What Happened at the Altar Stays at the Altar

What Happened at the Altar Stays at the Altar

Today I was sitting in church reflecting on my life and my emotional walls. I counted them, evaluating all the reasons why they were built. My mother, the rapes, the broken promises, the lies and all the times I was betrayed. The little girl I once was, the little girl I used to be………I felt a tear escape my eye and I brushed it away never wanting to show any signs of weakness. I am good at building walls but have no idea how to tear them down.

Over the years, I’ve meticulously placed each brick, forever locking out the world, never trusting a soul, never letting anyone get too close; never letting the secrets of the past get out for fear of losing the love and respect of others. I’m a prisoner of my pain, my soul resting on a bed of nails.

That’s how it’s been my whole life but there’s a lot of brokenness in my walls now, all of them once pillars of strength, now cracking and slowing breaking under the stress of the haunting memories, the torment and the bleeding wounds that have never healed. They’re slowly crumbling from the weight of my heavy heart and a tangled spirit that doesn’t still.

Pastor Rusty has an altar call every Sunday at the end of service but I never answer for prayer because my scars just don’t give credence to others, leaving me to deal with my own personal thoughts and struggles.

There’s a sense of control and power in that but it’s extremely exhausting because the protection of all these walls by far exceeds my level of joy in life.

As a child my level of happiness was dictated by my circumstances , forcing me into a miserable existence that was totally out of my control but my life as an adult is governed by me and my need to live without all of the walls I’ve built has become greater than my want to keep everyone out.

I was reminded of that today during altar call so I climbed over my walls and like a soldier, in the front line of fire, without any armor, I made my way up to the war zone. “I’ve never been a coward” (total lie); I told myself as I made my way down the aisle and sat facing the congregation. Having never gone to the altar before, I looked them all straight in the face, my pain dislodging, fighting to spew about.

I couldn’t see for the tears built up in my eyes but I felt someone sit down beside me; she was a teenager or a young adult not yet in her twenties. She asked, “Have you been saved?” I automatically reflected back to being cornered all those years ago and panic set in.  My eyes no longer able to hold back tears, failed me, as I searched for any amount of air in my lungs to breathe. I nodded my head at her as I lied to myself again, “You’ve never been a coward, Kerri”.

I was scanning the faces in the crowd, when she placed her hand on my back and asked, ‘What would you like to pray about?” I wasn’t sure how to answer having never said the words out loud.

Struggling to breathe, I pieced out the words, “I grew up in a house where I was raped over a period of thirteen years and I’m struggling with demons because of it”.

She waved her right hand, firmly, to the left in front of us, as if to push what I said aside and with a tone that screamed ‘That’s no big deal’ she said, “Oh, well……I’ve been through that”. Her words, kicked me in the face, smashing harshly against my soul. I was stunned as I turned to find a pursed lipped smile upon her face. Satan was sitting right next to me. Satan was working the altar.

I didn’t hear anything she said after that. She prayed about something but I was focused on the seething anger flowing through my veins. My walls were because of people like her and situation like this but sitting there, I knew one thing for sure; not this girl or anyone else was going to stop me from tearing them down, from improving myself, from finding my happiness.

It hit me then that God did not bring me this far to let me fail.

I stood up and faced the congregation, turning my back to her never speaking a word, and with a smile on my face, I walked up the aisle and out the front door of the church, her words leaving me with the wind.  (Matthew 10:14)

I don’t believe that Jesus told us to follow him just to have us on his team. I believe he told us to follow him asking us to leave our current lives behind, traveling through life with him to make a difference, not just for ourselves but for others. (Mark 2:13-17)

I no longer have faith in organized religion, however I will continue to call on God.

© Kerri Bishop Reece | Kerri Chronicles


14 thoughts on “What Happened at the Altar Stays at the Altar

  1. Goodness Kerri, are you my twin sister? I believe you are, we have travelled the same road and we appear to have the same mindset. I am the ungracious twin though, you, Kerri, are full of Grace.

    1. You are very sweet, Amanda but I disagree. Take a good hard look in the mirror, Sister, the sweetness and pureness of your heart will be staring back at you. I don’t need to know you in person to know that, it shows in every word you type.

      1. Uh uh Kerri, I am not doing mirrors at the moment, I really don’t like what I see in more ways than one! (partly because I need to lose a ton of weight but mostly because I have yet to obey the commandment of loving myself!) But the journey is not over and I am thankful to have you as my travelling companion. The blog I wrote today for this Thursday states my need of a person to hold my hand, someone who has been where I have been. Am thanking God for you.

