Some followup on church experiences.
As I have previously discussed, I no longer consider myself a member of any specific church. I used to, in fact I used to teach Bible Studies on a regular basis, but I no longer do that. On the Tech blog, I mentioned that as part of discussing public speaking in general, and it seemed to spark some interest on the whole subject of religion, which I thought it would. I tried to downplay that aspect of it, or at least keep it civilized by pointing out my theological training and how people did not want to argue with me. Mostly that was to ward off the knee-jerk reactions of both those who would condemn me for no longer attending church or those who would laugh at having wasted 10 years of my life on a “myth”. Trust me, I can defend myself from either extreme position quite well.
However, there did seem to be a small, civilized group whose interest was piqued, and it’s to those people I want to address a more thorough explanation.
As the previous post indicates, the church I attended, at least the people I worked with, were incapable of seeing mental illness and depression as a real illness, and not just a question of “spiritual health”. That hurt, probably more than I will ever be willing to admit. But on top of that, there came a point in my life where I was doing everything the church leadership would have suggested I do, and I was still miserable. I heard a very good sermon this weekend while visiting my in-laws church, (out of respect for them and their beliefs I do attend church with them when we are down there for the weekend, so I do actually step foot in a church from time to time!) about how God will sometimes make you miserable as a way of letting you know that you’re not doing what He would want you to be doing. I identified with that, completely. I was miserable, because I was using my church-life to ignore the very real issues I had with depression and dissociation. I had to step back from that life in order to deal with my issues, but that was completely unacceptable to a large number of people in that church. You simply weren’t allowed to not attend and be heavily involved with the church, and making the choice to do so to attend to other matters was simply “walking away from God” in their eyes. They wanted nothing to do with me after that, and I will never go back to that church because of that.
To put it simply, as I have to others, I don’t have a problem with God, or even theology, I simply don’t think I will ever be able to trust a group of people again enough to make myself a part of their church. I realize that means that I give up some of the good things that can come out of working in a church structure, but at this point I’m willing to trade that for the solace of knowing that I won’t have to deal with this sort of thing ever again. Maybe that will change, and maybe it won’t.