The last eight months haven’t been the easiest for me. Recently I decided to pick up what little I had and move back in with my parents. Meanwhile, my divorce was being finalized. I was incredibly depressed and felt isolated.
After about a week of sitting at home, I found a local church. I must admit that a church is usually the last place I want to be, mainly due to past experience. However, this one was different. They seemed to live what they preached. They were welcoming and warm and seemed to be genuinely interested in me as a person and fellow believer. I dove into getting involved. I was a part of a bible study, found a 20 somethings group, and I was there every Sunday. Being there really helped me get through my divorce and my depression.
The problem is those connections didn’t last. I accept some of the blame. My new job required me to work overnight and during the weekends, and I chose to go back to school. I still wanted to keep in touch with people I had bonded with, but they didn’t seem interested and some were angry that I even attempted to speak to them. I couldn’t be as involved as I was, and that became a huge issue for the people I was close to. I must say I don’t quite understand that mentality. I thought of church as a place where we could make connections, and get through life together. Instead, I’ve often found that people are only willing to be by your side if you keep up a certain appearance.
Before I continue, I must tell you, I don’t want this to come off as bitter, or that I ultimately know how a church should be. I know some churches don’t fall into this trend. I do know that I don’t think we completely embody God’s idea of the church. The way I understand it, we’re meant to be one cohesive unit, where each person is an essential part. What I see happening is some people get put on a higher pedestal than others. We put more value in certain stories and gloss over the ones where someone didn’t have as hard of a life as someone else. How does that make any sense?
Who are we to say which story carries more weight than another? We don’t know which stories or messages will reach people. What will make me reflect on my life might not have the same effect on you. I think we still try to make church this pristine box, instead of being honest with our struggles and letting others see it. What happens is people like myself and countless others get ignored because we stop fitting into that box, even though life won’t allow us to anymore.
My suggestion? Stop following that pattern. If you know someone is having a hard time, ask if you can help. Sometimes all the help they need is someone to listen. The current culture in church isn’t changing because we aren’t completely willing to change it. Imagine what would happen if we did treat everyone like they mattered, regardless of their past or current situation. How much stronger would the church be if we actually accepted everyone like we claim we do?
We have enough division and exclusion in the world. Let’s try unity and love for a change.