Losing My Religion For the Second Time

In my mid-twenties, I parted ways with my Christian upbringing. There was just too much I disagreed with: the church’s stance on homosexuality, its adherence to patriarchy, the seeming rampant sexism (along with many other -isms and -phobias), to warrant staying in the church. And if I’m being honest, I had become so disappointed and disillusioned with the people in the church that I became disappointed and disillusioned with Christ, too.

It didn’t take long for me to renounce my faith in Him entirely.

By the time I reached my late twenties, a few life experiences had begun to nudge me closer to Christ again. I have a YouTube video that shares that story if you’re interested. Long story short, I slowly and somewhat begrudgingly (okay, maybe I was kicking and screaming) found my way back to my faith in Jesus.

That said, I was so angry. Angry at the church. Angry at its people. Angry at the way white Christian nationalism was spewing hate and intolerance all over the country. I vowed that I would practice my faith at home, never again stepping foot inside a church.

But time can heal even the hardest of hearts, and eventually, I found myself back in a church home that I truly loved. It was Christ-centered, multi-ethnic, and inclusive. It finally felt like I had found a church that was truly living the purpose and personality of Jesus.

Until it didn’t.

As I got closer to the leadership of the church and more able to see its inner-workings, I found that this church—behind the veil—was really no different from all the rest. There was hate, and bigotry, and sexism. Scandals. Cover-ups. Affairs.

Seeing the church I had come to love and trust for what it really was felt like the greatest betrayal of my life. I left and never looked back.

Over the years, I nurtured my relationship with Christ and tried to forget the nasty wound that church left.

But with time, and particularly with the election of Donald Trump and the resultant unveiling of all the hate and corruption that most “Christian” people had, until then, had the decency to keep under wraps, I found myself falling away from Christ again.

It was one of those “last straw” kinds of things. That was it for me. If people like that believed that Christ was for them, I wanted no part of Him. Even the Christian people who didn’t necessarily “agree with” everything Trump said and did still felt that nothing about him was contrary to their morals and values as Christians. And that was enough for me.

That was eight years ago. For those eight years, I have watched my relationship with Christ deteriorate all over again. This time, I believed, for good.

In the last few weeks, my husband and I have both felt the nudging of the Spirit again. We haven’t really known why, but since it was happening to us both, we knew it must be something we should pay attention to.

I began getting back into my Bible, but I found it all feeling so flat. Every word I read reminded me of some recalcitrant “Christian” I’ve known and the hate and hypocrisy that punctuated their lives. I didn’t know how I would ever be able to reconnect with Christ when these feelings were so strong.

I came across Psalm 108:13 which says, “With God on our side, we will win,” and found myself asking: whose side, Lord?

Whose side are you on?

The thing is, I know the answer. I know Jesus himself came to earth to beef with the religious folks of His day. He has never been okay with the way the “ultra-religious” behave. I know he condemns a lot of the things that are said and done in His name.

And yet, I struggle with believing. I struggle with knowing. I struggle with resentment and anger, and a burning outrage at the injustice that is allowed on this planet by the very people who claim to worship the God of all justice.

But through these last few weeks, God has been clear: You and I have done this once before; we can do it again.

I don’t know how God won me back to himself the last time we did this. It was miraculous, really. Done entirely without my participation or even agreeableness. But in knowing that He did it once, I know He can do it again.

I’m not going to rush it.

I’m going to take it slow. Going to take my time.

There are wounds that have to heal. Trust that needs rebuilt. And if there’s anything I learned from my marriage reconciliation two years ago, it’s that those things take time.

God has all the time in the world to wait on me. He loves me enough that He is willing to wait.

And this relationship matters enough to take it slow.

Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

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