“I’m at a point in my life where everything is falling apart and everything is coming together at the same time.”
Coming to the end of 2014 I found myself depleted, exhausted, and completely burnt out. I’m in that season of life that I can’t afford to not keep going – but I haven’t had the energy to keep going. I think some people look at me and assume that I’m stronger than I actually am. But most days I’m the weakest and most insecure person they’ll come across.
The last year was one of the hardest years I’ve experienced in my life. It was the year in which my relationship with the church ended. It was also the year I decided I deserve better.
I’ll be honest, it cost me everything. It depleted me, but it did not defeat me.
It was not until this year that I fully understood that when folks laugh at me, make fun of me, and talk shit about me it is because they are afraid, jealous, or insecure themselves. Some I think that they are afraid that what I, and others like me, have to say is true; we’re not post-racial, the church is a cause of injustice, the ship is sinking, and that we’ve been complicit to the reason(s) as to why it’s sinking.
“Being you to the utmost is scary because you don’t know what you’re capable of.” – Donald Glover [aka Childish Gambino]
I think all of this is why churches ignore intellectual thought, opposing views, or even diversity on their staff, they’re afraid of being wrong. And so out of fear or frustration they hit back, anathematize, call you a heretic; they do anything and everything to make you feel small in order that you become silent. In my experience a pastor uses dominance, authority, to belittle and degrade pushes others who challenge their system onto the street.
Why? Because life is high school. Historically so is the Church; holding the keys to the kingdom, deciding who’s in and who is not.
Needless to say, it’s soul-destroying to be in environments in which others you love don’t comprehend that racist jokes aren’t funny, they’re dehumanizing; that inclusion isn’t heresy, it’s loving; that passion isn’t the same as anger, it’s deeply caring; or that doubt is not a threat, it’s others seeking understanding. What’s even more soul-destroying is to be in environments in which others you love do comprehend, but just don’t care.The good news for us all is that we don’t have to stay, and that we get to choose who we let into our “weird little worlds.” The better news is that we’re not alone, I mean this literally; our numbers are growing as people are leaving, and not returning to church.
In a recent podcast I interviewed Josh Packard, PhD sociologist who’s research shows that I’m not the only one who is tired of “Plopping, praying, and paying.” We’re fatigued. Tired of feeling “spurned.” And that we’re not likely to return. The most shocking piece in this is that, “The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support…” we’re the one’s going away and unlikely to return. I’ve come to find that this is just me acknowledging a system that has made not just myself but too many others feel small, ashamed, weak, and invisible [subscribe to podcast here].
This is my first blog post in over a month, but this was not me giving up, this is just me moving on and taking another step forward, resetting to come back stronger. As I’ve left the church, quit the pastorate, and separated from toxic relationships that have kept me small, I’m discovering it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you stop pretending to be someone you’re not, and step into being the person you truly are. They wouldn’t lend us their platform, so many of us outcast, exiled, and nomadic are finding each other and building our own platforms.
I’m wounded, but I’m healing. I was hit, but I wasn’t killed. This experience has made me weak, but in the end I’m going to come back stronger, wiser, and with others.
2014 was a year of deconstructing. 2015 is a year of rebuilding.