Take your time to process your pain from church hurt.

"Process the Pain" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Process the Pain” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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For some people, when they leave the church, it’s no big deal.

But for others it is.

I can speak to this from my own experience. I invested everything into the church. It was my family. I was deeply connected, deeply involved, deeply committed, and deeply in love.

Then the day came when I realized I could no longer be true to myself and stay. The pressure to leave was undeniable. Even though I initiated the step to leave, it felt like a rejection. No one said go. But the signals were all there that I was no longer welcomed, especially if I were to continue down the path I was walking.

Even though I did this six years ago, in 2010, once in a while the pain still surfaces. My theory is that we process pain at the level we can cope with. Then it goes on hold for a while until we are capable of dealing with the pain at deeper levels. Like layers of an onion… with tears included.

The other day I had a dream that made it very clear to me that I have yet another layer of pain to process. It’s hard and sad work, but I know it’s necessary if I want to reach higher levels of happiness.

If you know exactly what I’m talking about, come join others just like us at The Lasting Supper. I’ll personally make you feel welcomed.

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19 Responses

  1. Wendy says:

    You are having a tough year. I’m keeping you in my thoughts.

    Thank you for the profound cartoon.

  2. Kaye says:

    “…process the pain that MY PEOPLE caused you…”
    Wow. My people.
    Our sudden dismissal seven years ago was orchestrated mostly by my family members, close relatives. My people. I’ve struggled more than a little with the fact that it was “my people” who betrayed us, who dismissed us, who caused the pain. My people. Mostly I’ve agonized about how to redefine relationship with them. My people.
    To think that Jesus might still call them that. My people.
    The process continues…

  3. ya i’m glad you caught that Kaye. That was intentional.

  4. Kaye says:

    …and very significant to me.

  5. Jordan says:

    It’s honestly a terrifying feeling, and this is coming from my saying this as one officially leaving Christianity in favor of Judaism. I can feel happy in the service and the prayer, but “my people” are the ones I’m afraid of most in this process. I don’t know if they’ll understand my beliefs, or want to. Even with all of my trying to argue for a better understanding of how I do things, I cannot get them to understand it.

    I guess that’s part of the problem. It’s my path, not theirs – and how they react is solely on them. But gd damn it all it can hurt.

  6. Yes it does it. And it is necessary to process that hurt.

  7. Brigitte says:

    I know I’m on holidays, but a word to Jordan. When you speak to “your people”, do you say things to them, like what you have said to me, accused them of slavery, etc., stupid hyper-conservatism, etc. Just asking because there might be a better way to explain your move to them. You might try to understand how they feel.

  8. Jordan says:

    Brigitte, my family’s full of racists and bigots, but my worry is not talking about politics and their being incredibly wrong about their conservative views, but the very likelihood of their being antisemitic, and not just the casual “you don’t LOOK Jewish” jokes. Like “I’m worried that if I wear a kippah on the job I might get assaulted.” Like “Should I put up a hanukiah (Hannukah menorah) along with the family’s Christmas stuff, or will I get the nasty reactions about it?” Like “the likelihood of my car being keyed with a swastika will drastically increase if I attend this family reunion.”

    Your comment was completely unnecessary and, worse, cold. Is this what your version of Christianity teaches is okay?

  9. Brigitte says:

    You worry about nasty reactions all the while slinging around the words and accusations that that you do. And you just keep going and going. Family can definitely be rough, in. Many cases, even the best cases, but sometimes they also tell you the truth you don’t want to hear and that others won’t tell you. You have to use your own head to distinguish and discern, but you don’t need to jump on everyone ho disagrees with you, challenges your point of view, or who points you to information you did not have ant to hear just that moment. Also,it makes no sense to label people’s tone on the Internet, as you can’t actually hear them.

    Words like “bigots” get used so frequently by some people, that it becomes a kind of flag. Where I live in Canada nobody calls anyone else a “bigot”. If you have a disagreement, find some new way to get the message across calmly. Your family, no matter how annoying, loves you. Nobody loves you the way they do.

  10. Brigette: You said “Your family, no matter how annoying, loves you. Nobody loves you the way they do.” but this is definitely not true for many people. But I think you must surely know that.

  11. Brigitte says:

    Perhaps, but also, it is true that many people are afraid that they will not have support from their family when in fact that they may have more than they would expect. Or at least, with their own maturity they may be able to build new bridges.

    I have talked with pregnant girls who thought that their father would kill them, if he found out. In fact, fathers don’t kill their pregnant daughters. (I suppose, I should say if they don’t believe in honour killings. I am cringing myself, as I type this.)

    On our trip, my husband and I have ended up in the bosom of the extended family today. I have already had several occasions to be mad, but after a big dinner and a glass of while or two, it is very easy for everyone to step on everyone else’s, toes… Nothing as complex as family either. Depending on the problem, often it is best to let things go, or even to contemplate their opinion.

  12. Jordan says:

    Brigitte. I’m going to say this plainly.
    My family has threatened to kick me out of the house previously because of a serious falling out between my father and myself. I’d be homeless. I’d be cut off entirely from the family and disowned. My CONVERTING TO JUDAISM and leaving the Catholic Church can and very likely WILL be a contention point in a family that is full of diehard conservatives such as yourself – diehards who are also extraordinarily racist.

    My post was about leaving the Church in general and the reality hitting me, originally, but you made it into a grudge fest. I call you cold because of such a callous and petty need to imply, to any degree, *that I deserve this for being a firebrand liberal.* No, I’m going to have to process a lot of leaving- and growing-pains because I’m looking at an uphill battle walking a path I realize is one I need to take – just as you have your own.

    If you’re going to continue this petty behavior of yours, Brigitte, you need to consider how you let ONE person impact your mood so much as to feel this need to respond as you have.

    How dare you invalidate a single person’s worries about the long hurt.

  13. Brigitte says:

    I will speak to one more time, Jordan. Your family loves you. If you speak to your father even slightly the way you speak to me, I am not surprised that the communication is not happening, even if the situation was smooth. The church doors are open. They are open to those who would want to walk in, and to those who want to walk out. The Catholic Church does not call for hurting people who leave the faith, and the Pope recently said that Jews do not need missionizing. Personally, I don’t agree with the latter bit, but the Roan Catholics might agree with the Pope. Perhaps, some of that could be helpful to you.

  14. Jordan says:

    Brigitte, your family loves you too. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are many, MANY Christians, especially Catholics, who are angry at Pope Francis precisely because of his saying “stop trying to convert Jews.”

    This stops now. We’ve both been through our own hells and I’d be much appreciative if we can walk away from this here and now. I’m choosing to. I have MY own path and you yours. Just because we have different experiences with religion and spirituality does not mean they’re invalid.

  15. Brigitte says:

    If you are going to be a Jew, the commandment to honor your parents is going to apply the same way it applies to me. ( My parents have died a long time ago. My mother died when I was 18. But I have an extremely difficult mother in law.) It is a challenge, but also a command. I pray you can work it out the best possible way.

  16. Barb McRae says:

    I find this one to be so close to my experience. I lost my faith but I missed it terribly. There are so few communities that understand that. It just left and I had to live with it. Did not see that coming. I’ve also invested a lot into church over my lifetime. So weird to have such a different perspective now. I’m serving my last church–one that was destroyed by an incompetent pastor–before I change my career. Time to live a different life–one with more pleasure. Thanks for your cartoons/comics/art. They help.

  17. thanks for sharing Barb. sad, but common, unfortunately. Find your joy!

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