Updated: Aug 12, 2019
Life, depression and hypocrisy.
I had one of those typical “being brought up in church” kind of adolescence. I grew up in kid’s church, became a volunteer leader, counselor at church camp. I was raised to think, worship, and believe a certain way.
But then life creeps in. With age comes challenges, temptations, confusion and also in my case, depression. Life was starting to beat me up and I felt I had no one to turn to. Being part of a traditional church experience to me meant having a place to go to on Sundays, to put on the pretty outfit, the fake smile and show everyone around you that “God is good”. No, I don’t mean God isn’t good, I’m talking about that “perfect Christian”, #blessed attitude one has to put on while sitting in the pews, clapping your hands to the Hillsong worship songs (again nothing against Hillsong, just painting that very standard picture), while hiding your deep and overwhelming brokenness.
Being part of a traditional church experience to me meant having a place to go to on Sundays, to put on the pretty outfit, the fake smile and show everyone around you that “God is good”.
When my first depression episode happened, I isolated. You would think, for a person who had been part of the church community for a while and even volunteered with the kid’s church, I would’ve been missed. But there were no text, no calls, no “are you ok?” Maybe everyone was just busy? Hurt, but still clinging on to the notion that one HAS to go to church on Sundays, I returned. I again, found that my brokenness had spewed out of me, this time going to a church leader for guidance, only to find myself and my sin with a spotlight on it, as if no one else had ever sinned before. For me, the traditional church experience was lonely, unforgiving, judgmental and none of which (in my opinion) is what the church should be.
“Why I left the church” is such a taboo conversation to have right? I can’t tell how many friends I have had the same conversations with, and they all start the same way: anxiety, shame, fear. But why? Does God not offer love, grace and forgiveness? Is questioning and voicing our confusions and doubts not a way to explore and grow? I am here to tell you, IT IS OK TO NOT KNOW! Goodness, I am still just as lost.
Is questioning and voicing our confusions and doubts not a way to explore and grow? I am here to tell you, IT IS OK TO NOT KNOW!
And while self-reflection and growth is SUPER important, sometimes finding a common atmosphere where others are feeling the same as you is just as important. It was such a weight off my shoulders to be able to share why I left the church with others that had done so too, because it allowed me to see that there is nothing wrong with me for having anger and hurt against the church. Just like many animals in nature shed their old shells/skin when they have outgrown them, it is ok to move on from a church you no longer feel is right for you.
Leaving the church does not mean leaving your faith.
Leaving the church does not mean leaving your faith. Sometimes you just have to step out of that known place to be able to feel found again. I was so busy trying to fit the model in order to fit in my church, that I didn’t have the opportunity to hear and learn what God’s calling and plan was for my life. God is still working through me, and I am still seeking and learning about his plan for me everyday, but I do so now with a sense of hope and not one of being lost.
Each contributor to this blog series is expressing their personal story of their own unique church experience. They have since been connected to the St. Pete Underground, a deconstructed church model that expresses themselves through small missional communities, or microchurches and home church spaces.
To learn more about our microchurches or see church reimagined, feel free to come to our open showcase event happening Saturday, August 24th, 2019 in St. Pete, FL. You're invited to come as you are.
#StPeteUnderground #stpetersburg #stpete #dtsp #stpetersburgflorida #pinellas #tarpon #clearwater #godskingdom #dunedin #trinity #pinellaspark #seminole #undergroundchurch #network #movement #churchmovement #community #undergroundnetwork #jesus #family #healing #nonprofit #whyIleftthechurch #blog #reflections #microchurches #resource