images-4Last Sunday, in “Sunday thoughts #3:  In which I come clean about my faith,” I came out of the closet, so to speak.   I posted it on my blog (which not very many people read) and on my secondary Facebook page, called “stuff that matters,” so that few people would actually read it.   Then last night I decided to just take the plunge and put it right smack dab on my main Facebook page.  No more chicken-shit stuff.  Time to let the chips fall, I figured.   My friends will continue to love me, and those who don’t aren’t worth holding on to, right?
For today’s “Sunday thoughts” I just want to share with you a few samplings of responses I’ve received – they’re truly beautiful.   (And thanks so much to everyone who responded…all of you have been amazingly kind and encouraging – even if I don’t include your words here.)
  • Wow, I salute the bravery it took to post that.  Reading your blog I see some similarities in your beliefs and my own.  I’m not a big church fan…I do believe in the God of the Bible, but I struggle with the science thing and the gay marriage issue.  I have a lot of people who I love and care about that are gay/lesbian and I struggle with what’s right, so I’ve decided to go with what is right for me and do my best to love others, as Jesus did with His example.  I don’t always agree with your political views but I do enjoy reading your posts…and they do make me think…(mostly that yer nutz;)…joking really.
  • I’ve tried several churches in this area and because I’m divorced and had been in ministry I feel like I either have the plaque or committed the unforgivable sin. I have not lost my faith in Jesus but I have lost all faith in organized religion.
  • Michael…. I hope you gain two friends for every one who lets you get away…. You are a sensitive, gifted writer and a wonderful person whom I am proud to call my forever friend. I’m so sorry there is any fear associated with living in spiritual mystery. I’m there also. Love you…
  • There is more than one way to be church, and there is more than one way to be a Christian. I myself have come out of a conservative Christian background. My faith has always been very important to me. I also happen to be a gay male, which did not go over well in the traditions I grew up with. I finally found my way into a much more “liberal” or “progressive” form of Christianity, where who God created me to be is not just accepted, but embraced. Questioning our theological stands, as well as incorporating scientific knowledge and human reasoning is not only acceptable, but encouraged.  One of our sayings is, “the church is not here to tell you what to believe, but to show you how to find out what you believe.” We believe each persons relationship with God is individual and personal, so my relationship and spiritual journey may not look exactly like yours, and yours may not look like the person sitting next to you, and we think that is a good thing, because in each of us, we get another little glimpse of God’s creation.  Please know, there are options out there who will accept you, love you, embrace you, and encourage you to ask any and all questions and seek the answers that resonate with you. Just remember, the questions you have, the life experiences you have had, all make up who God created you to be.
  • Thanks for this Mike. The fact that you didn’t “choose” to stop believing resonated most loudly with me and it’s the one thing that my family and Christian friends don’t seem to understand at all.
  • You are a true seeker for whom the journey for truth and meaning never ends. Thank you for sharing this phase of your journey so eloquently.
  • Be still and know that I am God. Listen for the still small voice and hearken to its promptings. You have faith, I remember your commitment to it in High School.  You sound like you are at a point of introspection into what you belive and what you know. You will always do the right thing, and you have many friends who will support you, no matter what you decide. Those who do not, miss the point of true friendship.
  • Thank you for posting this. We have noticed a change in you too. Not in a bad/good way. Just a change. Sometimes people use the church/god as a crutch when what really matters is what you feel in your heart. We live in a small town where everyone knows each others business. To judge someone and de-friend someone because they don’t go to church or have different beliefs is just wrong. They are not a true friend in my book. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and should not be judged on how they feel.
  • Hey, Michael. I’m a Christian. Not a namby-pamby, half-hearted one, but a deeply committed one. I read this and it resonated with me deeply. You’re struggling with beliefs, not with God. You clearly have a well-rooted awareness of God, but you’ve come increasingly to understand that excessive emphasis on what you believe is a prominent form of modern idolatry. Like all idolatry, it distracts people from God and damages us where it really matters. Let go. It’s OK. Trust me.
  • Thanks for sharing this. You’re not alone. Your articulation of your struggles, though, is a breath of fresh air and–dare I say it?–can serve as an inspiration to others who find they can no longer pretend to believe things that are obviously not factual just for the sake of dogmatic religion. You end saying you need God to seek you, and that’s the kind of prayer I think God answers. Thanks, again.
  • I am sad that you did not have the support of your old friends along this new part of your journey. Sometimes on our faith journey, we come to places we need to struggle over. Sometimes we come to a new understanding of something we’ve carried with us for a long time and it makes us see things in a new way. Realizing that we have come to the point of no longer believing in some of our cherished illusions and asking some hard questions is very scary. It kind of seems like the ground is shifting beneath our feet, but it can also be very exciting and refreshing and liberating. It sounds as though that’s where you are right now. From your writing, I sense an air of expectancy about what you might next find yourself thinking, and I believe you have a greater “handle” on your faith than you think…you are open to the possibilities that abound.
  • Oh, my dear fellow human, I did this exact same thing. Stripped my beliefs to the bone and started all over again. I’m an ex-Catholic, and this was more difficult that I ever imagined, but so worth it! We don’t know it all, darn it!!! God IS a mystery, and we have to learn to be OK with that if we’re going to keep on keeping on.
  • Loving one another is the only law, and it fulfills God’s law. We SHOULD be emulating Christ. That’s what it’s all about, my dear fellow human.  Much love to you! You’ve got your orders, my good man. Now march on….
  • This resonates for me too.I know I’m not an atheist, but I’ve been through too much to believe that everything is as simple as some christians would like it to be. You know, “Just say this and…” or “If you just believe this…” that variety. The truth is, I think God is much too big for many of us to comprehend. I do my best, and it’s the best I can do , for now. And I hope that’s okay for now, because it’s all I know I have.  So, you’re not alone.
  • You’re a brave soul. I know you are searching. I personally believe that if you are true to your faith, you will always be searching. I also, completely agree with how you see things.
  • Keep seeking and I am sure God loves you as much as He loves anyone else, may be slightly more for using your brain.
  • THANK YOU for sharing this! Your courage is appreciated, and your writing is easy to relate to. There are more of us out here than you realize. You are definitely not alone. Your effort is not in vain. I believe you are contributing to a bigger-picture reformation. Keep it up!!
  • I can’t say more than Thank You! Thank you for being brave! Thank you for opening yourself up to us! Thank you for using your words to help so many of us say “yes, that is what I mean!” I was always so afraid to speak open about how I feel because of the same experiences you discussed. However, I have matured and discovered those who really matter in your life are the ones who accept you for you.
Comments
  1. Kevin says:

