Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Officially A Splinter

Several years ago, our family began to feel a change in our thinking. I wrote about it here and here. Eventually we experienced heartbreak and I wrote about it  here. Galvanized Garden was born out of my desire to record my thoughts and struggles. Back in November, I posted this quote:

From The Cross in the Closet by Timothy Kurek:

“Conservative Christianity teaches us to love everyone; however, that love can take many different forms. It seems to stem from an “I’m right, you’re wrong” biblical perspective, which imposes only two rather limited options: Insist others conform to your spiritual world view, or ignore those who don’t.

When Christians begin to question whether option one and two might both be false and consider the possibility of a third, or even fourth option, they are often swiftly labeled by their fellow church members as heretics – or emergents, if you prefer the religious lingo – and are told to either accept “in faith” one of the first two options; or they are pressured, like splinters, out of the church body. More and more, these splinters are leaving organized religion, and now I just might be one of them.”

Today, five months later, I am officially a splinter. I can hear the church members saying, “We didn’t pressure you out of the church body.” And, in fairness, they only suggested that my family might be better off leaving the church we’ve called home for over 20 years because they were concerned for us. “Concerned”  sounded like this: “I like going to church with you, but I can’t stand to see you hurting anymore. Maybe you would be better off going to another church.” “If you can’t effectively serve the Lord in this church anymore(because of your hurts), you need to find a place where you can for the sake of your family.” “You have to find a way to accept what is in the past and move on. We can’t change the past.”  The irony is that over the years, we have met so many people that are “unchurched”, as those “inside” the church often say, because of the ways they have been hurt by the church. Our hearts were heavy for them and we felt a sense of responsibility to them for those hurts. Maybe it isn’t actually ironic at all. Maybe God was preparing us to join the “unchurched”.  The interesting part for me is that we have a pretty unique perspective. We have gone from being grounded in the Baptist church for generations, to being in full-time ministry in two different Baptist churches, to leaving “the ministry” after experiencing the nastiness of church politics, to being “unchurched” after watching yet another episode of nasty church politics that devoured the church we thought we knew. We’ve experienced the gamut of church involvement.

Here’s my dilemma…do I continue recording my struggles and journey? Or do I close up the blog and go try to deal with the hurts in private? I know the church I’ve been a part of pretty well. I know they would question my spiritual maturity for even considering a transparent record of my journey on a blog. However, I know too many people who have been hurt by the actions of churches and church members and have never had an opportunity to feel those hurts acknowledged or validated. The secrecy and denial hurt the most. My inclination is to walk the journey toward healing openly to honor those who have had their lives upended by the church. There’s no question that if I choose to continue writing this blog, I’ll be opening myself up to incredible criticism. Here’s the thing…I already know I’m human and prone to make mistakes. I already know my attitude stinks at times. I already know that I need to apologize for my actions, word and thoughts at times. I already know my flaws are many. So why do I fear what people will throw at me?  I can almost guarantee the greatest criticism will come from those in the church…which will sting.

I’ll be considering whether or not to continue blogging this journey…

”I will arise and follow you over
Savior please, pilot me
Over the waves and through every sorrow
Savior please, pilot me
When I have no more strength left to follow
Fall on my knees, pilot me
May your sun rise and lead me on
Over the sea’s, savior pilot me
O’ Lord”