There's a joke about Christians--not really funny and all too true. Christianity is the only culture that slays their wounded.
I am still amazed that hurts from childhood still hurt and even though you forgive, you just have to keep forgiving.
I am not a joiner. Never had a great experience in organizations and as it turns out I am really an introvert at heart, so there you go... Why join?
In elementary school we were sent to Pioneer Girls. Like Girl Scouts, but church-based. Of course you needed a ride and mom didn't drive or have a car, so again we were forced to beg a ride. I despised begging rides.
There were badges you should earn and crafts that were undertaken every so often. The best part of going to Pioneer Girls was that the friends I held dearest were my church friends. HS, PF, and MLF. Especially MLF. She was a wild child--red-haired and simply exuberant.
One week we cast plaster of Paris molds and painted them in preparation to assemble them into bracelets. For whatever reason--too much time and too many thoughts--I decided that week to work on badges. I really worked on badges. I did crafts non-stop and took them along the next week for pre-badge approval. Again, for whatever reason the leader rejected one of my offerings. Then suggested maybe I had started a bracelet the week before. I had!
She called me a liar. Goofing around during the casting process, my friends and I were putting boyfriends' initials in the wet cement instead of our own. When I pointed out my bracelet it had a "ST" on it. She said it wasn't mine and why did I try to claim ST's bracelet. Lying is a sin. I was too embarrassed to say why the ST, so I got no badge. Shortly thereafter I quit Pioneer Girls. Like so many things, mom just didn't have the energy to insist.
Then, in high school we had a vibrant, social-climbing YFC leader. He was visionary. He had energy and ideas. I babysat his kids; I rallied friends; I organized events; I showed up for everything. But, he was more interested in the connected kids. The student leaders. The rich kids who held sway with other rich and popular kids. Learning the hard way about worker bees and belonging and being good enough. I didn't quit going, and he was soon gone. Replaced by one who led-by-example and appreciated all comers.
I grew to distrust religious organizations while at the same time supporting some. I just didn't join. Then I worked for a Christian not-for-profit and suffered some of the worst hurts of my life. I was not alone. The bodies were everywhere and stacked deeply. It was all for a good cause--collateral damage.
You stuff the pain; you deny or dull the realities. But they bubble up from others and from you. You leak sewage. You get leaked on. I tried to be self-aware and to be ironic but never bitter. You had to keep a clear perspective. It was sometimes shocking how hateful and evil we humans could be and still be doing "God's work."
I used to say, "You can't stuff that much pain and anger without leaking toxic waste." There were many leakers. I should have worn a bio-hazard suit.
Still, I learned how to put the pain in perspective: expectations - reality = the size of your pain. And, that anger is usually the manifestation of disappointment. I learned about the tunnel of chaos and I learned about polarity.
I don't regret the 7 years of not-for-profit experience. I consider it my advanced degree. And, I survived. I thrive. I celebrate! It's just as Kenny Rogers said, "You have to know when to hold and you have to know when to fold..."