I have not seen you for awhile now. Aside from weddings and Christmas, I have been off and doing my own thing. It has been a couple of years since I last stepped foot as a regular into a church building, but I have never told you the reason why.
Why I left, why I do not feel at home, why it has not bothered me for the past couple of years. Not to worry my dear parents, I have not denounced my faith.
Ever since I was a little girl, my parents have raised me in a Christian home and taught me the importance of being involved in the church. I grew up in a Chinese church, but at a point in my life, I began to church hop, for reason in and out of my control. That did not deter me, however, from participating and leading in which ever church I called home at the time. Those who I grew up with know that I was a huge religious girl, and I was happy where I was.
It was not until I entered post-secondary that I realized that everything I knew to be true was semi false. The church that I was baptized at and have been a part of for so many years and that I thought would be my forever church home turned out to be just another place that I was not welcomed in. I went away for school during my first year and when I came back to visit and ultimately transferred back into Toronto, it was as if the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” was true. So, began my church hopping yet again.
I ended up going to so many churches that I did not know what I wanted or where I even belonged. There were many different reasons why I visited a church or stayed for a period of time: I joined their softball team, I loved how the pastor preached the gospel, or I had a big enough group of friends that I felt comfortable. But of course, something changed and off I was again.
I think it was somewhere during 2014 where I had found my place at downtown Toronto church. I was involved in their hospitality ministry, and really loved the people there. They were welcoming and had a wonderful spirit among them. The pastor was truly passionate about the Bible and was eager to get the Word out to everyone.
Then in 2015 I decided to go travelling. I had the time of my life, and got to experience things that I thought I would never get to in my lifetime. When I got back, it was if everything in the church change, yet again.
I did not feel the same love from those who I called friends, even though I did keep in contact with them. Yes, I still call many of them my friends, but it felt as if the church as a whole was not as welcoming. So, I just decided to stop going altogether. And it felt right. Yes, at first it was quite weird because I had been going all of my life. But then it felt more normal.
Sure, my parents keep on asking me if I had gone to church that week and if I was reading the Bible, but how could I possibly attend church when I do not feel as if I was welcomed and people are just putting on a face? Why would I read the Bible when I feel as if the pastors who I have the chance of encountering have skewed Jesus’s words to fit their own opinions? Why would I want to be a part of a world where people that I know use the Christian faith to patronize those who do not believe or are struggling with their faith? Yes, I still have my own faith, but my heart is not where it used to be.
I am sorry, dear church, but I have been a part of you for so long and have seen so many different things that I honestly cannot bring myself to come back to you. You tell us to bring our friends to service and events, yet if we bring someone of the opposite sex you assume that we are dating them without even asking first. Or in today’s society, if we bring someone of the same sex you assume that we are in a homosexual relationship. You tell us, yes, you are welcome to our church with open arms, yet when we show up, you give us the cold shoulder. You tell us that you will keep in contact with us, and it goes so well for the first couple of months, but then you fail to uphold your word. You look at newcomers and those who have not been around for some time with a look of disdain and just go back into your little cliques. Oh, there are so many things that you are hypocritical on, yet to the outside world you seem like the perfect place to be.
I do not hate you, dear church, I just feel sadness when I think about how our relationship used to be and how it is now. I do not know if there is anything that you can do to get me back to where we were before. I love you, but I do not feel the love back. So I am sorry, but unless something changes, how our relationship is now is what I am content with.