It didn’t used to be. Church used to be a second home. I used to walk through church bare feet, interact with most the people, be on numerous rotas. I even spent a year on a gap year where most of my hours were spent inside a church or doing something church related.

Then I got ill.

I developed a chronic condition that caused a lot of pain and fatigue and could no longer go to church. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to – I was just too unwell. I couldn’t work, couldn’t meet people and most of the time I couldn’t leave the house. A lot of people tried hard. All sorts of people lent me DVDs, brought me flowers, sent cards. But after you’ve been ill for a year most people start to give up. It’s not their fault, they just don’t know how to help anymore.

After about two years of being unwell I was able to venture out into the big, wide world. I was volunteering a bit, sometimes seeing friends. But church was still something I felt I was too unwell to do.

After five years of being unwell I still feel the same. I now have a part-time job and see my friends when I feel able. I am generally healthier than I was five years ago and this is great. Except, going to church still seems like a huge event. An event that makes me feel very unwell afterwards. An event that scares me so much beforehand I am usually far too unwell to go when it gets to the start.

Am I totally sure why it is such a big thing in my mind? No.

But I do know this.

It took me years to realise I could definitely still be a Christian and not go to church. I used to think not going was the end of my life with Jesus. That he would just write me off if I didn’t sing to him in a group. Luckily for me Jesus isn’t like that. He understands my reason for not being able to go to church. He knows exactly what is in my heart and knows that he lives there whether or not I attend a building.

Am I saying it’s easy to have a relationship with Jesus and not go to church? No. In an ideal world I wouldn’t advocate it as the best way to develop your belief and relationship with Jesus.

But I do know that if you don’t go to church for whatever reason you can still be a follower of Jesus, he still accepts you and totally understands your reason for not going to church.

Written by Anne Bragg // Follow Anne on  Twitter

Anne lives in Surrey with her lizards. She works with people with learning disabilities and writes an Agony Aunt column. She's passionate about seeing people reach their potential and is working on making the world a more inclusive place. She enjoys reading, Doctor Who and eating gluten free vegan cupcakes.

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