Home > Getting to Know Me > Church… Not Right Now Thanks

Church… Not Right Now Thanks

Having grown up in the church I’m still often surrounded by Christians. Some have known me for years and have seen me “minister” in the church and others who have only known the person that is writing this blog. For the most part it doesn’t seem to matter who they are, if they are Christians they don’t seem to understand why I’m not going to church or involved in the church.  Some want to know my reasons and what has caused me to “write-off” God and the church. I want to stress that I haven’t written God off or the church for that fact. I still think that I believe in God, just not sure I completely get the “Christian God”. (Note, that I put that in quotes because I don’t want to offend people, so please just move on and keep reading this post and posts to come, and maybe you’ll understand me better.)

I guess there are a number of reasons that I’m not in “church” right now. One of the main reasons is that over the years the church and its members have been the cause of great hurt and pain in my life, Pastors and layman alike. Yes, I know that they are just human being and that they aren’t perfect, but it just gets repetitive. I think that at this stage there is significant scar tissue around my “soul” and I’m just not ready to get back in and have it cut open again. Now, normally at this point is where the good Christian will tell me that I need to let go forgive and get back in there so God can heal the hurt and take away the scar tissue and I can be made whole. My response to that, “been there, done that, got my t-shirt signed and oh yeah, it happened again.” How’s that saying go “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” I’ll admit it, I’m a wounded person, but aren’t we all in some way or another? I guess I’m just sick and tired of being wounded, getting better and being wounded again.

They say hurt people hurt others out of their own hurt. Well, I hope that I haven’t hurt anyone in the church in my day although I’m sure I have. I do know that at this point in my journey that whenever I do step foot into a church I become someone who I don’t necessarily like. I become judgemental (how’s that for honesty). I judge people and I look at them and scrutinize the way they worship and pray. I wonder to myself how much of what they are doing is real and how much of it is for show. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to judge people and be so pessimistic, but it’s where I’m at right now. I know that according to scripture I’m not supposed to judge others and so for me in some way I feel it is better to abstain then to get involved.

Not sure if it’s conviction, guilt, my own perfectionism but when I’m in church I just feel like crap. There’s no other way to put it. (trust me I struggled to finish that sentence for a few minutes) I sit in that pew or stand during worship and just don’t want to be there. I know that I’ll never be perfect, but right now the last thing I want to do is to go to church to feel that way, I can feel that way all by myself without entering a church.

Someone asked me after my last post “How has this affected my relationship with God? Positively and negatively”. Well obviously not being active in the church can make you feel more distant from God at times and even question whether He is still there and whether or not He still uses you. And although I’m questioning a lot about God and Christianity I believe that God still does use me.

Do I know if I died tonight where I’d spent eternity because of where I’m at in this journey? The answer. No, I don’t, but then again do you? No you don’t, it’s all based on faith and a belief in the Bible, none of us really knows until we die. I think what has been most impacted in my journey is my relationship with other Christians simply because many of them don’t understand me or where I’m a coming from. They want to save me and get me back on track and serving the Lord with all my heart and most of all “get over it.” I tend to stay away from those people, because for the most part there’s nothing they can say that I haven’t already heard and I need to work this out to get to the other side. I know that God knows who I am, where I am at and understands what I’m going through on this journey. He knows what is on the other side and He knows what the future holds and He will judge me in the end. 

As I mentioned in my last post this blog is probably more for me than it will be for others, but knowing that people have/are reading helps me dialogue more. If you are a Christian reading this and your first instinct is to pray for me, I understand that need; please feel free to do so. Believe it or not I appreciate the gesture. Please comment and ask questions, my goal is to be as transparent and as real as possible here and your questions my answering them helps me think things through.

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  1. chad
    January 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Hi, Friend,

    Interesting blog, I don’t pretend to understand your true feelings but I can relate to the judgmental thoughts and being hurt and not wanting to be in church but I stayed in church not because I wanted to but I knew God wanted me to because I was there to worship God and be built up and I’m glad I stayed because now I’m on the other side of the hurt.

    My presence at church was also a morale boost for the church and the church is in great need of people with a servants heart who will offer their time, gifts, and skills to the church to help spread the gospel.

    So I can I had to answer, am I doing what I feel or am I truely laying down my life for the greater cause at the place God has called me to regardless of my feelings.

    My wife and I are praying for the prosperity of you and your family.

    Happy New Year

    • January 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks for the comments and prayers Chad. I know that growing up my mother often “made” me go to church because it was where I needed to be and not to listen to my feelings. (Mom if you read this I’m glad you did!) My question to you Chad, and it’s not to challenge you, but out of a desire to understand, how do you go to church and worship God when all you feel is shame and guilt in doing so? For me right now there is no freedom in worship only condemnation.

