I can’t remember a time in my life where God wasn’t present. I’ve been in church since I was an infant and it continued to be a big part of who I was as I grew up. I was very involved in my youth group, I started singing in the choir as young as age 12 or 13 and I even taught a 3rd grade Sunday School class when I was in high school.
Some of my best memories are tied to the church.
And some of my worst memories are too.
My home church was not huge, but not small. After things got weird there (another story for another time) I found my way to another smaller church before finally landing at the last (and much larger) church I was a part of. And I was there for close to 17 years. And I was deeply involved. Worship team, committees, teaching Bible study. All the things.
And then I walked away.
I was completely burned out and exhausted with the production of it all. Things that I thought were placed on the hearts of those in leadership turned out to be just carbon copies what they’d seen at some other bigger church. Did Jesus just not have anything to say to us? Or was I just not worth the effort it took to seek Him out? Never feeling worth the effort was a pattern in my life and now I was feeling it in my church. We said people mattered, yet I was seeing folks, some long time servants, stumbling out the back door carrying wounds inflicted by the very place that was supposed to help heal them. It just felt yucky to me.
Something that used to bring me joy became something that brought me pain and tears and confusion. So we left. A super simplified explanation of what was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. And because for so much of my life, my identity was wrapped up in church, I found myself floundering around trying to figure out where I fit into this world. It was truly a dark time.
But God has given me space to work through my doubts and dig down into the roots of my faith. And so I’m finding that while I might currently be a church orphan, I’m in no way a God orphan. He’s been right there with me through it all, even when I chose to ignore Him or question His very existence. He never left me. He sat with me in my pain and waited.
He even saw fit to send me on a trip to Israel, which has changed me in ways I’m still only beginning to realize. God has grown a desire in my heart to learn more about the Jewish roots of Christianity. We worship a Jewish Messiah, yet know very little about the customs and traditions he practiced or the land in which he lived. I realized I was missing a huge chunk of what makes up my faith and maybe that’s part of where my disillusions with the Western church began in the first place.
Are you walking around with church wounds? Are you a bit disillusioned with Western Christinaity? Or maybe you just want to go a little deeper into the roots of your faith?
I’m no counselor or theology expert. But I know what it feels like to carry wounds inflicted by the church. And I know what it feels like to desperately want a deeper faith in Jesus. I’m still learning as I go. But I’m thrilled to share what I’m learning with you and pray that it will be as eye opening and heart stirring for you as it continues to be to me.