Tuesday, October 22, 2013

permission to not be a Christian anymore {page six}

{photo via dramaticelegance}
i've been sitting on what to write in this post for more than a week. i was so excited when i wrote my last post, so excited about my own bravery to share pieces of my story, that i wanted to share more and more and more. and then the brave went away, and i sat in all the silence. 

because i've come to a realization over the past several months. it's something beyond what i ever thought i would acknowledge :: something i never thought i'd be brave enough to say. 

i can't be a Christian anymore. i just can't.

and i know those words cause a certain level of discomfort to billow up in the stomach of those Christians who read them. there's something that sits wrong, the instinct to grip me by the shoulders and say, no, wait, no, don't say that. that's not right. don't do that. don't say that. 

but before you throw a rock at me, ask me what i mean. ask me what i'm giving up. because honestly, it's not Jesus that i'm giving up. not by a long shot. i refuse to give Him up. 

but i'm giving up my supposed white robes and taking the Israeli dirt covered one instead. i'm spending time with the unclean ones instead of the ones that whisper. and I'm picking up the lame ones that the Church has hobbled one too many times. because i feel like the Church is locked in this childish game, the one where fingers grasp an arm and connect hand to face over and over with the chant, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself. 

and then they wonder why the bruised ones don't return.

it makes me cry, hard and long, a keening wail into the night. i feel so like Him in these moments, screaming, oh God my God, why have You forsaken me? because i feel so alone, like i have love smeared all over my hands but everyone else is afraid to get the stains on them.

it's that word, that strange word that has become so warped and twisted. they will know us by our love. it's written there, in black and white. but why do they know us by all the things we hate? the laundry list of the things Christians won't touch is too long. it's like whiplash, what i'm allowed to eat or drink, where i'm allowed to shop. because we should be making a stand, right? they should know that we don't give money toward this and that and the other thing.

but instead, i'm closing my eyes on the deck of the ship, and i can hear the roaring of a dragon. it's me, with scales on the ground and skin ripped and bleeding. and He has claws and eyes...piercing, calm, quiet eyes. and He's tearing, and rending, and gashing, and i'm getting smaller and smaller and smaller still.

{via pinterest
the point of being with Jesus is not to be made bigger. the point isn't to be seen on the streetcorners with signs of broken bloody babies and screeching murderer into broken lives. the point isn't to grasp the arms of the ones with rainbows on their cheeks and glare into their eyes to make sure they know that they're sinners and we hate them.

and people on the street are catching my arm. do you know Him? do you know Him? and i say no, i don't. but He knows me. and He knew me before i was the Christian definition of desirable. He knew me when they dragged me out and flung me in the dirt. and He wrote in the dirt and they walked away in silence. He knows me. 

i'm tired. i'm so tired of being forced to act like i know Him, all of Him, every in and out and twist and turn of this thing called Christianity. if this is what Christianity is, then that's not a title i claim. i claim one thing, and one thing only.

i'm still thrashing. but i claim Him.
and He claims me.

26 comments:

  1. You don't have to do or know or be anything you aren't. God loves you.

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  2. This is freaking amazing. Your words give me goosebumps.

    Like this: " they will know us by our love. it's written there, in black and white. but why do they know us by all the things we hate?"

    Dude. DUDE.

    WHY DO THEY KNOW US BY ALL THE THINGS WE HATE?? Indeed.

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    1. Yes, yes. Why do they know us by the things we hate?

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    2. And this is entirely why I've had to step back. Because the Church isn't Jesus anymore. It's a club that wouldn't even let Jesus in, not if He appeared today.

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  3. I felt God's holy fire when you spoke, "they will know us by our love...." for I've been thrashing that one around over and over again, for the last many years. I broke up with "normal christianity" too, to choose love. We're all broken, whether inside or outside of church, but some of us are becoming okay with broken and messed up, desiring authenticity over perfection.

    "I claim him and he claims me." also grabbed me and touched my heart... He never lets us go, no matter what...

    Your writing is beautiful and I love your heart, Rachel... keep sharing your story, please :)

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    1. Yes yes YES, Susan! I feel the holy fire, too.

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  4. "the Church is locked in this childish game, the one where fingers grasp an arm and connect hand to face over and over with the chant, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself. and then they wonder why the bruised ones don't return." Oh, my. Yes. This whole post is beautiful and gut-punching.

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  5. This is some good thrashing right here. " ...the point isn't to be seen on the streetcorners with signs of broken bloody babies and screeching murderer into broken lives. the point isn't to grasp the arms of the ones with rainbows on their cheeks and glare into their eyes to make sure they know that they're sinners and we hate them." Love it. And you.

