The Loneliest Place
“Did you go to church today?”
“Have you found a church yet?”
“Which churches have you visited?”
I have not.
Two. And I don’t really want to go to any others.
I probably shouldn’t say this. But if I don’t, my head will explode. And since no one reads this anyway…
I don’t want to go to church. Maybe I never will again. And I feel horribly guilty about that.
But church? For me, it’s been the most terrible, lonely, miserable place on earth. All of my life it’s been this way. If I could have a dollar for every time I left First Baptist Church of Pensacola and wept all the way home, I’d be sweating my unemployment a lot less. I wish I could say it’s CHRISTIANS. But the fact is that *I* am the only common denominator here. It’s me. I somehow do and say the wrong things. People overlook me. People don’t include me. Acquaintances never become friends, no matter how hard I try. It is awful.
I’ve never had very many (i.e. almost zero) Christian friends. Not in school, not in college, not as an adult. I have had one kind of good friend who is a Christian, but I have done nearly all the work to keep that friendship going. By friend I mean a person you see outside of church events, a person who has been to your house and you’ve been to theirs, a person you have wasted time with, a person you call on when you need help (and vice versa), a person who knows the real you and your real life.
I’m forty. I’ve had ONE Christian friend. Now I don’t even have her anymore. It’s truly pathetic.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some great friends in my life. I’ve had some really, really wonderful people in my life. They just haven’t loved Jesus like I do.
Honestly, I feel more like a part of a community right now than I EVER did in my sixteen years as a member of First Baptist. My friends now are nominal believers and non-believers, gay and straight, drinking and cussing AMAZING people who have loved and included me in their lives more in the mere six months I’ve lived here than anyone did the entire time I lived in Pensacola. It feels wonderful.
And it feels awful.
I really WANT to love going to church. When I don’t go to church I feel guilty and like something is missing from my week. I miss the music and the beauty of the service. There’s a lovely liturgical element that I love, even in the most modern worship service. I encourage other people to go to church. Yet it’s the most painful, hurtful experience of my life. I have a hard time getting my head around this.
Other people think I’m fun and cool and interesting. They like hanging out with me. We have fun, we laugh, we talk and share life. There’s just something about me that Christians don’t like. And whatever element in me that they dislike is probably also the element which is keeping me single (because I will only marry a Christian). I wish I knew what it was.
But I’m terrified to know what it is, as well. No one really wants to know why nobody wants them around. Not really. That would probably break your heart.
I wish I had a tidy conclusion here…one where I quote a scripture and say that everything is going to work out fine. But I truly don’t believe that it WILL work out fine. That I love Jesus is NOT going to change. That I want to marry a man who also loves Jesus isn’t going to change. I’m never going to stop feeling drawn to God. But church and I don’t get along. I’m a square peg and every church is a round hole. And I don’t know what to do about it. Go and cry every week because I don’t fit in, doubt my worth because I feel invisible and awkward? Or don’t go and feel guilty because the bible says we are supposed to be a part of a body of believers?
I don’t know. All I know is that right now I feel happier than I have in years, and no one in Pensacola has even noticed that I left. I’m not saying this because I want pity or because I want to condemn or accuse anyone. The problem is with ME and ME ONLY. I’m just processing this information and trying to figure out what I should actually do. And right now…I’m enjoying not feel rejected and alone.