My Painful Confession

praying hands

I wrote this prayer this morning after dumping my guts out to the Lord. I thought after-the-fact that I would share it with you all to let you into my head, heart and soul within this journey I’m on. The following is not a blame game, nor am I ever pretending that I am in any way the judge or jury, it’s just an authentic moment in time during this painful evening/morning of uncertainty, fear and desperation for God:

“You say your rod and your staff, thy comfort me. But where’s the comfort when I don’t, when I can’t see what you’re doing.

It’s painfully scary, and all I can see around me are a number of folks who claim to be your family; watching this suffering happen from the sideline out of their own fear that it will be one day be them suffering for the same thing—glad I’m taking it and not them.

Where are you Lord? I’m tired of them, I need you.

I am continually told that I can find you in hope.

Tell me then, where’s the hope when your people continue to just ignore your work?

Tell me then, where’s the comfort, as the only comfort I can find are in the people that are related to me?

It’s those professional Christians that do this; cause this.

They think they’re something, they think they’re doing good, and yet it’s child’s play. If I read another book or hear another sermon based on you that doesn’t dive deep and push all who believe to the core, I’m going to throw up and go berserk.

It’s surface.

Been done before. Will be done again. Nothing new, and yet so many of them are so very proud of their impact. Does impact mean everyone feels good after?

If that’s impact, I’m in some real trouble.

‘Want-a-cookie’ Christianity?

Guess that’s what the world wants. That’s what most Christians want. Let ‘em have it then.

They haven’t backed this bridge building movement up yet, why would it start now?

They call, email, Facebook and Twitter me and take because I’m the only one who will give. They gladly take everything they can.

Glean every ounce of knowledge with me asking nothing in return. And I’ve gladly done this because who else has been able to reach those closed-off-cool-group-professional Christians with this bridge building message?

Yet they still look at me like I’m some caged specimen—poking and prodding and looking around for something that they can label or recognize. And when they don’t, they take what they can for their own “knowledge” and move on to what they actually care about.

And that’s sure not the perceived side-show antics they get from me. Sure not God’s work that will actually force them to people and places they don’t want to go.

Too political.

Too polarized.

Too unstable.

Too many questions.

Too, too, too, too, too, too, too …

They go on and on.

It utterly deafens me.

You want my take: The excuses are too many and I can’t take them anymore.

There’s my ‘too’ for you—take it and then run back to your big building that reaches people tens of thousands of miles away,

tells people in your congregation they deserve an award for having a faithful belief system,

only gives select people a different standard, then completely shuns those banging on your front door pleading to let them in.

What happens then to the specimen you just picked to pieces?

Nothing.

I just lie here half dead, half alive, trying to find the will to continue for one more day; one more hour; for the next professional to come along wanting to talk, I mean take, I mean use; and I continue to let it happen because disseminating God’s bridge building work is more important to me than the medium others use to get it; that I might continue spreading this message.

And that’s the only way anyone will listen. So I just try to keep working within what I’m given.

What if it, I, The Marin Foundation, disappeared? Would any of those cookie-cutter professional Christians give a flying flip? Doubt it.

I’m breaking.

I have higher standards for those who claim to believe in the One I believe. Am I wrong Lord? Am I asking for too much? Asking for the wrong thing? Where’s the disconnect Lord, I’m so confused.

Tangible? Your people want numbers. Your people want to know how many wells were built for starving and thirsty folks to drink from…

The Marin Foundation builds wells.

We give the everlasting drink to those who didn’t even realize a sip was possible because they were told by some of your people that a sip was impossible.

You know this Lord! Do something. Wake up your people because I obviously can’t do it.

And yet none of what we do counts as a number for them. It doesn’t count as a drink. It doesn’t count as anything but an alien needing to be dissected because all of this is so strange.

Because it’s so foreign.

And yet it’s all so ordained.

I can’t take it anymore.

But why Lord, why do you let these things happen?

I read the Bible. I pray. I spend hours with you every single day. I call out your Name in tearful privacy. I listen for your voice. Something…anything. Please. Please Lord tell me what to do and where to go. Is this not enough? Don’t leave me Lord. Don’t let me hang here. I can’t keep going like this, I can’t keep loving with a heart that is becoming hardened.

Why do so many want to pat me on the back and tell me to keep going because they say you want me to keep going?

I don’t need their compliments, I need your tangible love that shows me more than many of their insincerely scripted meaningless blithering words. I know the ones that are sincere. I treasure those. I cling to those as I cling to you.

Professional Christianity. That’s what I get. That’s what I get for trying to do your work where those professional Christians like to look at and examine and not care enough to do anything else.

At least support the entity actually doing it. But no, those professional Christians can’t even do that because they don’t want this topic to become “one of our main ministry concentrations.”

I’ve heard that exactly phrase word-for-word too many times. If I hear that again I’m going to go insane!

Forget you then. And you wonder why so many out there can’t stand you or your church. You’re just that blind.

And because of it you’re going to kill off the one doing what you don’t want to.

And yet I don’t ever want to forget you. I want to love you. I want you to understand the importance of this bridge building work. I’m torn. My emotions are twisted for you Church. I give you so much, you take so much of me, and then you give of yourself in a rare moment, a thank you in return. I don’t understand what’s going on.

