Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Not Something You Just Get Over

So you have left a controlling church after months or years of soul-searching. And maybe it's been a while since you left. I'll bet I know what people are telling you: it's time to move on, get over it. You talk to Christian friends, ministers you feel you can trust or family friends and it seems like everybody is ready for you to get over it. Let me assure you, if you don't feel like you are going to get over it anytime soon, you are.....normal!

I have friends who have left controlling churches that have rebounded quickly. Others who were more deeply invested in our old church or in the faith movement had their lives turned upside down when they left and are still recovering.

I personally am still in recovery mode after 18 months. This experience has caused me to deeply question the church's ability to be a social institution and yet remain ethical and faithful to God at this point in history. I am also taking my sweet time committing to any particular doctrinal stances. I definitely believe we can know truth...but me being able to wrap my brain around it is another thing. And I do not want to just accept what anybody says as correct doctrine just because they say so, no matter how orthodox it all seems. That's partially how I got into this mess in the first place!

Despite it all, I am very glad to accept the responsibility of thinking for myself. I no longer feel like I have to see what Pastor So-and-so thinks...or Bishop Whats-his-face...or Rev. Dr. Dignified...or Brother Deep-fried.
So if it takes a long time to feel like you have come out the other side of this situation, that's okay. Some if it we should never "get over" because we are dealing with people's spiritual lives, which is no small matter. I believe it's indicative of the times we live in.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I thought I was over my abusive church experience three weeks afterwards, only to realize I was paranoid, fearful, irrational and nowhere near "over it." I keep thinking I'm over it and then a trigger will come up and it all comes crashing back onto me, even now, after two years. The crashing back parts come less and less often now, but all it takes is to see a car like the pastor's car or to come across a scripture he twisted out of recognition or to see the damage in the lives of one of my kids; then it's all back at me again. It took a full year before I could read scripture without interpreting it from the old pastor's point of view and to look at it neutrally. It took a year and a half before I could know I was hearing God's voice again. That was the hardest. Relearning how to hear from Him. I don't see any rush to embrace systematic theology either.