I got this desperate plea to a recent blog about a conversation with someone on my article Why I Don’t Go to Church Anymore.
MaryAnn, my heart goes out to you. I know you’re in a tough spot and I don’t have near the details or firsthand knowledge to know how to advise you specifically, but I can give you some things to think through:
- God wouldn’t put this passion on your heart and let you see what you see if he did not have a way to lead you through this to greater freedom. Get alone somewhere and lay it all at his feet. Ask him to show you what to do and when to do it and watch him make it clear to you as situations unfold. Don’t look for others to tell you what to do, but for him to lead you step by step.
- The reason we often aren’t honest with people is because we’re afraid—of their reaction, of the consequences, or the position they hold in our lives. This isn’t easy, but Paul said the only way we will grow up as the body is to speak the truth lovingly to each other. The reason people keep doing the stupid things they do in God’s name is because people are afraid to speak out and usually only do so when the anger builds up enough that they have no choice. This rarely yields the fruit of the kingdom. Better to do it when love for the person overcomes our fear, rather than our anger at feeling trapped. It’s amazing what being honest with our hearts will do to put us on paths we never considered before and even limit our options so we can more clearly follow Jesus. The path to follow him is often painful. He warned us it would be and that some of our closest friends wouldn’t understand. But the freedom to be true to ourselves and what he is doing in us is one of the greatest freedoms he offers.
- I applaud your desire to walk with your husband through this. Keep talking and praying and see what God does to make your hearts one. Don’t push him, but also let him know that this is a critical issue going on in your life and you’re hopeful that you will be able to find a way through this together. Too many spouses end up on different journeys here because they don’t know how to invite the other along without manipulating them. You do want to go together as much as you both are able through these things and even stay where he is a bit longer until God makes it clear as well. There is grace for these things.
- I know you see these issues of church life as black and white. I do too! But when I talk about them with others who don’t see what I see, that kind of language puts them on the defensive and closes the door to effective communication. Even about things I’m most certain about I’ll say something like, “I know I could be nuts here, but this is what I think Jesus is asking me to do;” or “I’m feeling called to something a bit different here.” That way they get to listen to what I’m saying and consider it without feeling that I’ve taken a superior position and judging them. Only in very rare instances of God’s direct leading, will I make a definitive statement of right and wrong because in the end I know that hardens more hearts than it softens. I don’t want to harden any hearts God isn’t hardening. I know people can’t see the incredible freedom that Christ has made available to us until they see it. I can live it, without making them do so as well, or feeling judged by my actions.
I don’t know if that helps, Mary Ann, but I know God is big enough to sort these things out in you and lead you in his path. And to that end you have my prayers.