I was standing in an auditorium of about 6,000 people. Lights were flashing and everyone was cheering. The countdown to the new year was beginning. I was looking around and reflecting on the past week I had spent with these 6,000 people at a conference, and I realized how alone I felt. How alone I have always felt when surrounded by people who are supposed to be my brothers and sisters through faith. This feeling triggered memories. I remembered the countless times I reached out to the ministry group I was apart of at my school, and I told them I was sinking lower into the darkness of depression. I remember getting sympathy looks and prayer, but nothing else. I remember feeling ignored and forgotten. I remembered growing up in a broken church and being lonely then too. I also remembered the judgement and the rules. I remembered never having the freedom to be myself. Freedom. What a beautiful word that God offers us but I had never experienced. I snapped back to that moment, standing in the auditorium with 6,000 people who couldn’t care less about me. The countdown reached zero, it was officially 2016, and I was officially done.
Let me clarify one thing first, I was and still am souled out to God, and more specifically God through Jesus Christ. However, I was done with the religion (rituals) aspect and I was done with the building (church walls) and I was done with living by rules placed on me through man (not God). I was done with pretending to agree with things I do not agree with. I was done telling people how they hurt me only for them to NOT acknowledge my feelings. I was done being ignored by the people who claim to love me the most. I was done pretending that I wasn’t disturbed about misogynistic practices I observed. I was done with being told how I should carry myself as a woman if I ever want to marry as if it is a women’s only responsibility to aspire to marriage. I was done hearing about the building fund. I was done with being told my depression was a sin as if I would CHOOSE to have a mental illness. I was completely and utterly done.
…but beyond that…
…I was hurt.
There were so many things that hurt me being connected with these big “Christian” organizations, and for the most part all of my pain was always brushed under the rug. I could not do it anymore. I had real pain that needed real solutions, and since I was not going to find it doing what I had done for the last 23 years, it was time for change. So, I decided I was done with organized religion. No longer was I going to look to a building with “church” slapped on it as my only way to Christ.
But what would I do to replace these entities that took up so much space in my life?
Honestly, I didn’t have an answer to that question, and I fumbled my way through the beginning of this new journey…
…to be continued.