Many people over the last few months have asked why I no longer attend church.
As much as it is to do with my health, it is now also a conscious decision I have made to stop going.
Over the last year or so I’ve been working on a deconstruction of my faith. Much like this guy actually http://faithandfaders.com/
Pentecostal church was far more interactive for teens and pre-teens
I grew up in a Christian home. When my dad left, my mum ran straight into the arms of the Catholic Church. We would pray the rosary every night before bed, for fear that we would die in our sleep if we didn’t. Then when I was 14 years old, we were invited to a Nigerian Pentecostal church and dazzled by the bright lights and lively music, we settled into our new home. My sister and I in particular were glad for the change – Pentecostal church was far more interactive for teens and pre-teens.
As non- Nigerians, our lighter Afro-Caribbean skin meant that we would never be “black enough”, however it was all the church we knew at the time that wasn’t part of Catholicism and so we stuck with it.
There were cliques
That was until an evangelical church opened up in London; my sister and I had grown up clutching the CDs to our hearts and dreaming that one day they would open up a campus in the UK; we sang their songs as part of our worship in church. It was a dream come true.
And it was the Church I returned to when I’d dealt with my adolescent issues and opened my heart to God.
My mother had always tried to teach us to separate the church from God; we as people are imperfect, we are sinners, we are fickle – we can love each other today and wake up tomorrow with sudden malice within our hearts and eyes. Therefore, when I returned to Church, I worked hard to keep my eyes above at all times. I quickly joined team and became a youth leader and gave everything I had (my time, my life) to nurturing the young body of Christ. There were cliques, as there always are when you deal with people. However, my team as well as my connect group quickly became my family.
I also joined a connect group – a small home group in order to build strong connections with church family as well as the word of God.
One of the members of connect group offered me a job in her school. And suddenly things started to fall apart.
She treated me so awfully that the complex partial seizures that I’d been having became secondary generalised seizures and I was soon diagnosed with epilepsy. Even though she came to see me in hospital while awaiting tests and diagnosis, she insisted that I was faking my condition and terrorised me until I was forced to give up my job.
Do I blame her for the detrimental effects her actions had on my health?
Was I angry at her personally?
I was heartbroken.
Does it make it worse that she was a Christian?
Yes because she was one of many Christians who hid behind the word of God to defend her actions. The deterioration in my health was due to my lack of belief in God, not because of her wrongdoings.
Clearly I had done something wrong and God was punishing me
When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, it was too solid a pill to swallow. And clearly it was difficult for the people around me; most of us had grown up Christians and had been taught that all things were possible; that God hears our cries; that we belong to His kingdom and as His children we will never be sick; the Holy Spirit was sent to give us the power to cast out demons just like the disciples.
And yet I have an incurable condition and one that nobody understands either.
Clearly I had done something wrong and God was punishing me.
My Christian friends soon became bored of my texts saying that I was too tired to come to church (when I was told that lack of sleep, caffeine and tiredness were all triggers, I realised that I could no longer run on 2 hours sleep and a Starbucks tall Americano like I used to). Therefore while they carried on living their lives and moving on, I stayed in this groundhog purgatory: seizure recover repeat seizure recover repeat. My texts were read but not replied to and my phone calls went unanswered. Suddenly I was no longer part of a body.
Before being diagnosed, I would run on empty for the Church. But now that I am on copious amounts of medication, like wringing a dry rag, I just don’t have anything left in me to give anymore.
And then there is my family: my mother a devout Christian broke my heart in the cruelest way, and I’ve lost my sister.
Of course we are only human: we make mistakes, we are sinners and therefore not perfect. However, this is no excuse for breaking people and especially no excuse for breaking their hearts.
Reader, you may think while reading this that I am angry. It’s taken me awhile to get to the place that I am in, and that place is no longer anger.
I’ve been accused in the recent past of being anti-church since moving to London – by people who I worked closely with in church. I’ve been accused by fellow Christians of being a sinner because I have relationships with a non-Christians.
I’ve been told that I should not be taking medication, that I should focus my faith upon God instead of drugs (like I’m some druggie who depends upon drugs) and yet I cannot imagine any of these people saying these things to a cancer patient or somebody in a wheelchair. I read posts everyday from the people I used to go to church with wishing luck to people on their way to Chemotherapy appointments. My anti-convulsants medication is just as much a necessity as chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer patients, and wheelchairs are for those who cannot walk.
You wouldn’t tell them that they are possessed by demons either.
The majority of people who have stayed consistent within my life have been outside of the body of Christ. They are the people who have chosen to ask me about my condition as opposed to giving me ignorant opinions.
Prayers are more powerful than advice.
My relationship with Christ is a constant anchor within my life and that will never change. The Bible says that
“Greater love have no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for His friends” (John 15:13)
and that’s the kind of love I’m hooking myself up to right now.
I will continue to mourn for the body of Christ.
However, at this point in my life, it’s just not where I need to be.