      • chad
        January 3, 2011 at 8:02 pm

        Hi Eric, I like challeges and questions, they are what motivate me to study but anyways, yes my mother made me go to church against my wishes as well and all I wanted to do was stay home and play 🙂 and she didn’t live much of the Christian life at home which was weird. but likewise I am glad because now that I am old, I know where to run to.

        To respond to your question, I assure you, it wasn’t easy, but I will tell you of my journey because it wasn’t just one thing that brought me out, but after 2 years of bible school, I found my identity in christ that no matter what wrongs I have committed or what others did to me, I was able to come into God’s presence knowing that since I repented, I am righteous in God’s sight and I need to rely on Him to heal my wounds and reveal to me why I feel the way I feel and what to do about things.

        While in worship in churches, my blood would boil when people would scream and even when preachers would scream, I just wanted to leave but I stayed knowing God wanted me there because I knew my healing was there Plus if I left I had nowhere to run to, but backwards so I stayed.

        What I found was that I needed to change my thinking, God showed me that I was prejudice against white people and that they all thought themselves superier to natives which is one reason I had trouble recieving from them. Now that lie was exposed and now I can share openly to non-natives or anyone of influence without feeling inferior or ashamed.
        I also found that I was accepted by God regardless if anyone else acknowledges it or not and He is the one who promotes.

        What I also found is that I must not judge other peoples motives in worship, whether they are faking, entertaining or whatever, that’s between them and God and they will answer for it. It’s hard enough to keep my own thoughts and mind focused on Him.

        I now love worship and crave His Presences in corporate worship because He loves the unity and the love of the people for one another, we can’t control anyones thoughts or actions but we can control how we react with the Lord’s help of course and to keep our own heart right as best we can.

        I don’t think I have all the answers but I hope I encouraged you a little and I’m glad you were brave enough to share your heart. God hears your cries and He will show Himself strong to you. Have a blessed New Year my friend.

  2. Ryan
    January 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    yeah man great post.. I know alot of what youre going through. People get it wrong all the time.. the line between God and “church attendance” has been blurred. People have a hard time differentiating between the two. I hear people ask how to get closer to the Lord.. and someone answers go to church more, serve in the church. WRONG.. thats a religious/duty/performance based mentality.. and not faith in what Jesus did.. He said that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. PERIOD. Im glad youre taking time off from all that.. I am too. Now I spend time with the Lord at home or in my car.. then follow His leading.. its way easier done than said 😉

  3. January 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Hey Eric
    Thanks for being truthful about your journey! I have known you for many years and I have to say that while you have had times of hurt, doubt and struggle, your honestly is refreshing and I see you more and more not wanting to hurt others as you wrestle with the disappointments you have endured. Remember, it was you who took my dad to church as he was needing it at the most important time of his life! Whether you wanted to be there or not…your actions helped my dad on his own journey too!
    I am encouraged to read your conviction: “I know that God knows who I am, where I am at and understands what I’m going through on this journey. He knows what is on the other side and He knows what the future holds and He will judge me in the end”. Eric, thankfully as we all journey in our shining moments of faith and ugly battles of sin and hurt; God’s Grace comes to finds us and answers for us in the time of judgment.
    Thanks for sharing!
    M

    • January 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks for your comments Mandy. Taking your dad to church and spending time with him during that time was something that I treasured and always will treasure. His wisdom and lessons are things that I often find myself reflecting on.

  4. Rob
    January 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    “Courage” is the first word that comes to my mind after reading your blog, and here’s why:

    a) Courage because it takes a lot of work/time to get your thoughts out in way you feel others will be able to grasp.

    b) Courage because once people begin to respond/not respond you see that you have not been understood fully (and deep down that’s what most of us really would like)

    c) Courage because your first blog seems to be a pretty gutsy topic – religion, God, personal wounds, judgmental human nature, faith, the Bible, Christians, and so on.

    d) Courage because that’s what I think it takes to face God, the church, and ourselves.

    So what is courage and where do we get it? I think courage is the way that we view ourselves – the feeling that we are incomplete if we don’t move in the direction we know we must. I’m not talking about the feeling of being brave, which I think is connected with our own sense of pride (ie. if I don’t do such and such a thing, others/I won’t see me/myself as “cool”, “tough”, “smart”, “insert your own adjective here__________”. I’m talking about the knowledge I have that my actions shape my identity.

    Then next question is what is identity, where does it come from? I guess this depends on who you ask. From the perspective of Christ, identity comes from the Father. I am who he says I am, therefore I do the things that are congruent with that identity. So I think identity works like this: I hear what the Father says about me and this compels me to aim my life in that direction. I take actions that hopefully are consistent with that direction. Christ was perfect (whole) so he was actually able to be entirely consistent and I find his identity remarkably clear compared to most people and myself. So our actions either support or fail to support God’s view of who we are.

    Maybe some of the other readers of your blog and you would give a better response that what I have just written, but I thought I would at least make an attempt.

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