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  6. This, oh all of this, I'm devastated in the best way, so much I cannot even say it.

    -Monika

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  7. "the Church is locked in this childish game, the one where fingers grasp an arm and connect hand to face over and over with the chant, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself. and then they wonder why the bruised ones don't return." Ouch! This hit home. Gotta stop doing it! This is amazing stuff, Rae! Amazing stuff.

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  8. Dear Rachel
    I have long ago given up on organized Churchianity/Christianese or whatever you prefer to call it and have started to follow our Beloved Lord Jesus and I have not for one moment looked back! Now I can say that I am beginning to know Him for that is what He said eternal life is about; to know God.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

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  9. YES. This. I have been thrashing with this too, and coming to a similar conclusion. Love you for writing this, brave soul!

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  10. Wow- "why do they know us by all the things we hate?" my stomach is lurching with yours.. wondering what the world would see if we truly loved like Jesus does. This is a brave and honest post. Glad I found you through Jen's link up today.

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  11. my favorite words... "i refuse to give Him up." Yes! He is the pinnacle. and to love as He loves is quite the controversy because it goes against the common grain.

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  12. I ache inside when I read things like this. I think I can hear your heart through your words. My one caution: DO NOT
    GIVE UP on the Body of Christ. We need one another. There is NO way to re-present Jesus to our world alone. WE are His body - God chose us to be Jesus to others who don't know Him.

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    1. I feel like you didn't even read my words if you respond with a statement like this.

      The Church isn't people anymore. It's a place, an entity. It's not love or grace or the Body of Christ. It has stopped becoming that. Now it's a corporation, a place with rules and regulations. It's a country club that left Love and Light and He Who Sees Me outside on the street.

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    2. You missed my point! Scripture doesn't give us the option to love Jesus without loving His bride. The Church isn't a building, it is made up of those who follow Jesus! It is imperfect, but it was God's idea. We can't be lone followers of Jesus and expect to grow into His image. We need each other.

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    3. Not going to a building is not the equivalent of giving up on the body of Christ. The Church of organized religion in America seems to be suffering from a case of "invasion of the body snatchers" anyway. Maybe Rachel will have better luck finding the bride of Christ outside the circus of organized religion? Just maybe....

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  13. It's a strong position, Rachel. I do support it, but you know what? I've come to a different place. I guess I've had my time in the wilderness, and have brought my strengthened faith back to the church, and the people in the church. I won't give up the tradition of Christianity to the haters. I stand my ground.

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    1. And you want to know something, Esther? I hope I can come back one day too. I'm not abandoning the Church, because there's broken pieces in the Church. I'm not leaving. I'm just....taking their chains off and living with Jesus.

      that's all I've got left anymore.

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  14. This was beautiful and encouraging. I've so often struggled with the same things. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  15. This post makes me think of that verse, "Who is man that He is even mindful of us?" Yes, He is so much bigger than what we even know. Yet, all love... All love....regardless of what we have done. Jen from UNITE

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  16. Dear, dear Rachel... I have long quietly loved your blog, and gleaned so much from it's pages. This post was rich, but made me weep. It allowed ideas that have long been brewing the be brought to a head. I wrote a bit on my blog... I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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  17. I haven't been on Facebook for awhile. But lo and behold, today I was.

    I was scrolling down, about to get off, when I came across Mandy Steward's 'Messy Canvas' post with a link to THIS! Rachel, I am so close to where you are, and I've been scared to death. Confused. Lost. Feeling like I'm on the verge of some kind of breakdown.

    However, reading this right now, I don't feel so let's-get-this-gal-into-a-strait-jacket-NOW crazy. Instead, I feel like Alice in Wonderland, falling down the rabbit hole, but finding (FINALLY) a community where I can feel like I belong.

    I can't wait to continue reading here. Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

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  18. Your words are refreshingly honest and pure. I've been living in a similar boat for over a year now. Honestly I feel like I'm floating in some scary waters most of the time. Here I am, a former missionary who had all the "right" answers, and now I don't even know what I believe anymore. It's frightening at times and I've had to navigate alone for a good majority of it. Thankfully though, I've found some kindred spirits who have taken the time to listen to me. And now discovering your blog, as well as Mandy Steward's blog, I know that there are many of us thrashing about, tired of the norm and ready to accept that we don't have all the answers AND THAT'S OK. It's a new adventure but one that I know my soul has to take.

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I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon