Why people leave the church…

I really think when people talk about being disappointed with or angry at the church, or people in the church, this is largely what is going on.  Many people have walked away from community simply because they expect of people what is only possible of God and would rather not do the hard work of repeated forgiveness.

“Our heart longs for satisfaction, for total communion.  But human beings, whether it’s your husband, your wife, your father, mother, brother, sister, or child, are all limited in giving the level of love and acceptance we all crave.  But since we want so much and we get only part of what we want, we have to keep on forgiving people for not giving us all we want.  So, I forgive you since you can only love me in a limited way.  I forgive my mother that she is not everything I would like her to be.  I forgive my father because he did the best he could.  This is of enormous importance right now because constantly people look to blame their parents, their friends, and the church for not giving them what they need.  Many people are so angry.  They cannot forgive people for offering only limited expression of an unlimited love.  God’s love is unlimited; our love is not.  Any relationship you enter into-in communion, friendship, marriage, community, or church-will always be riddled with frustration and disappointment.  So forgiveness becomes the word for divine love in the human context.”

Henri Nouwen (Spiritual Direction)


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