I feel like I hear a lot of testimonies and peoples stories that end with a pretty bow and that’s awesome, but this isn’t one of those stories. I’ve debated on sharing this particular part of my life because it’s something I still struggle with, it’s a scar that’s 10 years old but still feels very fresh.
I was kicked out of church for attempting suicide.
Really quick, the reason behind my attempt was I had just walked in on my fiancé in bed with another man, found out she was in a relationship with another guy, went to my mom in tears who (paraphrased) said “I told you so”, and was battling depression. I had given up on humanity and humanities response was to kick me out of the church.
Now let me explain the “why” for me wanting to share this story. All of us have had that moment where the “church” has burned us. For many, Christians are the reason they want nothing to do with Jesus. I want you to hear what took me years to learn, Jesus cried the day they hurt you. Christians will hurt you, we will let you down and we will abandon you, but Jesus never will.
Now back to the story.
I’ll never forget it. I was 20. It had been four months since I had attempted suicide and I had been in counseling since I was released from the hospital but my church peers were learning about my attempt for the first time. I don’t know why but I expected hugs, I expected compassion and maybe even apologies for my place in life, probably because that’s what I imagined Jesus doing – but the story didn’t really go that way. No one really said much. Then a week later I get called into a meeting with the same group, and they’re asking me to leave.
I broke down in tears in front of a group of people who stared, emotionless, kicking me out during the most vulnerable time of my life. They said they felt I needed more time between being apart of the church and my suicide attempt. That was it. That was their reason. They didn’t know how much time, they didn’t know when I could come back, they didn’t ever call me again or text me after that meeting, just wanted me to leave.
I left that meeting thinking that they didn’t define me. They didn’t dictate if I loved other people or not and their opinions weren’t going to stop me from caring about the outcasts and misfits. Without realizing it, I left saying I was going to go live out the Gospel, even though in that moment I hated everything about it.
I left hating the church and blaming Jesus but I realize now that He cried harder that day than I did.
Here we are 10 years later and, as you can probably tell, the scar is still fresh. What keeps it fresh is knowing that it’s not an isolated case. Every day Christians, myself included, turn people away from Jesus and God takes the blame for it. This is what I’ve learned—God is not Christian and the church is not God.
So many people leave the church because they’re burned. Here’s a secret, every church will burn you if you look for it to be your salvation. The church is not a place, an event, or a pastor’s fan club, it’s a body of Jesus where broken people meet to celebrate God’s victory over their daily brokenness.
Don’t reject Jesus because His broken church rejected you.
We’re a messed up group who fail a lot…but He doesn’t and His love never fails.