Sunday Morning (Reasons I left the church)
I have always had a deep connection with God… no matter what season or moment in life that I was faced with. Before the pandemic happened, I was struggling with my faith and it was not a new battle. For the past few years I have found myself hating church culture. I dislike the politics, the petty banter and the religious cliches surrounding mental health. In some ways church is “all I know.”
My journey with “undoing” religious shackles actually began in 2016. I was knee deep in depression, the purity ministry I had dedicated my life and the majority of 20’s to was collapsing. I was angry, I was hurt and confused because everything I thought I knew about life/ministry had failed. I remember walking away from church for a moment but not knowing what to do with myself because well… it was all that I knew.
I returned to church in 2017, found redemption, comfort and safety in a new body during a season of grief after losing my Grandfather.
I am not a social person by nature, never have been, even as a child I avoided most social gatherings within church because I never felt like I fit in. I don’t have the church stories that a lot of my peers do because my mother never forced me to be someone that I was not or to over extend myself in circles where I just didn’t feel comfortable (I thank her for that).
The “Trump era” was exhausting for so many reasons but within the church is was painful. I chose “charismatic” thinking and doctrine in my early 20’s. I never felt like I belonged in traditional Black church so I refused to subscribe to it. I felt like heaven would be a place with diverse people, various sounds and views, not fire/brimstone theology. At the beginning of 2019 I was exhausted, mentally and physically BUT church was what I knew so I kept going.
I love God, I love God’s presence and I can’t ever say there has been a time where the hand of God was not all over my life. When 2020 rolled around I was on my way out the door with church after reading some comments from people I went to church with, that was the final straw. Racism and religion was the breaking point, I was so angry. I found myself battling because I couldn’t find refuge within traditional Black church because I’ll be honest, I don’t hold a lot of their values or views when it comes to “world affairs.” I’m very liberal, I’m very open and I’m not conservative either so I was stuck. I respect people’s views but not when it comes to views about people’s humanity (racism, homophobia etc).
When the pandemic happened, a part of me felt relief because I did not have to explain why I was not in church. I did not have to over extend myself, spend the week calming my anxiety or force myself to go to a place that I no longer found refuge in.
Over the past few years I really tapped into the concept that God will meet me anywhere. God has consistently sent me love notes in the form people. I do not hate people, I’m very sensitive to energy (whatever you want to call it) and I’m overwhelmed at times when I am surrounded by an array of people.
I’m a people watcher, I watch actions, I check motives and nobody has hurt me more than the church. Even down to my “daddy issues” there’s so much rooted with church. People’s actions have not lined up with who THEY say God is. God is consistent, God is fair and just. I UNDERSTAND that we are humans with flaws, errors and I get that we are merely dust. I take issue with those who say they love God but their actions do not reflect that when it comes to humans OVERALL. I do not believe that the Jesus I read about in the Bible would have all these “political stipulations” rules and regulations.
The very people who he was not fond of are the very people most “church people” behave like. Pharisees, hypocrites and religious beings who do not see how much they have WOUNDED generations of people by placing religious doctrine before people’s feelings.
My biggest issue/pain is when I express that I do not go to church anymore and people respond with “I am going to pray for you.” It’s not the prayer that bothers me because I’m a firm believer in praying, it’s the haughty, self righteousness, notion that I’m in such a place in life that I MUST be far from God. I am closer to God than I have ever been, I am so near to God’s heart that I can FEEL it beating and I am beyond convinced that I am loved. I don’t always feel loved and accepted by humans, I don’t always feel comfortable in their spaces, especially religious spaces. I have never understood the emphasis on clothing or why I have to have a certain attire to serve or worship God and I’ll never subscribe to it.
My actions are what set me apart, my heart is what sets a standard and I will NEVER hold a belief that I need to put on a front for anyone if I am hurting. I’m ALLOWED to feel my feelings, I am allowed to bleed freely at the feet of the one who holds my very being/life in a palm of love. I am allowed to love God, to love people for who they are and where they are without a mindset that they need to be “changed.” I am allowed to worship God, free to move throughout this world without stipulations as long as I’m not harming others. So many times people in the church wound others while claiming that it’s “biblical.” It’s not biblical to exclude, isolate and offend people. I really hope that one day we as a people can understand the word for ourselves.
I always think of how we are told in the word of God to be “fishers of men” yet so many have scared the fish away. If your religion causes you to only surround yourself with likeminded individuals then who are you reaching? What are you “catching?” It’s very clique/cult like to isolate from the "world" who are the ones we were told to “save.” The whole notion that we aren’t like the “world” bothers me because we literally live, breathe and move through this world. That thought process will have you looking down on the very people you were supposed draw in with love and kindness.
My experiences over the past few years with ministry overall have not been kind. I will keep loving God from where I am, I will keep believing that the Creator of heaven and earth made me an image of his/her heart. You don’t have to believe like me, I am not asking you to and I am not aiming to convert you into anything other than who you are FULLY!
“And he said to them,
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.””
Matthew 4:19 ESV