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Faith and disappointment in church

I am always hesitant to post my faith based struggles here. Since I stream on the HS twitch channel I do this dumb thing in my brain that says “sush… be professional. You represent HeartSupport on their streams… don’t bring you personal problems and religion into it…”. I know that’s whack and the best thing is to just be real and vulnerable with y’all. I mean… we’re in this together right? You’re my people… and you should know what I’m struggling with… and I have been STRUGGLING with some churchy things. It’s to a point where I’m having a hard time sleeping and have been overwhelmed with thoughts and disappointment. Or I cry on my way home from church.

I am a christian and I don’t have any doubts about my beliefs in God or Jesus and how He has shown himself in my life… or how He saved me… but I am struggling with some things in christian culture, or “the church”. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong or that I am less than christian because I disagree with so much of what is happening. It’s hard to find my place. Sometimes I feel ashamed or embarrassed to call myself a christian or I feel like I need to apologize for the way christians behave… or like I need to explain “I’m christian… but not like that!”. Basic examples to give you some insight … I’m pro choice, I’m an ally to the lgbtqa+ community, I believe black lives matter, I hate guns, and am absolutely not a republican… I’m not a hardcore democrat or liberal or anything… I hate politics honestly and wish it wasn’t such a focal point, ESPECIALLY in the church. So… yeah. I don’t really fit in with current christian culture, where it seems EVERYTHING is politicized. My thought process is to love God, love people, and live in a way that I can love myself.

I’ve been struggling with this for a while… since before covid… but I feel like 2020 really brought out the worst in everyone and it amplified everything I was already struggling with. All the hatred and anger coming from people who claim to represent christ. Christian leaders wrongly using the bible as a weapon against people and ignoring the call to love people. Feeling like the God that I love and trust is being so misrepresented to a point where it is heartbreaking… and not knowing what to say or do about it. For the most part I try to avoid confrontation, especially when it comes to beliefs. Everyone is going to believe different things.

My main issue now is that it’s giving me serious trust issues with people. Over and over I’ve lost so much respect for people I used to look up to… people I used to run to for guidance. I feel like I’m grieving. Like I’m losing people I once considered mentors or role models. I’m losing dear friends. Every time someone says or posts something racist, homophobic, misogynistic***,*** or just plain spiteful and hateful I just… crumble. Like… “oh nooooo… not you too.” It hurts so much more when it comes from someone I really trusted or felt close to. Like how could we be on such different pages? Or how could I have not seen it before? and then I remember exactly how I didn’t see it before…

I didn’t want to. I was naive or ignorant. I trusted anything anyone said when I first got saved because I was a “baby” christian who needed to be led. I was 13/14ish when I became a christian… and I knew nothing! So I followed everything I was taught. Blindly. Because they said they loved jesus… and so they obviously must be good people right? I look back now at some years when I was a youth leader and I was serving in church… and how wrong I was about some things. I look back at that baby christian phase of my life and cringe. Like wow… I can’t believe I preached that… PROUDLY! ughhh… It makes me feel gross. BUT I also know I need to have grace with myself and be grateful for how far I’ve come. I’m so glad I’ve met the right people in my life who have helped me grow. It’s always been about loving God and loving people. I just had to start thinking for myself to start knowing what that looks like in action.

I’m learning that I can still question the things my pastor or leaders say… and it doesn’t make me any less faithful to God. I’ve come to a place where I finally feel bold enough to question the leaders in our churches AND question some things in the bible… or at least the decades of translations. I’m a human… I have my doubts… but it doesn’t make me any less christian. I have been deconstructing SO much of what I was taught. Unfortunately that train of thought isn’t really welcome or well received in church. I think church is important… having a place to come together in fellowship to worship and learn together… sounds great right? Except lately when I go I just feel disappointed. I actually really like my current pastor and his family. He seems genuinely good and hasn’t said or done anything that is a major red flag… BUT I started going to some of the small group studies and the leaders and some other higher ups in the church have just been awful.

