I lost my voice.
I knew it was coming.
I went beyond the point of no return.
The slippery slope, as they say.
Too many questions.
If I only would have kept my mouth shut.
The fear was real.
Fear of what people would think.
And fear of what I was actually thinking.
I had the kind of questions that were bigger than our church could handle.
Don’t say it.
Don’t ask it.
Keep the dang thoughts to yourself.
I’m saying it.
I’m asking it.
No more pretending.
Let the chips fall where they may.
And the fell.
Speaking of chips?
I have never had a dang poker face.
Even if I would have kept quiet.
People who have known.
I was questioning my faith.
Which made me question my own sanity.
What is wrong with me?
Why can’t I just believe?
More importantly, why can’t I shut up about it?
Maybe if I just whisper my questions.
To the people I trust.
Everything will be fine.
I just can’t believe that the God we are worshipping would send people to Hell.
Why isn’t anyone else questioning this?
A billion years.
And then another.
And He chooses who believes and who doesn’t?
Don’t let anyone know you are thinking this way.
One more though.
If God uses us to tell others about Jesus,
And we aren’t perfect,
And He let people translate the Bible into something “not perfect”.
Why oh why do we have to believe it was even perfect to begin with?
Just stop thinking.
Wait… one more.
Why would God make us love our enemies?
He doesn’t have to love them.
But, we do?
And doesn’t the World mean World?
And doesn’t All mean All?
This was my brain.
My heart as well.
Reading all the books.
Searching all the commentaries.
Hoping to find a way to shut myself up.
Stay in the fold.
Keep my popularity.
After all, I spoke at women’s retreats.
We were leaders of youth groups and college kids.
I had a nice little reputation for being wise.
I just couldn’t fake it any more.
Funny thing is?
I knew God wasn’t mad at me.
I knew God had ahold of my heart.
The God who created me gave me this brain.
The ability to think.
This God was more than able to handle all of my questions.
It’s my peers who couldn’t.
They would tell me it was ok to have the questions.
Just not in front of the children.
Not in front of the young adults.
Don’t make them stumble.
Don’t cause them to question.
So my voice got stifled.
I quit speaking up.
I stopped going to bible studies.
Even though I was still studying.
No more prayer meetings.
Even though I was praying more than ever.
To a God who I still somehow believed in.
I just need to be quiet.
That was even “my word” for 2017.
But, here’s the deal.
Over the years?
I have met others.
People who aren’t afraid to ask the questions.
Some who have walked the same road as I have.
My word for 2021 was “ripe”.
I had no idea why, but looking back it is so clear.
I took part in Keith Gile’s Square One Course.
As I met new friends?
I realized I was in a safe space.
I wasn’t alone.
And after Keith heard my story?
The part about me feeling “silenced”?
He spoke right to my heart.
Said his hope would be that I would find my voice again.
That I would see there are others like me who I can speak to.
Who will listen.
Who will read what I write.
I will be able to write what I am feeling.
And they will understand.
Maybe even learn from my story.
My voice is coming back.
It’s slow, and a little afraid still.
I think that’s ok.
My husband told me I should be “proud” of my writing.
I’m not there…
There is a whole lot of shame and guilt, oh and fear that comes with all of this.
But being truthful feels right.
Speaking up feels good.
And finding new friends along the way?
Ones who will know the real me?
And love me for who I really am?
Well, there’s nothing better.