A new year is a great time to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do…like be real and authentic (buzzword, cringe, I know) on your blog. What I’m about to do is going to sound a lot like bashing the Church. It’s trendy to bash the Church – as trendy as it is to bash Millenials, or as trendy as Millenials bashing the Church. But I’m not doing this for fun, nor is “bashing” my point. I’d love it if the Church changed but that’s not my point, either. I’ve been spending time on this blog looking at various Scriptures, but to be honest, I’ve been underwhelmed with the Bible for, well, most of my life and have been forcing myself to focus on it, write about it, etc. because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of God, of disappointing God, of failing God, of not being enough for God.
I’m also afraid of breaking the silence imposed on me a year and a half ago, when the “mediator” in our church explosion met with me, my husband, our pastors and two witnesses of me and my husband’s choosing, advised us not to talk about the situation with anyone else. I only recently found out that this mediator had advised the leadership of my old church not to speak to me. Silence may be helpful for a time and in certain situations; I was deeply damaged by the silence of others I thought for the last six years cared very much about me and by being silent myself. As one friend said when I told her about this, “But….how are you supposed to be supported?” Right. If the prohibition to talk to others had not been placed on me, I would have been able to figure out my feelings about all this sooner, I would have found support sooner and my relationship with God, myself and those I managed not to push away would not have been as damaged as they currently are.
My point here is not to reform the Church. I’m under no delusions that I’m that great or have that awesome of a calling – and really, I don’t have much evidence that anyone’s really listening to me anyway. This could be an exercise in futilely shrieking into the void but my point is to end my silence in service of seeing the healing God has promised God’s children. I’m against this name-it-claim-it “gospel” that’s popping all over America and seeping into even mainstream theology; I find it a horrifying consent to materialistic culture that one of the largest “churches” in the US preaches God as Cosmic slot machine and no one seems to be standing up to it. I get that people aren’t healed, though I’m not the least nonplussed by some of the theology about why. But, as great as silence is for some things, it’s pretty awful for helping those injured by Church to actually find community and connection again.
I realize the risk I’m taking by posting my sensitive story all over the Internet for anyone to see. The one time I posted something on Facebook about how sick I am of advice; I just want to be loved exactly where I am, someone with whom I otherwise have no relationship thought they were being clever by posting a sarcastic remark. It was hurtful and insensitive, especially coming from someone who trained to be a counselor, but I did open myself up to the possibility of that by attempting to use Facebook as a point of connection rather than a false front I can use to construct any version of myself I want. I am also opening myself up to (the regular occurrence of) being ignored. But staying silent guarantees that I will be ignored, at least the part of me that Henri Nouwen says has yet to come home.