I hope we didn’t upset you by walking out of church when you visited us. Or maybe I do, because I’m stubborn and angry and hurting. Not by what you said, but by how you said it.
I hope you didn’t think that we disagreed with what you said, although, to be honest, I had retreated so far into myself that I had a difficult time finding my way out before you had gotten to your second point. I’m not quite sure what you said, only that your sermon was, supposedly, about “faith”.
My daddy says that you recycle your sermons like people recycle produce that has ripened too much to be useful, that you preached nearly the exact same message last time you were here. I wouldn’t know. When I heard that you were going to be preaching, I stayed home.
I don’t dislike you. I hope you don’t think that I do.
I do dislike the way you preach, though. The yelling, the shouting – maybe it’s just me, but I don’t hear God in your loud, angry, intense voice. I don’t feel Him in our church when you’re there. It’s like your loud, angry, intense voice fills the building up with so much pressure that there isn’t enough room for Him anymore.
I felt God when I walked outside, about fifteen minutes before my parents did. I sat on the front step and I saw him in the sky, all bright and blue with the fluffy white clouds scuttling across. I felt Him whisper in my heart as I watched a group of ants scurrying by my feet. I heard him in the birds chirping in the trees alongside the road, singing for each other and for Him.
I felt peaceful and joyful and loved, whereas five minutes before I had felt angry and confused and anxious.
My parents came out a few minutes after I had my heart rate back under control, after my hands had stopped shaking and my throat stopped feeling tight. Have you ever felt that? Anxiety? When something that someone says or does hurts you and your body starts to do things that you don’t want it to do – like your knees shake so hard you can hardly walk to the bathroom? Or, once you’re in that bathroom, having to repress physical sickness?
I’m not judging you, I’m really not. I don’t know your story. But, on the flip side of the coin, you don’t know mine. It was difficult for me to stay in the sanctuary (I.E. a place of refuge or safety in which I felt everything but safe.) for as long as I did, and it was even more difficult for me to leave early because I wanted so badly to go back to you and explain why I walked out. I wanted to rebuke you for calling my parents out for leaving, so condescendingly and arrogantly (And, for the record, my parents didn’t leave on account of you. Or on account of my issues with anxiety that Sunday. They left because it was Father’s Day and we were meeting some of our family for lunch.), I’m sure, because everything you had said up until I walked out had been riddled with your superiority complex.
Alright. Maybe I am judging you. And for that, I am truly sorry. But this is what I saw and this is what I felt, and this, writing on my white walls and snapping a photo for the world to see, is how I deal with what I feel.
A Pastor’s first responsibility is to serve God through love, right? That’s what I’ve heard and that’s what I believe. Part of the reason I love my Pastor so much is because he does that. He loves everyone and he does it unconditionally, no strings attached.
I didn’t feel loved that Sunday.