We've all heard about, we've all seen it, and some of us have experienced it. Christianity is supposed to be all about love and acceptance, but what happens when the Church falls short? Whether it's the little "c" church or big "C," the unfortunate reality is that there are people out there that will be hurt and who will turn away from God because of it. For a time, that was me.
As all teenagers, I had issues. Life never seemed to go the way I wanted and sometimes things were really bad. Exactly when I needed church the most was when the church hurt me, almost irreparably.
For a long time, the church that I was attending started to feel odd too me. As I got older and as I got wilder, I felt like people were turning their backs on me and whispering terrible somethings about who I was and where I was in my faith. I was a teenager, but my parents were respected and I was expected to live up to that. As the middle child and a teenager desperate to prove my independence, I resented that. I didn't want to live up to anything but who I was and who I wanted to be.
I was involved, more so than most of the kids at the church. The more I felt like the church was failing me, the more I tried to do everything I could to fix it. Yeah, I tried to fix a church as a little teen because I so desperately didn't want to lose God.
That's what I believed, that God was that church and that there was no separating the two. I'm sorry to say that I never could fix that church and that I eventually stopped going. I didn't realize that it was not my job to fix the church.
My parents tried to force me to go, God bless them, but I refused. I couldn't stay there and be hurt anymore. I needed out and I thought I left God behind.
Thankfully, I found that God resided outside of any church and that He was so much more than a building. I found a new church, a great church, and it is far from perfect. I wasn't looking for a perfect church, I was looking for one that would love me and listen to me like the last one didn't.
Stories aside, this is something that is all too real and all too prevalent. I almost lost my God because a group of humans decided that my faith was wrong and that I was asking too many questions. My God is big enough to handle my questions.
So let people ask the tough questions. Let people challenge what you believe. Let your kids run a little wild when it comes to God. Let people build their own faith as opposed to clinging to a church's.
Don't turn your back on people because you think they're saying all the wrong things. Don't turn your back on people because that is not what God wants us to do.
If you've been hurt by the Church, I am so deeply sorry. There is no excuse for it, whether you're a believer or not. You're supposed to be able to run to the Church in your time of need and desperation and they are in no position to turn you away.
We have no one to blame but ourselves for the names that we're being called. You want to stop being called a hypocrite? Stop being one. You want people to stop saying that the church is broken? Fix it. Not everyone is going to have a story like mine. Not everyone is going to come back. Start loving your neighbor irrevocably because you're going to have to answer to God. What do you want to say to him when he asks you about the little teenager you chased away?