I have met people who had a bad experience growing up in a church. Typically a Fundamental, Legalistic, Judgmental, Hypocrytical, Narrow-minded church. I recently heard a statistic (didn't research it to see if it is infact true)that said basically "individuals who were raised in a legalistic denominational background were more likely to suffer from Anxiety Disorders."
Wow, honestly if that is true I can understand why. And here is my attempt to explain why I believe it to be true; when a person is taught "this is the way you are to live to get God's approval", and that "way" is don't do this, that, and definately not that or you are going to hell or God won't like you as much as this person who doesn't do "that"... and then you do all the things you don't want to do (sound like the apostle Paul), then you feel guilty ... the cycle begins.
The gap is between what you think you "should do or not do" and what you "are doing or not doing." And within that gap is where I believe Fear, Anxiety and Depression often live. I am no Psychologist, and I have never read anything on it, this is just what I have learned over the years with myself and those I have counseled.
Guilt and Shame are often too common in a Christian's life. Jesus came to set us FREE from that guilt and shame and until you believe, receive and live it out - you will be in dis-cord with yourself. Now this is not a license to live a sinful life and not feel bad about it!
All that to say; Jana and I just had lunch with Ted & Gayle Haggard. If you are unfamiliar with them, let me refresh your memory; Ted Haggard is the pastor from New Life Church in Colorado Springs who was all over the news 2 years ago for the scandal with the Gay Prostitute. Ted and his wife Gayle have also been on Oprah a couple times telling their story recently and HBO did a documentary on their journey to healing and restoration.
Jana and I had lot's of questions for them and their answers were full of grace, mercy and humility. It was nice to see them not suffering under the hand of bitterness, which could have very easily crept in to their journey and made it sour.
They are just 2 years past the ordeal, yet it is all still fresh in their minds and they continue their journey back from the grave. Jana and I both felt a genuine repentance in Ted, and a deep desire to continue to follow God. I told him that I feel his best days are ahead, like King David who sinned terribly, but did repent and turn to do great things. And of course Gayle, she was so sweet and a model of a women and wife. She was awesome. We pray that God will continue to work in and through them in the days and years ahead.
They mentioned they would love to be a part of a church like Mercy Church (they loved the name, of course!) if they only lived closer, because we are all about God's Grace, Mercy and showing the Love of God to the sinner (which is all of us).
Here is something I am passionate about and a great test to see if you are in a good church; if you are in a church that you must HIDE and LIVE A LIE for fear of judgment or being kicked out... you are in a BAD CHURCH... I would leave!
I spoke to a friend of mine this morning who works at a church and secretly struggles with homosexuality ... he can not tell anyone for fear he would lose his job. Ladies and gentleman, this is a a disgrace; the church should be a safe place for people to be real and authentic ... and get help for their struggles ... and if you can not do that at your church then find a new one!