A few years ago, I found God. I guess he was always there, but his presence became clear to me and I have not turned back since. Like any good Christian, I wanted to join a church where I could engage in fellowship and share my new-found joy. One day I was searching the internet, and I found it. I told myself that I was going there that Sunday and I did.
The church was awesome. I loved the messages and all of the learning that I was able to do there. I became a member and got baptized and even volunteered. I volunteered for the kid’s ministry and although I sometimes felt really awkward with the kids, the leader at the time knew how to give me specific tasks which played to my strengths. She had me sit with one of the children who had behavioral issues due to intellectual disability, so that I could keep him calm. It worked out because in a weird way because I am able to understand and redirect people who have these issues.
In those days, I worked in retail in the same town that the church was in. My co-worker was aware of the church that I attended and one day we saw the worship leader in the store buying blinds. My co-worker mentioned that I went to his church and the guy asked me “Who are your kids?” I thought this was a strange question to ask, but he explained that maybe he would know me through my kids who might know his kids. Hmmm, that could be true if I had kids. Anyway, not really a big deal, just a weird thing to say.
Then there was the time that I was taking part in a small group through my church. We would meet at a home and we were discussing a book called 40 Days in the Word by Rick Warren. It was a good book and I enjoyed deepening my relationship with god. I met some cool people there, too. We decided that we wanted to do something for charity and this one lady had an idea to donate bookbags of necessities to a local organization for foster children. We were all grouped together to purchase our bags and goods, and it became apparent who the outsiders were. Most of the teams were made up of married couples together, but I was in a group of two other single women. (I was dating my husband at the time, but was probably single in their eyes). I guess they thought we all had something in common, even though I was about 29 and they were at least in their 40s. Not that it matters, I guess.
I think my departure from the church revolved around a lot of these trivial matters that made me feel unwelcomed. It all started to fall apart when the leader of the kid’s ministry left. They had someone else takeover in the interim who wanted to change things and made it confusing. The children would run around waiting for their service to start with no one keeping order. One of the volunteering parents had to come in and yell at them one time to calm down. She was not doing a good job and it made me feel helpless to continue with volunteering. We had a meeting and all of the volunteers were there. She asked a question, and I said what I thought was a good answer. She dismissed it like I did not even speak. Then a minute later, a 13-year-old boy said the same thing and she nodded in agreement.
I know that all of these things can be misinterpreted and are certainly not the best reasons to stop going to church. I know that maybe I was and am not, mature enough to get past these tiny indiscretions. I should just forgive or accept that churches are made for families. I just always felt that since I did not have a family, that I was not as valuable to them. I only added myself to their numbers. I did not bring children who told other children about the great time they had at church on Sunday. There are other things as well. I did not make a lot of money, so I am sure my tithes were not that important to them. Even though I was a nobody, when I found God, I felt like I was loved. I really felt like I could find a church to call home and that I would be accepted by everyone. It made me sad to realize this was not the truth and Christians are just people with their own stuff going on like everyone else.
Since leaving, friends from the church have blocked me on Facebook. I never spoke out until today as to why I left, so there really was no reason that we could not continue to be friends (at least on Facebook). I did see one of those people recently at school, and I gave her my number and offered to help her with anything regarding school (she was not yet in the program that I was completing). She never texted or called. I accept the fact that people do not always want to be friends, but sometimes it is just for the wrong reasons.
Church can be great for many people and I am not saying that it is a bad thing. I am just commenting that more churches should be open to different lifestyles than just the traditional family. I am still a Christian and still love God. I pray every day. I do not go to church, and many Christians would label that as wrong. I believe truly that if fellowship is going to occur, it can happen anywhere. I do not need to be behind those four walls to do it. I tell my friends about God and stories from the Bible if they are willing to hear it. I do not force it on them or make them feel bad about their lifestyle choices. When a church opens its doors, they should be open to all.