Wednesday 26 December 2012

Seeing as it's Christmas, let's be angry with the church again...

Yesterday my travels took me past "that church" several times - the church Ben and I attended for a year or so. My attendance was sporadic, but Ben attended religiously, walking the 30 minute walk there and back every Sunday morning over an 18 month period. As you know from previous blog entries he went out of his way to try and fit in, and to get spiritual help - and the church failed him. Read more about it here.

Despite me explaining this to the pastor in November (and earlier, in January), the church has done nothing to attempt to win Ben back. I guess I kind of hoped they'd make a move and get in touch with Ben, invite him to a few activities, talk to him, include him... Especially with Christmas on its way. Good God, there must have been at least one young people's Christmas activity or event they could have invited him to!!!

But we heard nothing.

So that's twice in total over the past 12 months that I've been to see the pastor to ask him to help Ben, because - back then - Ben was crying out to be included in the church. And twice that the pastor - and the church - has failed him.

And, yet, I suspect they continued with their cosy Christmastide build-up - the cosy cliquey family that talks so much about "reaching out to the community" and the "needy", and doubtless does in the missionary money they send abroad, but when someone right on their doorstep reaches out - just about as obviously as you can reach out to someone - they do nothing.

And continue to do nothing.

In November I asked on this blog if I still felt angry with the church.

I didn't back then. Well, not really.

But I do now.

Especially as it was one of the only social outlets which Ben has actively sought out over the past couple of years. And persevered with.

Now he lonelier and more solitary than ever - and without the spiritual "hope" he had for so many, many months.

I remember the day he gave up trying. It was as if someone had switched the lights out and there was darkness. And it's probably not a coincidence that Ben's mood took a nose-dive afterwards and still hasn't recovered. Viz last weekend as a prime example.

This boy had hope. But in early 2012 he lost that hope - and I believe it has been one of the contributing factors to a slowing of his recovery this year.

I think this is one of the reasons why I've felt so numb this Christmas. I am angry with the church and with religion. Yet Christmas is all about religion. At least it is to me. Otherwise there is little point in it. I certainly don't celebrate the festive season to keep the supermarkets and department stores in profit. And I don't much see the point of celebrating mid-winter like the pagans do. Mid-summer, yes, but not the deep dark dank cold rainy mid-winter. But Christianity... well... it really is what Christmas is all about.

But when that very religion has let you down so disgracefully and you and your child are hurting as a result... well, sorry, but I'm not entirely sure why I'm supposed to be celebrating?

Here's a link to my post from March which explains what happened in more detail.


  1. Please do know, though, that that is only one church. I am an ED-sufferer who desperately needed to know that I was loved unconditionally and worth recovery, and the place where I found that was in a local church, through some incredible people who truly represented what God's love is really about to me. The two most instrumental people in my recovery are on the leadership team, and they have been incredible about including me in things and reaching out to me and putting safe-guards in place to make sure I can do things with them. I am so, so very sorry for all of the hurt and pain that the church in your community has caused you and your son. Please know that is not at all the way it should be. Someone there should be reaching out to your son. They should be loving him. Churches are called by Jesus to feed the hungry, and they should be realizing that your son's hunger, both the physical symptom of his eating disorder and the spiritual hunger of his desire to seek out the church, mean that they should be seeking to encourage him and provide him with love and support. I say this not at all to discredit anything you have said, but to let you know that there ARE churches out there that do understand, whose leadership do get it. The leaders at my church were among the very first people to tell me that anorexia was NOT a sin, that it was an illness and NOT my fault, that God was not angry at me for having an eating disorder or keeping a tally of all my ED-behaviors. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry that your local church did not embrace your son this way. I wish I could uproot my church and plant it down near wherever you are so that he could be enveloped in the compassion and care of a congregation... Please know that Christianity is not at all about the things that your local church have represented to you. Religion is a very hard thing ground in law and requirements. True Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus Christ... and I believe that's a difference that is quite evident in the way people handle things like this. You and your son deserve love and support, and I hope that you are able to find it. You are both in my thoughts and prayers, as I know from experience how heartbreaking and difficult eating disorders are, and how hard the recovery process really is.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to respond so thoughtfully. I read through your reply quite a few times. Really interesting. Thanks again. Batty xx