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Time, Honesty, and Grit
If you’ve been following my Goodbye Church mini-series, you might find yourself:
- cheering me on as a fellow recovering christian
- feeling solidarity for not being alone in this journey
- angry that I would talk about the evangelical church and its leaders in such a way
- heartbroken that I’ve left the one and true way
- maybe even praying for my soul
I want to be honest.
I’m in full-on deconstruction mode… which, as a friend of mine said, is hard work, angry work, grief laden work.
And when you’re in deconstruction mode, you want to throw everything away. Everything.
You’re angry… you’re wounded… you’re trying to figure out what is actually true compared to what you’ve been told is true.
You’re trying to reconcile who you are with your faith.
You’re questioning the entire framework you were given for life.
And if it makes you angry or has hurt you deeply, of course you want to throw the whole thing away.
That makes total sense.
And here is where I want to clarify things.
I am angry. So very angry so much of the time.
And it’s because I’ve been wounded and let down countless times by my experience of the church.
But this is specifically about the evangelical church and the churches I’ve personally been a part of.
I have to be careful because while the evangelical church is a complete sell-out, that doesn’t mean all Christian churches are. Some churches are doing really beautiful, inclusive, life-giving work, like the monthly queer worship I help organize.
But that’s about as much church as I can handle.
Does this mean all Christian churches are bad?
Does this mean all Christian leaders and pastors suck?
Does this mean Christianity as a whole is a total wash and worthy of total destruction?
While I might be tempted to say yes to those questions, I, at this point, can’t.
I know a handful of pastors who are incredible and are doing life-giving work that welcomes all, includes all, that pushes against the status quo, that marches for the right of all people who call America home, and preach a Jesus narrative that brings healing and hope to those who need it.
It’s these pastors, these theologians, these friends of mine who give me hope.
Who give me pause when I’m wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water.
But that’s their journey… and that’s not the journey I’m on.
I wish… I really, really wish I could expedite this whole deconstruction process so that I could offer you all a neat and tidy answer to Christianity’s problems and how I am moving forward from this point.
But I can’t.
I can’t rush or force deconstruction.
It’s an unraveling that requires time, honesty, and grit.
And it’s a process where you don’t always know where you’re going to end up.
Will I be part of the Christian Church someday?
Will I become a pastor after all?
Will I forever reject the organized institution of church but still cling to the Jesus narrative?
And my honest answer to all those questions is I. Don’t. Know.
I wish I did!
Oh my gosh, would this process be easier if I knew where I was going to end up.
But that’s not how this works.
So I have to trust the process… I have to trust myself… and I have to trust that God/Love/The Universe has my back.
And I have to surrender the idea to land in a certain spot. I can’t guarantee or control that.
I can only choose to keep taking the next right step… whether that step leads me inside a church or away from it.
So maybe someday, I’ll look back and see all these hurt and angry blog posts and see a child trying to make her way in this world. Or maybe I’ll look back and see all these blog posts as the work of a brilliant woman and seminarian who refuses to take answers at face value and instead digs deep and seeks to make sense of the options before her and chooses what works best for her. Or maybe it’s both.
But all this to say… I don’t have all the answers. I have very few answers, in fact.
All I know is this.
Love is real. Love is powerful. Love is the substance of all things.
And love has the power to change the world.
That is what I know to be true and that is what I am building on.
Will I consider myself a Christian someday?
I don’t know.
And I’m okay with that… I give myself permission to become whoever I become.
Just as you have permission to become whoever you’re becoming.
[Featured photo: Eric Ward]