It’s early Easter morning. I won’t be spending this Easter morning at church. Like many of you, I’ll be spending this Easter at home. I just can’t bring myself to face the demons that have caused me to leave…

I was saved one summer night, the year I turned 15. I attended a youth emphasis night featuring a concert with George King and the Fellowship. The only thing I really remember about that night is that they did “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas. Something about that song in that particular setting spoke to me. It was the first time since going to church that I was told that the Father loves me. It didn’t matter that I had squandered all He had given me. He was waiting with open arms. Waiting to welcome me home.

After that night my eyes were opened. The God I met on Sunday mornings was not the same God I met that night. Sunday morning God was harsh and judgmental. Ready at a moments notice to punish me for my sin. I literally had the hell scared out of me every time the doors were opened. I found myself crying at the altar, begging forgiveness for all of the things I was doing wrong. I was going to hell. A hell full of fire and brimstone where I was destined to spend eternity.

Through the years I saw hurting people cast aside because they would tarnish the reputation of the church while other things were hushed up and covered up to protect family. The prodigal’s Father was only a distant memory. I wasn’t even sure He really existed.  

Fast forward 10 years. I’m a young mother with a 3 year old and a newborn. My life was crashing and burning all around me. Apparently, all those good things were not enough – were never enough. I had already walked away from church because I was weary of doing. I was told that this was the reason my life was falling apart. I was tired of the demands and tired of the works that were never enough anyway. I guess all those years I was told I was going to hell it was true, I just didn’t realize it would be hell on earth. And I didn’t give a damn any longer…


There have been many more things over the years that have contributed to the reasons I’m not in church this morning. The above was only the beginning. Where judgment and legalism took root in my soul and haunt me to this very day. The place where the trappings of religion wrapped themselves around my heart and have slowly been strangling the life right out of me.

And I know I’m not the only one. I see stories every day of those who have suffered abuse at the hands of the church. In the name of a denomination. In the name of reputation. In the name of legalism. In the name of judgment. In the name of religion. All under the guise of being in the name of Christ.

We are victims of the church. Victims who have fallen prey to the emptiness of religion. And sadly, there are too many of us to count.

And on this morning, more than any other, we find ourselves longing.

Longing for open arms. Longing for a safe place. Longing for community. Longing for peace. Longing for Love. Longing for Grace.

And Grace is waiting for us.

Grace that understands every fear and every anxiety. Grace that understands every hurt and every betrayal. Grace that sits with us exactly where we are. In the messy and the broken. Grace that waits with open arms and a love that’s beyond anything we could comprehend.

 

The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue,
fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
Lamentations 3:22-23

This article has 10 comments

  1. Mandy Reply

    I too have experienced church as you described and know how far removed it is from the unconditional love Christ advocated. People fail, organisations fail but Christ is always true. I hope you have peace this Easter.

  2. Carol Vinson Reply

    Thanks for stopping by Mandy!

    It's a shame that any of us have had to experience anything at all like this. Thankful today that His mercies are indeed made new and there's Grace enough for all of us.

  3. BOB Reply

    I hope & pray you remain with Christ regardless of the narrow, legalistic, mean & angry members of "organized religion". Many of us are survivors but mine was not as harsh. I am sorry for your hurt and for those that hurt you.

  4. Rebecca Erwin Reply

    So beautiful. In my heart I've walked away many times. I always wished the God I met in concerts would be the God in Sunday Morning.

  5. Carol Vinson Reply

    Yes, Bob, that is the one thing I am holding onto in the midst of all this. It's difficult at times because I question how He can allow these types of things to happen. I'm still searching for someplace I can call home.

    Thanks for stopping by and for your prayers.

  6. Carol Vinson Reply

    Thank you so much Rebecca. Truly, I'm finding that He is that God always when I step away from the noise of everything religious. I pray you find that.

  7. Anon Reply

    I too struggle with church after having been shunned and ridiculed and what I deem chased away. But I know the body of Christ is filled with sinful reflections of the God I serve and love, as am I. I didn't want to go this Easter, but even more, I didn't want sinful human beings to steal my joy of being in communion with other believers in the presence of my Savior. And so I went. My family invited our Muslim neighbors to join us. And they came. I was in tears many times during the Easter service as I was humbled that God chose me to minister to my neighbors and that I sat there shoulder to shoulder with Muslims…in God's presence. It was so beautiful. It didn't matter who else was in church. I was not focused on the slights and hurts that others levied against me, but on the awesomeness of being entrusted to bring non-believers to church on Easter. At the end of the day, I had to die to my pain and suffering to allow God to use me to minister to the unchurched. After all, that's what Easter is all about. I pray you, too, can rise up and be bold in not allowing others to steal your joy. That's where our focus should be. Hugs and prayers for you!

  8. Carol Vinson Reply

    For some of us I think it's a little more complicated than deciding to die to our own pain and suffering to allow God to use us. I know for me, it's taken tremendous amounts of courage to simply face the hurts and be able to sit with them. That's where I'm finding the holy places – where the Jesus that sat with the woman at the well and drew in the sand for the woman brought out to be stoned is finding me.

    Thanks for stopping by and thank you for your prayers.

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