I don't feel like I can be the sick Lael that needs help when I go to church. I feel like I need to be the already healed Lael so no one judges me. I'm not blaming members of any church or anyone at all, it's just on overall perception that I bring to the table.
These days, I seem to be looking for support from sinners who have changed, but were/are still sinners. How did/do they do it, what prayers did/do they pray, bible studies did/do they attend, tricks did/do they use to get through the tough times, who did they turn to...you know...that type of thing. I cannot be supported by people who do not understand someone who has lived a less than perfect life; who does not understand someone who has demons and family issues and all sorts of sins that have collected for 31 years and continue to collect. I seem to be more complicated than everyone else is around me. I am the poster child for the need for salvation - ha! The problem is that I feel like I better put on my pretty, white, and clean Lael to parade around in front of people or else I'll be some kind of social pariah.
I've had some very real and bad things happen in my life as a child and adult. So bad they still make me cringe and hurt. I've made some extraordinarily bad decisions in my life, so bad that they still haunt me to this day. I've struggled with addiction in the past, and sometimes struggle not to return there. I've struggled with marriage problems. I have self-inflicted trouble and not self-inflicted trouble. I get really angry with God and find myself ten million miles away wondering "how" or "if" I even want to return to Him. I struggle with anger and frustration and handling it appropriately. But, surely, there are other Christians out there like this - even in my church, right? So why after two years do I not know them? Are they really all that good or am I'm just that person?
Truth is, I don't always need a sermon. Sometimes I need a place where people come clean and feel good about it - just so we could see that we all have a little blight. A place where you can openly admit that you stole a pack of gum or that your soul is so dark you think you're unsaveable. A place for some relief, to feel unconditional certainty that there is no judgement, that you are loved, but that you're not alone too. I feel the first three are handled in a decent manner, but that last one...that one I don't feel so much. Is this where the church is coming up short? Is this the crack in the wall that no one is paying attention to? Is this why so many people who grew up Christians don't return after they've made a few mistakes and lived a bit more than your average bear? To exagerate, but make, a point: If you've run around naked in a field with a bunch of other people at a festival high as a kite, do you really relate to the orthodontist sitting next to you who appears to have all of her ducks in a row? What if she did it too, but in an effort to looked "saved" never admits what she needed saved from. What would the church look like if we all walked in with our sins literally written across our chests? A bunch of needy people would take notice. A bunch of sick people would think they could get the same help as the other sick people who might be better now but still struggling in one way or another. There would be depth to the friendships beyond just taking a meal when needed or hanging out each Sunday. You would be sisters in sin and thus sisters in Christ (or brothers).
None of my friends that relate to me on a personal level are church-going Christians. Many aren't Christians at all. That's ok to me. I love them and will always love them. But they can't put that life into Christian context, which is really where I need to go. They can't help me tune into God through my troubles and learn how to let go of my own understanding of a situation. Basically, they help "me" figure out how to help "me". This is helpful at the time, but in the end, I think it's counter productive as I haven't learned how to reach out to God and then it happens again and I need help again and I don't go to God, I go to them. You get the picture?
Many of these friends used to go to church, but abandoned it long ago because they just don't feel like they fit in because they're too far removed from the people in there. They're afraid of the gasps if someone found out who they really are. They're even more afraid they'll have to be like everyone else in there.
Jesus came to heal the sick...we should maybe start acting grateful by acknowledging the "diseases" we are saved from.