The Five Stages of Grieving the Church

 

 

Denial

 

I’m not hurt.  Why does everyone think I’ve been hurt?  I’m leaving on principle.  On lots of principles.  I’d be happy to sit down and explain elaborately, theologically, on why I choose to not play a part in the institutional church anymore.  And it has nothing to do with being hurt.

 

Anger

 

Okay, so maybe I’m hurt.  Maybe I’ve been hurt.  And maybe it’s okay to be angry about it!  I mean, why is the system set up so often to exclude, set up to disconnect instead of connect, set up the very least efficient and effective way possible?  UGH!  Isn’t it okay to be angry about that?  It’s an outrage, a crying shame!  How are we ever going to fix it if we aren’t honest about all the things that are wrong!

 

Bargaining

Okay, what if we start our own church?  I know we’re not perfect, but we know the basics of how it should be done, what if we started there to see what could happen if church is grown in a more natural environment?  What if we build our own community, God?  Then will you bless us with your presence?

 

Depression

No one understands God.  No one wants authentic, real life, messy, imperfect community.  It’s a lost cause.  I’m tired of dealing with people who don’t think critically about their beliefs.  I’m so tired of dealing with all of the theological parrots, just repeating what they’ve been told without studying it, examining it, praying it.  I’m done with these people.

 

Acceptance

Grace.  Freedom.  The church is broken but it’s okay.  They’re just human.  They’re just growing, maturing, changing humans, just like me.  I cannot be a part of the broken system without anger and depression, but I can live my life in peace outside of it.  I can embrace the community of those around me, the ones that have been organically planted in my life.

 

I will pursue a life in pursuit of God.  And eschew any practice, or institution, that gets in the way of that.

 

-Jessica

*photo by chrisharvey

Comments

  1. I followed your tweet here. Boy this hits a nerve – I had another blow today. Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah, only a more loser-ish version of him.

  2. Thanks for writing something I could never write at my own blog. Even though I am still an active participant in formal church, I think I am stuck between depression and acceptance. I’m getting there, but some days it’s one step forward, two steps back. You know?

  3. A wonderfully concise and all-too-accurate mirror in which I see myself closer to acceptance than anything. Isorta wish i had come across this a few years ago. I guess that’s what makes this post so authentic. Thanks for this!

  4. Wow… have to say this is the process I have just gone through… We were a part of it… we were pushers of christian complacency… then we were outcasts… with boys who didn’t fit the system… then our eyes were opened and we were hurt and angry… now we are trying to live in intentional community while covering the hurts and sin with love and expectant prayer while choosing to love God in another realm that is hdd for some people to accept… but loving them through it… all we need it love love… love is all we need:):)

  5. Hi Jessica! I stumbled on your blog a few months ago and have yet to introduce myself. I’ve been enjoying your writing, and can identify with so much of it. This post is so very true and accurate… after a lifetime of growing up the in church as a PK and a theologian’s kid, I haven’t been going since last summer. I wrote a post about it then, and I still feel pretty well the same way… except that I’ve moved a bit closer to stage 5. I *want* to move into the “acceptance” stage, but something is holding me back. Ugh. Anyway, thanks for sharing this…

    Here’s my post if you’re interested! http://redandhoney.com/2011/08/why-i-dont-want-to-go-to-church/

  6. Oh, and PS – I live in Canada, and if I may speak on behalf of my country (haha), we’re excited to have you! :)

  7. I’m back…I had to return to read this again because the statements kept bouncing around in my mind. They resonated with such irrepressible and accurate force. I am relieved to discover that I might actually be experiencing acceptance, even though I’m a little afraid to admit it- like maybe it’s still a little “wrong”.
    What makes something the “word of God” is not a chapter and verse in the Bible (although undoubtedly that happens), but when a dynamic, God-directed force alters the landscape of one’s spiritual status. This post has done that for me- and like the living “words” of God (Hebrews 4:12), they will continue to have a life-giving effect in those who stumble upon them!

  8. This so hits home for me. My husband was an elder at our local congregation up until 2 months ago. Then, because the congregation didn’t agree with some of the (biblical) decisions the elders made, they were all asked to step down. So, after years of pushing and struggling to get the congregation to wake up to the lost world around us, a large group of us left and began a new fellowship. But my heart just isn’t in it anymore. My trust-meter has expired and I just want to sit and listen to God. So, thanks for posting this!
    And, we, too, are American’s living in Canada. We have lived here for 15 years. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes, it’s not so good, but mostly it is just a big part of the crazy life God has given us! Be prepared! Yes, it is similar to the US, but in many ways it is different. It truly is a different culture- I like to think of it as the US in an alternate reality.
    Thanks for your blog

    • Jessica says:

      I’m looking SO forward to the transition to Canada, though I don’t imagine that we’ll get involved in a traditional church. I guess it could always happen in the future one day but at this point that would feel like a step backwards, you know?

  9. It’s amazing how words written so long ago can have such a profound meaning…and provide healing…to someone in a little country in Africa that you may (or not) have reached in your travels yet. Thank you so much for putting words to head-on describe my experiences for over 10 years now.

    I have always considered myself a PK – while singing my way through the many many different churches that my father financially helped to start, which I considered a very impactful choice of evangelism for a very well to do evangelist, in an unending pool of pastors needing a financial boost to start. That was 20 years of travelling, singing and sermons in many dialects, until he finally chose to start and settle in one.

    That meant a huge change of lifestyle, but a decent life regardless…until a few months down the line, the deacons unceremoniously announced he was no longer the pastor. All I could understand was the pain of adjusting from golf, horse-riding and fine dining on Saturdays, to struggling for food.and getting used to a house without the extra 5 or more guests we always hosted. After many years of denial and rebellious anger, I bargained my way to a big church, keeping away from all potential relationships. I am writing this after live-streaming church, one of my options for relationless church. and a confirmation of an active depressed stage.

    As this year started, I figured it was time to stop putting the deacons names on little stick-ons on the cross during forgiveness sermons….and tell them face to face, that I forgive them. I hope that this will help me get unstuck and find the closure to move to acceptance, 10 years later. I guess I asking for someone to silently pray with me…and because if I do not say it out, I will never get to do it. So, I promise to let you know how that goes….back to sobs.

    Thank you again…thank you.

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  1. […] read a post a while back about the five stages of church grief.  I can relate.  Now that I’m involved in another church congregation, I think I’m […]

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