Sometimes in life we have to make the hard decisions. Sometimes we have to make decisions based not on what we want to do, but rather what we believe is necessary. For Eric and I, one of those decisions came a few weeks ago, and I wanted you, my faithful readers, to be aware of what happened.
As many of you know, last month I wrote a post on how Eric and I would not be returning to our church for a while due to a sermon series on “Parenting” that would have been too painful for us. I made sure to explain that we loved (and still do) our church family and we weren’t angry, but we would have rathered that the specific topic of parenting not be preached on a Sunday morning (we’re fine with and completely in favor of parenting classes either after church or on another day).
Unfortunately, because of that post, I was the recipient of ostracization (I don't think that's a word, but you get the idea) and judgment by some in the church. I was told that my post was just a rant that was unloving, unbiblical, and destructive. I became very concerned when this was told to me, so I asked close friends if my post seemed like I was just on an angry rant. Each one of them said no, so I was very confused why I received these accusations.
This situation with a few individuals covered the span of about a week and a half. I emailed the pastor and asked for his thoughts on the parenting series, and when he told me, I respectfully disagreed. I also told him that because of judgment from some members of the church, unless it was resolved and apologies made, Eric and I would not be returning.
Some people may think that we made a rash decision, and that makes sense. It was a very quick decision, but it didn’t come without a lot of thought, prayer, and wisdom from friends and family. We understand that it’s hard to hear a church you believe in be criticized, and we know that it’s hard to know what to do in those situations. We still love the people at that church, but because we don’t feel it is a safe environment for us to be who we are and have our thoughts and opinions without judgment, we made the decision to leave.
Though it was a quick decision, it was anything but easy. I shed many tears thinking about leaving our newly-found community, and I had no desire to look for churches again. However, even though we had been at the church for a year and still hadn’t made deep connections with people, we decided that walking away was the healthiest decision for us.
I’m not proud of the situation that unfolded with people in the church. I’m not bitter towards them, and I will eventually forgive them for the way I was treated. The biggest emotion I feel is simply just sadness. I’m sad that our community had to disappear because of a decision Eric and I made, and I’m sad that a post I had put much thought and emotion into was ripped apart.
I’m sad that those we tried connecting with didn’t seem to grasp that I’m a blogger, and I write everything with a tremendous amount of passion and thought. I blog because I am passionate about people, the church, and issues that arise within culture and Christian culture. I’m passionate about being a voice to those who may not have one on sensitive topics. I know not many people read my blog on a daily basis, but for those who do, I am and want to be vocal about my thoughts and opinions.
After we left, we decided that it was extremely important to us to find a community that loves and accepts us for who we are - even if they sometimes disagree. A close friend of mine had been telling me for months that her church was wonderful and devoted to community in more than just church attendance and programs. In fact, this church hesitates to say any events are from the church itself, because they want to promote believers doing life with one another instead of just being involved in programs.
We visited that church a few weeks ago (they meet on Tuesday nights, which is awesome) and immediately fell in love with it. Through working at the seminary I already knew a few people there, but even those we didn’t know reached out to meet us and make us feel welcome. We came on a night that they were doing an introduction to the church after the service, and it was phenomenal to see who the church is and why they do what they do. We agreed so fervently with their values and ideals that we jumped right in to getting involved.
We know that our new church isn’t and won’t be perfect. We know that we’ll encounter conflict and disagreements with others, but because the church’s underlying purpose is our passion, we will do what it takes to make things work there. Even though we’ve only been a few times, so far we already feel more connected than we did in the entire year at our other church.
I want to reiterate that we are not angry with the people from our previous church for what happened. While we are disappointed, we know that good has come from this. We have learned so much about ourselves, what’s important to us, and how to talk with others. We’ve learned what’s most important to us in attending a church, and we’ve learned that it’s possible to have community that fully accepts us (and is a little awkward like we are).
So what does this mean for the future? It means that Eric and I are focused on continual growth, and we are now in an environment where we feel freedom to do that at our own pace. It means that my posts will almost certainly pertain to things we are discussing in church, because their passions are my passions. It means that we’ll begin to have a real community and hopefully develop deep friendships.
To you, my friends, I pray that you have (or can find) a community of people who loves you just as you are, but also spurs you towards growth. I pray that we can be a body of believers who love one another and are focused on unity even in disagreements, and I pray that we can reach out to meet the hurting where they’re at and minister to them accordingly.