Dear Church, Your Religion is Killing Me…

Dear Church,

You and me, we have this thing going on.  I am not sure what to call it, but I thought as I wrote, my thoughts would congeal and help give a voice to the thousands who remain silent on this subject.  It’s like a love hate relationship we have and I am about to “dump” it for all to see.  Talk about feeling vulnerable and opening myself up for ridicule!  I’m feeling it already, but here goes…  I’m going to give it to you straight.

I want to be loved and accepted by you, but I don’t always appreciate your attitudes towards me and my friends.  There was a day that I was totally committed to you.  I mean, I did whatever you asked, even when it meant covering for you.  I sacrificed my family and even lost friends for you.  I turned my back on all I knew for you and gave up everything for you.  I didn’t walk away from you, I only moved away from you with the intention of doing even more for you.  But yet, when I did that and the going got tough for me, when my life was falling apart around me, where were you?  Why did you abandon me?  Why did I feel that I was left alone to deal with the mess?  Why do I feel that now I am being judged and criticized and even cast off?  When I needed someone to come along side me, where were you?  When I was longing for someone to find me and help me get to wherever the hell I was supposed to be, you were nowhere to be found.  When I even went out of my way to reach for help, I got, “I’ll pray for you”, but not a word ever since.  I bared my soul.  I poured out my heart.  I’ve been totally open and honest with you and look where it got me.  Cast out, forsaken, discarded…  What now?

I’ve followed all of your rules.  They left me empty and unconnected with your God.  As a matter of fact, they were a wall that separated me from him.  I put on the happy face and acted like everything was ok, no matter how much pain was inside, because that’s what you taught me to do.  I dressed it up and took it to church.  As a matter of fact, I took it to church so often that I forgot what life was like in the outside world.  I played the leader role and even was asked to be silent when I needed help, due to the not silent, but whispered rule that I needed to keep up an image.  I, like you, even willingly crawled up and sat on that pedestal and received your praises.

I looked at the leaders over me and held them in high esteem.  I trusted them to give me direction and be the role model, set the example, give me hope that I too, could do this thing called life and do it well.  I trusted you to do it right, yet you let me down, over and over again.  You’ve lied to me, you’ve hidden things from me, you betrayed my trust.  You were just as much a sinner as myself and yet even when caught in your sin, you remained proud and unrepentant.  I now look at others in your position with suspicion.  The more religious they act, the more suspicious I get.  I will never put my trust in a man, ever again.  But that is OK, you taught me well on that one.  That’s not who I need to be putting my trust in anyway.

I have a problem with your religious activity, the “holier than thou” attitudes.  As a matter of fact, hearing you say the word “thou”, makes me want to gag.  The religious speech of some drives me batty.  Really now, what about that makes anyone want to be like you.  Why do you have to act so “religious”?  Why do you have to put on a show?  Why can’t you just be yourself, someone I can relate to, someone just trying to do life to the best of their ability?

I see you looking at my kids that way.  My kids were raised in you and pretty much by you.  No, they don’t look like what you think they should look like now.  Their body piercings, tattoos and long hair don’t look like you and so you judge them by that.  It kind of makes me want to go get a tattoo, just for you.  Where’s the love?

Where were you when my family had to deal with mental illness?  Where were you when my family had to deal with alcoholism and addiction?  There were some who showed sympathy or offered prayers and I am grateful for them, but what about for the long haul when the problems didn’t go away quickly?  Where were you?  Where were your answers?  Oh yeah, I did hear some answers as to “why” it was all happening and they were doozies!  Enough said on that.

Please hear this loudly.  You know I love you. I know you are doing what you think is right.  You are doing what you think you have to do to get where you think you need to be.  You aren’t trying to hurt anyone, and I know you just want to help.  I know the job is so great and requires so much commitment.  I know about the few that pour out all they have while the majority sits back and criticizes the way things are done.  I know all of that and it is not my intention to hurt you, yet, I have no desire to be a part of your “religious” activity anymore.

I know that there are many who are doing what I did for you and their heart is right.  I am not criticizing them.  I am thankful for them and love them.  It is the rest that I am talking to, those who are using the church for your own gain, those who are proudly setting on the pedestal while living under a façade, those who are preying on the innocent and re-victimizing the weak and vulnerable.  I’m talking about the ones who think their religious actions make them better than their neighbors, the ones who think they are unsusceptible to sin and criticize and judge those who don’t meet their own standards or believe just as they do.  There are many more in this group than would ever care to admit it and some of you are getting pretty irate reading this right now.  Others are thinking that I’m just bitter from the hurt of a few.

The fact is, I’m OK, really, I am.  Yes, I was hurt by you.  But yes, I know a big God who can heal whatever you’ve done to me.  I am writing this for those who are not OK yet, for those who will stay bitter and never know they can make it past what has been done to them.  I am writing for those who are afraid to voice their thoughts or just don’t know how.  I am writing for those who are still being hurt by what you do everyday. I know my words sound harsh, but they were coming from where I was at that time and you need to hear that.  Maybe a few of you will take an honest look at yourselves and become a little more sensitive, maybe even make a change so that it doesn’t keep happening to others.  The world is already broken enough.  Lives are at stake here.  You have so much more to offer than what is being seen.  The world needs God as he is, not the God many of you are portraying him to be.  Can you hear me?  Do you understand?  Can you love me for me?