Some advice or feedback would be nice

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?

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Rebecca,
The thing you have to remember is what you find in scripture. Christ is love, not bullying. In scripture; Christ is coming to the end of His worldly ministry and He asks his Apostles if they will leave too (John 6:66-69) and Peter responds; “To what person could we go? Your words give eternal life…” The point is your bullying church is NOT of Christ. Look to His word FIRST and find a church, a group of like minded Christians that reflect Christ’s love. It sounds like your new group may well be it. If your old church is not loving then it is not Christian. Grace and peace,
Bob Parker

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@rebecca1234
Rebecca,

I am so sorry this has happened to you, and that you even have to deal with feeling the way you do. This situation sounds very unhealthy. Unfortunately, when there is something at church that distracts you so very much from focusing on, and listening to the Word, then the situation is not one in which you should stay. When we attend a worship service, we are there to focus on God, and to give Him our best. That means our best attitude and our best mindset. We are not to be worrying about others. HOWEVER, corporate worship is meant to be a place where brothers and sisters in Christ come together to worship their God in fellowship and love.

It seems that this person has not properly understood, or been taught to treat her fellow brethren with the love of Christ. And if you have reported this situation to leadership in your church, and nothing has been done, then I would say that your church has mishandled a situation that clearly needs to be addressed. However, do remember that no person can change another’s heart. So even if they have a discussion with the individual, or take action against her, she may not change her ways.

The one thing I do want to share is that, there are many people who have been in similar situations where supposed Christian contemporaries treat their brothers and sisters in Christ, with a less than loving intent. So take heart that you are not alone in your plight. :heart:

I do believe that if you have a good Church alternative, then you should go there. But you would be wise to meet with your church leadership and let them know that you intend to leave, and give them the specific reasons. These issues should be dealt with, because there are probably others who are in your same situation, possibly at the hands of the very same individual.

My husband was a youth pastor for a number of years and he was very sad to hear your situation. His advice was to make your situation known, but to go where you can focus on spiritual growth and where you can love and be loved in the proper manner. If this person makes Church a place where you cannot worship effectively, and talking to this person, or getting help from leadership does not help, then perhaps it is best for you to go elsewhere. Loving fellowship is vital, especially in the church where we are meant to find safety and camaraderie in our Christian family.

I pray that you will find strength and courage to make your decision and that you will follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pray for that guidance, and pray for wisdom. But do not be afraid to go where God is leading you. If that means He is pulling you out of a place where you cannot grow, perhaps He has a better plan for you elsewhere.
Grace and Peace to you,
Michaela

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@rebecca1234
Hi Rebecca,
Thank you for sharing as it takes courage to share and ask for help.

From reading your message, the first thing that came to me is the scripture 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV- “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Rebecca, God gives us, gives you power, love and a sound mind.

God is a loving God, but is also a just God. He does not tolerate injustice of any sort. I don’t believe that it is God’s will for you to continue to stay in an environment that is toxic and unhealthy for you and especially when this issue was brought up to the leadership and it hasn’t stopped.

It is only in Christ Jesus that we have freedom and where there is fear, there is bondage. It is absolutely not ok for you to be in an environment or around people that would hinder you to move forward and/or to be free in being yourself. For you are His beloved, He would not want you to be in bondage.

You do have a choice and it isn’t an obligation for you to stay. You are loved and accepted by God and you don’t need to be in a church to have a relationship with God. We go to church and be a part of the community and to serve as God directs, but not an obligation.

I will pray for God to give you strength and courage to make the decision that’s right for you and to stand firm on the decision you make. :blue_heart:

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There have been people/church counselors who are loving, but the bad experiences and the hurt covers up others’ good intentions. I feel really bad about it, because I know people who are genuine, but I can’t help but only look at the negative side.

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In middle school, my mom mentioned it to the counselors, and they talked to the girl and her mom. I wouldn’t say anything since then really changed, because at church in front of the counselors, she would act very nice to me, but when they turned around, she would be talking trash about me behind my back. Because we went to the same after-school and had mutual friends, she only spread even more rumors. Since then, I’ve told my mom to not say anything, because no matter how many people we talk to, they can’t change someone that refuses to change. Needless to say, it only got worse after she was confronted by the church counselors

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thank you for the reassurance and prayers :slight_smile:

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thank you for the advice :slight_smile:

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@rebecca1234
I would definitely say that your best move is to step out of the situation then. But, I would make it known to your pastor, elders, etc why you are taking that step. I believe that they need to know. Because having something like your on-going situation be kept in the dark, creates an unhealthy environment in which to preach love, forgiveness, hope, and peace. So even after you leave, they can try to be more mindful of a future situation.

For this person to have become worse after being spoken to by her elders, it is obvious she does not respect or love the commandments given to her by God, let alone the advice of people she should be respecting. You are better off distancing yourself.

I do hope that you feel a sense of what you should do in this situation from all the other great advice and uplifting words. Do not have a spirit of fear, be brave and courageous! And let us know how this all works out! We are praying for you. :heart:

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Rebecca, I understand exactly what you are going through. I was a bullying victim in public elementary school in the 1970s who really struggled academically because of the toxic situation. The school administration would not take effective action even though my parents and I tried to tell them about it. The bullying only stopped after I fought back. (That is a darkly funny story in itself.) My academic struggles continued, though, and I think that the bullying had some long-term effects even after it stopped.

You have one advantage over my situation: you can leave. I was in a public school and so could not leave the situation unless my family moved. I agree, therefore, that you should go to the other place where you feel that you can develop good relationships. There is no sense drowning in an unhealthy church. I agree with @TruthInOurTime that you should clearly communicate with your current church leadership why you are leaving. I see no moral or ethical problem with writing a letter to them if you do not feel comfortable doing this in person. Sometimes putting things like this in writing can be more effective than speaking in person because then nobody can say that you did not say anything about it. You can also keep a copy of the letter for yourself.

I have put you on my prayer list. Please let us know how things go.

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You’re welcome.

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thank you so much!

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