Years ago, I walked away from God. I felt like He didn’t care about me anymore and that He didn’t protect me from what He should have. After a few years of living a crazy Katy Perry song life, I knew that I needed to come back to God. I prayed and begged God for forgiveness until I was able to forgive myself for the mess that I had become. At this point, I had also just moved home to help mom take care of my stepdad on hospice care. I figured the best place for me as I healed was my home church. The church that I grew up in. Because someone always had to be with dad, mom and I took turns attending church. I was excited to go home, and to work with God on straightening out my life. The very place I thought I would find encouragement and feel the love of Jesus was the place that ended up breaking my soul and giving me the most anxiety.
I’m not going to give out names or places, but let’s just say there was a congregation member who came up to me and said that there was no hope for me and that God could never forgive me and that I was stealing something away from my mom by me being there and her being at home. This wrecked me. It was a family friend who I once had truly respected growing up in that church so there was no way that I could tell my mom what happened. So I got back in the habit of lying. I hid it from her and encouraged her to go instead. I made excuses saying that the church had grown so much and that she knew people there and I really didn’t anymore. I believed the lie that Satan was hurling at me through that person telling me that God couldn’t forgive me.
For years I decided I didn’t need fellowship. I didn’t need to spend time with other believers to be a Christian and believe in God. Shortly after dad passed, mom forced me to go back. I made excuses. I faked being sick. When I did go I had severe anxiety and panic attacks. I did not feel safe in a house of God. The one person Satan used to say “you’re not worth saving” to let me put a vast amount of my personal insecurities into blaming the church. I would say that the church had failed me, that God had even failed me, for when I was trying to give Him my life back He let an elder tell me that I wasn’t worth the love of Christ. These lies were so easy to believe because I was so spiritually weak. Satan was attacking hard because he didn’t want to let me be a prodigal that returned- he wanted me to remain lost.
I finally came clean with my mom and told her what had happened. She saw the scars on my hands from digging my nails into my palms from each Sunday I went to that church. She realized that my shaking and crying at church was not God speaking to me, but my mental state of fear taking over my body. She was sad and hurt by what had happened, but supported me in checking out other churches and finding a new “home” since the church that raised me was no longer a church of healing for me.
It’s been almost a year since I left that church and God has healed so many wounds. I no longer believe that God failed me. I no longer feel that that specific church failed me. That church was my home for a reason, and for a season. That church was where I first learned how to search after God, where I started walking in His path as a teen, where I met people who would lead me to an incredible journey in evangelism. That church helped fuel me until I walked away from God. Yes, there were hurts along the way but being a teen on fire for Christ in a secular world was not a hurt free zone. There will always be a part of my heart that loves that church and what it meant to me when it was my place of fellowship and belonging. When God called me back to Him, I was not failed by that church but by someone who wasn’t equipped with the grace to encourage me on the long journey ahead to coming home.
I’ve been the prodigal who ran away to have fun and find freedom and all I found was hurts and regrets. I have returned home to the arms of Christ, just with a different physical address.
Have you walked away from God? Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, you’ve walked too far away from Him? Has anyone ever told you that you were not worth Christ dying for? I know how thoughts like these can destroy you. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to allow God to heal your wounds with the insecurities of not being worth it are flooding your head. Let me tell you, YOU ARE WORTH THE CROSS. No matter how far you’ve walked away, God still loves you. No matter what wrong choices you have made, Jesus still died to rescue you from those transgressions. We all need grace.
Read Luke 15- a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son.
Rescue – Desperation Band
Mercy Said No – Greg Long
Homeward Bound – Among the Thirsty
Flawless – Mercy Me
Mended – Matthew West
Need You Now – Plumb
On Fire – Sanctus Real
Mercy Changes Everything – Ryan Stevenson