If The Church Stopped Judging Perhaps I’d Go Back

I haven’t gone in years but I pray every day.

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“You really should start going back to church.”

It’s a line I’ve heard more times than I can count.

It doesn’t matter how many times I respond, nor how many times I offer up the same reply. Sooner or later, I’ll be told this.

Perhaps what I say in return isn’t satisfactory. Most of the time I receive a head nod and an “I can understand that.” But apparently, they can’t, because I’m continually prodded with the same off the cuff, seemingly out of nowhere yet they’ve been waiting to say it comment.

So I’ll continue to offer the same reply.

“I’ll return when I find a church that is truly judgment-free.”

The thing is, I might not go to church, but I pray every day.

I’ve Felt A Disconnect

I’m not sure at what point in time this happened, but a disconnect took place. A small, hairline crack. I didn’t even notice it until it had grown into a near-complete fracture.

The messages offered didn’t resonate with me. Instead, I found many to be blindly given. About world events, the minister knew nothing about, or about places a minister had never visited. But I wasn’t allowed to question it. The message was the will of God speaking through the minister, so his lack of a connection didn’t matter.

I never cared for that explanation. It felt like a non-answer. It pushed me away.

But not as much as many of those within the congregation. Some of the nicest people in the world I’ve met at church. And yet some of the most judgmental people are in the same building as well.

The “judge not lest ye be judged” portion of the Bible tossed away. But then picking and choosing what to follow and what not to follow goes very much in hand with modern religion.

It’s the judging that truly bothered me though. The looking down noses at others. The eye rolls. The scoffs. To judge others is to be uncomfortable with oneself. And yet it’s the judgment passed down that has kept me out of returning to church. It’s forced the disconnect and, frankly, I’m not sure how I will overcome it.

Unwilling To Accept The Issue

When I talk to church goers about this many rebuke it. It’s a stereotype. It’s not accurate. They toss my observations, interactions and truth to the wind.

I’m not some outsider looking in. I grew up in the church. I attended church every Sunday for most of my life. My dad was a pastor so I had to (it wouldn’t look good if the preacher’s kid wasn’t going to church). So by treating my opinion as less than their own, it only proved my point further.

It’s not a stereotype. At least not in my interactions. Digging heads in sand and banging pots over heads isn’t a great way to move forward. It’s a good way to push people further away.

Failure to see the issue only proves to me the church isn’t ready to have me back. Not the other way around.

And Yet I Pray Every Day

Not going to church doesn’t suddenly mean I’ve turned my back on religion or how I was raised.

I think those who badger me with returning to church miss that point. Or they assume religion and faith are only solidified when others can see it practiced.

If religion only works if it is before the eyes of others I’m not sure I want to be religious.

I don’t need others to see it. I don’t need others to be around. I do understand what I’m missing by not attending, but I also know the frustration it causes and the discontent I feel. Church isn’t supposed to have that effect, but for me, that’s what it has done.

For me, faith and attending church don’t need to go hand-in-hand. It’s not an all or nothing kind of situation.

I’m not sure if the fault in the explanation lies with me or with those I’m telling it to. Perhaps both.

Commenting Makes It Worse

There are times I see the comment coming. I know someone is going to bring it up. Other times it comes out of nowhere. As if the individual started up a conversation with me only to eventually awkwardly segway to me going to church. To corner me and to force me into admitting I needed to return.

That tactic doesn’t work.

In fact, it makes things worse.

It pushes me further away.

I should ask them in return if their church is judgment-free yet. Because then, only then, will I return. If they can’t answer my question then I should be absolved of responding to theirs.

For a time my mother would bring it up at every opportunity. I’d offer explanations. I’d tell her how I felt and I’d tell her what kept me away. And yet she’d bring it up again, I guess assuming a different answer would come. Or that she’d wear my wall down.

The thing is I’m not the one with the wall. It’s the church that has it. If they could see that perhaps they’d accept my reasoning. Or, at the very least, try something different with me.

I don’t go to church but I pray every day. And it’s not a show prayer. Something done for listeners. For an audience. It’s specifically for me.

I guess those telling me I need to go back to church need to consider which is the better alternative: attending church and feeling pushed away, or staying away and having a daily conversation.

I believe it’s best to have a daily conversation. To talk through emotions and situations and feelings. To open myself up daily.

But maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe the church says otherwise.

I wouldn’t know because I haven’t gone to church in a long time. But I pray every day.

Written by

You might hate my first story, but maybe you’ll like the next. Editor at The Last Call Express. More at greysonferguson.com. Say hi: greysonferguson@gmail.com.

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