What the Church Gave Me

What the Church Gave Me

One of my main goals in writing is to help people recognize and embrace the complexity of life by moving out of dualistic thinking. In these past few weeks of writing publicly on very personal topics, it’s been fascinating what people reflect back to me about themselves by way of their responses to my writing.

A few things:

  • Although I have “left” the Evangelical Church, I’m still very much a part of Christian community. In the future I plan to write more about the type of church experience I’ve chosen going forward and what it means to me.
  • Just because I’ve had negative experiences with the church, it doesn’t mean I think all Christians are bad or that I have ill will toward any specific church. It also doesn’t invalidate your personal experiences with the church. Lastly, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t had positive experiences with the church.

We must learn to hold conflicting truths in tension.

Here’s a short list of what the church has given me throughout my life, and for these things I am deeply grateful. There’s so much more I could say, but my faith is so foundational to me that I’m sure there are things that I can’t even recognize because I take them for granted. The Evangelical Church raised me, and for that reason, it will always be a part of me. The truth is that I don’t know myself apart from this paradigm, apart from my faith. I never wanted to leave the church, leave my faith, and I’m fighting like hell to hold on. I’m asking for grace and I’m trying to offer hope to those who feel the same way that I do.

The church gave me a place to belong from as young as I can remember. A second home, a safe haven. I grew up in a huge church and knew that building like the back of my hand.

The church gave me exemplary, model parents.

The church gave me a sense of mystery, reverence, and awe.

The church gave me an expansive view of family and deep appreciation for community.

The church gave me almost all of my best friends in this world.

The church gave me game nights where I laughed until I cried.

The church gave me opportunities to travel and gain a global perspective and appreciation for other cultures. Later, the church gave me eyes to see how God is worshiped all around the world and helped me enlarge the container where I held God.

The church gave me meals in hard times and arms to hold my new baby.

The church gave me prayers and hopeful words to remember in tough times.

The church gave me mentors who deeply influenced my life.

The church gave me casseroles and salads with no lettuce in them.

The church gave me leadership opportunities and safe spaces to grow into confidence.

The church gave me sleepovers and staying up all night baring our souls.

The church gave me a purpose and a belief that I could contribute to the world in a positive way.

The church gave me all of my core values: community, loyalty, truth, responsibility.

It doesn’t have to be either/or. It can be both/and.