Yesterday, this beautiful poem was shared:
life is complicated
there are complexities that are difficult to identify
your experiences and perceptions are unique to you
disappointment, disillusionment and fatigue have all played their part
and you left the church
maybe you’re sick of fighting
maybe you can no longer believe
maybe the inconsistencies were too heavy
maybe you bought into something that no longer rings true
my friend, hear me when I say:
you are not disqualified
you are not forgotten
you are loved
you are needed
God is not limited to what you’ve experienced in church
God is not restrained by the immaturity of His people
and just because you left the church, does not necessarily mean that you left Him
your questions are valid
your doubts are real
let us walk in them together
because I know He calls for you
the thought of darkening those doors may be sickening
the judgmental looks and awkward conversations
do not be dismayed
prodigal or not, God welcomes you
where we go from here, I do not know
what church looks like in your life remains to be seen
but one of the most earnest prayers I know is:
this journey is to be walked together
and you are not alone
let’s stumble along this path together, falling towards the light
I have left the church at various stages of my life. There have been times where I’ve felt so disconnected I wondered how I might ever find my way back.
I’ve now realized that finding my way back is not the point; the point is to move forward.
I don’t want to go back to those days when I didn’t have questions, where I believed what I believed because I was supposed to, when I somehow felt better than others for going to church.
How arrogant was I?
Really, it was a means of protecting myself, because I felt that if I lost my beliefs, I’d lose my faith. And as Kathy Escobar points out, the loss of one does not necessarily lead to losing the other; it’s not a slippery slope or a zero-sum game.
Honestly, I’ve never been happier faith-wise than I’ve been in the last year, even though I’ve wandered off the set path I was on, into the murky forest of unanswered questions and grey, foggy areas.
I’m forging a new path, a new way, a new ‘me,’ and a lot of that involves experimenting, trial and error.
I am lucky in that I’ve had a supportive church family which has aided my spiritual growth in a lot of ways. But that doesn’t mean my church is perfect. Churches can’t be perfect because they’re made of people, people who aren’t perfect. And yes, churches often equate perfect religion with perfect faith, even though the two aren’t necessarily related. Believe me, there have been times over this past year where I’ve sat in my pew, biting my tongue over what has been said. And I’m sure people have done the same when I’ve said something.
But for me, my church family is really an extension of my family. And I am blessed in that way.
Others, unfortunately, have not had the same mostly positive experiences I’ve had. They’ve been part of churches that have hurt them so badly that they will bear scars for the rest of their lives. Some people simply can’t get over the hypocrisy between what is practiced and what is preached. Yet others just don’t have faith in anything anymore and would rather go it alone.
And that’s okay.
God does not live in a church, because a church is just that – a building. Going to church every week does not make you better than anyone else. Not believing exactly what your religion says you should believe is okay; you need to figure out your faith for yourself. And if you have no idea what you believe, or if you even believe in anything at all, that’s okay, too. The trick is to stop comparing your journey to others. It’ll never be the same, and it shouldn’t be because you are different.
So whatever church means to you, live that. Be true to what your heart and soul are telling you and you’ll find what you need.