Many of you came to church needing or wanting something, and you were hurt. The idea of taking a risk to return might be more than you can imagine undertaking. I have been told it is normal for it to take 3-7 years for someone to reintegrate into a church.
For some of you what you experienced at church offered nothing to give you hope, comfort, or peace. You may have been met with unfriendliness or self righteousness. Even if you did find others to share with, you may have only found explanations that the things in your life are due to lack of faith, not walking closely in relationship with God, or not taking care of yourself. Instead of providing care that treated and healed you and your “sickness”, you received theories, ideals, rules, and expectations. You may have come to church feeling discouraged, confused, lonely, fearful, or broken hearted. Those in the church may have been too busy with their own needs, agendas, traditions, or responsibilities to even notice you or to notice you were hurting. For all of that I am very sorry. The church is supposed to be something different. God’s heart for those in need, hurting, lonely, and broken is enormous but he has placed us (humans) in charge of the church and we have messed it up.
The church should be a place to provide comfort, support, encouragement, strength, love, and healing. It should be a family to those without one. It should be the guide for those that are lost. It should be a place that offers hope, joy, peace, patience, and incredible love, but unfortunately it falls short.
Don’t give up on church. Take your time to find one that is right. It is okay to ask questions, to test things, to be critical of things that could cause you to feel unsafe. There are a lot of self-righteous, hurtful people out there in positions of leadership even inside of the church. Just do not give up on a relationship with God because man has made mistakes. Man creates religion by dictating rules and telling others to live up to a standard. God accepts you exactly where you are. So if it takes a month, a year, five years, or even longer keep taking risks and trying to get back into a church. Seek out the healing you need to make it work. It is worth it!