The best part about living in NYC was being a part of the church community I had called home. Never in my life have I understood what true community looked like until NYC – deep friendships that make you laugh, sit with you when you cry and hold you accountable when you need it. I’m that person that prefers to buck the small talk and get straight to the meat of what’s going on in our lives. So when I found my church with fellow believers who had all-in mentalities like me, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. This church became where I wrestled with the hard truths of my life, where I met my best friends and saw examples of what living out the Gospel on a daily basis really meant.
So when there was a fall out amongst the leadership in our church and decisions were made that I vehemently disagreed with, I was absolutely devastated. Personally, it meant I could no longer go there and feel confident that I was being led well. The one thing that remained steady in a very unsteady New York came crashing down all around me. And the fallout of how that affected me became a slow, steady crumble. I watched myself & friends, all strong believers, dip away or dip out completely.
This may sound dramatic, but I’m pretty sure I went through all the stages of grief in the aftermath.
Denial. Anger (lots of it). Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance…
Well, I’m still working on acceptance.
Amongst that, there were other emotions that came along with this schism:
Disappointment. Fury. Sadness. Frustration. Confusion. Resentment. Bitterness.
This was no small thing.
There were even moments months later I saw some of those decision makers in public and all I wanted to do was go over and scream “[Expletive] you for ruining My New York. Do you see anyone benefitting from this decision?! You want to talk about sin, let me give you a laundry list of your sins….”
Yeah, that’s the blackness of my heart y’all.
Even now, almost a year later, when writing this post, I wanted to call these people out by name, expose their transgressions. However, putting someone else’s faults in print, so that it can haunt them forever, has never been my style.
In the aftermath I really had to digest what Jesus + nothing actually meant. Because I didn’t have that tight-knit community to rally behind. At least, it didn’t feel like I did. There was no, “Let’s process through this with my people!” Because quite frankly, we were all trying to land on our feet, figuring out where we stood. What we believed. If we wanted to stay or go. It became a very personal processing versus a collective processing. And that was really hard. And sad. And to be honest, it was a major contributing factor in me leaving New York.
But if I could find one good thing from this situation, it would be recognizing that I was putting way too much weight and focus on my church. (Oh, and that I realized how ugly my heart is and my need for repentance is legit.) Now, don’t get me wrong, having a solid church family is good. I can’t WAIT to find a new church home in Nashville. But for me, it was as if when my church failed me, God had failed me too.
Which is straight up lies, friends.
My church had such a spot of prominence in my life. But, I wonder now if it held more weight than my personal relationship with Christ. I don’t think that’s true, but it definitely made me pause and think how scary of a thought that is. Because at the end of the day, my church is not God. The church is made up of very imperfect people – me included. So of course they are going to fail me. Of course the way things are run is going to fail me. Of course there will be people doing the best that they can and even so, they. may. still. fail. me.
That doesn’t mean God is any less good.
Because He shows up, as He always does. His word is reliable and true. And I’m grateful for knowing that no matter what – He’s always the head of the church. He will mend and renew and reconcile. It may take a long time. His best work, after all, is never done in an instant. But rather, He prefers the slow and steady methodology (which, you know, is practically incomprehensible to me).
Not a minute too soon. Not a minute too late.
Have you ever been a part of church that has gone through a major trial? How did you process it? I want to read your comments below.
When the church fails you
August 1, 2017