This is continued from Part 1.
Years later when I saw error in the main teachings of the United Pentecostal Church, so much time had passed in not attending a church that the thought of doing so brought about a bit of apprehension. I had no idea how other churches operated or what would be expected of me as a member or attender. All I’d known was the UPC. This is why church attendance was a problem for me during this time. This now brings us to the year 2000.
After I started the support group and was pondering a thought to move to Texas, I made a trip there in the fall of 2000 to feel things out. One of the members had shared about a church they found and enjoyed that wasn’t Pentecostal and wanted me to visit. I couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to go and from our correspondence prior to my visit, they knew not to push. Not pushing helped, because if they had, I probably wouldn’t have gone.
When one has left an unhealthy church, it can be very triggering to attend services again. Some simply cannot do it. While churches closer to what one experienced may be the most triggering, a very different church could still cause triggers. I remember some people at a secular cult awareness gathering being triggered by the use of a podium in a session and we were not holding any type of religious service. Yet it reminded them of the prior churches they attended, with the pastor at the pulpit. Other people are able to jump right into another church and do not grapple with these same triggers. Each person will react in their own way, based upon their past experiences. One may be triggered by certain songs or their volume, another by the speaking style of ministers, some by the mention of certain Bible passages and others by the dress and appearance of those in attendance.
I had a mind battle about visiting the church. It wasn’t that there was no desire to go and I certainly wasn’t against church attendance. Then there was the issue of ‘proper’ attire. I no longer had all the dresses or shoes that I’d wear for services as I slowly changed my wardrobe through the years. I had to talk to myself a lot and I didn’t know for sure if I’d be going even the morning of the service. I fought lots of feelings, thoughts and emotions, even to the point of wondering if I’d pass out. It had been six years since I’d attended church and that was Oneness Pentecostal. This was a Friends church- Quaker. Huge difference even though theirs were not the ones where people sat in a circle.
Well, I made it. It was funny to me how the songs they sang were ones I knew. As the service progressed, I calmed down inside and was able to attend the following week without going through all of the prior angst.
When I moved to Texas in June 2001, I attended that same church periodically at first and then regularly until the end of February 2002. An incident happened where the main pastor proclaimed an author to be a prophet for our time and he was coming to speak for a few days at the church. This was being heavily promoted and the bulletin mentioned how the ministry at the church was impacted by this author. I had problems with some of his teachings and rejected the thought of him as a prophet. After prayer, counseling with a minister friend, and much thought, I made the decision to move on.
Though the people seemed nice, there was only one older gentleman, a visiting minister, who regularly spoke with me. Outside of the Sunday School class I was in, I didn’t have much interaction with anyone. (In the class, other than a group discussion, my talk was mainly with the teacher as I was usually the first to arrive.) It certainly was different from what I was used to where visitors and new people were made to feel at home and quickly developed friendships and spent time together. In retrospect, since I left, it’s best that no bonds were really made.
After that, I went through many months where I didn’t know if I’d be remaining or having to move due to my finances and later being let go from my job because they did away with the position. It wasn’t until the fall of 2002 that I knew I would be remaining. So though I would have liked to have had somewhere to go, I didn’t look too hard because of my situation.
I remained without a home church during the rest of my time in the state. It was a difficult issue for me, especially after feeling to leave both churches I had attended.