The Wandering Christian at Christmas

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First, let me say I LOVE Jesus. Throughout the past 4 years and all that’s happened, I never turned my back on Christ. His Church on the other hand has driven me to the brink of insanity and the very end of my rope. The SBC has deemed women as less than and apparently doesn’t see value in women, other than birthing babies and keeping house. I will say my husband is not one who has fallen into this horrible trap and mentality. Wish the rest of the convention would follow suit, but that’s apparently wishful thinking at this point in the game.

I had no clue that when the mess hit the fan at SWBTS in 2018 that it would be the start of my deconstruction. I remember sitting my car on a Wednesday morning, staring at the church and not wanting to walk in. I wasn’t angry with anyone in our church, or on our staff, but I was angry. I was texting my favorite pastor’s wife, attempting to find the courage to walk in the doors of the church. When I was finally able to walk in, I went straight to my office and took my SWBTS diploma off the wall. It was truly the first time I was ever embarrassed to be SBC. A little over a year later I was laid off as a part of budget cuts. We continued to attend that church, but people around me kept talking about my lay off. Even though I loved being on praise team, there a came a point where I was having full blown panic attacks in the parking lot and fighting them off while in church. We eventually changed churches. To be honest, I was against going to another SBC church. We ended up in one anyway.

In 2020 the pandemic hit and no one was going to church. Other than choir, I really didn’t miss it. I will admit watching Christmas and Easter at home was bizarre. There was not much drama and we were all caught up in survival and staying healthy. 2021 brought about the #sbctoo movement and all the things broke loose. As more abuse came to light, convention took a nose dive. I also realized I don’t agree with a great deal of what I’ve been taught growing up.

My early childhood was spent in the Episcopal Church. Sadly, I was brat and didn’t realize and appreciate the beauty of that church. We were invited to an SBC church that was much larger than our smaller Episcopalian Church. The SBC church was big and beautiful. It offered so many programs. Honestly, being a military brat and not a native of my hometown, being SBC was much more appealing. It seemed the majority of the kids I knew were either SBC or Methodist. Joining the SBC church didn’t make me feel like quite as much as an outcast. It wasn’t all bad. I formed relationships with many wonderful people, as well as had some pretty incredible opportunities. It led me to a college where I made lifelong friends and honestly, eventually led me to my husband. These are things I will never regret, or wish I could change.

2022 was the first time I wish I could have attended the SBC Annual Convention out in Anaheim, CA. I was so angry at all that had happened and wanted to be a small part of a catalyst of change. I had a small glimmer of hope that the Guidepost Report was going to be a part of the much needed change. It turned out, that was nothing more than a smoke screen. On top of the long list of pastors who had been identified as perps, Hunt and Chandler were called out. Then much to the disgust of myself and so many others, these “men” were “restored” with zero call for actual repentance or change. Their actions technically led them to be biblically disqualified as pastors, but their friends determined otherwise. This year has been proof the SBC will continue to support the “Good Ole Boy” system. Women and sexual assault victims/ survivors will never mean anything to these so called pastors. We will always be seen as less than and viewed as the outcasts in our churches. I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t and won’t support what so obviously goes against scripture.

All of this brings me to the title of my post. While I typically love the Christmas season at church, I stepped foot in our church for the first time this morning in almost 2 months. It appears only 2 people have even noticed my absence. It’s hard to accept when you’ve gone to being involved to absent and no one seems to notice and/ or care. I struggle hard with church. It’s not that I don’t want to be in church, I just don’t want to be in our church. With my kids’ schedule and where my heart is, I stepped down from choir back in September. While I have missed being an active part of a church body, this morning was wicked hard. I put on my “happy camper face” and played the part I was expected to play. I have never really fit in, in our church and am not sure I ever really will. My heart just isn’t in it. I don’t think Jesus ever wanted, or intended for church to be this hard for His people.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to attend “Lessons and Carols” at a local Episcopal Church. It’s a church I’ve wanted to check out for a while. The church was simply decorated. Y’all, the service was so simple and yet, so extremely beautiful all at the same time. It was literally the reading of The Scriptures and the singing of hymns. I will add the guitar solo almost moved me to tears. I’ve been so used to pomp and circumstance and all the frills, I had honestly forgotten how precious and beautiful the liturgy of the Episcopal Church is. I have realized it doesn’t take flashy programs and services to praise and worship the Lord. It doesn’t take a mega church “super star” pastor to ring in the Holy Advent season. I’ve come to realize Jesus was born in a lowly, manger. He didn’t come with all one would expect of a King. There were no flashy services, only the darkness illuminated by the Bethlehem Star. Why should we expect to ring in the Advent season with pizazz, when our own Savior didn’t?

Even though my soul feels like a homeless wanderer without a home, I know Jesus will always be my north star. I desire to be in a church where I can worship wholeheartedly with my husband and kids. At this point, I have no clue as to what that looks like, or where it will be, but my faith remains steadfast in my Savior. In spite of what others may think of me, I know the Lord loves me. I can only pray at some point the Lord will allow me and my family to land in a church where He will be our sole focus and we can worship as a family. The only thing I can do in this moment is to pray for peace in the searching and the waiting.

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