I want to start by saying that the purpose of this article is not to attack any individual or organization. But rather it is a necessary step I am taking to heal as well as a way for me to reach people who have also been hurt by the Christian church. For this reason, I will refrain from using anyone's name or the name of any organization.
I grew up in the church, and some of my earliest memories involve Sunday school and church picnics. My family had attended this church for years before I was born and it became a huge part of my childhood. When my father passed away, I distinctly remember the entire church coming together to support my mother and I.
So many people reached out to us with kind words, food, and any help they could provide and I will be forever grateful for that.
Shortly after this, my home church opened up a school which I attended from second grade through high school. I met some of my best friends there, and I had amazing teachers who truly cared about me. My mother and father had been a part of the leadership at the school even before it opened and my mom continued to work there until my sophomore year of college.
I remember when she told me that she'd be working at a public school and leaving her job at my alma mater. I was upset, but I understood why she felt she had to. The school and the church had changed over the years. What used to be a place where everyone was treated like family had turned into a hotbed for gossip where people were pushed out when they no longer served the leadership's purposes. Without going into more detail my parents were treated poorly during the last few years they were employed by the church, up until my stepdad was let go without any warning and without reason. My family who had been members of the church body for over 30 years were disrespected and treated so badly that it hurts me to think about it even now.
You expect better from those that are supposed to be followers of Christ.
After these events transpired, I was so angry that I couldn't bring myself to attend church or any function at my old school for alumni. I was hurt because I felt like a huge chapter of my life had ended without any warning. I felt like I couldn't go back to my old school or church for fear of being filled with anger and lashing out. There is no doubt that a trust was broken, but it took time for me to discover that it wasn't God who let me down. No one is perfect, and we all have hurt other people whether intentional or not.
"God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" — Numbers 23:19
We cannot blame God for sins committed against us by man because no man is perfect. But Jesus is! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He loves us more than we could ever comprehend. And He does all of this despite the sins we commit every day. We should not use one bad experience with the church as a reason to turn away from God. God did not lie, steal, cheat or commit any other sin against you, man did.
I've learned the importance of separating this experience from my relationship with God.
Now that I am finishing up my first year at Rutgers I can say that my faith is my own, despite past experiences. I do not blame God for what happened, but instead, I am thankful for all the many blessings He has given me over the years. I have found a new church and a community of believers in Rutgers Chi Alpha. Aside from these new communities, I now have a real relationship with God that can never be taken away from me.
So, my message to anyone who has ever been hurt by the church is simply this. Understand that it was not God who hurt you and realize that your relationship with God can never be taken from you.
Forgive those that have wronged you because forgiveness isn't really for them. It's for you. You can not live every day with bitterness and hatred for someone in your heart. Believe me, I've tried, and it only left me feeling more empty and angry with each passing day. God wants to take that burden from you and restore and sustain you. Don't let others rob your joy but realize that true joy comes from a relationship with God.