I recently read an article titled “Jesus I don’t Want to go to Church Anymore.” The author who apparently is a long-time, active member of her church talked of her now personal struggle in attending. She described the complacency she feels and her desire for more. It immediately caught my attention because this is where I am at. I gather it is where many of us are at because that particular article had over 5,000 Facebook shares.
As I read, I searched for a solution. There was none. She concluded with the idea that her and her family would go to church no matter what because it is the right thing to do. GREAT! But …. how is that helpful to anyone? Where is a solution? Where is something that will help? That article did not provide a solution but it did set me in search of one for my own similar struggle.
The struggle is real. Sometimes I think I can’t do it anymore; church, that is. I long for something different. I long for something that will take away the pain and bring healing. Church, isn’t that where healing is supposed to come from? Why, oh why, is it the most difficult place for me to be? Why do I so often want to run frantically, crying from the building? (Which I have, in fact, done twice in the past year. Once as recently as this month). Where is healing if not within the walls of the church?
This writing though, as I assume is true of hers, isn’t truly about the church. It is about a girl who hurts – deeply. One who cannot seem to overcome the feelings of sadness and guilt and as a result is experiencing deep, broken fellowship with God. A brokenness that is being oxygenated and allowed to burn hotter each Sunday morning.
I see this same brokenness in the Psalms of David:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death” (Psalm 13:1-3 NIV)
David, a man after God’s own heart, pours out his anguish in multiple Psalms. Like David, my greatest need is God. The issues with church are a reflection of my Spiritual drought. I am struggling. I open my Bible to words void of meaning. I go to bed Saturday night anxious about church on Sunday trying to come up with an excuse not to go that my kids won’t see through. Because to drag them into my Spiritual void would be an even greater wrong than the facade I have constructed.
Church was the place that I always belonged. We were there every time the doors were opened: serving, teaching and praying. It was more than a building for me. It was my purpose.
And somehow down the line it has become the exact opposite. The thought of going makes me weary. I begin planning on Monday what my excuse will be for the following Sunday; constantly wrestling with how I could not go but still teach my kids its importance? The answer is “I can’t”. So I keep going. And each week as my sense of duty increases my desire to be there lessens. The wall around my heart becomes denser. The Scripture becomes void of meaning and the songs lose their fervor. It is a dangerous place to be in and I cannot figure out how to reverse it.
What is wrong with your church? You might ask. Other than the fact that they keep allowing me to attend without contributing anything, nothing. It is filled with people who care about us, who pray for us and who have supported us. The problem is not with my church. It is with me. It is Spiritual. It is between me and God. I have pushed Him to the outskirts. And church is where the struggle is most strongly felt. When I enter the church I enter His playing field. He gets the upper hand for those moments which causes my flight mechanism to kick in. I’m tired of smiling. I’m tired of pretending. I’m tired of answering “I’m fine.” But is the fact that I don’t answer honestly the fault of the church?
How I have lost touch with God, I do not know. But to run from church will not bring Him closer.
I look to the Psalms and to David. He talks in later chapters about restoration and God as His rock. David goes from deep anguish to restoration in a matter of verses. How did he get there? Where is the solution? And then I find it in verses such as this:
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6 NIV)
Faith, trust, remembering that God is good, these are the solution. I should go to church because it is the right thing to do. But more importantly I should go because somewhere within those walls, there is healing. Healing I desperately want to find. Healing I cannot accomplish on my own.
Reading the Psalms does not provide instant healing. Acknowledging that trust and faith will one day get me there does not make this Sunday any easier. But it provides hope for a brighter tomorrow. Until God’s work is complete in me, I will cling desperately to the feet of Jesus begging Him not to let go of me.
“Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior. ” (Psalm 38:21-22 NIV)