Christian in an absolute pickle here

(112 Posts)
springysofa Fri 10-Jan-14 20:20:26

Some really terrible things have happened on the domestic front (my kids) and I seem to have descended into a seething mass of resentment, anger, unforgiveness, despair - etc. All the etcs.

Although I believe totally, I can't see the point of anything that goes on in the church. I don't know what they're doing, feel a genuine confusion when they're doing what, to me, looks weird, irrelevant, bewildering. I find christians just too weird for words and can barely stand to spend time with them.

I go to a very big church and I have grave concerns about the running of the church - nothing new there if I'm honest - but I feel the deepest resentment and outrage towards this particular church. They are of the 'overcomers' persuasion and have no time for the broken-hearted. I also find them desperately middle class and smug and I feel entirely out of step with most things that go on. There is a big clique at the core of the church and it sometimes feels that we're all watching a party we're not invited to.

I have approached the pastor about my awful situation and the bottom line is that he doesn't want to know. The pastoral leader (what a joke!) is only interested in success and fame, from what I can see - someone like me with my broken heart is bad for the image and she just doesn't want to know; and has been very scathing towards me personally. She points me to a high-profile case where a member of the congregation lost a child in a senseless accident (made national headlines) and chides me that the mother has 'moved on' and is 'an overcomer', clearly stating that if she can do it then so should I. Although I don't know the mother personally, therefore can't comment on her journey towards some sense of peace, I feel seething hatred towards a culture that blames the victim.

I'm not the easiest customer. I am hurting soooo much. I don't know where to go, where I can find some basic common sense, from people who don't use God to avoid the sometimes gruesome realities of life.

I don't want to hate them but at the moment I could gun them down, frankly.

zulubump Fri 10-Jan-14 21:03:06

Oh dear it sounds like you are in an awful situation that is being made worse, in many ways, by your church. How long have you been at your church springy and is it somewhere that your kids (and partner?) go?

Can you get some support from outside of the church - maybe counselling for whatever the problem is, or friends from outside church you can talk to? And ultimately it sounds like it would be worth finding another church. Just take one step at time and take care of yourself and don't spend time with people who are making your situation worse.

The church I go to (Methodist) generally seems to be accepting and supportive of people who are struggling with life/faith. I feel I can be honest with people there about things that worry me and my doubts. I would hate it if we were expected to put on a brave smiley face no matter what was going on in life! Yes we can celebrate when people are able to overcome difficult situations, but putting pressure on people to be "overcomers" sounds ridiculous. Moving on from difficult things takes time, compassion, patience and that's what you deserve.

HoneyandRum Fri 10-Jan-14 21:08:36

I don't know what an "overcomer" is I have never heard that expression before but from what you have said it sounds like you are supposed to "suck it up" as my delightful American DH might put it. I'm sorry you are not getting the love and support you so obviously need right now. To be honest from what you describe the spirituality sounds quite immature and therefore there is not a theology that would create a pastoral response that would reach people when they are suffering deeply. I can't stand it when people will not look honestly and in the face of the reality of pain.

I'm not sure what to say as I am Catholic and the whole set up you describe is very different from anything I am familiar with. I think from what you have said what you want and need from church and your relationship from God is not happening in this context. Are there any other Christian communities you could be part of?

Chasing success and fame has zero to do with living the Christian life - maybe this is your opportunity to find a deeper more profound and real connection.

cmoll17 Fri 10-Jan-14 21:31:33

find time to pray, alone or with your family whichever you would prefer.

take some time away from going to church, like the PP I am also Catholic and when I went through a tough time I hated going to Sunday Mass, I felt like I was going through the motions and being disrespectful even though I still believed. I stopped going for quite a long time but I did go back and I attend every week now and feel my faith is stronger for it, sometimes taking a step back from "organised" religion helps you see what is important in life and what your faith means to you

birdybear Fri 10-Jan-14 21:46:38

Springy, i really feel for you. When you use the word broken hearted i can really relate to the real meaning of that word because there was a time in my life when i was deeply depressed and upset with my life, and although it is a kind of old fashioned word, broken hearted was the only way i could describe how i was feeling.

A lot of the time, i could only read psalms and cry, i couldn't even articulate what i felt when trying to pray. I just knew that God heals the broken hearted and i knew that he was my only answer.

I was very blessed to attend a church where the pastor and his wife were very kind and loving and i spent many hours being prayed for, praying and talking with them .

