Leaving a church affects us all differently. Some words I’ve used and heard used to describe leaving are: frightening, overwhelming, scary, freeing, confusing, sad, hopeful, and happy. The mix of emotions can be overwhelming, and on top of that there is a struggle to learn what is really OK and what isn’t, what the Bible really says about things (or whether to believe the Bible at all), who we are without the group, how to handle questions or reactions from others, where to go to church or if to go at all, and so forth.
At the same time, we often deal with guilt and shame–and anger at both of these or the reasons for them. We may feel guilty for leaving friends or family in the group, for leaving the group ourselves, and for doing things differently than we were taught. We may feel shame that we believed some of the things we did as well as shame for not believing the same things we once did.
One of the best visuals I’ve ever seen for leaving is from Tangled:
She’s conflicted. She’s thrilled to have left, but she’s worried about what her mother would think and how upset she would be. She’s scared (though that doesn’t show in this clip). She’s excited, but she’s sad too.
When I left, I was relieved, but I was also scared. I told myself I wasn’t leaving THE Truth, just that church. I tried not to question, but the questions were there… and for good reason. I was angry at what had happened and at myself for not having left a bad situation sooner. It would take time before I was comfortable with leaving… (to be continued)
Note from Lois: The first person to comment in reply to this blog and requests it, will receive a used Blu-Ray copy of Tangled.