Friend: What are you doing on Sunday?
Me: (pause) Brunch, Meal Prep...maybe chill.
I remember when there was not a moment that I contemplated what I would do on Sunday. It was always church. I had surgery on Wednesday and went to church on Sunday. I was dedicated. To God and to my church.
I have always attended church, but I was saved in 2003. It changed my life. I became more serious about serving God alongside my family and church members. I loved it. I was at church almost every day. I even had my own ministry working with young girls.
The Good Times
Our family also started to enjoy real financial success at that time. We moved to a much larger home, purchased more cars and were making much more money. It was a very good time. My sisters were getting married, their weddings were social events of the year. Everybody (in the church) wanted to be invited, and generally they were.
We also had a tight core of church friends who we would spend time with socially outside of church. Their children would come over to our family home, make tea in my Mother's large pool and watch television in our theatre sized den. People always asked us for money. My Mother was loaning money out to help people with their rent and basic bills. She even bought one single mother a refrigerator. We not only spoke the Word, but we tried very hard to live it.
We lived 40 miles away from church. So people had to come far just to chill with us, but they did. Even our Pastor's wife visited. Everybody knew that it was going to be a place of good, clean fun and we kept it real and authentic.
Then Came the Dark Days
I remember 2008-2012. It was a tough time. We were losing everything. First we had to turn in one of the BMW’s. Voluntary repossession. Both of my little sisters started to get sick. Yes, the ones who had the weddings of the year. I lost my job, we lost my childhood home in Oakland (that I was living in at the time), I ended up moving back home, the real estate market dropped (my Mother worked in loans) and we continued to have more bills than we had money. It was truly the worst of times.
You would think that our church family, who had sipped on our good imported Tequila, had their kids swimming in our pool and constantly asked us to support whatever program that they needed help with...would have helped us. It was literally crickets. While my Pastor and a few true friends continued to check up on us...most did not. Most of our core actually started avoiding us like the plague. It was one of the most hurtful experiences of my life. Sometimes we did not even have money for gas to get to church. We slowly slipped away from worshiping with the Saints, but never from God.
My Pastor Tried
My Pastor is one of the most amazing people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Intelligent, giving, intuitive, humorous and he Loves the Lord and the Lord’s people. He Loved and Loves my family. He called and called and called. We were staples in the church and our family not being there was a clear gap. The people who observed what we were going through gave zero fucks. Including some people that are very close to him.
I Do Miss Church
I miss church, but I do not miss church people. I don't miss the self-righteous snickers nor do I miss the fakery of people who are good with you when you are on top of the world, but cannot be bothered when you fall off. That is so of the world. I never thought that it would be like that in church...especially not my church.
While my Auntie Irma, Rev. Cecil Williams and the Stroughters (Camille and Rob) were always kind and loving to us. Most other people who had permanent ass cheek molds in my Mother's couch couldn't even bother to call us. People that my mother considered like sisters and aunts.
So when I now see my church “family” I smile, give them a good church hug and keep it moving as soon as possible. While they didn't want our “nouveau poor” to get on them I never want their two-faced behavior to jump into my spirit.
I will always have an amazing relationship with the LORD. I had one before I was a member of any church. But going back to that church as a member will never happen. Becoming a member of another church...I dont know.
I miss Sunday mornings. I miss the feeling that the holy spirit is filling the church house and filling my spirit too. However, scowls, mean mugging and back biting is not something that I am interested in going back to. Especially when it comes down from the spouses of the clergy.
So when people ask me, “Why don't you go to church anymore?” All of the above, and other things that I have too much respect and class to mention are why.
Last Thoughts & Revelations
Until the church starts being more kind from the top down, there will always be those Christians like me and my family who will fall through the cracks. Seeing my Mother hurt because the people that she loved like real family turned their noses up at us, has been too much for me to bear.
The Pastor cannot do everything and he cannot be everywhere. However a Pastor's extensions must also make sure that loving kindness is truly running amok through the church as heavily as the church gossip.
I write this piece NOT to vilify the church, I love what the church has done for me. I write this to be a mirror to the church. To show them what is silently happening. When your church numbers are diminishing and not growing-there is a reason. This is a true story and this happened to me and my family.