I think if the person you have sought help from is not helping you, then ask them is there someone in church they feel might be willing to pray with you? Really try to ask around or find someone who has a heart for helping others. You can't always feel like an over comer or be one in every situation. God knows that. I am sure it would help you to have someone to talk to and pray with and unfortunately these people don't always pop out easily for others to find. It is worth it if you can though.

Don't feel like you can't go to church. You don't have to go obviously, but it would be helpful for you- if not your current church, then another. For months, i used to go most weeks and cry every single week. I didn't always know specifically why i was crying, but i couldn't help myself. Looking back now, i can see god was gradually healing my heart, and that's how he did it.

Keep looking and pushing for god. I wish you peace x

birdybear Fri 10-Jan-14 21:47:53

Springy, i really feel for you. When you use the word broken hearted i can really relate to the real meaning of that word because there was a time in my life when i was deeply depressed and upset with my life, and although it is a kind of old fashioned word, broken hearted was the only way i could describe how i was feeling.

A lot of the time, i could only read psalms and cry, i couldn't even articulate what i felt when trying to pray. I just knew that God heals the broken hearted and i knew that he was my only answer.

I was very blessed to attend a church where the pastor and his wife were very kind and loving and i spent many hours being prayed for, praying and talking with them .

I think if the person you have sought help from is not helping you, then ask them is there someone in church they feel might be willing to pray with you? Really try to ask around or find someone who has a heart for helping others. You can't always feel like an over comer or be one in every situation. God knows that. I am sure it would help you to have someone to talk to and pray with and unfortunately these people don't always pop out easily for others to find. It is worth it if you can though.

Don't feel like you can't go to church. You don't have to go obviously, but it would be helpful for you- if not your current church, then another. For months, i used to go most weeks and cry every single week. I didn't always know specifically why i was crying, but i couldn't help myself. Looking back now, i can see god was gradually healing my heart, and that's how he did it.

Keep looking and pushing for god. I wish you peace x

AndHarry Fri 10-Jan-14 21:51:27

It sounds like you could do with finding another church to attend. Is there any particular reason you go to that one?

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 02:01:07

I was very blessed to attend a church where the pastor and his wife were very kind and loving and i spent many hours being prayed for, praying and talking with them

Lucky you! That made me cry! It shouldn't be impossible though, should it?

My situation is complex. I wonder if christians are threatened by it (re 'That wouldn't happen to a christian!' - well it does because it has happened to me); a dangerously simplistic belief that bad things don't happen to christians (where do they get that from anyway? Jesus DIED! The disciples didn't have a great time, either). eg when my boy was about to go into heart surgery, a christian said to me 'God won't let him die' . This is bullshit imo - which was, incidentally, very painful to hear at that time.

I have been meek, I suppose, with these people. Perhaps it's time I got out the guns because I have absolutely NOTHING to lose.

dunsborough Sat 11-Jan-14 04:01:57

Springy are you me?

I can relate so much to this post - even down to the tragic accident and the church member being in church the following week praising God.

Is this the only church in your area? Because I really think you need to get the hell out of there.
In my case, my DH started attending my overcoming church with me, but couldn't stomach it and instead chose to attend a different, smaller church.
I went with him begrudgingly and often, I am ashamed to say, mocked the flag-waving older members.

However, I can definitely see that we are meant to be in this church, because when everything hit the fan, this church has been an absolute Godsend. It is open about broken-heartedness. There are a lot of very sad stories among the members, but also a lot of hope.
It is an open, honest, humble and kind congregation, despite their penchant for flags grin and with everything that has been going on recently, I very much look forward to Sundays.

I really hope you can attend somewhere else. Wipe the dust off your feet and don't look back.
This kind of 'overcoming' is really quite prideful in my opinion. There is a lot of ego and not a lot of humility.

DesperatelySeekingSanity Sat 11-Jan-14 04:57:17

Not sure Jesus told Mary and Martha to overcome it when Lazarus died. In fact I'm pretty sure he wept with them. OK so then there was a fairly large miracle, but I don't see anywhere in the bible where it says we should just get over things.

My God, the God I love, walks with me through things. He is my companion, my guide and my comforter. And big enough to take it when I'm angry or broken hearted. And my church recognises this, that we are a broken people, desperately clinging to our saviour.

I'm so sorry your church is unsupportive. I do think suffering is a threat to some people. As Springy says, it challenges the notion that being a Christian somehow insulates us from troubles. But I don't read that anywhere in the bible either - only that God will be with us through them.

