It’s funny, I was thinking over the last few weeks about church and how it’s changed. I get so frustrated by the “It’s ok to not be ok” message when it isn’t followed through. The “everyone’s welcome here” but only if you fit the checklist and sit quietly until you do. The business models and made up jargon. My friend who has with her husband, served in church leadership for many years recently shared an article by Rachel Held Evans from a couple of years ago and I just wanted to scream a huge AMEN! Going to my friend’s church in England in December made me so relieved that there does seem to be churches that truly mean everyone is welcome and are just doing their best to like…learn from the bible and live life.
I stumbled across this post on my old blog, and I’m pretty sure I wrote it the day after I’d been spoken to by a person who had been advised by a leader of the church I was a member of about my blog. They didn’t think I should be leading worship if I was publicly admitting to occasionally struggling with my faith and/or health on my blog. This was in spite of the lead pastor giving almost weekly messages about how this was a church where it was “ok not to be ok”. I was upset at first, but thankfully had the courage to challenge them on it there and then- the person relaying the message ended up agreeing that there was hypocrisy between the church’s message from the pulpit and what they were saying now in private behind the scenes. I kept writing, I kept singing. I did spend a few days questioning whether that leader was correct in their assessment, whether I should stop writing or stop leading worship and turned to a few wise women(all of whom were practising Christians) to ask their genuine opinions. Every single person told me not to change a thing in my blog writing, pointing out just how many people came to my blog – many of them who also struggled with faith, didn’t believe at all, had been abused by church leaders – and had left comments on the very posts the church leader had an issue with.
Originally posted on Learning From Sophie in February 2009
I was struggling to focus on work today, as I wrestled with some issues relating to how I live out my faith and beliefs to others. I spent a lot of the day praying for me, for others, asking God what was best, to give me grace….etc etc etc.
Today the BBC website was down so I couldn’t put the radio on while I was in the office. I managed to log into my last fm account instead and switched on my playlist. I was in the middle of writing a volunteer report and thinking sporadically about what I should and should not be doing in life.
And this song came on by NOFX (glad no one else was in the office – as um, the language used by this punk rock band is well, yeah…not appreciated by the easily offended?)
“Looks like witches are in season, you better fly your flag and be aware of anyone who might fit the description, diversity is now our biggest fear.
Now with our conversations tapped and our differences exposed, how ya supposed to love your neighbor with our minds and curtains closed?“
NOFX – Regaining Unconsciousness
I’m not the same as everyone else. We live in a diverse world. Church should reflect that. I don’t understand why churches are so scared of what is different. I don’t understand why we all feel we have to wear masks when you look at Job, David’s Psalms, Elijah, Jesus in Gethsemane, Peter on the night Jesus was arrested, Thomas who struggled to believe that the man stood in front of him was his teacher and mentor, Jesus. Church should be a place to be accepted, a place of sanctuary. Not somewhere you are afraid to be yourself or voice your fears and doubts. It’s a place where you be able to take your fears and doubts so you can be listened to, loved, accepted, wisely counselled, encouraged, fed, ministered to.
My mind is open – to listen, to show compassion, to accept people as they are whether I agree with them or not.
My curtains are open – see my life warts and all…
Shock, horror and surprise – I’m imperfect! Even though I’m a ‘grown-up’, I don’t have it anymore ‘sorted’ than I did when I was 15 years old. The only difference is I’ve lived through more and become a little wiser for it.
Some days I’m happy and I have buckets of faith to lend. Some days I’m struggling and holding on for dear life wondering if God is against me more than for me. Some days I’m sad but I find it easy to hand it over, knowing that God is a being that brings good out of the most crappy situations.
My main reason for blogging is to be transparent, and to be honest and real in both the good times and the bad times. I hope I do that. I hope I continue to try to do that even if it makes people uncomfortable. I want to thank the folks that speak to me and comment on posts that have encouraged or helped them or challenged them or made them think. Trust me – today I’ve gone through previous posts on this blog and my old blog, with 2 wise women who told me that I should keep it real! And I re-read so many of your comments on those posts that were tough to write because I knew it meant people would see my inner struggles, making me seriously vulnerable. You guys have encouraged me so much in that. So thank you.
A big koala hug goes out to you…hope you can receive it well on the blogosphere.
I’m so glad that those people encouraged me to keep being me, and to keep being honest. And I hope I always live for an audience of One, always have the courage to challenge hypocrisy and spiritual abuse, and have eyes to see through the bluster of the next trend to what is truly important about following the teachings of Jesus.