The Horrible Judged

I would be judged by my good friends if they ever met my (often self-proclaimed) bad friends. I would be judged as I  already am by the few where my two circles of acquaintances OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAoverlap. But, if it came down to it and I was forced to choose I would pick my bad friends over my good friends, mostly because they are real. They are real in that they can laugh at themselves, they don’t dance around elephants in rooms (I can talk to them about anything without being awkward), and they don’t judge me. They let me be who I am, and even though they may not come out and say it I know that they care. In a very real way they are my second family.

Sometimes in church I feel guilty for not evangelizing more, but my bad friends know where I stand. They know where I stand, and they respect it. I do the same for them. It’s funny, I feel guilty in church, and not with my “second family”; I feel more comfortable with the perverts and partiers than with the stained glass crowd. My “brothers and sisters in Christ” are less like siblings to me than the un-enlightened. I struggle with this contradiction. I wonder if I should feel guilty about my choice of bad over ‘good’, sinners over saints, real over masked or not. Jesus hung out with the ragamuffins and cursed the Pharisees. Right?

It’s not that I don’t love my Christian friends; it’s just that I identify with them less. It’s not that I hate the church; it’s just that I fit there less.  I say a hearty amen to what Francis Chan says in this video: “The church is neither super nor natural.” I empathize with the ex-gangster he quotes in this book who when contrasting the church to the gang says “You see, in gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week–we were family.”

I crave community. I crave fellowship. I’ve tried to carve that out of the church. For years I’ve tried. I’ve been here long enough to know the inside jokes and laugh on cue, long enough to know some of the flaws people hide behind their greeting time smiles, long enough to know the pet peeves of the pastor and the Sunday school teachers. I can respond correctly to the once a year Easter greeting, but it so many ways I don’t really know the people. I met another wonderfully horrible friend about five weeks ago and I would already count him among my ten best friends. Judge that as you will.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to get stuck on writing about my problems with the church, or beat them to death because (a) I really do love her despite her many flaws, and (b) if I just write about the church I’m being as bad as the people I’m frustrated with. After all, we need to be the solution, not just talk on forever about the problem. Despite all that, I’ve written about the church’s lack of community this week. Call me a hypocrite. Call me horrible. I’ll probably agree.

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Categories: My Life, Ponderings, rants | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “The Horrible Judged

  1. Linda Turner

    I love the picture of the rusty nails that you used to illustrate this blog post. The rusty nails seem fitting.

  2. coffeelovexo

    Hi Veronica!
    you can read this or click the link below to just hear me out. Which ever one is easier for you (:

