In the age of microwave ovens, Internet access and video on demand, we are being seduced to the illusion of instant answers and quick fixes. The renewing of our minds, however, is a process that does take some time. God is not interested in waving a magic wand and making all your circumstances glorious; he is interested in transforming us from the inside out. He’s works in the inner live to bring real change from within, and that just takes time.
So don’t get frustrated when you don’t see the results you want coming to pass quickly. They were never meant to. God is not about a quick fix, but real transformation over time. I meet lots of people who are frustrated in the middle of the process, not realizing that something real is going on at a level they can’t see yet. So it is always a great encouragement to me when I see someone move from painfully disillusioned, to gratefully disillusioned because of the fruit they see in their lives. I got this email a few days ago. I hope it is an encouragement to many others who are still in the middle of a transformation and can’t yet see the end of it. It’s coming!
I wanted to thank you all again for your great podcasts and books and all that you have done to bless my life!!! I’ve been wanting to write this letter for several months.
I have been listening to your podcasts for about 3+ years after someone recommended the So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore book to me. That book we cried through; it was so close to our own personal experience. Wayne, you came to my house in Michigan (the one with all the mosquitoes) and shared with us – thank you!
The first few years we didn’t know if the pain would ever subside and my husband suffered from frequent migraines as each family we had loved from the organization stepped away from us as we “deprogrammed” from religion and stepped down from our place in leadership at a church we helped start.
You guys always said that it will get better and that it will come, and it has. I didn’t know if it ever would at the time. We are now totally “gratefully disillusioned” and the freedom and joy we experience are worth it all. We can now thank God for the “baseball bat to the face” (as my husband calls it) of our organized group’s catastrophe (a situation very similar to the “Jake” book). You even spoke of how eventually even some reconciliations came over time, Wayne, in your own experience after you went through various betrayals. We also have been through layers of betrayals and would never have believed that there are finally some cracks in the walls of ice that came between us and our friends after the “shunning” we experienced.
We felt like the Spirit was clearly leading us elsewhere other than supporting that organization we helped start, but the emotional pain and agony were immense as for a time we even lost relationship with my parents while they were still at the organization that we were at and commiserating with our old friends on how “concerned” they were for us. That has now all been worked through and healed, my parents have left, the relationship restored, and my husbands migraines have subsided. New friendships have been made that are much richer and more meaningful to us.
Anyway! I am glad to testify that you were right and that you all have been such a help our own journeys. The freedom you have talked about has become our freedom, too, and we rejoice. God is good. Now we enjoy the daily adventure of walking with Father and how He leads us and who He leads us to love each day.
One of our most amazing experiences recently was to stand with a woman who was being “evangelized” by Christians in a co-op group we are in. Some kids from the religious families in our group were telling her kids on the playground that they are going to hell. We had this couple over and got to know their story and found out that this wife had been sexually abused by her pastor as a teenager. When she brought this to the light the deacons swept it under the carpet and her mother abandoned her. Needless to say this woman does not want much to do with organized “Christianity” anymore. Well we were able to stand with her and love her and be at least one Christian family in her life who didn’t mistreat her (the religious people in our co-op were pretty toxic to her). She really seems to have a real yearning for Jesus and even hears from Him, but doesn’t quite know His name after what she’s been through (just as The Shack talks about). It has been really neat how we have just been able to love her and not have any agenda and she has been so drawn to us and some other friends of ours that are “out of the box”.
It has been a beautiful and amazing experience to bring healing to others out of our wounds. We could really connect with her and her husband about the misguided ways of organized religion and how they go against Jesus’ ways. After her and her husband left our house one night they said, “I will never forget this night”. Thank you for helping us deprogram from “evangelism” and religion and be able to love people freely and help rebuild what has been broken down.
I praise the Lord for the reconciliations that have started to flow for us with a couple people from our old organized group. And also the rich fellowship we now have with others on the journey. At first we had lost our whole community and it felt like being in the desert for a long time, but in three years time our community has rebuilt now is so much more rich, diverse, deep and amazing then it ever was. It was worth the pain and change. It is like before we were eating fast food before (organized religion) and now we sit down to homemade feasts with candles and ambiance—that’s the fellowship we now enjoy. Especially one family who left the organization with us has been such an amazing experience of building relationships built of honesty, transparency and love instead of duplicity and “fronts”.
Tonight we are having over a family who feel they have never fit into any church. They were not shiny enough to ever take the notice of those in leadership (looking like they might be of service to the organization and inner circle). And their children’s worst verbal abuse has happened at church from the other kids – so much so that their oldest daughter really wants to be a boy since she had so many terrible comments from the girls at church. We see though that they have genuine hearts for Jesus and we want to love their children and help heal the wounds.
Let us stand together in being God’s people and loving those He brings into our lives! Thanks for being true brothers in Christ – a little ahead of us on the journey – and gently showing us a better way!
Don’t give up the good work even if some people are being stinkers!