Dear Church (An Afterword)

I never liked debating. I can surely talk a big talk in seclusion, but my heart quakes and my fingers quiver as I punch keys to form the syllables of my convictions in the presence of others. My stomach turns somersaults and I lose sleep. At times, I find writing those things out in the public eye to be very unforgiving. On a grand scale, I don’t have a lot of opinions, and I like it better that way because I get to focus on what really matters to me. I’m transforming, learning, growing in the gritty everyday. Its happening all the time. It really is mind boggling to think that people on five continents stopped by yesterday to see what I had to say about faith and the Church, and to those of you who emailed me or left encouraging notes, I thank you.

In the past, I have been called a bad Christian for standing up for what I believe: that people are people, deeply afraid and searching desperately for a love withheld from them by so many. We are flesh and blood, hunting in the dark for meaning and purpose and a safe place to rest our hearts. And sometimes, we lose our way. Sometimes, we walk in aimless circles wondering what went wrong. And while some simply resign to stay lost, the overwhelming majority are crying to be found. I know because I have been there. Perhaps you’re in that boat with me?

I don’t claim to have everything figured out. I used to, but then I heard someone say that if you have all the answers, you’ve been asking boring questions, so I’ve been trying to start from scratch lately. I also know that it isn’t enough to simply name the problem. In the gracious company of others, I have attempted to examine that which is broken. I have grieved for it, experienced everything from denial to raging anger to disbelief. And I have tried to accept it, but that’s a day to day decision I’m not always good at making for myself, because hope is a four letter word and I swear too much as it is. Honestly, these issues that plague us are much greater than me. Its going to take all of our effort, all of our grace and if you’re anything like me, sometimes you run out of grace quickly. But His grace can always reach us, even at the end of our rope.

So I try to be part of the solution by living the truest thing I know, which is love. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love lends of its sweat and blood before shouting opinions. Love turns over the tables of those dealing lies to the hurting. Love goes deep enough to understand that we are all in this boat, trying to do the best we can, and that this cycle of life can be so ugly.

Life is too short, too fragile to not tell the truth. We have divorced ourselves from that notion, maybe because we believe that the truth needs our protection. Perhaps we believe that if the Truth gets out, there would be no way to ignore it. Grace is uncomfortable, because it plucks us out of our complacency. Grace finds us in our grave clothes and begs the question “what if there’s more?”

I don’t know about you, but I want more: more than a list of rules to follow, more than the magnifying glass hovering over, waiting to find the cracks. I want to share myself on my own time, and allow others the freedom to do the same. Because two are better than one and three are better than two, and this is how we heal: person to person.

Update : I am so thankful for the encouragement and constructive conversation that has taken place over the past few days as a result of these posts. I stand by everything that I have said, and don’t regret telling the truth as I and many others perceive it in this instance. This post is not a retraction of anything, not by a long shot. That being said, this has been something of a whirlwind; there is still a lot to process, and I think the best way for me to do that is to go dark for a few days. Aside from the weekly FMF post, I will not be engaging in social networking in the very near future. You may still reach me by email, and I will do my very best to respond in a timely manner.