give me the heart of an archeologist,
that I may dig until I prove that I exist.
a subterranean cathedral in my midst,
where echoes come to rest.
where echoes come to rest.
is this where echoes come to rest?
-Sleeping At Last
A year ago I said leaving Evangelicalism probably wasn’t the answer for me. I thought there was a danger in abandoning ship, value in working for change.
But I was wrong.
I ended up leaving.
It’s been a very hard year. Adjusting to a new job, losing that one, moving far away, adjusting to a new (better) job, and completely changing church traditions.
The past 6 months have been incredibly healing, and after so much stress, I’m trying to soak it in. I am enjoying so much not being an evangelical.
Someone asked the other day on Twitter if those of us who left had thought about staying.
I told my priest the other day I should have tried being an Episcopalian years ago. But that’s not exactly true. These past 7 years of wrestling have been intense, but incredibly formative.
I’ve spent nearly 7 years figuring out, for the first time, what I believe about God. How I relate to him best. I’ve spent 7 years falling in love with Jesus. And 7 years of trying to reconcile the Jesus who continually showed up in the wilderness with the Jesus I was continually handed on Sunday mornings.
Did I think about staying?
For approximately 340 Sundays, yes.
How do you deal with systemic issues? I can’t check out of systemic racism. I can’t ignore systemic gender inequality. Can I break free of systemic dehumanization done in Jesus’ name?
That became a big part of the issue for me. It wasn’t necessarily about the people (although there was that). I know many kind, loving people still firmly embedded in evangelical churches. And I know there are parts of my current tradition that have their own issues.
But I was treated as if I didn’t matter. I was never taught to know and love other people, different people.
But what all those reasons boil down to is the system is designed to entrench leaders in their own little world. And if you do not agree with their world, then you don’t matter.
And if the people who question the status quo are not respected, known, and loved, then the status quo is full of shit.
I don’t know how one or two people scattered amongst individual churches can challenge that mentality. Hell, they know thousands upon thousands of us are leaving and they still don’t care.
I just cannot be a part of a movement that so blatantly casts people aside.
Did I think about staying? Yes.
I stayed. And stayed. And then tried a new church. And through all of it, I clung to the Jesus I was coming to know. I clung to the ideas of redemption, restoration, the renewal of all things, the idea that Jesus came to reveal who we were made to be, and that the point of love God, love others is that we love the unlovable and forgive the unforgiveable, but I couldn’t find that in the evangelical church.
So how long do I wait? How many churches do I have to try, how many rejections must I stack up before it’s enough? How long do I let my kids be shaped by the same kind of system that’s destroying me?
If I can’t find Jesus in the system that claims to own him, then what’s. the. flipping. point?
I left because I was becoming very bitter and very angry.
I am still bitter, the anger has faded to hurt, and I’ve found a model of authority I can sit under because the system is not designed around it.
Am I sad that I left?
Honestly, no. My soul is so, so, so free now. I am sad that I feel like I’m giving up on part of my history. I worry that friends think that my feelings for a system are the same for them. I stress over having my family participate in something so uncomfortable.
But do I ever think I’ll go back?
After last week?
I had a dark night of the soul last summer, when I had to decide what kind of Jesus I was going to follow. Was I really going to walk away from the Jesus I had been given to follow the Jesus who drew me in? What if I really was worshiping a god in my own image, sliding down the slippery slope?
After much sobbing and agonizing, I came to the decision that if they are right and I am wrong about the Jesus I follow, I would rather be wrong and find myself in hell, then worship the kind of god I had been shown.
Fortunately, if I am wrong, it seems the Episcopal church is just as wrong, and hell will be filled with good company.
God, it has been quite a year-
I’ve lived a little bit and I’ve died a little more.