I went the last two wednesday nights in a row and the first night I almost walked out during the speakers homophobic rant… I was too nervous to cause a scene or to start having it out right there (ew confrontation) … so I just sat there. With my blood boiling… and left as soon as I could. I cried in frustration when I got home. I’ve been at this church for a while now and I didn’t expect it to be an issue here… I liked that guy. I decided … maybe it’s just him? Surely my pastor doesn’t think these things or preach that? So I went back this week since a different guy was speaking. Then HE went on a simliar homophobic rant. Then he ALSO went on a big anti mask and anti vaccine rant… mocking people who willingly got the vaccine and how people didn’t trust god enough. I… I just shut down. I couldn’t believe it was coming from him… all of it… he was twisting like… two totally irrelevant bible verses to go on these long rants about his opinions… mockingly. Hatefully. I cried in the car on the way home. How can people be sooooo… uggghhhhhhh

While I’ve never heard my pastor really say anything that I disagreed with or that gave me any red flags about his beliefs… These are the two men he has chosen and trusts to lead bible studies… so they must be on the same page… and it’s gut wrenching. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. It seems the majority of christians lean that way and I am in the minority when it comes to these things. I guess I think actually loving people should look different.

I feel so stuck. I know I love God and I pray for wisdom and discernment. I pray for the holy spirit to lead me deeper into truths and how God wants me to live… but I feel like I’m being pushed further and further away from “the church” and christian community. Like I don’t belong and I need to sit and watch from the sidelines while they go on hurting so many people. Like I’m losing a big part of my life. I plan on talking with my pastor about this all one on one hopefully soon. Laying it out there and seeing what his response is to all these thoughts… see where he is and if he has any encouragement or insight. I’m just in such a weird place with it all.

If you made it this far thanks for reading my novel lol. Thanks for joining me on my journey of trying to be a decent freaking human being <3

I didn’t make this post to start any debates. So if you leave a comment trying to justify the hatred and bigotry rising up in the church that I’m talking about I’m not even gonna read it. Don’t waste your energy… I’ve heard every argument. This post is simply about my own struggle and how it’s affecting me. It’s not an invitation for a debate on faith and scripture.

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Hey there Amanda!

I’m so glad I found your post - I’m in a bit of a similar situation at the moment, regarding my beliefs and how they differ from people around me. I’m visiting family right now in the US and oh my goodness the importance put on politics, sexuality, race…is astounding. I went out for lunch with my cousin who I haven’t seen in 18 or so months, and the entire time all she could talk about was politics - the storming of the Capitol, how many christians support Trump, ect. ect. I really just wanted a relaxing meal and friendly chit chat. Coming from France, already my knowledge of american politics is fairly limited, so holding a conversation about it is hard. But when it’s with a very strongly opinionated person who won’t hear otherwise it’s just draining.

Without wishing to start a rant, my issue with my family right now is the view they take upon other people, non-believers especially. I was raised a christian, and still am very strongly a believer, just not to the same degree as my family. I was raised in a very different situation to them, so my view on almost everything is wildly different. Recently it’s been around my friends back home who aren’t christian. It upsets me that many of my family members justify their closed-mindedness with Bible verses taken out of context, or things that God simply never said. They’re almost completely unwilling to see things from any other perspective, with their “if you’re not a christian you have no place in our lives” mindset or their “if you’re in a tough place, deal with it, God will fix you eventually, but that’s not our problem” ideology. It’s aso upsetting because I would like to be able to talk with them about it and share my joy at finally having some faithful friends, but I can’t because it will always come back to beliefs and statistics. I can’t stand it, and, having been to their church and heard their pastor, I see now where that ideology stems from.

It definitely doesn’t make you any less a christian for questionning leaders of the church or pastors. They’re just human after all, they’re not actually God, even if some circles put so much importance on them it feels suffocating sometimes. And don’t be too hard on your younger self - we all have that phase of figuring out who we are and where we want to be in the Church. I know that between the ages of 5 and 13 I didn’t question anything at all - everything seemed pink and perfect. Then, after my baptism, I started realising just how different my church was compared to my cousin’s, and how differently they approached the Bible and God in general. Much like you, I believe faith is loving God, loving others and learning to love yourself. Being in a christian position where you believe that all non believers are spawns of hell isn’t really christianity to me, just a facade behind which people hide.

