I had a ball of fear in my stomach. I could not continue with church anymore. I could not face the nitpicking over my singing voice, my personal style, my facebook posts. I had received personal instruction on all of it. I was afraid to step in the door one more time as I knew it would only cause me more damage and pain. And yet….
Could I face not going anymore? The ritual of dressing and going had been ingrained in me since I was born. Doing hair, picking outfits, looking nice and going to church. This was every single Sunday morning of my entire life. I hardly ever missed. How would I fill that time? How would I make friends? Would my friends still like me and speak to me? Was our relationship built on my agreement and church attendance or was it built on actually liking each other? Where would I find new friends? Could I find new friends? The church had nearly convinced me I was unlikeable.
How could I tell my Christian husband that not only could I not attend church anymore, I cannot believe anymore? “Honey, we need to speak.” The words stuck in my throat. I searched the lines of his face and the depth of his eyes. “I just can’t anymore. I can’t attend that church and I do not think that the Bible is a real holy book. I do not think that we can put our faith in it and I have serious issues with belief in Hell. I just can’t damn my unsaved friends to hell and be at peace anymore.” My fear overwhelmed me as I awaited the response. He was quick to let me off the hook of attendance. He had watched me suffer. Belief was the harder pill to swallow and we are still working it out.
I left the church and could no longer continue. I created my own brand new ritual. I filled my tub, turned off the lights, and soaked in the water. I listened to the only voice that really matters: my own. Peace suffused my soul and comfort filled my heart. As for friends, it is very easy to walk up to people and say, “hi.” That is all it really takes. I am not unlikeable and have made many new friendships. I am taking yoga. I am getting into crochet/knit clubs. I have a myriad of interests that lead to friendships. Only difference is, these people are not standing around criticizing me and waiting for me to mess up. In fact, they seem to just accept me as I show up.
If you are sitting in a pew, scared to leave, scared to stay, I understand. I have been there. If you think you can work it out with your church, then try. However, sometimes, hurts go too deep and sting you too hard to stay. It is at that time I want you to know, whether or not you keep your faith, you can leave. You can get away from the abuse and pain.
We want to hear your leaving stories and fears comment below to let us know how you managed to get out. Or maybe even how you managed to stay.