I was duly warned, but I think I misunderstood.
Four months ago I walked away from an unhealthy church experience.
It was a decision two years in the making, which became increasingly more urgent over time.
One of the resources I consulted was Brian Sanders’ Life After Church.
Contrary to surface appearances, Life After Church actually encourages staying.
Sanders warns: the first thing a leaver loses is her voice.
I knew that I would lose my voice in that congregation by walking away.
I did not realize I would lose my voice.
I did not realize I would lose my ability to express myself.
I did not realize I would lose my ability to understand what I was thinking.
I did not realize I would lose my ability to quiet the voice in my head, telling me to keep my mouth shut, warning me not to give utterance to what I had witnessed, insisting that I had misunderstood and overreacted, mocking my emotional uneasiness, trapping me in silence.
I set out to write, on vastly unrelated topics, and my mind drifts to “how’s” and “why’s” and endless questions about what happened.
My shell-shocked soul sits in stunned silence.
Unable to create, I feel a disconnect from the Creator, from the one who created me with questions and curiosity and wonder.
Against my natural instinct, to rally against the situation that stole my voice, I listen, hard and a bit resistant, for a still small voice I know calls gently… the Voice who’s whisper is infinitely more powerful than the booming drone of manipulation into silence.
I am choosing to heed the call to abide
…to let each day’s trouble be enough.
This is not an easy call.
It is a call to let go of things that I cherish, as well as things that crush; things that inspire, as well as things that oppress.
It is a walking away as much as it is a walking toward; a tearing as much as it is a mending.
It is a straining toward what is ahead, a trusting that what will be is better than what was.
It is a willingness to be silent and listen, and a willingness to speak when prompted.
It is a practice in discernment, an exercise in maturity, an experiment in growth when all you really want to do is curl up in a ball and hide.
It is an exploration, an opening of eyes, a new willingness to hear.
It is not only shaking the dust off of your feet, but off of your wings, as well.
It is the holding of the unseen hand.
It is a willingness to be unknown, for a time, except by Him who knows so intimately.
It is walking out onto the water, without fear of what lies beneath, with eyes focused on who stands before you.