Church... doesn’t have to suck

Date: 5/20/2019

By Allforwhat

Context: I grew up in a Christian household that was pretty firm on it’s stance of going to church every Sunday. It eventually started becoming something I dreaded as Christianity started evolving into this oppressive idea focused around hell. One positive thing I got from church was a friend who was part of a missionary family. When we were young, we were forced to be together because our families were in the same Christian small group. We became friends, though I didn’t really enjoy hanging out with him all too much. He was really competitive, had lots of energy, and was prone to tantrums. His family of 7 eventually started to live in Africa for years on end. When we reconnected later, he had mellowed out quite a bit. I’d enjoy having philosophical discussions with him and my friendship with him became genuine. The dream started off with me in our church with a bunch of other kids trying to learn the script for this church play. The play didn’t really make any sense, we were short on scripts, and I was struggling to walk around because my shoes were too big and I had to keep them on. Several iterations of me attending these church rehearsals went by. I hated it. It didn’t make sense, I didn’t feel like I belonged. In some instances, i just watched the church kids interact while I had a giant ball and chain attached to my foot. When I asked people about why they felt I needed this attached to me foot, they didn’t seem to understand the question. It was like they either didn’t see the weight, or I was asking a really dumb question. After several more iterations which included small rehearsals that ended in disaster because of factors relating to myself, our group ended up in a circle looking over our scripts again. As usual, there was a problem on my end. I didn’t have a script with me. My good friend lent me his script to look over. When I was discussing the script with the group, I accidentally hit my friend twice across the eye with the script. I profusely apologized, and he seemed to be ok with that, if not a little annoyed. I handed the script back to him. As time went on, he proceeded to ‘accidentally’ hit me in the eye with my script as well. When confronted on it, he brushed it off without any sort of apology. As things went on, it happened more. He started launching passive aggressive comments at me while ‘accidentally’ hitting me. Finally, I drew a line and told him if it happened one more time, I wasn’t gonna put up with it. I was upset at this point because he didn’t seem to acknowledge what he was doing was wrong. Of course, it happened again and I left. Somehow his mom caught wind of it and got angry at him. She forced him to go over and apologize to me. He went over and started to apologize, but shoved the paper in my eye again. I was ready and blocked it and told him to essentially fuck off. He went back to his mom who had assumed he had apologized. Later, she saw I was still upset and asked me about it. I told her how things really went and she was furious. She dragged him over and confronted him on it. The whole time, he either deflected blame by saying I had been hitting him or saying this was just us messing around and nothing was wrong. I debunked all of those excuses quickly. As time went on, he became continually frustrated and stormed off. His siblings sort of mediated between the two of us as they ran back and forth. They kept apologizing for his behavior. It ended up he had run off to one of the pews and started crying in frustration as he didn’t really know how to handle the situation. I wasn’t sure if he didn’t understand what he did wrong, or if he was feeling ganged up on. After hearing more details and getting a better understanding of what he was feeling, I forgave him. I was still frustrated and hurt by the situation, but I better understood his actions. After shouting out that I forgave him loud enough that he could hear me, I quickly tried to exit the church. For some reason, the exit was small so the only way to go through it was to crawl out of it. Even then, I was struggling to get through. I wanted to leave this situation and cool down. Suddenly a bunch of kids from youth group who were friends with my friend ran through a door and started to hug me with tears in their eyes. I was overwhelmed. I understood that his friends were thankful to me for my forgiveness. I was touched and saddened. I had avoided youth group because I felt so alienated, alone and guilty. Seeing how many amazing friends my friend had brought on mixed emotions. I started crying. Crying for the opportunities I had missed, the guilt that I felt, and the love that was being shown for me. In a way, I felt just like my friend. I realized that we basically had the same experience. Then I woke up.