I didn’t know where to categorize my response, but I do need some feedback about the choice I’m making. So I have grown up in the same church my whole life, but to be honest, I’ve never been truly happy there. Maybe it’s because I was bullied by someone in my church for 6 years (also went to the same school) who claimed to be Christian, and I was continuously left out (by her and her clique). When some of the church counselors discovered that I got bullied, they made a very big deal out of it, and the bullying/false rumors towards me got worse.
I guess when I think back on it, I’ve always wanted to leave the church since middle school, but I constantly gave myself excuses to stay. (for example, what about Bible Drill? Or what about the people who are nice to you?). I was scared of leaving, mainly because I didn’t know what would happen if I stepped out of my comfort zone, but at the same time the toxic environment quickly wore me down. I suffered from depression and anxiety most of my middle-high school years and the once happy and extroverted girl was torn down to a self-conscious, scared, girl. Of course, I never showed it on the outside, because I feared that if I showed any weakness in front of my bully, it meant that she won and that I was broken. I tried to bottle all of these feelings and stuffed it somewhere where I thought it would never appear again.
However, recently because of all the stress from college apps and online school, I don’t know how, but those feelings I’d bottled up and hidden suddenly re-emerged. I discussed it with an old friend who was also in the same situation as I was before, and she told me that although there were people in the church whom she loved, she left the church because she had to do it for herself. (she joined a different church and is much happier now. If I leave, I’m planning on joining her new church). So, I questioned myself again: Would I thrive in this environment where I always have to put up a mask? Where I have to constantly stand next to my bully who never apologized? Where I’m labeled and judged for simply doing anything? And the answer to that is, no.
(A little bit of background info and my thoughts): One time my friend invited me to her youth group’s retreat, and I was shocked at how loving everyone was. I was completely new and didn’t know anyone, but they invited me in with so much love and kindness, and they seemed genuinely interested in me. I remember one time in middle school, a new person came to our church’s youth group, and they just stood on the side the whole time. No one went up to them or even acknowledged them, and this was what I was used to. I was so accustomed to no love, that it shocked me when I went to that retreat. I can confidently say that I was happier in that one week trip with another church than one year with my church.
Although I’m still scared, I feel like I need to leave for myself, and my growth with God. What do you guys think? Any feedback?