I want you to know that I still believe in God. I believe He or She exists (I really do not know how to identify a gender for God because I am convinced that perhaps it is neither). God is God. I am not sure we need to label God with a gender.
I also want you to know that I am not sure God exists is in most of our churches.
I have been on the inside. I have seen the landscape of our churches and I am just not interested in their version of God.
Their god seems judgmental and exclusive.
The God I know is loving and kind.
Their god seems to elevate men.
My God does not favor one soul over the other.
Their god seems to think that “free thought” is dangerous.
My God is not afraid of any of my wild thoughts.
And this gap I see between the God I know and the god in the church became wider and wider the moment I walked away.
I am also not convinced that all churches are the same. I do think there are churches that “get it”. I just think that they are far and few between.
Because to allow people to “free think” – to allow them to discover God on their own – would mean that they could not control. They would have to allow God to be God in the lives of people and I am just not sure some are convinced that is a good plan.
For those of you who have not read about my experience with church I would suggest you start here because some of what I share today will fill in some gaps I left out. https://stringingwords.com/2020/01/15/dear-reader/
One of the reason I believe that so much destruction happened between Mark and I is because he could not control me.
The more I “free thought” – the more I questioned the status quo – the more he acted like I was an untrustworthy person.
The more he created a narrative. I needed to be bad and he needed to be good.
AND I can tell you the moment it started.
It was a about a year and half into attending his church when I found out the “reason” we were all really there.
For that year and half he had stood center stage and told the congregation that God told him to plant this church. God opened this miraculous door that we all happened to walk through.
What he did not tell us was that leading up this church plant his wife had been having an affair with his boss, the pastor of their previous church.
And the moment I found out hot anger burned within me.
I felt betrayed.
I went to him – I asked him for the truth. I wanted to know the real reason we were all here. To his credit, he told me.
AND in the moment, everything changed.
For me, I cared very little that she had an affair. None of that was my business. I do not know what was happening within her marriage, life, etc. that led to that moment. Maybe she did not feel loved and this other person showed her that.
I really do not know. And I really do not care.
What mattered to me was truth. Whatever that truth was. AND Mark, he could not do the truth. He could not tell the church the reason we landed there. He could not say – hey, we needed to go because this was not healthy for us anymore. We needed to go in order to save our marriage.
Because for him the truth would mean that he had to acknowledge something messy.
Instead, he told us a “spin”.
And what he failed to see is that deep down people don’t want a spin. Not really. They want messy. They want real. They want truth.
It makes us all feel a little less alone.
I chose to be real that day with him and ask hard questions.
And he chose that day to see me differently. He could not handle real. Real scared him. I scared him.
And the more real I got the less trustworthy I became to him and the more he doubled down on me needing to change.
I did not see that then.
That is why I left his church so confused.
I was real and he was smoke and mirrors.
AND when I look around at the landscape of our churches, I think this is perhaps the problem: there is no space to be messy and real.
Mark and his wife were messy. The church did not need the put together version of Mark and his wife – they needed the messy.
But the pressure of our churches to be put together – to have it all figured out – to not have rough edges or sharp corners means we hide messy for the sake of comfort and the status quo.
I do not blame Mark for doing what he did – he was taught this. He learned from the church leaders before him that it was not OK to be messy.
But that is not being human. Humans are messy.
I am messy.
I am ok being messy and I never again want to go to church where it is not ok to be messy.
I have not found that place yet. Maybe it does not exist.
I have often thought I needed to just start my own messy church where we talk about real life things. Where we free think. Where we are not scared of sharp edges.
Until then I am just going to write – share some messy stories because I so desperately want you to know it is ok to be messy. To know it is ok to not have it figured out.
Life is complicated – let’s stop acting like it’s not.
Until next time, my reader,