Why is it only the poor who want to stand beside me and walk with The Marin Foundation? Why is it only the one’s who can’t afford to pay their bills that month who see the need and give out of what they already can’t afford. Funny—those are the same people those professional Christians are trying to reach.

Look who’s reaching who?

Help me Lord.

Help my bitter heart.

Heal me. I don’t want to be like this … feel like this … think like this.

Help my resentful soul towards those who I perceive that poke, prod and take like I’m some firkin zoo animal. Heal me Lord. Let me continue freely giving your experiences and love towards them, that one day they might in turn give it to others—those others.

Praise your Holy Name.”

Much love.

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • holzer29

    I am praying for clarity and understanding for you Andrew.

  • Seth

    What a powerful expression! I so wish that I could come alongside you in the moment and offer whatever comfort, support and wisdom you need. Yet I am forced to trust that the Holy Spirit will do this with you, in one way or another. And it seems to me that this is as much a spiritual battle as it is a material one. Your prayer reminds me of Jonah (chapter 4), who was so angry with God that Nineveh repented that he went out to the wilderness by himself hoping to die.

    Andrew, you have a prophetic voice, and many of the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures expressed incredible frustration–Elijah comes to mind, and Jeremiah as well (read his lesser known misery, which ends with “Great is your faithfulness, O Lord” a phrase we quote widely, by contrast). And the very end of Habakkuk who, after expressing all kinds of poverty, concludes with the conviction that God will give him deer’s feet to navigate the heights.

    Those of us who did HIV/AIDS ministry twenty-odd years ago ran into some of the same not-here-not-now issues with the church–short on compassion, long on judgment. It still exists today to some extent–somehow it’s easier for the American church to demonstrate interest in HIV/AIDS Africa than it is in her own backyard. No satisfying explanation (at least to me). So in some ways, your frustration doesn’t surprise me.

    But what you have encountered in the church today is just as wrong as it was in 1990, as it was in the 1200s when St. Francis kissed the leper. Thank you again for calling it out, over and over.

    Hang in there!

  • http://www.benlemery.com Ben

    Well we have something in common, we are both poking at status quo institutions and the results can be somewhat stinging.
    So how do I get to know you Andrew? Skype? Facebook? What? I have preconceived notions of what you are but I would like to change that if possible.
    Hit me up.

  • guidoc

    You are not alone Andrew.
    There are others out there doing some of the same work you are doing. Some are less expressive. Some are quieter, because they don’t need, want. or the limelight kills them spiritually.

    Reach out to those folk and ask them to be your partners spiritually, emotionally, and missionally.

    I understand your pain, but in this season God became flesh. Emmanuel..you are not alone. Not only is Jesus with you, but the body of Christ.

  • http://blog.thepastoralcompany.com Colin

    Hi Andrew.

    As others have said – you’re not alone. But that is little comfort when you’re in it. What it sounds like you’re describing is something that Christians throughout the ages have discovered as they are transformed into the likeness of Christ. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross describe this way – and it is terribly, terribly hard. The consensus seems to be that this is a purification of what is not true, so that what is true and God’s can shine forth. The darkness, where God seems not to be, is precisely where you’re called to stay. God is there, even though it seems he is not.

    In the tradition I come from I’d suggest you find a spiritual director who can help you walk this hard way – to which all Christians are called, but few have the guts to walk.

    I’m here if I can help.

    With love and prayers,

    Colin

  • http://beth0329.blogspot.com Bethany

    It always touches me deeply when I read something that I feel but couldn’t put into words. Thank you for that. I am feeling this same thing, this anger, resentment, sometimes (as much as I hate to admit it) hate for those people who confess to know Jesus; they go to church, read their bibles, even tithe their money to the church but their actions don’t seem to be living out what Jesus so clearly said.

    I read this quote in a book and I thought about it while reading your thoughts; “The church is a whore, but she’s still my mother.” I am really struggling with this. I will pray for you as I figure out how to love the church as much as I love the people we as a church should be reaching out to.

    Shalom Brother.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    When I am tempted to descend into the “lust of vindication” mindset, I hark back to these words from Oswald Chambers:

    There are certain attitudes we should never dare to indulge. If we do, we will find they have distracted us from faith in God. Until we get back into a quiet mood before Him, our faith is of no value, and our confidence in the flesh and in human ingenuity is what rules our lives.

    Beware of “the cares of this world . . .” ( Mark 4:19 ). They are the very things that produce the wrong attitudes in our soul. It is incredible what enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention away from God. Refuse to be swamped by “the cares of this world.”

    Another thing that distracts us is our passion for vindication. St. Augustine prayed, “O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” Such a need for constant vindication destroys our soul’s faith in God. Don’t say, “I must explain myself,” or, “I must get people to understand.” Our Lord never explained anything— He left the misunderstandings or misconceptions of others to correct themselves.

    When we discern that other people are not growing spiritually and allow that discernment to turn to criticism, we block our fellowship with God. God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing this post… it has touched my heart. You are an amazing soul!


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