    I like your honesty and I respect it. I go to church too and actually, I think that a lot of us…no most of us, feel the same way you do. Many of us have different problems that it becomes hard to keep track of what’s causing our grief. No one should be judging anyone. If they are, they’re just as “bad” as your “bad” friends. But see, you shouldn’t think of it that way. Thinking that this person is categorized in my bad side and this in my good.I know that you don’t start your day thinking oh im going to hang out with my good friends today. ‘sinners and saints’, there’s no difference. We’re all sinners. Some are just more open than others and we commit sins in different ways. Your “good” friends, im sure they’ve had thoughts that set them in stone where we come as sinners.
    I feel the same way you do. Just as you said, I crave community, I crave fellowship, and I too, have tried to find my place in church. I still don’t know much in life but i know this. Church, is a place where god makes us feel at home. Church shouldn’t be a place where you feel secluded.
    Because of this feeling, my mom has been switching churches from place to place. The longest i’ve been at a church was 3 years. Then, the move comes. She has a hard time finding a place too and she wants to feel belonged. We all do. Seeing that other people have that touch when they’re together puts sin inside me when I feel envy.
    Okay this is my story. In this one church, I used to go there from kinder to 2nd grade. Then I moved to Grace church in Fullerton. I stayed there for 3 ish years and we moved back for a month and then we went to 3 other churches in 2 years and we moved back about the time 6th grade was about to end. Back to the first church i was talking about. Everyone already knew everyone and when I saw the connection that they all had between them, I couldn’t help but feel lost. I was young so all i was thinking about was that coming to church was for my friends. Yes I had friends, yes we hung out, and yes we had our amazing moments where we could just talk and cry for each other. but. our friendship wasn’t deep. Beginning of freshman year, we moved again. So this is the church I go to now, and it’s a small church. It’s not hard to make friends because everyone knows everyone.
    But. I’ve been going for about a year and a half now and I don’t have any one there I could consider as a close friend. I know a year and a half isn’t long but it doesn’t take that long to make a friend who you adore right? We all do. But the thing was, I knew the guys there because the guys who went there were all from my old church. which gave me a place there. But then, the girls, they all went to the same school so they knew each other. There are only three other girls besides me in the youth department and it made things really hard. and yea we act like we’re close now but we don’t have THAT connection. You know what i’m talking about right? Yes. churches have a lack of communication. Churches have that problem because all those fellowship events and all those times where they can spend time with that same group, comes again, and again. It makes it hard for people like me who barely know them, to find a place.
    I don’t know why churches have that lack. but.
    This is my advice to you. When I go to church, a part of me feels empty because i feel left out sometimes, but that’s not the reason why you should be going to church. When you’re at church, your connection with the lord and chrism Jesus should all be that matters. because when you’re praying to him about this. Just spill. Tell him the pain you’ve been going through. Tell him the things that bother you. and tell him. Tell him and ask him for your help. Ask him to how he can give you a place. I know I just said that the connection with the Lord and Christ Jesus should all be that matters but. Fellowship with the people at your church is important. Your guilt and your thoughts that make you feel that you don’t have a place there, that you’re the only sinner, that’s the devil speaking to you. The emptiness in your heart, fill it with Jesus’s love. with the holy spirit. because his love is always overflowing. He has so much, so much that it over flows, he wants to share it with others. So don’t block that out. Embrace it for your glory and so that you can feel it.
    Remember how you said that you like to hang out with your “bad” friends because they don’t judge and they can relate to you? Remember how you said that you don’t evangelize to them? Evangelizing isn’t the problem. you don’t have to. You can, but you don’t have to. If hanging out with those people feel like you’re not being judged but at church it feels like you do? It should be the opposite. The people at your church, if they’re judging, if they’re not accepting, if they’re not making you feel at home, and if they’re not giving you that feeling of freedom… talk to them. Confront them. It should help. Everyone is different and talking to them one on one, can help TONS. I can tell that you have a true heart. you know the difference between right and wrong. It’s just hard to get to the right choices. Trust me, everyone has that problem. Yes I have friends like you and it’s great being with them and making jokes where as at church, we have to act a certain way. The key word is act. Don’t act and just do. Ask God to help you become that holy person. We all aren’t. But we should strive to be. Many of us don’t have the right to say that we’re christian and once we get past that, we should. I too, don’t REALLY know the people at my church but we can connect when we’re in the presence of God. And that presence comes through prayer. Every single one of us. Have a place and time where we feel lost. Where we feel that we don’t have a place to feel like we can be ourselves. A place where we want to fit in. If anyone tells you the opposite, they’re not telling the truth. Being horribly judged by people, being someone who feel the hate from others, being a sinner. Isn’t about other people and how they see you. It’s about being horribly judged by god, being someone who can feel the hate from god, being a sinner that’s keeping you away from god. There’s only one person who EVER feels that way. THAT. is the devil. Just as god has his heart overflowing with love, the devil has his heart overflowing with sin. And he’s thirsty to share that sin, with others. With those who are vulnerable. With those who’s hearts aren’t filled with love but with sin. So pray and ask god to give you that peace. To give you that hope. To give you that faith. And to give you his glory and his wisdom. So you can make the right choices in his name. I wish you good luck and I really hope this got through to you. And I realize that you might be MUCH older than I am and im sorry if i sound like a bratty know it all. x)
    Even if you already knew ^^^^all of the above^^^^, I hope you see that you’re not the only one going through this kind of thing.

