I almost didn't post my Lent story because of the inherent risk in posting such details of my life. In the end, I did it because I was excited to finally articulate my feelings. The risk, though, is in the transparency. I will admit to feeling a bit like the Elephant Man at some of the comments. You know how once they stuck the Elephant Man in the suit, everyone said, "See Elephant Man, don't you like the suit better? Aren't you glad we saved you from the circus?". I mean, sure, I might get to like the suit better, but the suit takes some getting used to.
Of course, the Elephant Man didn't blog about his suit and how he was shopping for one. And if he did have a blog, it might not have comments, but mine does. So you get what you ask for, don't you?
I would like to use this space, though, to talk about the suit.
Mark made the observation that church is like sex. To simplify, when used right, it's good. When society gets hold of it, it can be used improperly and hurt people.
I'd like to kindly extend the metaphor, if I may.
Let's say someone is hurt by sex. She was abused or something like it. Let's say lots of well meaning people who love her tell her that the solution to her fear of sex is to find the right partner and enter a physical relationship. Those people counsel her. They talk and talk to her about her problem and try to get her to date lots of people so that she will find that healthy relationship and experience something that will strengthen the relationship as an expression of love that will also serve as a means of procreation.
I have had some bad church. I don't know if abuse is fair, but for whatever reason, I've got issues. Lots and lots and lots of well meaning people have told me that the solution to not liking church is to go to church. They've told me over and over how good church is and to "get back in there".
It hasn't worked yet. Here's what's worked (to the extent that anything has).
I've watched people in good relationships with the church. I've watched people who I know have been hurt go back and risk more hurt. Sometimes, though, they find the right match and form great relationships with the church that strengthens their relationship with God and serves as an encouragement to others. They don't talk it too much, but they've done more for my will to come back than any Monday night visitation ever has.
It wouldn't work to overtalk our sexual abuse victim. She probably needs to just watch relationships until she finds someone she trusts and to enter a relationship when the time is right.
The moral of the story is, let's not overtalk this. I have heard over and over that the "good church" is out there, but I don't need to hear about it. I need to see it. So give me time, I'm watching.