I’m in love with my church. I’m committed to my church. And I’m thankful for believers who make up the church where my family and I belong.
Now that we have that out of the way, I freely admit that my congregation and denomination are far from perfect. I could give you a list of reasons why I’ve often thought of leaving either or both of them. In fact, this love affair includes a separation and almost-divorce.
Reacting to Pain
In my late twenties and early thirties, I experienced severe depression and a soul-crushing crisis of faith. Two friends buried children, and our community lost eight or nine young people to freak accidents and family violence over a short time. My husband was a youth minister at the time, so he and I were involved in many of the funerals.
After Carey took another job and resigned from the position, I stopped attending services altogether. It was too painful to have people say unhelpful (and often cruel) things—often bookended by Bible verses taken out of context—or to overhear church members making similar statements to my friends. As Barbara Brown Taylor wrote in Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith: “As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.”
I wasn’t sure God was listening to my prayers or cared about the world, anyway. Why pretend that he and I were on speaking terms, when what I really wanted to do was be left alone?