This Sunday morning, as usual, I went to church. I strained my back yesterday a little and was secretly hoping that it would be completely locked up today. That way, I could stay home and my husband would have an acceptable excuse for me—he’s running out of them. As fate would have it though, I was right as rain when I woke up and so off we went. When we pulled into the parking lot, I felt myself tense up. Some might say, God was convicting me; I would say I just hate being a phony–a hypocrite. You’d think if it were God trying to give me a message, he’d at least make me feel good so I would want to be there to hear a word from him and then be convicted, right? Nope, I found myself planted firmly between knotted up stomach and heart palpitations—a feeling that is becoming all too familiar.
Why do I do it? Why can’t I just stop? I’m so uncomfortable when I’m there and I know I make my husband uncomfortable because he knows how I feel. Why can’t I just say, “Hey guys, I don’t really buy all this stuff anymore? It seems contrived, forced, manipulative and to be honest, intolerant and hateful.” Man, that would feel good. I guess I’m afraid of what will happen when I come clean about it all. Many people (Christian friends and church members) are going to try and “bring me back to the fold.” The pressure that will be brought to bear is more than I think I can handle right now. I just don’t think I’m strong enough yet. I think I would bolt from everyone and everything. The desire to do that is so strong for me right now anyway.
I think it would be so nice to be somewhere else, anywhere that’s away from here, a clean slate and a chance to live my life in peace, without people pressuring me to believe a certain way. I’m afraid of church discipline, our church practices that and I don’t want to put my kids through something that ugly. It’s not that these people are bad, mean people. They would believe they are showing true love to me by obeying God, but, well, I don’t believe they are and this is a free country, right? One would think so, but that is not the case. I cannot stop going to church, I cannot be honest about my lack of belief without huge ramifications, for my family and me. I need to do as much damage control as I can, but I’m not sure what that is going to look like; not yet.
Unless one has been entrenched in (oppressed by) Evangelical Christianity, it’s hard to understand how difficult it is to walk away from it. It’s much like a divorce; a messy one, one that tears the kids apart, leaving you isolated and wrecked. You almost want to stay for “the kid’s”(Christian family and friends) sake, but you know eventually you will have to get out for your own wellbeing and for everyone else’s.
I know I will “come out” eventually. I’m not the type to keep what I believe to myself and I’m really bad at faking it. As far as church goes, I don’t think I’ll be able to continue going much longer. It’s just too much. I don’t belong there. Now that I have stepped down from all my responsibilities, I think I will be able to quietly disappear. We will see. I do look forward to waking up on Sunday morning and simply deciding which fun thing I will do, and it will not include, by the way, going to church.