My last blog on rejection initiated an email contact with a sister half way around the world. She’s recently walked away from a religious institution because it seemed to her to be abusive.
My big fear is that perhaps they’re right. What if they’re right? What if I’m falling away from God? What if what they say is true – I’m unhappy in church because I’m the problem?
But I can’t fix myself. Don’t know how. Don’t even know where to start.
I mean, if my two best friends and my church leaders are all criticizing me the same way, are they right?
Does my passion scare them so much? Shouldn’t they be happier for me?
I just don’t get it, Wayne. All I want to do is to know God better. I want to break free from the prison I’ve found myself in. I want to question how things are done. Why must they come over and call me names? This journey made me love GOd more. It made me disillusioned with the church, which is good, since it was my crutch before.
Now all I have is Him. And I feel safer now.
Here’s how I responded:
I know what you’re going through at least a bit because I went through it myself 10 years ago. It is so hard when close friends suddenly regard you as an outsider. My heart goes out to you. I remember the questions of self-doubt very well. If the two brothers I had worked with closest in ministry now regarded me as unfit for the kingdom, what does that say about me?I don’t think decisions like this are made, however, with trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong. When I stepped away from an abusive environment I wrestled with that also. But I think it is a false question. If I have to decide I’m more wise or closer to Jesus than someone else to step away, I’d never do it. What I found myself saying to God was, “I don’t know who is right or wrong here, but I have to follow my heart. If I am being selfish and independent, then let me be seen for that. If, however, I am following you, let that be known as well.” That gave me the freedom to follow my heart as he drew me closer to himself. I have never regretted it.Time will let the truth be known and if you’re free to admit you’re wrong if that becomes true, then you don’t need to second-guess yourself every waking moment. I think we go on this journey by having the freedom to follow our heart, even if we might make a mistake. True friends will celebrate that with us. Those who just want to use us for their agendas, will be threatened by it. They’ll argue, “Who are you to disagree with us?” But that’s not how God works. That’s why you feel safer following him than pleasing others around you.It can be lonely at times, though. It took me a couple of years to de-tox from religion—seeking the approval of others, feeling guilty for not doing what others demanded and finding my purpose in fulfilling institutional obligations. Through that whole time, however, God just kept making himself clearer and clearer to me. I think you’re already finding that to be true.You’ll also find disillusionment to be a wonderful thing. It means we have illusions about God or about his body that God wants to ‘dis’ so that we could see him as he really is and his body as she really is in the world. In time you will know these are great days to have behind you, because the freedom they will produce in the long haul is truly amazing!