“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” -Colossians 1:24
Since becoming a Jesus follower at the age of 22, I have explored and discovered many churches around my town and surrounding areas.
In the short span of 4 years, I have found, loved in, and left many churches.
If there ever was an actual definition of a rebellious Christian, they’d probably have a picture of me for it because I have struggles, and doubts, and I will leave when I can’t take it anymore. I don’t tough it out because I have been burned.
I usually find a church and I stick around for a while. I feel happy, am called to get involved, find myself spending all Sunday at church, find myself spending other nights running Bible studies, then other days being “a light” to others in need in the church.
Before I realize it, I am deep into church and no longer deep into a relationship with Christ. I begin to doubt what it really all means, and find myself doing things out of obligation or selfish means.
Then the gossip begins. Then the political hidden agendas start to begin. I feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
The one big church that I came to love and know so deeply, turned on me. I started getting the literal messages from people who knew me as acquaintances and let me know their disgust with the way I lived my life. The sermons that silently screamed that the way I lived my life was not one that a child of God’s would live. It broke me on top of everything else.
& I RAN.
I rebelled, I kicked, I screamed, I ran. & lately, I am not even giving church a chance. I don’t stay long because I can’t go through with it again.
The church hurt.
I still love God. Churches that are home or not home to me couldn’t change that. But I felt closer with him away from church than I did in His house.
I stayed away for a while. I started to think, it’s okay, I will just wait for a while until I can get my act together in the eyes of the church. Then I can go to one and feel okay and not feel shameful and can feel happy.
But Rachel Held Evans’ book about the church struggle rocked my world, and made me remember that church is not for perfect people. It’s for sinners like me. And sinners like you. And for pastors and church goers who struggle secretly like us and need church and Jesus just as much.
The thing is I don’t blame church for how I feel. I don’t blame people. I blame sin. It is a sickening piece of us that makes us hateful and judgmental of others, but it is something we can’t help. But its not easy to take the brunt of it.
I am sick of waiting. I am sick of the pain. I am sick of the exhaustion.
But I want Jesus. And for now, I find Him everywhere but the church.
I know that someday, that feeling will be felt in church for me, and I can’t wait to feel it again. But for now, I am where I am, and that is okay.