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.
    Lady Jennie recently posted..Picturesque ProvenceMy Profile

  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?
    Megan at SortaCrunchy recently posted..weekend snapshots: april 29thMy Profile

  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! :)
    beth@redandhoney recently posted..Homemade Stove-Top Kettle Corn {Recipe}My Profile

  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
    Carrie recently posted..Loving the ChurchMy Profile

    • 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?

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