Belief #3: Fellowship isn't fellowship if you don't want to be there.
Ok, people. Let's get real here. You like some people, and other people are...a challenge. You click with some people, and other people are a dud. Why, oh why, do we fight reality? The human condition is fascinating. I agree with Ekhart Tolle. There's nothing quite so insane as disagreeing with reality.
In the church subculture, there is this idea floating around which caused me a great amount of undue pain over the years: the AGAPE LOVE COMMUNITY. It is this idea that in the early church, and I'm talking year 0001 and 0002, people loved each other so dang much that no one was excluded or left out. It comes from this passage in Acts, if you care: 2:42-47.
From this idyllic community, we have steadily declined into the absolute hot mess of today. So, the church institution tries to fix this problem with forced FELLOWSHIP. That's where you are brainwashed into thinking you need to constantly get together with people you have no interest in and force yourself to love them unconditionally.
The result is a group of people being entirely deceptive all the time with each other.
Don't get me wrong, it is possible to be madly in love with humankind all together and naively think each person you meet is an object of your fondness for the whole. And then get your heart stomped on, diced up and served for lunch to those people who are there out of obligation and don't give a rat's ass. How do I know? Ya, that was me.
I came in thinking "I've arrived, this new church will be the place where agape love happens, and I am accepted and appreciated and loved and hugged and it'll be great, great, great!" And then, the first small group they stick me in, I'd pour out my heart. Problem being, the people who are there out of compulsion are on the defensive and my effusiveness and honesty came across as a bit daunting. So they were rather cold. Eventually, I'd move on to another group, or another church, and rinse and repeat. I was sure that somewhere this agape community existed. I didn't find it. Are you surprised? I didn't think so.
Well, I don't know if it does. But I did find something close. You see, when I left the church, and got a little pissed off about it all, my true identity started to shine. I changed my name to my initials, got two tattoos and a nose piercing, sped everywhere and cussed a lot. People started to hear the real me talking, and not beating around the bush. I became a tangible human being. Amy the super-christian yoga rock star became AJ the super-cussing say-it-like-it-is reality enthusiast.
Funny thing is, I couldn't make a close friend to save my life in the institutional church. Suddenly, outside of it, I had close friends coming out of the woodwork. There were frickin' cool people everywhere I'd never noticed before. And they crave hanging out with me! This is a totally new phenomenon. I decided to name it fellowship.