In one of your earlier blog posts, you mentioned that biblical community is an integral part of your struggle with depression. What if you don’t have that community? I feel estranged from my home Church due to some relational conflicts this past year. I feel so much fear, anxiety and hurt being in my Church community. I’ve been asked if I would consider switching churches, yet I feel called to stay and serve. Would God intentionally isolate you from community to ‘force’ us to rely on Him more?
Dear friend: I’m really sorry you feel this way in your current church community. It’s very unfortunate and just straight wrong. Please believe me when I say I know exactly how you feel right now, more than I’d like to admit.
I have a friend who is in a similar predicament and I keep suggesting to her to consider changing churches, but she is highly reluctant because she feels “called” and “committed.” She thinks it will get better: and that’s very possible.
On one hand, I admire the commitment to stick with a church through the hard times. I attended the same church for thirteen years and was officially on staff for four years. I’ve probably wanted to leave a billion times, but I didn’t — because I wanted to be loyal. I love the people I serve. No one should ever leave a church just on a whim or nitpick or emotional motive. It’s a big deal.
But on the other hand, sometimes a commitment like this is just stubbornness. It can be almost a prideful thing to play the violin while the ship is sinking, and it’s possible God wants to work through you elsewhere in an even better capacity.
When you say that God put you in this place to “rely on Him more,” I would really back that up like way up. I believe the general stance of God is that He wants us to rely on Him always, even with our pitiful feeble stumbles of half-crumbled faith, but I do NOT believe that God will put you in a church where you’re forced to feel this way apart from His people. Something is very wrong with that.
Church can’t be the place that creates your struggle while at the same time alienating you to be able to deal with it. Think of how crazy that is.
If the conflicts are petty and in the past, you should be able to move forward no matter how sloppy it looks. Even if the conflicts are huge dramatic soap operas, Jesus calls us to a love that is larger than life. Somehow an attempt should be in progress to knit the Body of Christ with honesty.
I’ve said before: the church is called to be God’s powerful force for good in the universe. God works through imperfect people to minister to imperfect people, and that will be a messy, rugged, uphill, frustrating journey. But it’s a journey together. Please talk to someone there about your feelings and see if there can be a way forward on this. Try by the grace of God to safely reconcile with those you got in a mess with. If none of your efforts pan out in a Christ-like way, then start praying for a new place to continue your Kingdom work.
God does want you to rely on Him more, but that doesn’t only mean for you to endure a beatdown. It also means for His holistic wisdom to make the tough choices and decide what is best. Maybe you’ll make it through this season; maybe God will call you to a new one. I’ll throw you a prayer.