It’s always sad when people we thought of highly turn out to not be as perfect as we made them out to be (cough cough cousins and grandparents), but it’s a part of life I suppose. It’s good for us to see them as they really are and not continue living in our little fantasy world, but it can be hard to accept the reality that no one is perfect. I’m sorry if you’re feeling lost at the moment, but I’m glad you’ve found some friends that have helped support you through the tough times.

Sorry this reply is a bit all over the place, but I hope it helps you realise you are in no way alone in these doubts. Stay strong, stay true to your faith and God, you are loved. :hrtlegolove:

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Hey @amandaruthart you sound so much like me in this instance. i also had this happen earlier in life but also with mental health instead of COVID. also with most of the other things you mentioned. I can go on for days about what i felt like. It felt lonely at times, i felt unable to navigate the waters, and i felt lost. Thank you for coming here and talking with us because we are all so much more in this together than maybe we all know we are. You have such a positive light inside of you that deserves to shine.
When i was in my late teens into my early 20’s i went through a very bad depressive episode which completely destroyed me for a long time, and i lost my way for a while. I went to my church for help, but it lead to me going from the front pulpit playing the guitar on Sunday mornings to out the door and never returning and questioning my faith for years. I want you to stay strong in your faith. I want to just be blunt and tell you that you are still loved by not only us but through Christ who strengthens us. When Christ was on this earth he came to save those who knew they were lost, not those who thought they were found. And did he not feed the 5,000 even when they only came for food? He loved them for them and he didn’t complain that they came only for him to feed them. What about the Samaritan at the well? He said he has a water to give that is living and eternal. The eternal water is a love that isn’t bound to the 4 walls of a church, or the ideals of a single religious organization within the Christian faith, or any truly loving faith to be blunt about it. This love is bound to Christ and no human can explain it. There are so many that compose a faith. A subsection of people that do not compose what you believe should not dismay you, but it sure is easy when they are your peers and people you look up to. When i was a child i thought like a child, and such is the saying, i user it for myself because I’ve been a hypocrite in my life before. I am guilty of that myself in my past.
Well in my own life i always feel like I’m learning and looking back and saying “well i was a child there”.
So give yourself some grace. if I’m constantly doing that, it’s more than ok for you to be politely and properly upset (and especially give yourself grace) over this truth as long as you give yourself proper grace to analyze what’s going on and work on a plan of action to change the situation positively.
Sometimes you do have to decide what is right. Is it right to be around those who tear you down so much? Should you consider finding a more uplifting organization (ie church)? You are worth so much, your opinions are valued and important. Look how Jesus spent time every day talking with his apostles and disciples. If Jesus did not value each human being, he would not have spent the time he did on this earth. He would have hit the easy button and just used a “humanity eraser thingy” like the judge from the good place wanted to, but he didn’t and he never wanted to. He knows that we are all deserving of a true love that he can give. But you also see what has come about in this world so your heart, being so full of love and compassion, yearns for justice (that justice is unconditional love) for those who need it most. You are amazing and you give that love to others. You deserve that love to always be let in and available to you.
I am always here if you need me.
I hope i encouraged you that you are an amazing person, you have truly amazing perspectives that give you a great insight into what should be happening, and your want to include others is amazing.
Being bold, telling the truth of grace, and showing true love are sometimes the most amazing traits in a person!
You are loved, you matter, and you are cared for greatly!

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Thank you for sharing. This is a big issue among people who want to think freely but are too afraid of being “not Christian enough” or alienating themselves from church, family, and community.

The things these so-called Christians are preaching are NOT Christian at all. They are proud and self-righteous and selfish and even hateful. The Ten Commandments called on us first to love God above all else (money, status, sports, and even other people), and second to love our neighbors as ourselves. That doesn’t mean the people in our neighborhoods with matching campaign signs in their yards, that means EVERYONE, and the Christian community has lost their way on that big time. Jesus loved prostitutes, criminals, people from foreign places, the poor, and even non-believers, and he called on us to do the same. Like you said, the self-righteous will hand-pick verses and teachings out of context to fit their view of the world, not the other way around.