    Nice! Thank you for sharing (again). When I saw the note up there on being alienated from the church while going through a divorce I realized why your initial post resonated with me so much. In addition to the tension you describe in balancing your beliefs in the science v some interpretations of the bible realm ( “I can’t pretend to believe the world started 6K years ago, particularly while somberly doing it in the name of Truth”), I have also struggled internally a lot with a divorce I am going through after 25 years of marriage. I think it is good to have internal tension and dialogue on matters as central as what is being discussed on this thread, and what I am talking about here – divorce – and you could add sexual orientation or other discouraged or prohibited topics/stances in the eyes of the typical church, because I don’t think these sort of things should be taken lightly. On the other hand when I have nearly daily taken my question around seeking divorce to God and got clear guidance to continue on that path so that I may create a spirit / Christ based environment for my teen age daughter. I am clear that God would prefer you change the structure of your relationship than continue along a line where no one is experiencing his Love and reflecting it out to others; particularly where a child is involved. Something akin to “cut off a body part if it is causing you to sin” I guess. As I move forward on that path and see many changes and miracles occurring, I still regularly run into the “oh let me save you from yourself brother, you are sinning in the eyes of God and destroying your family”. I appreciate and understand their point. And I think you should do everything to save your marriage and the integrity of your family. However, if the situation is such that that isn’t going to happen, and you’ve laid it at God’s feet and consistently received his guidance, it would be nice if there was a way to avoid having to defend yourself constantly with presumably well meaning people. Said differently, I think there are multiple life decisions where people are “coming out” (to borrow terminology commonly used in terms of sexual preference and apply it to the divorce situation/decision) in a component of life that is very frowned on by the church / religion, and get driven away from the church or even their faith. And I think many of those “coming out” might still very much profit from being part of that church community, if not for experiencing alienation. For me, I very much like the amazing Evangelical church I attend and do not plan on stopping going to it. The pastor and all the programs and the people are amazingly positive influences for me and my teenager. I think the church is missing an opportunity to both bring more people to Christ / God’s Love, and avoid driving those already there off with such heavy judgement vibe, by approaching these controversial topics in a different way, but I don’t know how to help affect the change I propose here. Do you?

  2. nash says:

    Hey Kevin – great comments…thanks for that. I love your last sentence: “I think the church is missing an opportunity to both bring more people to Christ/God’s love, and avoid driving those already there off with such heavy judgement vibe, by approaching these controversial topics in a different way, but I don’t know how to help affect the change I propose here. Do you?” Wow – that’s the trick, isn’t it. I really hope that I (and you) can be a part of that change effort. That’s actually one of the reasons I started this blog…because I don’t know what to do to fix this. So I thought I’d at least start out by writing about it. And if you look at some of the comments from the post on “truth” and the one called “Sunday thoughts 3,” it sounds like there are a lot of other people out there who feel as we do. Let’s stay in touch.

  3. Torger Helgeland says:

    WHat in the world is the Bible? Torg

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