ZingChoirsOfAngels Sat 11-Jan-14 05:28:07

Springy

I'm so sorry you are hurting like that.
you don't actually have to go to church to feel close to God or to pray.

I'd stop going for now and set some time aside instead for prayer and Bible reading each day or every other day or whatever suits.

do you have any friends who are also struggling like you? perhaps you could form a prayer group - informal get togethers can be really helpful.

I haven't read this thread yet so these are just my gut reactions, but I'm here to help you.
and I'll be praying for you to find peace and guidance.

I'm so sorry you had bad experience and it's a shame your local community/congregation is so unsuitable.
I'm glad you realized how toxic they are - I can only see that as God caring for you and having something way better planned for you!smile

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 11:36:00

I really don't know where to go (she wails). It is all very well saying 'go to another church' but the last church I went to I had to have counselling to support me to leave (the place made me ill - same old overcoming shite, plus the leadership were all young toffs who were helping the poor people..). I don't find it easy to leave (but leave I must, I can see that). Where to go? I don't find it easy to try again.

This church is huge. I felt I stood a better chance with this church because there were so many to choose from iyswim! But I have found it impossible to get in, there seems to be no way in. Apparently everything happens on the housegroup level (this took me at least 5 years to work out) and I attended one for about a year but eventually couldn't take being practically ignored because I was the new girl. I said it wasn't working, which caused tremendous upset (to my surprise - though no-one asked me what I meant). There is no forum at all to tell the truth - I have tried, it just isn't worth it, they go nuts. I have been called a liar, amongst other things.

I despair. I have been going to my local CofE church at 9am during the week sometimes, which is very formal, stand-up-sit-down (I'm sure there's a name for it but I don't know what it is) and that has been nourishing but doesn't promote relationships. I have never had a prayer partner. At the toff church those of us who didn't have a prayer partner had to stand up in one service so people could invite us (please! Did they get people to stand up who weren't in relationships so they could be invited? I wouldn't put it past them). No-one invited me! I have also asked but been refused. I could laugh at this it is so absurd. But so wounding and rejecting.

They all seem bonkers imo. People with no faith have been much more accepting and realistic about eg suffering and pain ime. I appreciate I sound like a moaning minnie. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve, do the usual social nicety stuff, help out, volunteer etc. I am generally treated like a leper whatever I do (probably, I hate to say it, because they all gossip, particularly the central clique. I have witnessed it on more than one occasion. So if you have a run-in with one, you've had it).

I have been going to the small, early sunday morning, service. The preaching is good, as it is in all the services.

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 11:53:44

oh! I've just remembered another church I went to for a while. In the housegroup I was talking about God (as you do!) and the leader reared up, shouting that he wasn't going to stand for it (what??) and the housegroup, which had been running for 20 years, was disbanded 'because they weren't going to accept this type of goings-on in their home'. To this day I have not had any sense out of them about what was so offensive. The church was touting for £m to fund a 're-ordering' of the church, and I asked where the idea to do this had come from - was it God, or did someone have the idea and then prayed about it and felt it was right, etc. I swear this was all I was asking, and I asked perfectly ordinarily: it was a genuine enquiry. Perhaps I was a minion who had no right to question the leadership?? (Should I tell that, at this 'exchange', one woman shook me violently by the shoulders, and shouted 'JESUS LOVES YOU', spittle flinging in my face she was so incensed.)

Barmy, I tell you.

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 11:56:59

*so many people to choose from (re last but one post)

AndHarry Sat 11-Jan-14 11:58:59

You seem to have quite a knack for picking the weirdos grin

How about writing down exactly what you want from a church in terms of theology and engagement and doing some research on the churches available in your area before trying a few out?

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 12:08:37

Of course I look at myself when this type of stuff goes on. I pray about it extensively and do the usual searching within - am I causing this? What am I doing that would cause this? etc. I lay it all out before God. I ask the people who have been offended if they could tell me what they found so offensive - but have drawn a blank. One woman said 'You have to accept that you are difficult to deal with' - but no more than that, she wouldn't say any more. I said that I didn't know what she meant and to please tell me. At that exchange, she told me of someone else's situation - clearly a private situation that she shoudn't have been telling me as it was told to her in confidence. Totally boundariless!

It's not good for me to be isolated - or so isolated. It's not good for any believer. It's not for lack of trying. This is why I plug away at it. You're going to get trouble in any church, I had resolved to just keep going. But I can't take it!

I'm probably offending believers on here for airing dirty laundry.

