Growing up, we visited my maternal grandparents at least twice a year – at Christmas and during summer vacation.
Mom? Dad? If you’re reading this, I’ve realized that Mt. Carmel did more damage to me than he-who-shall-not-be-named. I think that Mt. Carmel is the reason that I ended up being the perfect victim for someone like that man. I don’t mean this in an accusatory way. I’m trying to share an epiphany that, strangely, makes me feel better.
Mt. Carmel. Where to start? Mt. Carmel was a school. That also offered boarding. Its founders and builders make Baptists look like frat partiers. Seriously.
Anyway, Mt. Carmel is what people today would call a cult or a sect. Thankfully, once my mother left home for college, she never went back there. OK, she never went back there to live. Unfortunately, we went back umpteen times to visit.
And so, at the tender age of – wow, probably 3 or 4 – I learned that I wasn’t “enough.”
I wasn’t “good enough.”
I wasn’t “Christian enough.”
I wasn’t “well-behaved enough.”
I wasn’t dressed “appropriately enough.”
I just wasn’t – ever … enough.
I learned this from my grandparents – you know, the very people who are supposed to dote on you and spoil you.
I grew up in the Nazarene church. Again – ugh. Once I left home I didn’t go to church for decades. Because honestly? I really got tired of being – and feeling – that I wasn’t “enough.”
And then I joined the Presbyterian church.
Things went well until… I learned that I didn’t “attend church enough.”
I wasn’t “involved enough.”
I wasn’t an “active enough member.”
And so on.
Churches. You wonder why you are bleeding people. It’s because you constantly make them feel as though they “aren’t enough.”
The fact is, I AM enough. And I don’t need a church to affirm that. I’ve got a great psychologist and a support system that says that I am doing OK.
And I BELIEVE that I am doing OK. I’m not where I want to be yet. But I’m getting there.
Churches – until you start recognizing that, for some people, just making it to a pew is an accomplishment, you will continue to see a decline in your population.
I never wanted to go to church to prove that I was “enough.” I just wanted to go to church knowing that I would be accepted – regardless of what I was capable of giving.
I am enough. I always have been. It’s just taken me 40-plus years to realize that.