I left the church officially 6 years ago. My exit happened fast and first. My man was a little confused. A little hurt. I just could not stomach another "worship service". I could not face putting my children in another bible class where afterwards I would feel the need to debrief them to see if they had been taught any lies about my Lord and His love for them. I just quit.
My man kept going. He faced the looks. He became the spouse that is to be pitied because their significant other has tanked. He wondered why I could not just go and only pretend to listen. I couldn't. Not if he wanted a sane wife.
So it came to this...I could go and just shut down my heart. No discussions about the things that bothered me. No family debrief at the lunch table. Just get my butt in the seat.
I felt that if I did this I would soon be a powder keg one hallelujah away from standing up in the middle of church and exploding years of pent up angst all over those believers.
Maybe I should have done just that.
My husband decided that he would like to keep the spark in my eyes. I honestly do not know if I convinced him to quit going. I didn't try to. He had been raised to believe that you had to go to church. You had to. If you wanted to be a Christian you had to go to church. I was raised that way too. I had long ago faced down the thought that this thing we called church could not possibly be what was meant. My man was not convinced. But eventually he quit too.
We were done.
We actually thought we would go on to another church body. We waited for the Lord to direct us. Every Sunday that passed seemed stranger...and more comfortable.
People, I don't feel like I have words to make you understand. You probably wont.
Unless you just do.
Being out of church is the hardest and best thing I have ever experienced.
Sometimes I miss it terribly. It was all I have ever known. Security. This is what we do. We go to church.
I have already talked about how I didn't go to church for years. But that was slinking around sowing my wild oats don't let daddy find out skipping church.
This was/is grown up choosing to be absent from the gathering of the body of believers.
This is forsaking the assembly people!
I feel free. Free-er to love and be loved. Free to be me. Unchained.
I like me better here. I used to bust against those chains. Trying either to break free or to gather enough sustenance to live within their constraints. Neither was possible.
I was not meant to live in chains.
When I first got out I felt bad. Dirty. Wrong.
But it felt delicious also. There was this warm delightful feeling that began to creep in. I have written much about it. It is a feeling of true love.
Not obligation. Not should have. Not if only.
It is that thing that I know on one level with my mate. I look into his eyes and in that moment nothing else matters. I am here with you. That is all. That is so not all.
I know that not all of you have that feeling with a mate. But you know it. You know when you get in a moment with someone and everything else just goes away. It is that.
These words fail miserably.
I could hardly ever get to that place while I was bound to "church". I had everybody and their ideas and interpretations so heavy on my heart that I could not look up. Life was too treacherous. Too many ways to screw it up. Too many ways to fail. Sure there was grace and all that but I could not understand. the scriptures as I had been taught them did not make sense.
Grace and mercy seemed only available when I had done everything I could do to live by the rules and had fallen short.
The trouble with that...I was really really super good at following the rules. I followed all the rules and they did not ease the desperation in my heart for something I could actually feel.
They did not make me love Him. They certainly did not convince me that He loved me.
All I could see was another and another and another way to suck so that He could swoop in and make it all better.
I am not saying that this is the same for you. This is how it was for me. Hear me!
When I got away from everybody else's truth, God's truth for me had room to grow in my heart.
I could see it and feel it. For the first time.
I could make use of it in my life. Applicable to living. Not just for going to heaven.
There had been moments of this before. But they always ended hours after the last conference session. I learned the difference between living under an "open heaven" and the rest of the time when I was obviously needing to "be filled". I learned over time to push really hard for "breakthrough". But really all I felt was constipated and I just went around birthing turds all day. I was a mess. Demons around every corner. Satan out to stop God's good and perfect will for me.
I became quite adept at emasculating the Creator of the Universe every time I went to battle for him.
But it felt so good in those juicy little moments of complete heavenly immersion. Glory.
Glory covered by rules. Recipes for success. Methods lined out to get to that next level.
They are gone too. And that is hard. I lost the rules that protected me. and the power that empowered me. All I have left is vulnerability and weakness.
And that is where He finds me. That is where He loves me.
I don't have to be strong or good.
Maybe some people find that in church. Some people don't need to find that, I am sure.
I can't go on hating church. It is what it is. but it is not good for me. I think that I am not alone in this.
God can handle His church. He will call some to be loud for reform. Others He will lead out to do other things.
Heretical things that go against everything they have been taught about being good and right.
This is not new.
What I am learning right now...
-if I want to live in freedom, I need to let others live there too. I have to let them be free to live in bondage if they want to...or need to.
-my truth is not necessarily going to match your truth. This does not mean it is not truth.
Remember the story about the five blind men that had to describe an elephant based on the part each man could feel with his hands. Each man came up with a completely different description of that elephant. All were right. And all were wrong.
-God can be unchanging without interacting the same with everyone. It is stupidity (in my opinion) to think that the way God blesses me will work the same for you if you just walk the right walk or pray the right prayer or cast the right spell. (yes...I went there )
My husband would go to jail if he interacted with my children the same way that he interacts with me. But he is not changing who he is or being ingenuine to treat each of us differently.
I believe, with my whole heart, that God can guide guard and direct two of us in two completely opposite directions based on the exact same scripture or vision or leading. And they both be right.
-I believe that God has most definitely NOT left those shriveled up little churches that all the progressive Holy Spirit mighty wind-ers have declared dead. God is there. And He is working. And we need to shut up about things we know nothing about.
Me, most definitely, included.
You know this is not all. It can't be.
Please ask me more. Are you scared for me? Did I leave you hanging in that one part? This was hard to get out. So much. It is a big story.
I hope you are one that needs to know that you are not alone. You are not alone! You are not crazy and you are not going to be picked off by the enemy like a lone little sheep. Your Papa has got this! He has not left you...in church or out.