Home > a new spirituality > The time a priest slapped me…

The time a priest slapped me…

Seriously, a priest slapped me.   We were living down the street from a large Catholic church in Surrey where one of my favorite dance teams practice (big shout-out to Praise Team!)   I was dropping in to visit when I ended up randomly meeting the priest of the church.  He was an older man who honestly, didn’t seem like he had all his marbles.   He slapped me, quite hard, then said, “Now will you forgive me?”   I was still taken off guard, but I’m sure I was able to mumble something along the lines of forgiving him…. and then carried on my way as quick as possible.

 

That doesn’t happen every day, does it?  I wondered how someone who struggled with their faith would have handled this.   It was a very strange experience that got my brain thinking about all sorts of things would feel odd about “church” to those who don’t frequent there.

 

Like the time I didn’t realize my grandparents Anglican church uses REAL wine for communion and I spit it out right there at the altar in front of the minister.  Somebody warn me next time!…

 

Like the time my childhood certainty that Christ died on Calgary was smashed only to discover cow-town was NOT the place of His death…

 

Like the time I heard Psalm 23 and wondered why on earth someone would write about not wanting God to be his shepherd, only to find it meant, “not BE in want”…. Geesh.  Took a $300 Bible College course to reveal that to me.

 

Like the time I watched a good friend having an “off day” drumming be humiliated in front of the church by the worship leader disciplining him in public, only to have him leave mid-service…. and never come back.

 

Like the time I watched a woman speak against the pastor during a service, causing many others to stand in protest (Yes!  The service was still happening!!)   When the pastors wife stands up against the crowd, one of the protesters try to choke her….

 

Like the time I was called a “manipulator” and other things I don’t care to mention, then shoved out of the church.

 

Spiritual abuse – that’s what I call some of the latter items on the list.  My pastor said something I won’t forget in last Sunday’s message.  “Those who judge have an authority and control issue”.   Interesting.

 

Its taken me six  years to get over words than crushed my spirit into despair.  I believed what I was told and began to live as such.  If it was really true, why not live like it then?   In the name of God, cursing comes in disguise of blessing, which leaves nothing but confusion.

 

I struggled with “church” for two years, deciding I wasn’t going to step into one ever again.  How many other similar stories have I heard of those disillusioned with church and its people?

 

Five years ago, our family walked into the church we now call home.  We were skeptics, cautious and guarded.  What we received was far different than authority trying to pound us into submission.  We found a loving, supportive community of people who accepted us and had a great part in the healing of our souls.  This isn’t the case for everyone.  We consider ourselves fortunate to have found such a place.

 

I can say on the other side of church-skepticism there is simplicity of what it’s all about.  It’s not about getting people to mourn and weep for days over their weaknesses or forcing them into submission.  It’s not about controlling people or trying to create a band of followers to do whatever you say.  It’s not about dividing a church by judgments and sour attitudes.  It’s not about being hard on those struggling…

 

It’s about loving as Christ loved.  It’s about realizing our humanity and walking in grace, and continuing to walk together.  It’s about caring for the broken, the widow, the orphan.  It’s about really SEEING people and their need, not condemning them.  It’s being like Jesus to a world who has no idea what He looks like anymore.

 

And in times the church disappoints (because it will because its made up of humans), It’s about what the priest asked me after he slapped me; “Will you forgive me?”.

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