I’ve been wrestling with something that I wish I would have done better a few years ago. I was in a season where I was trying to find a church after suffering through racial trauma and spiritual abuse in a white evangelical church. The problem is that I was searching for a new church without taking time to receive spiritual healing and restoration. I share this because I want to encourage you not to make the same mistake that I did. 

My #LeaveLOUD story involves leaving one church and searching for another church almost immediately. We visited churches that may have been a little more forward-thinking in terms of race, but they were just as harmful as the other churches that we left. I learned that when leaving one toxic church, it is important to avoid going back into white or multiethnic churches that will do nothing except cause further trauma.

This has caused me to wrestle with how we put pressure on ourselves to become tied to a new church immediately after leaving a toxic church. I think that this happens because we feel ashamed of lingering in the wilderness. Shame pressures us into joining another toxic church when we should be taking adequate time to rest, heal, and restore.

I experienced this in my own journey. I felt ashamed that I wasn’t part of a church. I felt pressure to be in church every week–or to at least be seeking a church out. When I didn’t have a church, I felt like I was less of a Christian. I now realize that the shame I felt was because of the indoctrination that I experienced in white evangelical churches. I’m still in the process of getting loose of that toxic mentality. I now realize that wholeness means aggressively prioritizing healing and rest. 

Where am I now? I’m fully committed to leaning on communities that I found early in my #LeaveLOUD journey. I created an all-Black women’s group in my neighborhood. I’ve sought out justice-minded Black women in my area who have been through similar experiences with church trauma, and we have found solace in one another. A dear friend of mine started a Black women’s group chat where we can discuss all of the things and do so away from the white gaze. I have also returned to elements of Black worship in my spiritual practice. I have sought online ministries and platforms heavily invested in the restoration, flourishing, and wholeness of Black people. 

I hope that as you leave toxic churches, you will take time to reflect, rest, and lean into restoration. I hope that you will take comfort in God, our Great Restorer. 

 “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.” Jeremiah 30:17.