Eight months ago, I left my church of almost 10 years, as I have mentioned several times on this blog. There were a variety of reasons for this, but the last straw was a major change that they seemed intent on implementing, looking only for approval from the congregation as required by the church constitution, rather than debating publicly whether or not it was a good idea. At least, I always felt like no one was listening to me when I told them that this was a bad idea. (Ask me privately if you want to know exactly what that change was. That isn’t the point I’m making today.)
I haven’t cut all ties. There are still a few people from that church who I see semi-regularly. I am still in Facebook contact with many people from that church, and I still follow the church’s Facebook page itself. Recently, the church Facebook page posted two pictures showing a big step that has been taken in regards to the changes I mentioned in the last paragraph. I replied with a snarky comment. I also liked every post made by others who seemed to prefer things before the change, and replied to a few of them. In one of them, someone replied to my comment, asking if I was done yet or if I was looking for points for every comment I made. I tried to stay calm and civil, because, well, everyone knows what arguing online is like. But I explained that, when the church was presenting their new vision to the congregation, I would have appreciated knowing that there were others out there who felt the same way as me about what they proposed, and I was commenting to make sure that those who do not agree with what has happened to that church know that they are not alone.
After reading his comment, though, I decided I probably was being a little mean-spirited in my comments, and I said nothing further on those posts. He replied something about how he had gone to that church for most of his life, and he would pray that I find a church. His response, incidentally, highlighted another questionable aspect of this church, in that he acted like he had no idea who I was, and he was interacting with me for the first time. This is not true. I don’t know this guy well, but I can remember meeting him on at least three distinct occasions, and if I were to see him out and about in public, I would recognize him well enough to put a name to the face. But he didn’t remember me, which tends to be typical at a very large church, particularly when I have been feeling more and more disconnected over the years.
Shortly after this exchange occurred, someone else I know, not connected to any of this, reposted by coincidence something that said, “I don’t share my opinions on the Internet because I want to change people’s minds. I do it to let like-minded people know that they are not alone.” (That’s a paraphrase, not necessarily word for word.) I thought this was interesting, because I had never thought of this in this way before, and here it came up twice within a few days.
I often feel alone in this way. My views, my beliefs, and my lifestyle are different from those of many people around me. I know that this need not be a barrier preventing me from having friendships, but sometimes it matters. Someone recently asked me if I would still believe in Jesus even if I were the only one on Earth who did. I replied that I ask myself the same question fairly often. But I know that I’m not as alone as I tend to think. I have more in common with people than I tend to believe. And I can still encourage other like-minded individuals in their beliefs. I just need to do so without hostility toward others.