Behind closed doors and hushed whispers, they confer. They meter out venom disguised as concern. They utter distortions they call prayer requests.
Brows furrowed with feigned sympathy, they voice their trite pleasantries.
- “Just trust and obey.”
- “Let go and let God.”
- “Have you prayed about it?”
But you’ve been labeled with a scarlet letter. You know it in the way they look at you as you walk down the hall. You are outcast. Unwanted.
You know it more, though, in the way you are not looked at. Not seen. Invisible. They have glossed over you, over your concerns, over your emotions, and worst of all, over the calling God has given you. You are no longer there.
You are cellophane.
Is it not a contradiction for them at all? The application of their saccharine smiles as they ask you how you are doing any given Sunday morning?
They should know better.
But this is how they manage to sleep at night, you conclude. They have to color over the ugly with fake expressions and small talk so they can live with themselves.
They have lied.
And you know about it. They probably didn’t think it would get back to you, but you know what’s been said. And it wasn’t true.
They presented a polished veneer of harmony and wellbeing, when the reality is more sinister than you ever believed possible. You gave them the benefit of the doubt at first. But they did more than disappoint. They betrayed.
And the ones who didn’t outright lie instead sacrificed you at the altar of conformity. They agreed with the misrepresentation, and in so doing, etched the letter in red right there on your forehead.
You wonder if they realize. Or are they being used without their comprehension? Even now, you struggle to give them the benefit of the doubt for behaving in a manner they assume is right. They must believe it’s okay since they’re following the rules, the tradition, the pattern. Maybe they are sincere, but misguided. It’s difficult to know at this point in the game.
Surely your crime must have been heinous. You were a heretic, a blasphemer, a Jezebel. You were an adulterer, a traitor, a thief, a liar, a gossip. Surely.
No. Instead, it all hinges on this: you defended your child.
- You went to bat for your son and others like him.
- You stood up for their families.
- You sought to help people who were hurting.
- You loved Jesus, His gospel and His truth and you longed to extend it to a whole group of people who weren’t receiving it.
- You wanted to serve them, love them, comfort them, support them.
- You ached for them to know they weren’t alone. You ached to know you weren’t alone.
- You yearned for them to be a part of the body, loved and cherished and wanted and NEEDED.
But this wasn’t part of the establishment’s grander plan. They bristled noticeably when you brought it up. When you spilled forth your enthusiasm over the call Jesus had whispered in your ear, they nodded and pretended to listen. They were polite.
They didn’t want your help, your service, your offer, your gift.
For reasons unknown to you, they were offended and repulsed.
When you were confused by their response, they called you out and recommended you get help for your emotional instability.
They made empty promises to pray and to discuss and to prioritize.
They brushed off your wounds and your concern and your spiritual giftedness like crumbs. They discarded your heartache.
They discarded you.
They devised a picture-perfect facade, a carefully crafted image that looked appealing, but never represented the whole truth.
They closed their eyes to your pain and to the pain of an entire population of others like you. They chose to make believe the pain wasn’t there.
They sang and praised and preached louder to drown out your cries of sorrow.
And after they knocked you down, when you stood back up again and dared to pen words that simply asked “why?” they hammered the final nail.
They cast you out.
You, their scapegoat. Their non-conformist. Their rebel.
Perhaps they want you to apologize for defending your son. To act as if nothing happened. They don’t understand why you won’t just, for the sake of keeping the peace, shut up already.
But you will not.
- Because your role as mother is to advocate for your child.
- Because your role as believer is to worship in Spirit and in truth, and there is no Holy Spirit or truth in their hollow fantasy.
- Because your calling and giftedness is clear and true and comes from God Himself, and you will not betray Him for their faulty, man-concocted system of righteousness.
They pat themselves on the back for a job well done. They deliver their empty messages, prompting the people to do good things and live good lives, and be good, be good, be good. They proclaim a shallow, one-sided story of all the lovely things.
Their world is flat and they like it that way.
How a Church Commits Suicide
If you don’t conform to their architecture, they ignore you like a gangrene until you eventually fall away like a putrefied toe and they are relieved.
But it’s hard to walk with a missing toe.
There are only so many parts of the body that can be severed without causing life-threatening injury.
You observe it, the bleeding out, the lopping off of limbs as the answer to woundedness. Eventually, they will cut off their own nose to spite their face. They will lobotomize themselves of all meaning and relevance. This is what happens when you amputate all the irksome parts.
Cutting off body parts only works in horror movies. In real life — in church life — it’s a recipe for suicide.
A body. . .
- who willingly cuts off not just one, but a whole group;
- who prioritizes programs over flesh-and-blood people;
- who denies the gospel in favor of politics and personal comfort;
- who refuses to let all the children come
. . .is a body slowly killing itself.
This is how a body dies. This is how a church commits suicide.