Burned Out {Lifestyle}

I became a Christian when I was 14 at a Christian camp in New Hampshire.  I meant it at the time, but when I went to a conservative college years later, I felt the fear of the fire and brimstone messages I was hearing during Bible Conference my freshman year that I rededicated my life to Jesus.  I felt that I didn’t live a life towards Him, though I was never one to rebel, or anything like that. (Though if you ask my mom, she would say that opposite, but that wasn’t in my nature.)   Now, I am not a fan of using fear to bring people to Jesus, but that’s a topic for another time.

Though my college was super conservative and legalistic, it was right for me at the time.  My church in my teens didn’t teach me much as far as what the Bible says (it was more for socialization in my book), so it was a good time for me to learn what the Bible says and to make more Christian friends.

After college, I got a job as a church secretary at a church in VA.  I was so excited to be moving out and on my own!  However, I quickly learned that I couldn’t keep up and I wasn’t getting paid enough.  One year, they really needed teachers in the preschool department (they had a full school with the church) and moved me there without asking.  I was being paid even less!  I was making $500 a month!  I was told this was a ministry and, if I loved God, I wouldn’t complain and work with my heart.

I also found out that they paid the men who worked for the school and church were paid double what the women made (even if they were single without families) because men were the head of the household and were in charge of bringing home the bacon, not women.  I actually had to borrow quite a bit of money from my parents when I got another job in MD and needed to move.  I didn’t have any money to move.  (This is why I didn’t find another job sooner!)

My job in MD started out almost the same way.  I started out as the school secretary, but it was quickly learned that my gift wasn’t in that.  I got a job as a preschool teacher, and I finally found my calling!  I loved it!  My pay at this job was 4 times what I was making at my last job!  I was so shocked that I could finally have money to live (though I did have to take another two jobs to make money to have a lifestyle too.  Again—ministry.).  For the first five years, I loved teaching and put my heart and soul into it all.

However, around this time, I realized that the two in charge of the school didn’t have my back.  I started to get panic attacks every time I saw them because I wasn’t sure if they were going to reprehend me for something that I didn’t know I did, or didn’t do.  Getting called to one of their offices was even worse.  I would rack my brain for something and coming up empty.  It was said by one of them during prayer time before school began that she didn’t have patience in the teachers.  She wanted perfection and righteousness and could not settle for anything less.  (Never mind she was never around when we needed her.)  Oh boy!  I was always on edge.

At the same time, I was realizing that I wasn’t learning anything at church.  I was forced to go to the school’s church as I was a teacher.  I attended attending Bible study from another church just to learn something.  I couldn’t tell anyone I did that for fear that I would get in trouble!  Also, I was put on the singing roster for the church without asking.  I have acute social and mental anxiety (undiagnosed at the time) and hate to be in front of everyone and being the center of attention.  In fact, one time, after I had sung a song I was forced to sing, I had a panic attack so bad that I made the cartilage in my ribs to swell, making me think that I was having a heart attack.  Luckily I wasn’t and the doctor, once she told me I wasn’t, I diagnosed with anxiety and was given a prescription for Xanax.

Afterwards, I asked repeatedly to be removed from the singing roster, but was refused as “I needed to use my gift”.  I was also told that if I prayed enough, God will take away my anxiety (and I guess my faith wasn’t strong enough).  I just couldn’t sing I front of them anymore as I couldn’t handle the panic attacks.  I couldn’t handle seeing them look at me (especially the few who were judging me).  I started missing church on the days that I was scheduled to sing and watching another church online (since I wasn’t learning anything from the preaching at my church anyway! I mean, two YEARS on Revelation??).