  2. You wrote this in 2007 and yet, I find the same problem exists in our churches. It seems sexual abuse as an area of ministry is pretty much ignored despite the statistics showing that our pews are full of the walking wounded. I have even been told “Some things should not be spoken of publicly.” WHAT?!?!

    I thank God that the church I was attending when I first began facing memories was truly the Body of Christ. I think God just knew I wasn’t strong enough at that time (13 years ago) to deal with hypocrites. They loved me despite not understanding what I was going through. They listened and prayed appropriately despite not knowing what to do with what I was talking about. Most of all, they loved me. I am forever grateful to those people.

    Now, I am in a church that tolerates me and lets me do a recovery group but doesn’t really want to know. They were happy to let me do the work but when I’d ask to share with them what we were doing and how things were going, they’d smile, nod and disappear. When I hit a crisis, most were absent and one even told me I was holding back and hindering God from healing me because I was struggling with PTSD from emerging memories. Out of about 10 people (leaders of the church) who knew what I was struggling with, only 2 showed compassion when I asked them for help. The rest did not respond at all. Talk about a mix of messages!

    I think churches today are more about being the next big thing than about the simple acts of the gospel – love, sacrifice and people – regardless of their scars. It seems that ignorance or over-spiritualization are the prevailing attitudes. One extreme or the other. 🙁

    So back I go, week after week. Because there are people who need my voice to support them and because there are those who need me to be a reminder that Jesus was about love – especially toward those the hypocrites were uncomfortable around.

    I agree with you – I am needed here. But it’s exhausting and I admit, I get tired of being the strong one sometimes. I long for the original church God led me to here but it doesn’t exist anymore. The enemy got in, the pastors were sent away (wrongly so) and people got scattered. 🙁 Sometimes I want to confront and condemn but I know that is not the way to overcome. In the meantime, I lean on those I know truly live the gospel and I have a small group of support who I know love me and pray for me. I’m one drop in the ocean – but one drop is enough when God multiplies.

    You are an inspiration of strength. God bless!

    1. I agree that it’s exhausting as I too get tired of being the strong one all the time. Being leaned on so much often times blinds others when I am struggling but then I am reminded of how much Jesus struggled and suffered for me and I pick myself back up and move on.

      In all I’ve been through, there is one important thing that I’ve learned and it’s that I do not have to go to church to have a deep, intimate relationship with God. He was there for me through my hardest struggles and it wasn’t in the church, it was through all of those that he placed in my life, that showered me with the love and the words that I needed at the right times bringing me today.

      I am not committed to one church but work with many and all on different levels. I meet so many wonderful people, everyday, that are walking, talking, teaching and loving out of their own hearts, from their own experiences, because like you and I, they understand that that’s our commission here on earth.
      And like you, I surround myself with the body of Christ, the body of Christ being God fearing individuals, working for the same purpose, to spread the love of God, being there for each other in regards to what that bible says that is and not what the world says that is.

      Keep doing what you’re doing, my beautiful sister. You are on a mission and God will provide you with everything you need to complete it because that’s just how awesome He is!

  3. Thanks for finding my blog. I have had just a little time to “wander” around in your writing, but appreciate the style.
    I have been friend and counselor to so many women with your story, yet it still breaks my heart to hear another one. Still, I have seen the healing Jesus performs, and the road walked to self-worth as a child of Creator which they traveled. May you bless and be blessed in your walk.

    1. Thank you, Nopew and thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. God chased me for years and I’m so glad that I finally stopped running long enough to see him by my side.

  4. I agree with Mick’s comment above. You have the means to reconstruct your life because you have God you don’t need the girls at church. I’m not one to try and tell people how to live their lives or what to do but it’s obvious that you’re in pain and considering the abuses you endured in your early life it’s no wonder. I was in a similar place once and could not connect at the church house so I prayed directly to God every day many times a day for him to direct me to the path he wanted me to take and what I should do.
    He did.
    May God Bless You

    1. Thank you for your reply paywindow7. Today I honestly believe that we can talk with God from anywhere about anything and know that he hears us, guides and gives us our strength.

  5. Kerri.
    I did just write a long reply but deleted it instead of posting it!! I could learn to hate my new tablet. 🙂
    The short version is that, you already have the answers you need to live at peace with your past, you just have to give yourself the time to dismantle your wall, one brick at a time.
    I do remember finishing by saying that your writings lead me to believe that you pretty much have your s**it together. 😉

    1. You are great, Mick! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. Thank you for the advice and the compliment and big thank you for putting a smile on my face! I am a work in progress.

Why hello, friend! Thanks for sharing your comments. Should you have a question, please feel free to ask it here and I'll do my best to reply promptly. Thanks for stopping by! xo Kerri