So I just tweeted back to back to back. Reflection is not usually a fun or pleasant thing. Especially when your past was not fun and unpleasant. I spent much of my life unhappy, depressed, and I think angry. I was a kid when my parents divorced. Younger than ten. But I remember the counseling and the arguing. I do remember having fun. I had friends and people I considered family that I went to church with. My relationship with my dad wasn’t that great. I know now that it was due in part to factors we could not control. My friends at school ended up being enemies. Fifth grade was the beginning of a long period of a struggle with the isolation that came with being me.
The other day I realized a lot of my personal struggles began shortly after I received the gift of salvation. I didn’t know what I was setting myself up for. I think the church, at least the churches I grew up in, romanticized salvation. The truth about the struggles, the issues, and difficulties that come along with serving God are often hidden and buried. The salvation, the God, the church I was given was one of ignorance and blind devotion. The human side of salvation is replaced with a domineering subservience. If you didn’t think everything was going to be okay, if you didn’t trust God, if you succumbed to humanity you weren’t good enough. The arrogance of the Biblical Sadducee and Pharisees was alive and well in the 20th and 21st century church. Jesus wasn’t taught or shared much after I reached a certain age.
The certain age would be when I left home by force with my mother and sister. Moving was the absolute worst for me. I had carved out a belief system, an understanding of God, Jesus, and life in ten, almost eleven, short years. I was allowed to be a certain way, to ask certain questions, and to live a certain way at home. I had to change almost everything overnight. I didn’t want to move. And once I moved I hated it. School was horrible. Church was horrible. Home was barely tolerable. Eventually school and church got better. Home got worse. I told people at church. They listened. And sent me home. Some saw my point of view. While others told me the devil was attacking me and I was wrong. I told family members. They listened but rarely agreed or did anything. One made things worse by mentioning things I thought were told in confidence. I almost, or did actually somewhat, lose my mind. How could the God I read about, the God I tried to have a relationship with despite so called “Christians'” behavior toward me, allow so much. How could I be trying my best yet still feel this way, go through these things? I wanted to die. I begged him to kill me. The only thing that prevented me from committing suicide, outside of people praying for me, was the thought that I would be committing murder and would not be able to repent for that.
I denied who I was, what I felt, what I wanted, what I believed because people told me that I should. I changed, I caved, I merely existed because I believed it was the right thing to do and that one day things would change and I had to stick around and see them through. NOBODY called a meeting to address my issues or concerns. NOBODY truly stuck their neck out to defend me and make my world a better place. The church, at least from my experiences, hides. The church has amnesia. The church doesn’t really help its members. The church just tells you to go pray about it and you have to hope it gets better. The church only loves you if you are a certain way or bring a certain thing. The church I know is a failure.
Christianity means to follow Christ. If you follow, in that sense, you strive to be like Christ. You exemplify his example. I am not perfect. I am not the best Christian or human. I strive to be. But I know I will fall short. Yet I keep trying. I’ll never figure it out. But what I do know is that I will not be a failure. I will not idly sit on the sidelines while others hurt and die. I will not tell people to just accept things. I will not send people to a life of emotional death and suicide. I will help. After all, Jesus came to heal, he came to help, he came to teach. Jesus came to fix what was broken by showing a better way and then proving his love by his death at Calvary.
To succeed the church must take off the blinders and admit, like David and Job and others, that there is a human aspect to the lives we live. We hurt, we cry, we have issues, we have pain. And then the church must accept people, serve people, LOVE people, and help people. There are churches that do this. At least on the outside from what I have seen. I am so completely and thoroughly jaded, not to mention holding onto a strong set of criteria, that I don’t even belong to one. I have decided that there are things that are nonnegotiable when it comes to a church home. After joining several because they looked good on the outside only to find out they were rotten on the inside, I am taking my time. But while I wait, I choose to try to be the best me I can be, based on the example Jesus gave me, and hope he’s pleased. Only once more of us begin to exemplify Christ in the earth will the church be anything more than a failure.