So, I have toyed with writing this post for awhile now. And I don’t know why today seems to be the day I want to do it. But it is.
This idea has been rolling around in my head for.. well, I guess a few months now. And I want to address it now that I can accurately put a name on what it is.
Someone, I think my mother, asked me the other day, Sunday I think it was, if I was considering joining a new church.
Since my fall from grace at my last church I have been a little gun shy about opening up to people about my religion, especially when trying out new churches. I am so AFRAID of being judged by them as well.
Now, fast forward a few months. I have been trying out a new church that I really do love. The pastor is fantastic. The way he delivers his sermons is relatable. He is personable and open. And I really enjoy going to this church.
That being said, when my mom asked if I was planning to join, I answered “No.”. Quickly. Decisively. Instinctively.
Why do you ask? Since I am obviously enjoying this new place. This new pastor. This new chance to study the scripture from a perspective I enjoy listening too?
Now, it just so happens, this new church is in the same town as my old church. I know quite a large number of the people that go there. Some of them even went to my old church before they were either asked to leave, or followed someone who was.
With all of that in mind, it’s been REALLY hard for me to open up to anyone in that church about what I have been struggling with, what’s bothering me, and why I don’t feel comfortable asking to be a part of their community.
I am so afraid that this church will find the overwhelming faults in my character too much to handle as well.
When I start to look at this attitude I have with church I have to ask myself, am I really afraid of God’s people? These people he has given a passion too? These people that work in his name?
And the answer to that is yes.
Now, when they brought up to me that my sinful nature (their words, not mine) was having a negative effect on the church, and making the church image look bad.. It really hurt.
It’s not like I was unaware of my lifestyle not being biblical. But at the same time, the way I live was not something that was broadcast in church. Did I have a boyfriend? Yes. Did we go on trips and travel together? Yes. Did we have animals that we took care of together? Yes. Well, how did that work? And this was the question that undid my position in that church. Because we live together.
Now, is my life biblical? No. But, I doubt very highly that every single one of the men in that church can say they’ve never sinned. In the Bible, all sins are equal. That’s why murderers can still get into Heaven. Jesus died for all of us to be saved and clean. I sin differently. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be allowed at church, right? Apparently not.
I was part of the praise and worship team. I felt like they were my second family. I loved those people. They’re wonderful people. And they brought countless blessings into my life. So being told I could no longer associate with them in the same capacity and sing with them on Sundays or Wednesdays was also a really hard thing to handle.
I wish I could say that I don’t understand their reasoning. But I do. I was bad for the image.
Then I get down to it, and I have to wonder, why are they so obsessed with an image that doesn’t include love? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Aren’t those the things we are preached to let show? Aren’t those the things we want people to see?
Now, I know this has gone off on a weird tangent, but as you can see, I am STILL struggling with this. It STILL hurts me. I STILL wish I could feel like I was still loved and accepted by those people.
But I don’t.
All I can think now when I go to visit (I renounced my membership with the church, at their request), is that people are judging me. Like they all know why I was asked to leave. Like now the sermon on non-biblical lifestyles makes sense.. I was made into an example. But I can’t help feeling like it wasn’t an example that should have been put out into the world. Especially not by believers.
So, in a REALLY roundabout way, (sorry about the rabbit trail) I am scarred from this encounter. I have been left in absolute fear of even thinking about joining or committing to another church.
I am scared to be found lacking.
Scared to be found wanting.
Scared to be found in the image that God has molded me into. A sinner who knows she needs God to guide her.
I am scared to be a believer..
And the worst part is, I am not scared to love God in public. I am not scared to love God at home. I am scared of the one place you’re supposed to be able to go to FEEL God in the people around you. The place you can find a family of like minded believers. A place where you can BE a sinner and the people are supposed to love you anyways.
My heart hurts..
I don’t want to be afraid anymore.
I don’t want to be so scared of anyone at church asking about my life that I just don’t speak to anyone.. These are people I have known for years. People that have loved me for years.
I am still scared of handling the shame I know my parents must be feeling.. I hate to know that when they go to church (the old church..) they must have to answer questions.. Or try to make excuses, “oh she’s just busy”, or “she is trying out a new church”..
It’s slowly consuming me.
I have been so stressed and upset by this entire situation that I can’t even muster up the excitement I had for my upcoming vacation because I don’t want my parents to have to explain we went, just the two of us, and it involved many overnight stays.. (Yes, that was a question they asked MY FATHER about how “problematic” our relationship was..)
I’ve gained 7 pounds since this. Even though I go to the gym, I have stopped caring about my diet. I am back to eating to feel good. And it’s making things worse.
Now, I don’t have anyone to blame but myself for all this. And I know that. I made the choice to buy a home with him, to build a life with him, all before we formally committed under the word marriage. I wear a ring. We’re planning a wedding. But it doesn’t feel like it’s good enough.
I am afraid of never being good enough for God.
Afraid that if I get to Heaven he will shake his head with disappointment as he looks at me, and think to himself that I am one human Jesus shouldn’t have saved..
Because that’s how I feel right now. So incredibly unworthy of his love, and grace, and forgiveness. So unworthy of the sacrifice his son Jesus made for me.
And that is a fear I don’t know how to combat..
I can say it’s a fear of commitment to a new church, with new people.
I can say it’s a fear of being judged again by people who are supposed to practice forgiveness, love and acceptance.
I can say it’s a fear of being (essentially) thrown out of the house of God again.
But I know, deep down, after writing it, reading it, looking at it, thinking about it, and KNOWING the truth..
I am afraid of never being good enough for God.
Afraid of being a disappointment to God.
Afraid of being a failure in God’s eyes.