A Crisis of Church
I’m having a crisis.
A crisis of Church.
Not of faith, of Church.
It began in the fall when I was trying to recover from some bad behavior inflicted on me by others. It was hard. I was wanting to forgive and forget and move on, but it was hard. Too hard, I discovered, so I told Bill about my crisis of Church and my decision to take a break from going. He was awesome. He got it. He supported my decision.
But as the fall went on, my crisis became his crisis as the hot spots that had created my angst were morphing into something bigger, more dangerous.
Rumors spread. Misunderstandings increased, more people got involved.
The months went on, the craziness grew until the Friday in March when he and I decided we’d had enough. He resigned his position as senior pastor of the church he began. I’ve never been back.
Like I said, a crisis of Church.
And not just our local church. The Church.
What are we doing anyway?
How is the Church I see the Church that Jesus is the head of? The Church that hates and criticizes and casts out those who don’t look like them or act like them or live like them? The Church that maligns those who don’t do it their way?
I don’t get it.
Her experience is very different than mine, but what we share is pain inflicted by others in the Church. Halfway through I connected deeply with this:
“Today, everything falls away and there is only Jesus for me. In His presence, my numb, angry heart gives way and I sob without end. But only with Him. Elsewhere, I have to be careful because I can never be as vulnerable as I was ever again. Everyone else at arm’s length. I’ll be friendly with folks but never again tender. You’ll get the strong, varnished version of me but I’ll not make the mistake of handing you my true heart. I actually told another person: “I wish you didn’t know as much as you know about me. I wish I could take that knowledge out of your head. I have to trust you with it, and I don’t now.”
“I wish you didn’t know as much as you know about me. I wish I could take that knowledge out of your head. I have to trust you with it, and I don’t now.”
As the wife of a pastor, women say to me all the time, “Who do you have to talk to? I bet it’s lonely being a pastor’s wife. Anytime you want to talk, I’m here for you. You can trust me.”
Well, it turns out, not so much.
Did they use the information I shared in confidence against me? Against Bill? Against the church? Was their confusion and anger about what was going on greater than the need to keep safe and sacred the things I’d shared? I don’t know. But it certainly brings out the caution flag in my relationships as I regret, again, “the handing of my true heart” over to another.
Donald Miller says:
Every once in a while, “we accidentally tear a little hole in the fabric of reality so something on the other side shines through, exposing the darkness in our routine existence.”*
Sometimes we tear the hole, and sometimes the hole gets torn without our permission. Either way, the tear reveals the light on the other side shining on the routine, drab, maybe dark life we’ve been living.
My fabric has been torn and, even through the sadness and the wondering what our next step will be, light is shining. The light that God promises to shine in the darkness. The light that the darkness cannot overcome.
So I look upward and say, “Onward!”
The Church is still God’s Church.
Jesus is still the head of this Church.
And someday I will find my way back.
*Miller, Donald, Scary Close–dropping the act and finding true intimacy; p. 221