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Going back to church after being hurt. - April 7th 2013, 12:45 AM

I don't know if this goes here, feel free to move it if I'm wrong.

I'll start by saying that I'm really anxious and in an unsure place right now so I apologize if this is a bit of a ramble or if it makes absolutely no sense.

Okay. So. I've always been a spiritual person, and I've tried a few different approaches to expressing that. I attended church in high school, along with their youth group, and a separate youth group not affiliated with the church. However, after I came out as lesbian, things changed. I lost all of my friends in the youth groups and at church, when I'd show up, the Pastor prayed for homosexuality to be put to an end. It was awkward, and hurtful, and eventually I stopped going. I lost touch with the church setting and, well, with everyone I loved.

Lately, I've been feeling lonely. I lack a sense of belonging, and I want that again. I want to worship in public again. I found a church that would be perfect for me. A church that advocates for equality all around. The Pastors both spoke at the equality hearing in my state, which is really nice. I emailed one of the Pastors, and she told me to show up on that Sunday and introduce myself to her. She said she'd appreciated my courage, and was looking forward to meeting me and hooking me into their community.

Needless to say, this was last week and I did not show up. I didn't have the courage (nor did I have the transportation), and I told her I'd go next Sunday (tomorrow). Because I've been hurt by the church in the past, I'm honestly terrified to attend. I have no doubt that she and her husband are wonderful people and Pastors, but I'm worried about not being accepted. In the email, I sort of mentioned that I struggle with depression, and I'm scared of being judged for that.

I don't know if this is silly or not, but I just want a sense of community. Some reason to go out, to look forward to something, to worship what I believe in. I'm just starting all over again, and I don't want to get hurt again. I don't think I'd be able to handle it.

I guess what I'm asking is if anyone has ever gone through this. Whether it be attending church for the first time (or any other type of community), or switching churches/organizations. Any tips or stories or anything on how to reduce my anxiety and actually introduce myself tomorrow? I'm worried that I'll end up getting too worked up and not showing up.

I'm just honestly really scared and will take anything at this point.


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Re: Going back to church after being hurt. - April 7th 2013, 01:51 AM

Not all churches will reject you for being a lesbian. One of my best friends dads is a pastor and he's totally ok with it, the only thing he can't do is marriages to a same sex couple in the church because that still isn't supported universally by the overall denomination (which isn't his choice). So you won't have this experience everywhere and you will find people such as my friends dads who are happy to be supportive and inclusive of everyone.
I can understand being nervous, but to me it sounds as if you found a good fit, that they're inclusive and that they're very welcoming. You could always ask the pastor(s) if one of them has some time to sit down with you and talk, then you could just let them know that you want to be able to come to church and be a part of the community and that you truly want to be a "good" Christian but you are a lesbian and you had this experience at your old church and see what they say about it. If you express your concerns upfront in person then it'll give them a chance to confirm (or deny) whether it's the right place for you. I do think it is possible for you to be able to go to church and be a lesbian, loads of people do it and I don't think you should have to live in fear of closed minded people who can't comprehend a reality where they don't feel the need to spew hateful homophobic thoughts. There will always be people like that, but there church sounds good enough to me to at least give it a shot. And like i said, being upfront with the pastors right from the get go about your concerns would likely help because if they feel that their church might not be the best maybe there s another one you overlooked. But you did say it seemed perfect to you, so being upfront with them STILL mgiht just help you get past worrying about potential problems of going there, that way they can reassure you




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Re: Going back to church after being hurt. - April 7th 2013, 02:36 AM

Hi there, lovely.

I know it's scary, putting yourself out there into a new group of people. Not that long ago, I started going to a new church. For a good part of my life, I was Roman Catholic, but the new church that my mom and I started going to is Non-Denominational, so the way they go about things are very modern and not at all in keeping with any type of religious tradition. They don't condemn anyone for who they are, and that sounds a lot like this church that you're thinking of going to. If the pastors at this church support equality, and the church is an advocate of it, chances are the rest of the congregation have similar views, or else they wouldn't be regular attenders. Church SHOULD be a place for acceptance, not a place for condemnation or judgement. (Sadly, so many churches give Christianity a bad rap.) If this church is anything like the way you've described it, the people there should be very welcoming and glad that you're there sharing in faith with them. Because that's what worship is about, after all. If you go there and you don't get the right vibes or it doesn't feel like the right fit, then it might not be the right place for you. But if it feels good, and you like the way they do things, then it might be a wonderful place for you to start going. You never know unless you go - otherwise, you're still going to be sitting there wondering what to expect.

I started going to a youth group at my new church about a month ago - and people came up to me and started introducing themselves right away. As I said, church should be a place of welcoming and acceptance. And this church seems like it might just be one of those places. I say, give it a try. you never know what amazing things could happen to you there. I, for one, am really glad that I gave my church a try, because I can see myself making some really great friends there. There's a great chance that you might get that sense of community and belonging that you've been longing for - so you might as well give it a shot!

Good luck <3

-Katelyn. :-)


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Re: Going back to church after being hurt. - April 11th 2013, 09:41 PM

Thank you both for your responses. It means a lot to me. I didn't end up going because my anxiety got the best of me. Go figure.

But. I located where the church is, and I'm going to check it out soon.

I appreciate the stories/support. <3


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Re: Going back to church after being hurt. - April 12th 2013, 08:19 PM

Hey,

I can relate to this to a sense, I have trouble going to church for a number of reasons. Anyway, in the past I tried getting involved in churches but being shy it was really hard. I emailed the pastor and didn't show up and all of that but the one thing I found was that actually getting there was the hardest thing. I would get all worked up about it and the actual experience was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. You said these people sounded really nice so try and challenge yourself to make it to one of the meetings. Actually making yourself show up will be hard but I bet when you get there they will be really welcoming and the more you go the more welcome you will feel. Yes, it will be hard at first but with time you will probably grow to feel more comfortable. I know you have been hurt in the past by churches but not all churches are like that and from what you have said this church seems accepting. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to give this church a try.

I hope this helped and wishing you the best of luck.


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