scripturese, chastising me for denying the body of the gifts that my children and I have been given. Because, he reminded me, God has bestowed gifts upon each one of us, even me and my children. He finished with, “I don’t know what your role was in the demise of your marriage. You know, it’s usually our own toxicity God is trying to reveal to us. We’re the toxic ones He has to deal with.”
I actually wanted to laugh out loud, roll on the sidewalk in front of his shop, holding my stomach, and feeling as though I might burst from the belly laughs that welled up within me. He accused me of denying the body of Christ of my gifts by not going to church and sharing what God’s doing in my life, yet when I shared my testimony with him he turned it on me and corrected me on what God has been teaching me through all of this! He completely discounted my “gift!” He presumed to know the mind of God and what it is that God has really been trying to reveal to me! He didn’t want me to share anything! He just wanted me to open up enough so he could accuse and correct appropriately! He wanted me to get back in line and accept the “fact” that I’m to blame for my ex-husband’s perversion and violence and that I’m the toxic one. This so-called freedom I think I’m walking in–now that I’ve finally realized abuse is a tool the devil has used on me from birth, that my mom, dad, grandpa, ex, and everyone else were prisoner warriors in satan’s war on innocence–is false. I’m in bondage because I’m just not groveling on the ground in a continual state of contrition as I should be!
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Matthew 23:4
The Savior is not like these people, and they are nothing like Him. They do not represent Him. For decades I thought they did. I thought they were right. If I was hurting, especially if THEY were the ones hurting me, I MUST be wrong because THEY are His people and they KNOW things I don’t. They have a mainline to God that I obviously don’t. My life has been hard, and His ways are easy. He makes our paths straight and leads us beside still waters. The children of the righteous don’t go hungry. And, these beautiful people’s paths were straight and easy. Their children lived like little princes and princesses. My children and I just suffered. We were poor, hurting, hungry, and alone. OBVIOUSLY, God was with them and not with us!!! Just ask them, they’d tell me so! In fluent Scripturese they would explain to me why they were perfect and their lives were perfect and why I just couldn’t experience the perfection they enjoyed.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:17
I now reject their teachings as false. I would love to fellowship one day, find a body of believers to study with, pray with, celebrate with, and mourn with. But, I will not participate in Churchianity. For now, for a time, I choose to sit “outside the camp” alone with the one true God. I trust Him to gently and tenderly lead me where He wants me. And, for now, it seems He wants to hang out just the two of us. And, that’s okay. It’s beautiful actually. But, I know that this season will pass and eventually He’ll put me with a group of others. Just not now. And, when He does, I trust that the people will be genuine and honest and not bowing at the false altar of Churchianity, smiling while hurting others, and speaking Scripturese.