In 2012, I met my soon-to-be husband.  We were contemplating whether we would stay in MD or move to PA.  Since it was the end of the year, it was time to get my contract for the next year and have the end-of-the-year talk with one of the two who were in charge of the school.  The past year had been amazing with my students getting top grades in the state tests and all of them loving school and learning much.  But, when I met with the high school administrator (I am unsure why, maybe because I was forced to teach the high school art class the past two years.  Or maybe it was because the elementary admin didn’t come in again).  I was super confident that I would be getting a good end-of-the-year report and my contract.  However, I was blindsided when I got there as there was one report after another of all the bad things I had done the past year.  The worst part?  None of them were true.  None.  He claimed that he just knew about them when I asked where that information came from.  When I kept asking, he said that everyone down in the preschool department told him about them.  I was speechless.  How could they?  When I said that they were not true, he would not believe me, no matter what I said and how I couldn’t hold my tears back.  (Later, I went to the people I worked with and they all said that they never went to him and said any of that.

Turns out, it was the other preschool teacher, who had done those things, went and told him that I had done them.  Why?  No clue; maybe to ensure she wouldn’t get in trouble.  I never confronted her on it as I didn’t see the point at the time.)  My fiancé went and spoke to the pastor about what had happened (the pastor had no clue that was going to happen and he seriously thought I was getting a contract since he personally signed it), but didn’t want to go talk to the administrator about it.  (However, he went and got the contract for me and said I had a job there next year.)  This, combined with how he handled a bully case I had with another teacher another time, caused us to make the final decision that we were going to move to PA.

After we quickly moved to PA 15 days before our wedding (we were getting married in PA anyway), we started attending a church there.  It was a church full of wealthy members with old money.  They were used to just throwing money at things without asking God if it was the right thing.  My husband started working there and realized that the church was full of corruption with who worked there and the pastor did nothing about it.  My husband put up with it for a couple of years before he had enough and quit.  We stopped going because we could not attend a church that had that much corruption in the inside.  (In fact, the church hired a professional to diagnose the problems of the church—he has done this with thousands of churches in the past—and he said this church was the worst he has ever seen!)

We started to attend the church of my husband’s good friend after we attended the marriage class he taught.  The people in the class were very nice, and my husband’s friend attended the church, so it must be a good church!  However, after a few months, my husband revealed to me that he had an uneasiness about the church.  After a recommendation from another friend, he went and spoke to the pastor.  Turns out, he truly believes that people can lose their salvation and that we could all strive and become perfect without any sin, like God!  We immediately stopped attending because we were not going to allow our daughter to attend a church that taught that.

We were burnt out.

Soon after we stopped attending there, we had our daughter, Lemon.  We didn’t start looking for a new church for a while after that.  We were burned out.  Was it even possible to find a good, healthy church?  We asked around but we were coming up empty.  We did attend a couple, but it seemed that they were more interested in having a rock concert than having a worship service.  We also needed a room for Lemon and us as she is a very clingy baby (and child) and would NOT go in the nursery.  (She’s currently getting better at being out of our sight while playing, but it’s only when she’s completely comfortable.)  I know that people roll their eyes at this and say that we just need to drop her off and leave, and that she will get over it, but I cannot do that.  I know that she would not stop crying and that she will literally get sick.  Plus, now, with her illness, we cannot have her get sick with whatever illness the kids in the nursery.  Not until we know more about her illness, you know?

Anyway, many churches don’t allow kids in their service (and I don’t want those looks of annoyance if she makes a peep) and many churches don’t have a family room.  Also, a lot are either too conservative for me (I personally have had enough with KJV-only churches), or too modern for me.  In fact, my husband’s Christian therapist says there isn’t any good churches around here.

And, you know what?  We are still burned out from all the church abuse we have had.  We talk to each other daily about the Bible, read our Bibles daily, pray constantly, I read online sermons,  meet with godly people, read Lemon the Bible nightly, and talk to her about God every chance we can get.  We feel that God is fine with what we are doing right now, and we keep praying for guidance to the right church for us.  We aren’t looking for the perfect church; we are looking for the perfect church for us.

I didn’t write this for any judgment.  I wrote it for encouragement for those that are in a similar situation.  This is the lot that God cast us.  If you understand what we went through or have words of encouragement, please write them down below!  I’d love to hear them!

(*All of what I said was true without anything embellished.  When I say forced, I mean forced.  I was never asked whether I wanted to or not, or asked my opinion on it.  It was just something I had to do.)

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