There is an old cliché that is predominately heralded in the walls of the “black church” that I hear in the back of my mind, and the cliché is, “when I look back over my life and see how far He’s brought me”! I am thrilled that after almost two years of an amazing journey in life, that I am really starting to heal!
For the last year and a half, I’ve had a spirit of bitterness and ill content when it came to certain aspects of the church and leadership. Now, I will qualify that statement by making it absolutely clear that at this juncture in my walk with Christ, I have no desire whatsoever to return to any organized denomination as a means of me qualifying my relationship with God. As I have been out of “organized religion” for about 2 yrs. now, I have come to realize, based on what many hold as the standard for many churches, THE BIBLE, that what is being portrayed in many organized churches, is not a proper representation of the biblical standard of ministry. (I WOULD HAVE TO HAVE 4 COMPUTERS TO TYPE THAT POST!)
One of the fallacies drilled in me from a youth in church up until the moment I decided I had had enough of ritualistic protocols, was the notion that it was “dangerous” and “risky” to not be under a “covering”, whatever that means! As I have journeyed with God, I have learned many of the “taboos” and “uncross able lines” were actually means of control and manipulation, whether knowing or unknowing, to keep people afraid of, not God, but leadership. HE THAT DWELLETH IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL ABIDE UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY (Psalms 91:1). I have yet to find any Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher or Evangelist for that matter that has a WING SPAN that supersedes God’s. Once I’m introduced to someone who can cover me better that God, I may reconsider my stance, but until then, I’m cool! I have found, contrary to the “standard” that is very possible to have an authentic, genuine relationship with God apart from a “religious machine” called a church building. (The premise of this article is not to bash anyone that is still in attendance at any local assembly whatsoever. God moves and deals with each of us on our terms His way! Some need, some don’t. Some will, some won’t!) It has been crazy in a sense that it seems I actually do more studying, meditating, singing, worshiping, etc. more now that I’m away from “regular church” than I did while in attendance. God has a way of sustaining you! As a matter of fact, it was His intention from jump to be the sole King of our lives, but so many have replaced Him with THEM and no longer are we able to hear the voice and the leading of the Holy Spirit because we allow the other voices to dominate our lives.
I decided to “walk away” after being involved in ministry and church basically all of my life. It was the toughest decision I have ever had to make in life! To this day, there are many unanswered questions as to why its seems like an ABRUPT exit. There one day, and all of a sudden, gone! Almost like a disappearing act! There was a very valid reason for my exit that I probably will never share publically because as the old saying goes, there are two sides to every story, but more so because I’ve come to realize that sharing my side of the story would hurt more people than it would help. Sometimes even when you are right and you could defend yourself, you have to suck it up and deal with your single casualty verses the possible damage of many to vindicate yourself! This of course was learned after many months of frustration, hurt, anger, and “piss offness”….lol!
One of the weaknesses of the church is the ability to reach out to those who leave ministry. As the “doors of the church” are opened each Sunday, there is a side door that many slip out with the intentions of never coming back, and many of those in the pews care less because many of the “shepherds” show little concern! Sometimes it amazes me how some quickly refer to Matthew 18:12:
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? When it comes to those “lost sheep” within their care, but are too occupied with other ministry needs to actually leave the 99 and go after the one!
For me personally, this was one of the roots that began to grow in my heart! I felt that after spending over 20 years in ministry, being involved with the ministry since day one of its inception. Bringing souls into the kingdom and members into the church, developing youth ministry, praying for souls, leading praise and worship, providing musical services, and the list goes on and on, that somebody would come for me! So as I waited, and waited, and waited, nobody showed. It then dawned on me that nobody would! Herein, another weakness of many churches is this attitude that many have that as long as you are a part of the ministry you’re in, but the moment you leave, regardless of your length and contributions, you mean nothing. Now I know many that are reading this now have a difference of opinion, and my question to you at this point would be simply this: When was the last time you actually called and checked on someone you knew was no longer a member of your church that you fellowshipped with on a regular basis while they were members? I would venture say that number is slim to none. Many people who leave the walls of ministry usually do it for valid reasons that are often played down by leadership as “isolated” or “individual choices”, and very seldom come to grip with or even entertain other possibilities that people leave because of them.
Needless to say I was hot! Angry, mad, upset, you name it, and the only thing that was on my mind was revenge! My entire focus had become tainted with poison to see others hurt as I was hurting, and through many actions it was evident. I had become this old bitter man that even my family didn’t want to be around and the crazy thing….I COULDN’T SEE IT! NO..NO..NO…I REFUSED TO SEE IT! Though bitterness and anger are negative responses, they do keep you focused, however, the focus is upon things that will, if not checked, causes great discomfort to your soul. My wife was trying to show me me, but the anger had me, and the funny thing; I didn’t want to let it go! I had a right to it I felt! After all, I gave my time and energy. I poured myself into countless people, I followed the rules as best as I could, was not openly rebellious, accused of so many things over the years by those who I worked with and they never knew because I didn’t treat them any different, and I can’t even get an explanation as to why I decided to remove myself? After all, if it was explained, others wouldn’t have all of these theories, or secret meeting explanations. Better yet, why not just call and ask me?
Day in and day out, this was my meal! My drink! My protein so to speak and it ended up turning me into this creature I didn’t like. I’ll never forget one day about 4 months ago, a sister that lived in Tennessee at the time made contact with me and told me that her and her husband was in prayer for me and felt that there was something I was holding on too that I really needed to let go of that was basically hindering me. Of course I switched into my religious role and agreed and vowed I was letting it go, but I didn’t! A few hours later, another couple in California contacted me and basically said the exact same thing, and I put on my acting face yet again and gave them all of the church jargon I knew in order to expedite the call because I wanted my pain! Lo and behold, another contact! This time from South Africa, and after that, I knew God was trying to get my attention. However, there was something in my emotional makeup that was not going to let this feeling go. I didn’t care if Gabrielle the angel came down; I felt I had a right to be upset! A right to feel what I was feeling! It then hit me, even if I felt like I had a right, it didn’t make the feelings I was feeling right! There it was, another window, another door of opportunity to let it go, and this time, I jumped on the opportunity and allowed myself to spill the poison that I allowed in my heart towards others!
You have heard it before but it is definitely worth repeating, Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you, and at that moment, I knew what I had to do to free myself from the PRISON THAT I CREATED!
If you are trying to forgive: even if you manage forgiving in fits and starts, if you forgive today, hate again tomorrow, and have to forgive again the day after, you are a forgiver. Most of us are amateurs, bungling at times. So what? In this game nobody is an expert! The important thing is to just do it and you will find out that once you forgive, your bitterness will turn into your betterment!