Happy Monday, my friends! I recently had the opportunity to have coffee with someone from my past. While we weren’t friends then, we grew up in the same circle of people and experienced many of the same moments in our religious and educational journeys. Raised Catholic, we both wanted to be priests. In fact, neither of us saw anything else as an option until we got to college. As he said, “being Catholic was my identity.”
After indulging our nostalgia for a simpler, naïve time when everything seemed prescribed and certain, we turned to reflecting on our faith journeys after we stopped attending Catholic congregations regularly. We both had moments of wanting to be back in church and moments of experiencing fatigue from trying to find and adapt to new congregations. We tried out a variety of denominations and expressions of Christianity while also feeling a strong pull to return to some form of Catholicism. We definitely spent seasons being angry.
Since joining LOVEboldly, I’ve listened to numerous people tell me about the trauma and rejection they suffered at the hands of the church. They’ve talked about being mad at God and staying mad at God for a long time. How could God let that happen? Why didn’t God intervene?
I’m always quiet in those moments. There’s nothing I can say. I don’t know why God didn’t act and I don’t necessarily believe that God works that directly. But the main reason I’m quiet is because I’ve never been mad at God. Sure, I’ve wanted to fly off the handle and go all Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes—really Kathy Bates in almost any role—on the church, but not God. I don’t associate the church trauma I’ve experienced with God. God didn’t cause it and I believe God was just as upset about it as I have been. I blame the church.
Wherever we direct our anger, our frustration, or our mistrust we eventually have to make peace with it. Long ago a mentor told me that the chief task of religion was “making peace with holy mother church.” Perhaps she was right.
Where do you direct your anger: God or the church?
Let us pray: Hey God, this is awkward, we might be mad at you, and we might be mad at the church. We’ve been harmed by people who claim they act for you, but who do things that are counter to your nature. We wonder where you were and why you couldn’t have done something to help us or even save us. We wonder why you didn’t stop the trauma and soothe pain. We wonder sometimes if you still hear us. Help us to see and hear you in the many ways you talk to us. Lead all of us to receive healing whether from you or from others with whom you are working. Grant this all so that we may live in you and you in us. Amen.
Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.