Deep Truths (Exvangelical)
"The only time when things change is when people come against the institution and say, "that's not right, that's not just" and I am going to lose to show you". -Melissa Rian Wilson
Occasionally, deep truths flow out me and I am unsure where they come from. During a recent interview with Stephen Long, on "Sacred Tensions" (a podcast about life, doubt, and faith), I explored my exodus out of evangelicalism and my greatest griefs. Two thousand and seventeen was officially the worst year of life-- I left my career, my community of twenty years, my students (like my children), my Alma mater, and my religion.
In a single conscious decision, the house of cards fell and the shifting sand moved. I had spent the better part of two years fighting for the word “evangelical”. I like, speaker Rob Bell, stated that I was taking the word back. “Evangelical” would no longer be a materialistic, political, sexist, and homophobic word, instead it would be a word of PEACE as the first Roman societies intended it. I fought hard to be peaceful, to turn the other cheek, to speak kindly, to be humble, to be understanding, to lead by example, to make my mentors proud, to be gentle, and to be truthful.
Then one day this autumn, I realized I was tired of fighting. Why did I need that word any longer? Was it serving others? Serving God? Serving the poor? The destitute? The prostitute? The homosexual? The orphan? The widow? The hungry?
The answer was, “No”. To be evangelical no longer meant to serve GOD and love my neighbors. To be evangelical meant to be pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-Trump, Republican, megachurch, climate skeptic, and anti-evolution. Therefore, I no longer needed it. In the end (or when compared to depths of the universe) those words did nothing for me. They are not sexy. They are not things I am willing to die for. They are things-- things I am sure of and things I question.
So, what is it that remains as I enter 2018? Similar to life after a hurricane or after an earthquake, I have been left with bare soil. It is a dark rich deep soil. The chaff has been blown away and I am ready to love. I will love in a new way. It won’t be with labels or with a religious stamp. I will not have the full set of words to explain it to you. It will be mysterious and grand, and hopefully a whole lot like a Jewish man in 30 A.D. who walked the Earth and claimed he knew the way. You might not know what to do with me or what box to put me in. I am okay with that, because I no longer need a category.
I will love well. I will be your friend. I will listen when you need it. Celebrate when you have joys. Cry when you are torn. I will serve. Eat with the poor. Laugh as we grow grey hair. Protect the orphan. Forgive the abusers. Dance at your weddings. Bless your children. Feed you clean organic fair trade food. Teach, teach, teach. These things are things that matter to me--
Everything else I am willing to lose.
Listen to the full podcast here: http://sacredtension.podbean.com/e/ep-19-ex-evangelical/
Image by: https://www.sandramyhrberg.com/