    • Hi,
      First I want to say thanks for taking the time to reply. I have to say, I’ve never gotten a video response before, so that was cool! Also, it’s always nice to know that other people relate to what I’m going through. I’m gonna reply to what you said by inserting a quote of what you said here, and then responding. I think that’ll be the clearest way to do it. So, here’s the first quote:

      “Thinking that this person is categorized in my bad side and this in my good… We’re all sinners. Some are just more open than others and we commit sins in different ways.”

      I agree that all people sin. I agree that there are no good people, and I’ve said that frequently after being slapped with the “good person” label in real life. I agree that we’re all sinners, but I would add not all sinners are saints, but all saints or sinners. According to the Bible those who’ve been saved by God’s grace are “saints” in God’s eyes. Now, skipping ahead to a bit of your story:

      “But. I’ve been going for about a year and a half now and I don’t have any one there I could consider as a close friend…But the thing was, I knew the guys there because the guys who went there were all from my old church. which gave me a place there. But then, the girls, they all went to the same school so they knew each other.”

      I would encourage you not to shy away from being close friends with the guys too. Some of my closest friends are guys, and even though a lot of people think that’s weird, if you can get past what people think I believe that you’ll find some really good friends in guys. Girls tend to be slightly more clique-ish, I think. Next, I’ll quote a bit from your advice:

      “When I go to church, a part of me feels empty because i feel left out sometimes, but that’s not the reason why you should be going to church. When you’re at church, your connection with the lord and chrism Jesus should all be that matters.”

      I struggle with what you say here, because if that’s the main reason for church, then there’s no reason to go. I can connect with Jesus at home. I can hear Bible teaching on my computer, or read books. I can play worship music. I can pray. I think the main reason for church is the fellowship and the community. I can’t get the same encouragement at home as I can from hearing a friend talk about how God’s working in her life in person, or praying over someone, or ministering together to a very needy world. Yes, Jesus should be what unites/connects us despite our differences, but I don’t know that the main reason of church is to meet Jesus there. I’m not sure if I’m really capturing what I’m trying to say here. Let me know if not. The next quote:

      “Your guilt and your thoughts that make you feel that you don’t have a place there, that you’re the only sinner, that’s the devil speaking to you. The emptiness in your heart, fill it with Jesus’s love. with the holy spirit. because his love is always overflowing.”

      It’s not that I feel I’m the only sinner in church. It’s that I feel more comfortable with the sinners, mostly, that bugs me. I probably didn’t explain that well. I do try to fill emptiness with Jesus. I love ‘being Him’ to my ‘bad’ friends, and letting His love cover everything. I love loving them the way he loved sinners…deeply. It’s when I feel most full and fellowshipped. It’s when I feel most alive. Actually, I’m scared that I’ll lose this at the end of the school year. I don’t want to lost these friends. Now, I’ll respond to this:

      “The people at your church, if they’re judging, if they’re not accepting, if they’re not making you feel at home, and if they’re not giving you that feeling of freedom… talk to them.”

      They’ve not met my bad friends, actually. My two spheres don’t overlap much because my school and my church are in different towns. Maybe they wouldn’t all judge, maybe I was being judgmental, but I know that some of the Christian teachers and such at my school might think I’m choosing wrong. I vehemently disagree.

      So, I realize I didn’t respond to everything you said, but I tried to hit the main points. If there’s something I missed please tell me. Again, thanks for the response. I hope you are able to find good friends in the church, too. I pray God blesses your efforts.

  3. I was a bit uneasy about this post at first, because of all the warnings in the Word about not being of this world, but at the same time, I know the feeling well. But, I’m not sure I can fully identify, because my response to awkwardness is to just withdraw into my shell and hide away from the world and become a hermit. Still the friends I’ve had in the past, who I could talk to openly about anything have primarily been unbelievers.
    Maybe that says more about my own insecurity then it does about Christians.