There are SO many Bible verses that support all of this, and I know this as someone who has never tried to memorize scripture. “Why do you point out the speck in your neighbor’s eye while you ignore the log in your own?” People are so fixated on others’ sins that they are blind to their own wrongdoing, even willfully so. It is our job as Christians to love others, not to condemn them. God will exercise His justice as He sees fit, which is way above our pay grade, and any judgments we make on behalf of the church are 1. us playing God’s role and 2. hypocritical, because we are all fallen sinners, all equal in God’s eyes. Besides, who would want to seek God when His “people” are so horrible to them? I know I wouldn’t want to go somewhere people condemned me the second I walked in the door, or to be around people who spewed hate speech about me and people like me.

Furthermore, not only are those pious fucks un-Christian, they’re un-American. The First Amendment outlines freedom of religion first, before it even mentions free speech: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” To say that the laws in this country are un-Christian is exactly the point. America was founded in part to escape a country where the Anglican church was a branch of the government, which was distorted by the King to suit his whims. If the government enforces Christian tenets in the name of Christianity, it requires no discipline from Christians. Simply following the law is NOT living to a higher standard.

These issues with hypocrisy kept me away from the church for a long time, and made it really hard to find a church when I was ready to go back. Luckily I found a church whose stated mission is “Loving people to life.” The pastor talks openly about his brokenness, about his year-long separation from his wife, about his mental health struggles. He gets that life is messy, and he says he doesn’t want to be someone who tells us what to believe, but hopes that he can guide us on our personal faith journeys. That’s the way it ought to be, and that’s what the evangelical right has lost sight of in their mission to be “holy.”

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I really could have written this myself. Thank you so much for putting it all here. I know it can be really scary to get these particular fears and frustrations out because it seems like your only options are “think this way or you hate God.” Thank you for the love and care you put into this post. Thank you for showing me, and others, that there are more if us out there that look at where the church on the whole is going and are just…in disbelief.

I think there’s a change getting ready to happen. I think there’s a lot of us out there quickly growing tired of the dark corners of the church taking over and creating… this monster we of feel like we can’t fight. I don’t have a solution, but I see you. I see your frustration. I hate this is a thing that we even fight today. It’s not the love of Christ we believe in.

I know it feels impossible and like you’re in an uphill fight. And it is so unfair. I obviously don’t have a solution for you, but just wanted to say I hear you. The things that are important to you, are important to us. You help this community so so much. Thank you for opening up here.

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Hey amandaruthart

EsRivs replied to your post today during their stream!

Here’s a link to the video to hear their response yourself!

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thanks for getting it <3 You said some things perfectly. The frustration and disbelief… fighting an uphill battle. That’s exactly the feeling. I see so many people ready for change and a lot of us are feeling this tension. I don’t know what that change needs to look like but I’m ready for it lol

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EsRivs you beautiful human you. Thanks for taking time to talk on this. It’s just always nice to know I’m not the only one. And I’m always down for “out of character” side convos lol.

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Just wanted to post a general thank you to everyone who took time to read and reply. It’s super comforting knowing there are people who just get it and are will to take time to respond. Thanks fam <3

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@amandaruthart

You should find another church that it is healthy, encouraging, and they can admit their faults. Also, be careful with BLM, Pro-Choice, and LGBTQ movement. A lot of black people are speaking the truth about BLM and they don’t support the organization/movement. Some are leaving the LGBTQ community because it is not what it seems. Pro-Choice, there are dark things coming out in the light. BLM, LGBTQ, Pro-Choice, are doing the same things. We can’t just pick one side, favor, continually despise each other, and repeat the same cycle. We all fall short on the glory of God. I am no better than anyone. We’re all in this mess together. We all got to repent and ask God to help us. He is our future, and He is going to do what He can to save the lost. I hope you will be in a better season of your life. Thank you for sharing. God loves you.