On the drive home my wife said that while Jake sat in her lap during the service, she wanted to cover his ears. "I don't want him being told he is dirty and broken. The message there has changed."
"No, it hasn't," I replied. "We have."
We were still believers but had started to see the foundational perspective of Evangelicalism as toxic. Our ears became attuned to how many of our faith's beliefs sounded like something you would hear in an abusive relationship.
To clarify, I did not become an Atheist because of that experience or my decades in Evangelicalism. There are plenty of churches out there that do not promote unhealthy views of the self and spirituality.
I just don't believe in the supernatural.
However, if you are a believer and have been attending the same kind of church for decades, I would encourage you to visit a different church once every month or two. Get a perspective of what else is out there. Because, here is the thing: If you had pointed out to me the toxic phrases my belief system used when I was all in, I would have denied they were toxic. I would have told you that those messages were "good" for me and that you needed to hear them too. Fish do not know they are wet and folks in toxic churches don't think they are toxic.
There may be a church community out there that would bring you a peace and happiness you never imagined... but you have never gone outside your bubble.
Of course, I have never been happier since I started playing disc golf on Sunday mornings... but that's just me. 🙂