The more observant of my readers may have noticed that all of my recent posts (notice I didn’t use the words frequent or regular), recent being over the last year or so, have been either about grief, ranting, or something superficial.
The reason? Fear, mostly. Fear of what others may think of me, of how those who have known me as The Good Little Missionary Girl might regard me if I delve back into the topic of faith.
No longer. I am recently emboldened, by what I’m not sure, but here it is nonetheless. Please read on with an open mind, knowing that my only intention is transparency and getting back to the roots of this website. I know that people will have strong opinions about these issues. Please don’t take offense, rather take my honesty for what it is, or leave it. I cannot remain silent any longer.
It is no secret that I have long been disillusioned with church as I grew up knowing it, with the “Christian” institution that has become normal. In YWAM (Youth With A Mission, the organization that took me to Mexico and Hawaii, etc.), I was part of a community of believers that lived faith, day in and day out, in our work and play, sharing our possessions, helping each other when needed, and so much more. Going to organized church on Sundays became redundant to us, other than to show our Christian Mexican friends that we weren’t heathens. Shame.
When I returned to Canada, I was excited about a working relationship with the church that I called my home church, assuming the feeling was mutual. I had been on “the field” for several years and had what I thought was some valuable first-hand experience. It didn’t take long before I realized they had no idea what to do with me, and the apparent lack of trust in my gifts and abilities was so different from what I had become accustomed to that I very soon grew disillusioned. I knew the church wasn’t “well”, but it became more and more obvious to me that they had no idea.
I became increasingly frustrated with what I started to call “The Superficial Bullshit” (TSB) that passed for “fellowship” (the Christian F-word). It was what occurred before and after every service in the lobby as people “greeted” each other with “God bless you” (what DO they mean by that?), during every service as people watched each other “worship” (“Look who’s just sitting like a lump during the song service”, “Look who’s praying at the front – wonder what they have to repent of”), and at cell groups and Bible studies (how much of your soul will you really bare when some people bring their children to what should be an intimate place of trustful sharing?), etc. It occurs to me that my observations could very well have been tainted by something changing within myself and not an accurate reflection of many who were participating in TSB, but I desperately longed for something grittier, something less outwardly polished, less publicly fluffy.
More and more, entering the church building made me angry. I realized they didn’t know me and it wasn’t a place I could safely “come clean” about my ideas of what a church should be: they weren’t going to change anytime soon. After only having my membership for a year and a half, I withdrew it with a letter to the board, which brought no reply back. I voluntarily stepped down from the one area I had been involved with because I thought I might be regarded as more of a subversive than a leader. Then, I stopped attending.
That was a year and a half ago, and I still feel as if I have been set free! I don’t miss it at all. I DO miss the faith community I had in YWAM, though. I miss the level of transparency we had with each other, the “real-ness” of relationships, how we weren’t afraid to be honest with each other, how we held each other accountable in many areas, and so much more.
Then, a little over a year ago, my mother died. She was a single mother who had raised me and my five siblings alone since 1994. She was a beacon of faith, a pillar of godly truth, with a degree in religious education from a Christian university college. We were very different people, with different personalities, but we both held faith very close to our hearts.
When she was sick, I couldn’t handle it. Being the oldest child of a single parent, I have always stepped up, been responsible, done more than I should have. But in this case, I couldn’t get far enough away. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to be responsible. I sat in the living room while my siblings did the food and dishes for Christmas. Perhaps the implications of her being weak and dying were too much for me to process, I don’t know.
Then she died a little over a year ago. I wasn’t ready. I thought I had more time, thought that I could say good-bye, ask her forgiveness for being so distant, get some understanding as to why I felt I had to get away rather than stick around to be with her. But she was gone.
It shook my world, rattled my being to the core. She had been the centre of my existence, my own personal pillar of strength for so many years. Suddenly, the world was different. I had to grow up, get my own apartment, my own vehicle, my own insurance policy. I inherited a bit of money that I had to invest. I became co-executor of her estate, co-guardian of my youngest brother. I had to make decisions
My goal isn’t to air a list of grievances, but rather to chronicle my journey.
“I’ll bet Jesus likes you more now” – Stephen Taylor