Who knew that detox had anniversaries?
There is an exact calendar date that my husband and I can point to as the day our world turned upside down and that church as we knew it was over. At the time, we didn’t know we had entered the process of detox.
It will be 5 years on February 28 of this year. Only half as long as Robbymac, and I am quite certain that I have not learned half of what he knows about all of this. In fact, if you are looking for answers, you might be better off reading his post instead.
What do I know? We did not end up where I expected to end up.
For a long time, I was driven by idealism, a need to right and correct the things that were wrong, to be involved in something more true and pure. I hated stories of people who entered into detox and eventually circled around to going back. I could not accept that there is not a better outcome to be found.
Then I became more realistic, less militant.
I thought that perhaps we would be able to adapt and assimilate into normal church again, that we would be able to return to church with a healthier outlook. Be positive, behave ourselves, be normal attenders.
But, it’s not working. As much as I want it to, it just doesn’t make sense.
Time has healed the wounds of abuse. The raw feelings are now only a memory. I am not too wounded to go back. I am not angry, bitter or afraid about church, pastors, or members. I like church people. I like most pastors.
Maybe you can help me with this.
In my local community, there are probably 30-40 congregations of various denominations. I could go to any of them, make friends, fulfill the membership requirements, get involved in their programs, and attend services. I know what to do. In fact, I am pretty good at the drill.
I am able to do these things. I just can’t figure out why I would. Maybe to give definition and legitimacy to my membership in the body of Christ.
To be clear, I believe in the value of community. This week, I attended 5 different gatherings of believers that involved food, fellowship, encouragement, and prayer, but I did not actually attend a church service this week (or yet this year).
I desire real community and corporate mission, but (the big butt) I have a really hard time seeing those values expressed in the activities of the churches that I could join. In fact, and this may be the problem, I have a really hard time understanding anything about the church through the lens of an institutional organization.
Maybe I am still guilty of having unrealistic expectations.
When I think of pastoring and eldering, I look at people who live their lives that way 7 days a week in their relationships.
When I think of teaching and prayer, I see it in the context of people who are invested in relationship with one another, a mutual flow within those relationships.
When I think of fellowship and encouragement, I see the intentional activities of those who choose to share life and time together.
On the other hand, I also see the long-term benefit of those who share membership in church organizations over a period of many years. I am not against institutional church. There are lots of really good people involved in it, and they accomplish some wonderful things.
I had an underlying belief that when God got done cleaning my clock, when detox was over, this would all make sense, and I would be normal, like the rest of you.
I don’t know.
At the end of 5 years, I know less than I did at the beginning of those 5 years.
(Disclaimer: This is not a statement about what anyone else is or should be doing. It is simply my reflections at this point in my journey.)