I grew up going to church. I loved it. All my friends were there; I went every Sunday and Wednesday, and it was my happy place. I worked in the nursery. I lead worship, and I was an icon at my church. This church was literally the first place my mother brought me as a child. Everyone knew me and my business. My dad was a deacon and later an elder, and my mom was the women's ministries director. I owned the place; I practically lived there. My parents had a key to the place.
I went to Awana on Wednesday nights as a kid. If you don't know what this is, it is an organization where kids were forced to memorize Bible verses and recite them to a leader. An organization where we were forced to play the same boring games every week and eventually compete against other churches. An organization where the girls and boys were separated, and the boys learned about leadership while the girls learned about submission. Worst of all Awana was an organization that made us wear ugly polo shirts that literally made me sick to my stomach. I'm sure this was in order to keep the girls from showing up in something "inappropriate" (as inappropriate as you can be as an elementary schooler).
I was always a rebel in Awana. Each year you were supposed to work your way through a book. I never got past the second book in the 4 years I spent in T&T. T&T was the upper elementary group, Sparks was lower elementary, and Cubbies was toddlers. TODDLERS. They literally shoved this shit down my throat as a toddler all the way up through 6th grade.
After 6th grade, I finally got to move up to Youth Group. I thought I loved Youth Group, but it also caused me a lot of anxiety, insecurities, and confusion. Though middle and high school is a confusing time, it wasn't puberty that was making me feel this way. I would go to church, see my friends, have worship time, 'listen to a sermon,' have small group time, then hang with my friends again.
The sermon was filled with action items and ways to fix myself, or the 'godly' way to date, or a story that I've heard a thousand times with a moral of being like the hero of the story. I was told to pick up my cross and live like Jesus or else the demons will get me.
Small group time was discussing those action items and how we should go about them, and if I didn't conform, I was judged. I was literally perfect in high school: I didn't party, I wasn't a 'slut,' and I pretty much followed the rules, but my big mouth would say something wrong in small group, and the evil eyes of judgment from all the girls lay on me.
I liked to hang with the guys. They agreed with me and didn't judge me. It felt like a safe zone, but all that did was bring more judgment my way from the girls because we were taught that hanging out with boys made us whores. Hanging out with boys leads to THEIR fall into temptation. THE NUMBER OF TIMES THAT THE WOMEN HAVE SAID SOMETHING TO ME ABOUT MY SHORTS BEING TOO SHORT OR THAT MAYBE I SHOULD HANG OUT WITH THE GIRLS BECAUSE BOYS ARE ICKY. My heart is racing right now just thinking about this.
I don't understand why the fact that God made the man out of dust before he created women gives men the right to tell us what to wear, and that we must submit to them, and get paid less, and stay home and watch the kids. What if I don't even want kids? And the fact that women are the ones telling me that I need to conform to what the man says? What happened to sticking up for each other and sisterhood? Why are they entitled to my time if all I'm going to receive is judgment?
My problem was that I'm an open book. I like talking about my feelings, and I like working through my shit, but when constant judgment is all I'm receiving it shuts me down, and because of that I have trust issues and it's harder for me to open up now.
Eventually, I got tired of the judgment. I got tired of people telling me how I should date my boyfriend. I got tired of people telling me how to live my life even though Jesus said on the cross that "It is finished."
I am boycotting church because it gives me depression. When I am constantly being torn down by those I look up to aka my pastors and small group leaders, it hurts, and it hinders me from respecting authority when I have been disrespected by my authority.
I am boycotting church because it gives me anxiety. I have my demons and fears that keep me up at night. I sleep with a light on because of the things I was raised on at church.
I am boycotting church because I find my community in my family. They don't tear me down. they don't judge me based on what I'm wearing or who I hang out with.
I am boycotting church because I am fully capable of reading my own Bible. I don't need a someone with a title and a pulpit to tell me what it says that I need to do.
Church is a sales pitch. It is a corporate business that makes you feel guilty if you don't do what they say or put money in the offering plate.
The shit that pastors are hiding while telling you what you're doing wrong is appalling. There are covered up rape cases and abuse cases and infidelities and you name it of things they are hiding while they sit on their high horse telling YOU about the wrong YOU'VE been doing.
Anyway, living in "the Bible Belt," as the church likes to call the south, church is a way of life. Colleges in the south seem to be centered around their campus ministries, and everyone is involved in at least one of them. After every class I have someone come up to me and try to hand me a flyer for their church event and tell me I need to come or the devil will get me or something like that. They seem so fragile that they might cry if I don't take their stupid flyer.
I'm just not interested in church right now. Maybe if churches ever become a little less corrupt or judgy, I'll consider going. Maybe if churches just turn into singing only services where we can all come worship together with no expectations or talking in general, I'll consider going, but right now, I am trying to heal from the damage that the church has caused me, and I'm not even close to ready to put myself back out there.
Please just keep your damn flyer because it's triggering me.