Susan Young

Why I can't do church

I can’t do church any more. Any contact with church is triggering to a degree that it can take hours or even days to recover. Even if I were still a believer I don’t think I could do church any more.

I’m no longer a Christian and haven’t been for a while. In the summer of 2013, I had already left my last church due to some crazy drama I won’t get in to right now, but it was very difficult. It was the first church I had ever been to where I felt like I could really question everything and where I could accept myself for who I am and not have to fit into some mold. I volunteered, sang in the band, and had loved going.

Still, I kept going to my small group. They were like my family and it was the first time in my life I felt like I had a close group of local friends. Even after I stopped believing, I kept going to spend time with them every week. They knew I didn’t believe and still accepted me and were open to hearing my perspective.

In November 2013 I lost my first child to a miscarriage. They prayed for me (which I can’t even stand any more, but still didn’t mind so much then), hugged me, sent me a card, and spent time with me. A couple of folks brought meals while I was going through all the body trauma that comes with it and they weren’t even from my group, but had been my friends at the church and still cared.

I kept going to group for nearly another year. In October of last year, I lost my second child to another miscarriage. I didn’t go to group after that because the religious stuff was too triggering after two traumatic losses, but I did tell people what had happened. No one said a thing to me except “I’m sorry” on Facebook. The people from the group didn’t even do that. Not a single one of them even acknowledged that I had lost my baby. No cards, visits, or meals. It’s not so much the food or stuff; it’s about knowing that someone even gave a damn. I got flowers delivered from a coworker and she’s the only one who did anything at all.

I couldn’t go back to the group after that. Finally, a few weeks ago I sent an email to one of the leaders just hoping for some insight and got a bunch of non-answers back and even claims that people had said they visited or sent a card. He later backpedaled on those claims when I told him none of that actually happened.

I recently stepped into that church for a friend. At the time, I didn’t realize it would be as hard as it was. So many people came to us and gave us hugs and said how good it was to see us. If it’s so good, I exist outside of church. There were ways to see me before now. Many of them have been invited to parties at my home that they never went to, so it’s not like we hadn’t reached out even though we’re the ones grieving the loss of our children.

During the songs that came up during the service, I refused to sing. I don’t sing songs I don’t believe any more (even though that’s essentially what I was doing my last weeks in the band) and even more importantly I don’t sing for them. Any time I see one of them outside of the church around the neighborhood they always say they miss my voice. It feels like a slap in the face.

If I’ve learned anything from church, it’s this:

  1. The Christian love they claim is only for other Christians.
  2. You’re loved…for what you can give to the church. Not for yourself.
  3. Some people will be there for you when shit happens unless too much shit happens to you, and then I guess they’re just tired of your shit.

Going into that church ripped me apart. So many people acted like they cared and I have absolutely no reason to believe any of it. People didn’t make me lose my faith in God, but I wrongly believed in the people who did after leaving my religion.