Church was a safe space for me until it wasn’t anymore. It took one church leader telling me ”You’re unteachable,” for Mr. Sexy and I to decide to walk away from church. We were done with no plans to go back. On one hand, I wish we had been strong enough to realize there are healthy churches and healthy people inside those churches. Even the broken ones. But we decided to call it quits.
To be clear, we walked away from church, not from our faith.
Because we had only recently moved back to the area, we hadn’t yet made any God centered connections that were sticking. Thus, walking away from church was really easy when in all honesty, it shouldn’t have been so simple. But we had reached our limit with church hurt..
I was at my absolute lowest point.
I felt constantly surrounded by heaviness and feeling I was falling down a dark hole.
I desperately wanted someone to reach out and say: Here I am! I will help you! I will walk with you!
I was not succeeding as a step-parent to my special needs daughter.
I had started to lose my best friend as my confidant because distance and raising families took priority.
So when my son made a friend in kindergarten, I went out of my way to be that parent’s friend.
To replace my church family, I had to figure out how to make my own.
I believe everything happens on purpose. Regardless of how hard life can be, I have always been able to see that there is a bigger picture. Those new friends I made became really important people in our lives. We began to do EVERYTHING together like camping every weekend, holidays, game nights and any other excuse to get together! In essence, I was trying to make them fill a pretty huge relationship void in my life. Looking back on that now I see how unfair that was of me.
“Long story short, it was a bad time.” -TS
I say that because Mr. Sexy and I constantly toed the lines of our moral boundaries. We started drinking a lot more than we ever had before. We were not careful with who we let in our lives. We looked the other way instead of standing strong in our faith many times. Eventually, though, we realized we needed healthier friendships. So we cut ties with the friends whom I thought of as family. The entire situation tugs at my heart to this day. I miss what we had in the beginning years of our friendship. Because you know what? They were better to us than any of the “Christians” in our lives at that time. They listened to the hardest parts of our story. They LISTENED. And then they accepted us! I am always going to love that special family for their gift of friendship.
Judgement makes church hard for me.
We did slowly integrate our family back into church which was no easy task. We tried a small church in our town for about a year. Yet in all that time we did not make a single friend. Ultimately we left after Mr. Sexy was encouraged to leave me due to my unforgivable sin. F THAT.
We are part of a wonderful church family today.
Calling church home again was a long and hard and hairy road. I really thought l was done with the institution of church. It turns out that everything happens for a reason! I found a Christian counselor to help me navigate my “unforgivable sin” which led us to the church we attend today!
To be honest, church is still hard. I am still healing from church hurt and fear the “christian” judgement I know so well. It still happens. The difference is I have support from all kinds of people – inside church and outside of church
Now I can sit down for church and rest in God’s presence.
Going to church recently became a favorite part of my week. I wasn’t sure how I felt about going back in person with Covid questions and ongoing family trauma. And also church was hard for me before all that! But I’m brave. And I take my family every Sunday.
We sit in the back row.
As the lights dim and the music turns up, I am immediately being covered in God’s presence.
Right now my worship is in the form of tears instead of words.
During that time, Jesus is holding me.
This I truly believe.
It’s where I feel his presence most.
God prepared this church story perfectly so that His Story could help someone else
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Email Jessica B. your questions: Jessica@jessicaleighbiles.com