Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

Church PTSD

I went to church yesterday.

But wait…not just any church. This church had three very interesting things about it that got my attention.

First…the church is on the grounds of an old weird western town or little amusement park place. I seriously had the following thoughts in rapid succession as I walked to the sanctuary in the center of “town”… “This place is straight out of a creepy 70’s horror flick. Gosh…I hope this really is a church. These people all look normal enough. Why didn’t Peter warn me about how creepy this place is?”

Second…on first glance it was a replica of “The Big Show” which is what I call that church I attended in Albuquerque for a while. And let’s just say that the little ghost town didn’t creep me out nearly as much as the chill I got from the feeling of walking into a part of my life I want no part of anymore. The graphics, stage setup, screens, and handouts made me feel twitchy from the moment I walked in.

Third…and most astonishingly…I left without the creeps. And while that is not necessarily the winning report that every Pastor wants for his church…it’s the best that I can offer right now. Heck…I might even go back.

Let’s face it…25 years in the denomination of my youth (including 4 years at Bible College), a year with the “LA Hippy” denomination, 3 years at “The Big Show”, and a year of misguided church planting, all mixed with about 4 years of Saturday church in my home have left me with a mixed bag when it comes to looking for a church again.

On one hand…I’m a church girl. Going to church is like breathing for a church girl.

On the other hand…the list of things I don’t like about organized religion and denominational politics creates a heavy smog which makes breathing, for a church girl, very hard and labor intensive.

Today I was discussing the service and some of my “fears” with my friend from work who attends this church and I heard myself say something that is so true and yet still surprised me. I said “Mark, the hard part for me is knowing, without a doubt, that to go back to church is to sign back up for more hurt. We always find ways to hurt each other. Someone will judge me. I’ll judge someone else. There will be deep family moments followed by a kick to the gut that only a family member can give. And I’m just not sure I want the good badly enough to take the bad again.”

And my friend didn’t disagree. Because he knows that it is true. But church girls (or in Mark’s case…boys) also know what it is like to make family with those who share your faith and who share your willingness to search the deeper things. We know what it is like for our spirit to recognize the spirit in someone else as kindred. And without that we feel a certain loss.

I don’t know what will happen when Sunday rolls around. If you want to know all I can say is…’We’ll see.’

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