Its been a while since my husband and I have gone to church. A long while. We got kicked out of our last church. No it’s not like a controversial thing, we just missed a lot of services. My grandfather was very ill and going to pass away and we spent several months in my home town, and not attending our church. When we came back after he passed, our mailbox had been replaced and they told us we were no longer members. No one had called to see if we were doing okay. No one asked if they could help with anything. They had simply voted us off the island. And to get back, we would have to stand before the church and re-give our testimonials and wait for them to vote on our membership. We talked about it, but we didn’t feel at home there anymore. Even though we’d been active in the church, they’d forgotten about us, and then kicked us out. Not to mention that when we sat down people didn’t ask how we were, they simply said “Oh so you’re coming to church again now huh?” That was that. Time to start again. For three years we searched for a church. It was a very fascinating experience. I think I could write a book about the churches in this area. Every Sunday we wandered around like little religious nomads to a new church or a church that didn’t manage to scare us away last time. And if you’re a member or a faithful attender of a church I know what you may be thinking… well no church is perfect and we need to just realize that. Let me tell you, we know. So let me tell you about some of the crazy and some of the sad stories about churches in our area. We went to this one church where we met a very nice lady in the parking lot who invited us to sit with her for the service when she realized it was our first time there. When we started to get close to the doors we quickly regretted meeting her. The music was so loud I feel could the floor shaking. We walked in to the auditorium and it was pretty dark and people were walking around. Kids up front were plugging their ears to block out the sound of the band. We took our seats after exchanging one of our looks, and just waited for it to get over. When the pastor stepped up the first thing he said was, “the music is kickin’ cause we’re having a baptism today.” At one point during the service, I actually went to the bathroom just to escape the noise a couple times.
We also went to one where at the beginning they had a speaker who was dressed in one of those stretchy tight outfits wrestlers wear. He got up to talk about how he could rip a phone book in half, and how nobody else had this type of ministry. After I got a little fed up with churches, I started to wear dress pants regardless of what the church seemed like on it’s description. One of the first churches we went to while I was wearing pants, had about twenty people in it total. The pastor never took his eyes off of us the whole time and went from Genesis to Revelation. Somewhere during the new testament my husband went to the restroom and when he came back the pastor repeated everything he’d just said all over. I have attended all kinds of churches all my life, but I have never felt that uncomfortable. It felt like I was being judged from the second I walked in because I wore pants. I found myself trying to show off my wedding ring just to make sure they knew that we were married.
And then there was one that really disappointed me. We attended there for a while and we liked the people very much. We didn’t particularly agree with all the theology sometimes, but it wasn’t that bad. One Sunday though, my husband and I knew it wasn’t going to work any more. My husband was already looking through the Bible because of something else the pastor had said and didn’t hear the him say it. However, I heard it: “if you’re going to be a bigot, be a bigot for Christ.” There are things that I don’t mind reteaching my kids about church, but raised with an undercurrent of excusable hate did it for me. I still don’t know what my hubs was looking up. We’ve had many crazy, awful experiences growing up and, in some ways, out of church. We’d let our whole lives revolve around church for so long. It took over our faith. It took over our minds. It took over our faith, and for a while it felt like my faith couldn’t survive with or without it. It was killing my faith in God, because my God wasn’t what the church represented. My God had little to do with the church and my faith, even less. But I didn’t know that until recently. No matter how far I try to run away from the church and all it’s disappointments, my faith comes with me.