Leaving and Returning

Because some of my greatest wounds have come from the church, and so my greatest healing has happened here too. -Sarah Bessey

In my twenties, it was the trend to talk about how the church had wounded us. We all have our stories – from hurt feelings to misunderstandings to very real and damaging abuse. Some were wounded as children and never returned; for others it didn’t happen until later. For some, they left the church and have happily never looked back. For others, there continues to be a grappling and a search for that perfect fulfilling of a need.

Of course, I have my own story of being wounded. But the most important part of that story is the healing – it’s the way I found myself back at church.

The journey of leaving and returning and questioning and discovering is, of course, not limited to church. It’s not limited to years or seasons, either. Yesterday, the culmination of a rough week, of parenting alone, and of miscommunicated expectations led to some stressful moments on what should have been a perfect autumn day.

As we drove home, Bea screamed from exhaustion and I was ready to give up. Frank suggested I go to my parents house for the evening. They’re out of town, so I would not only have a guest room to myself but an entire home to relax. After some debate, I decided to bring Elle along.

Sweet girl slept in, too.
Sweet girl slept in, too.

I was away less than 12 hours, but oh! How rejuvenating! I watched episode after episode of mindless Netflix from 4:30 to after 10:00. I ate my premade Whole Foods salad in front of the TV. I ate an entire box of cookies. (Perhaps I should stop there with my indulgences…) All that to say: I lounged – something I haven’t done in so long. Elle is a laid-back baby and she was happy to lounge with me.

After a relaxed morning, we came back home. Back to our messy house and dishes not put away exactly how I would have done, but I felt good. And refreshed. And ready to return.

I know I’m going to get tired again. That Bea and I will exhaust each other again. That I’ll long for time alone. But, for now, I’m renewed. That small break was enough to reset my attitude and my outlook.

Leaving church, I think, is much like taking a break to lounge and sleep in. Sometimes it’s what’s best for us, for our communities, for our spirituality. But, here’s what I think many of us need to remember: Going back refreshed is key.

I was so tempted to stay at my parents. I hadn’t even opened the stack of books I’d brought – I could have found so much more to do. But, I knew that there’s a fine line between being selfish with my time and rest and sharing my renewed spirit with my family.

As I look back on my spiritual journey, I’m glad I chose to return. I know church and spirituality aren’t for everyone, but for me, I need that community, the thought-provoking interpretations, and that sense of something bigger than myself. I’m glad that, even after small and big breaks, I’m ready to return.

Have you ever needed a break from church? Did you return to the same place or did you move somewhere new on your journey?

12011258_10156109094605046_8628146384862283098_nThis post was inspired by Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts. I have the pleasure of being on her launch team and just finished this book. I’ll write a formal review soon, but in the meantime, if you’ve ever felt “out of sorts” spiritually, check out this book. It releases on November 3 and I think many will connect with Sarah’s message.

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2 thoughts on “Leaving and Returning

  1. Annie, I may be the exception, but I have never been seriously wounded by church. I’ve had opportunities to learn how to work through certain relationships that have not been easy. But I know what it feels like to need time away. 🙂

    As a wife of a husband who travels for work and as a mother of two active boys, I need time away! 🙂 My husband is really good about giving me time for me, especially after he gets home from an extended trip.

    We all need time to refresh, and we all need to be able to rejoin life. Great post!

    1. I love that you haven’t been “wounded.” I think it’s good to hear stories of faithfulness and success in the church.

      That’s awesome that your husband is so attuned to your alone needs. We’re finding that balance of needing family time and acknowledging self-care…

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