    We do sometimes finish off our wounded in the church. No, it’s not right. Now, that I’ve got that out of the way-don’t give up on the Faith community just because you find it hard to find real friends there. We do the fake thing sometimes in church, but there are those who have gotten beyond that. It’s not easy to spill your guts to people you see once a week. I think you will have to find a way to connect with a few Christians throughout the week, before you find that sense of community with them.

    Because of being an introvert, the only time I feel free to spill my guts to any degree at all is in a small group setting. You might not have that problem, but again, I think the way to community is to find your own small group that meets for prayer or study or meal, etc, during the week, to share their burdens, and/or to start some kind of ministry. And of course, they don’t have to all be from the same church.
    It helps to find Christian friends who share some of your interests. It’s just more natural to make friends with people who are already like you in some way.

    I need to shorten my comments, lol.

    • I try not to “finish off” the church as you put it. I try to see her as God must. I’m not very good at it, unfortunately.

      You say to meet with Christians throughout the week. I try to do that. I have done that. But my problem is that whenever I do that it seems to end up as the others teaching a lesson. That’s like the church–unnatural. I benefit more from rambling conversation, I think.

      Sometimes I don’t think Christians who share my interests exist, but that’s probably just me being skeptical.

      Don’t worry about long comments. I like them. 🙂

  4. Hey, Coffeelove has just demonstrated that there is someone besides me who writes really long comments! 🙂 I think in some measure she slightly misunderstood the post, at least in some parts, but I will leave that up to Veronica.

    I can identify with the personal experience/observation of Wildswanderer, but I do think there is a larger (or perhaps the term is ‘deep-seated’) problem within the institutional church. Yes, there are honest, frank, down-to-earth people even within the Institution. But in my observation the very nature of the Institution chokes and stifles (rather than builds up) the vibrancy of many spiritual walks.

    It is a multifaceted issue so I try to not be too glib in my comments on the matter.

    I think the way to community is to find your own small group that meets for prayer or study or meal, etc, during the week, to share their burdens […]” It was many, years before I found such a gathering, but with God having brought me to such a group I can say from personal experience that there I have found the community and fellowship you crave. You should come check it out sometime. 🙂

    • Of course you know my opinion on the church already, but I must at least say a hearty amen to this that you said:

      “But in my observation the very nature of the Institution chokes and stifles (rather than builds up) the vibrancy of many spiritual walks.”

      And of course I’d love to check out your little church community at some point. Someday when I’m in the neighborhood…

      • It’s only about a five hour drive. You leave home at 5AM you’d get there in time for when we start…… 😛

  5. Hi, you! 🙂

    Your post made me think and ponder, but probably not all for the reasons you meant. . . .an awful lot of talk about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and judge, judge, judgement. Mostly, about how judged you feel, either by yourself or others (including feeling judged for judging. . .or not judging. hm).

    I know, I’m doing the girl thing, and just focusing on the emotional take away. Well, I am a girl. So there! 🙂 But by the end of your post, all I could hear in my head was, “for God did not send His son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world through Him might be saved. . .”

    • Hi,

      Seems to me that you summed up the post pretty well in your first paragraph, except for not feeling judged by the judged. But then that’a a tongue twister if I’ve ever heard one.

      As to your take away, it seems like you get where I’m going with this pretty well. For me, it keeps coming back to Jesus-like versus church-like. My next post may be about that. We shall see.

      In other news, I hate that the smiles look creepy too. I wonder if there’s a way to disable the computer hyped emoticons on wordpress?

  6. plus, also, those smiley faces look very creepy, and I wish the software would just leave them as colons and parenthesis, which are plenty cute enough, thank you very much. such devious little smiles, out to no good. Now I want to go back and redact my post so it no longer has sinister smileys.

  7. my smile isn’t sinister!

  8. (most of the time)

    • Is this coffee or just sugar? I think I know my sister pretty well, and you “sound” like you’re on a buzz from one or the other. Come on, confess now….

  9. I don’t think it was either. It certainly wasn’t coffee. Sugar is debatable; how long it stay in my system? If you get me a blood sugar meter, we can start a clinical study on how much sugar has to be in my bloodstream in order for me to be counted as “under the influence.”

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