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 12:13:52

You seem to have quite a knack for picking the weirdos

hmm

ZingChoirsOfAngels Sat 11-Jan-14 12:20:04

you are not offending me.

they are wrong, because they forgot what Jesus said "Love on another"

They do not look at you with loving eyes. it would be a good idea to underline the word love in a copy of a Bible and hand it to this so-called leader

honestly I can't believe how you are/were being treated.
it's like going to a dr with a broken arm and they send you home to sort it yourself because someone they treated before had a different problem. It's outrageous.

Jesus cares about every one of us. Nothing is too big or too small for him.
He cares when you are grieving over loosing a loved one and he cares when you have a splinter in your finger.

And so should Christians follow His example and show love and care - whatever it is that troubles you.

ZingChoirsOfAngels Sat 11-Jan-14 12:22:46

you're going to get into trouble at any church

I don't know what you mean there. you shouldn't get into any kind of trouble.
that's just not right.

ZingChoirsOfAngels Sat 11-Jan-14 12:23:35

oops, sorry, I misunderstood.

you said get trouble

ignore that post

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 12:41:50

I so should have name-changed for this!

The pastor in this current huge church took a shine to me the minute he saw me. It was obvious. I reasoned at the time that we can't help who we are attracted to but I expected him to be circumspect about it . What followed was that he was constantly trying to get me on my own, in rooms on my own, to pray for me. Hungry for prayer of any kind, I accepted, dragging people with me so we weren't on our own. One time I wasn't successful in getting someone to join us and he shut the door and proceeded to pray for me, up close to my face, looking into my eyes (insisting I look into his). I eventually broke eye-contact, made excuses, and got out. I have since wondered if he was talking to a supposed demon in me <casts around for even more bizarre explanations>

Surely it's good practise to not be on your own with a member of the congregation (whom you clearly have the hots for) engaged in intimate prayer? yy priests/vicars/pastors etc are, by the nature of their role, going to end up alone with people sometimes. But not if you clearly fancy someone.

springysofa Sat 11-Jan-14 12:47:56

I have to stop thinking about this! 'Whatsoever is of good report [or however it goes], think on these things'

Not denying it, just can't be focusing on it. Let the past go to God and all that and get out of that church

Big churches are not easy places to be if you are hurting. Unless they are very organised the main pastor is more CEO than shepherd so downsizing to a smaller church with more of a family feel might be better for you at the moment. I'm guessing, and may well be very wrong, that you are in one of the Pentecostal churches as they are often very large. The C of E, the Methodists, the Baptists and the RCs (to pick on the mainstream denominations in the UK - sorry if I've left anyone out) may not have the whizz and bang of the huge mega churches but my experience is that the medium sized mainstream ones are often better at pastoral care. Cathedrals are good if you want a service done very well but want to be anonymous because you don't fancy talking to anyone. They are usually very good at respecting the wounded.

As there is a horrible situation on the family front I hope you have professional support whatever that needs to be.

One of the key things about Christianity is that God is with us in the mess through Jesus who was both human and divine ; died and rose again. So brokenness is fine and where God is. There will be people who are able to forgive and move on after horrendous things have happened and there are others for whom it takes longer and may not happen completely in this life. This is also OK. We are loved for who we are and not judged on how are neighbours are coping.

I hope you find somewhere that is more supportive for you and your family.

Just read your post of 12:41 and yes you are describing bad practice so shake the dust off your feet and go elsewhere...

stressedHEmum Sat 11-Jan-14 12:53:42

Springy, the Lord draws near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps34). That's what your church should be doing.

I think all this "overcoming" stuff is very arrogant and prideful, tbh, and not actually very Christian. You need to take a step back from them and spend some time just with God. As Zing says, they are not treating you or looking on you with love or compassion. Of course bad things happen to Christians - Jesus said that we would be persecuted for his sake - it's just that we can cope, through God's strength, when they do. But only if we have the love and support of our fellow Christians who are God's hands, feet, lips and heart in the world.

Some churches and congregations find it very difficult to deal with people whose outlook or faith is even very slightly different from their norm and, I think, that is what is happening with you and your current church.

Perhaps, what you need is a smaller, more intimate church, where there is a better chance of forming good relationships with other members. This takes time, though, and the best way to do it is to go along for a while, start attending social things and then start volunteering to help out with stuff (not that you don't do that already).

Could you just read the bible and pray over the whole thing, without going to church. Give yourself some time to begin healing. God gives us the strength to carry on and shows us our path in his time, but, I believe, that we have to take positive steps as well and distancing yourself from these people seems to me to be the first step.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now