Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Come to Church This Weekend

Wanna experience something like never before?  Tonight at 7 at Two Rivers.  I think you will be shocked to NOT find what you expect.  Come and see.  Yes, it’s prayer and praise night at church, but I don’t think you’ve ever experienced such a “church” like this.  You love to stretch your mind regarding religion?

Dear G_____,

Thank you for the invitation to your praise and worship service tonight.  I don’t think we will be coming.  

I could tell you that I have been too busy for what my Hysterical Illness lets me do (have I told you about that?) or that this is our first free At-Home Day in three weeks (we usually try to keep one a week as a kind of Sabbath) or that with Thom out of town for the weekend we are going to keep everything very slow and low-key—and all those things are true.  But they really would only be excuses.

Although I have been doing a lot of work this last year reconciling my spiritual understanding of the Divine with the Christian God and figuring out who Jesus is for me, I still have enormous and unhealthy prejudices against anything that even sounds like Evangelical Christianity.  The thought of attending a Praise and Worship service make me a little sick to my stomach.

Your particular church may be none of the things I identify with evangelical church but I’m not in a place spiritually or psychologically where I am ready to risk it.  Not long ago I wrote a couple of blog posts about how I am keen to continue working to resolve my knee-jerk revulsion to Evangelicalism but that it is not something I can even attempt at this time.  I wrote about needing to step back from all my inner work of the last year and just rest alone with my God for another long while.

Even the fact that I feel compelled to write this very long explanation for declining your invitation instead of a simple “no, thank you” is indication that there are still huge issues for me to address.  But I can’t do it just now.  It may be months or years before I can face those particular demons.  I haven’t set foot inside a Protestant church in almost ten years.  It has only been this summer that I found I could read a Bible without physiological unpleasantness (after nearly two decades of being outside Christianity).

I do want you to know that I appreciate the invitation and the friendship that inspired the offer.  It is nothing personal to you, your family, or even your particular church that keeps me from accepting.  It’s not you; it’s me (weak chuckle).  Please try again in a few months.  Who knows the timing of God? I may be able to consider such invitations sooner than I think.

Thanks for understanding,

Sandra the Heretic


  1. I love you, Sandra! You are amazing- forthright, self-aware, kind. May you continue to heal. n_n S

  2. We tried to go to church this past Sunday but since I'm still nauseous (just not throwing up), I just couldn't do it. On a good day church is hard. We may be taking a 9 mo break from church. I've mentally composed several of these dear God letters myself.

  3. SS--thanks!

    LaC--Being pregnant with my second child, newly living in Los Angeles from Washington State, we attempted church for the last time. We'd quit looking in WA before our first because of the reception we'd received as a childless couple (as if our only value to God was our fertility, and since fertility was actually a problem for us...) but thought we'd try again in LA. We found a lovely old Lutheran church that I thought we could walk to when I wasn't so preggers and drove over a couple Sunday mornings. But a Sunday in late July or early August when I was 8 months huge, I nearly passed out in the heat of the predates-air-conditioning-building and that was just the end of it. We never made it back. We have never attended services anywhere as a whole family. I took one or both girls to a few Midnight Masses at a Catholic church when I started attending those and they've gone to church with both grandparents but otherwise, we're stolidly secular. Every now and then, I get an urge to start looking again. But I just sit quietly and the moment passes.

  4. I have my issues with certain aspects of Christianity but fortunately I was never abused spiritually. I can't imagine to baggage some people carry around when it comes to God/religion. For years even I experienced guilt pangs and twinges of fear when I walked in a church; and I had no negative experiences during my formative years.

  5. Such honesty! I appreciate it very much. Evangelicals can be so insensitive to the fact that everyone is not in the place that they are and are not ready for what they want. They have a packaged religion, even if Two Rivers has repackaged it in different colors and designs that appeal to them; and they figure it will appeal to you. We are each different, and we are each at a different place on our journeys. I like the fact that you are not ready to do more than respond. What good would it do you to try to “stretch your mind regarding religion” in that direction right now? But, as you say, maybe in “a few months. Who knows?” Now, did you actually send this to G_____? I hope so.

    Terry Gray

  6. OK,reading your letter gave me a good laugh and boy did I need it. I am so happy to have come across your blog. I am feeling so alone in this journey away from everything I learned to believe about God, faith, the bible, truth etc... I can so relate to so many of the things I have read here. I wish there were someone who I could talk with as I continue to manuever through this experience but as of now I just haven't met that person(at least not to my knowledge). Of course all of my closest friends and family or very christian, sigh...! Of course the internet has been helpful just being able to read about the experiences of others and see that I am certainly not alone. Well I could go on and on but really just want to thank you for having enough courage to start this blog and for giving me a good laugh :-)!!! Much Love & Peace