I don't think I can keep going to church anymore. Today was sort of the end. I don't know if I'll continue for the rest of the month or so that I'll be here.
Today was revealing.
In the past ten years since I left my old church my faith has undergone something of a sea-change. The endless mountains of attacks, disrespect and deriding I've had to endure from people at my old church wore me pretty far down after a few years. The last ten years at the new mainstream church hasn't improved my faith either, in fact, I'm thinking from everything I am observing, reading and experiencing that Americans in general have the Christian faith very wrong.
One of my oldest friends, who also came out of the old church, made the observation to me that I was actually very sweet and kind inside, but that I wear my sarcasm like a shield to keep others away. There's a lot of truth to that, but here's the problem. In my old faith community I was pretty sarcasm-free, not the sappy wit that always had a snappy answer. Certainly not the eye-rolling wretch that likes to skewer hypocrites.
What did it get me? Hurt. Very hurt because I was open and vulnerable to people who didn't deserve it, who took my openness and trust and used it against me, used me to advance their own agenda.
When I got to the new church after a lifetime of having trust issues and having my boundaries trampled I morphed back into my old sarcastic masked self. I let almost no one in the new church near the real me. I'm still hiding from most of them.
That hasn't stopped people there from trying to press me into some usage. But as I've started to critically examine what the Bible says, what faith is and how far from the words of Jesus the church has gone I've become less willing to be a slave to religion. Add in some historical reading and enough Bart Erhrman and I cannot decide if I'm agnostic or downright atheist. I believe in a higher power, but it looks nothing like what the Evangelical church thinks it should, so I guess that rules out being an atheist. I don't know. I'm still on my journey.
Today at church was an illustration to me on a bunch of different levels how hypocritical many of the folks there that scream the loudest that they are UBER CHRISTIAN.
Yes, it's been a bad asthma day. Yes, I got up cranky again, but had to go into church to do the counting of the Almighty offering. While I was there my oxygen levels started to tank, I could feel it. I took the usual actions I always take when the levels are low. I did my deep breathing exercises that the physio taught me, I medicated and I even lay down for awhile between services. When it wasn't getting any better I got up and walked slowly around the church, leaving the other team members to fill my slot.
At one point I walked past two of the most prominent 'Look At MEEEEEEE Christians' in the church that always volunteer for the most visible leadership roles and go on lots of mission trips-cum-vacations to 3rd world countries. Both couples looked at me and one of them remarked I was white as a sheet and asked if I was sick. I said I was, that my oxygen levels had dropped very low (around 88 right then) and I was lightheaded.
You could have dropped a pin and heard it echoing in that vast silence. No 'Hope you feel better,' 'Can I pray for you?' or even a simple 'I'm sorry is there anything I can do for you.' De nada, nope, nothing, neine, nix, not jackshit. Right back to their faux righteous conversation.
This all on a day when others clearly seeing me struggle approached to ask if I would do this or that thing, lead this, pray for this person, or cook, volunteer, you-name-it.
I'm done being used by ungrateful people. I am done putting my needs last. I'm done with all this fake concern, phony behavior and mouthing platitudes while behaving like your faith is really all about you. Begging prayers focusing on getting God to pay off like some holy slot machine to benefit you. Disgusting.
My inner voice was right. There's plenty of reasons to keep my mask up and not let it down there. This church, just like the crazy one, is a seriously unsafe place that uses people up in a thankless fashion. I'll go on worshiping and communing with the divine out away from the church. They can shove that fancy painted stained glass building. I'm not counting the 50K per week any longer. I'm not doing another thing for any of them.
I'll spend my efforts on those who really need it. Like the local homeless and the elderly, like I have done for years now.