{It Doesn’t Mean…}

Oh boy do I ever feel like a SpiritualMisfit. I have my story (see Finding or #churchsurvivor posts) in other places here on the blog, but here is a manifesto of sorts as to why my feeling like a misfit finally came to the point of leaving institutional church in January of this year. I am not a church-hater, please don’t receive my words in this vein. I have a huge heart of reconciliation, but I have to stop being a robot and a doormat, I have to find my voice, use it, and pursue knowing Jesus and myself more than anything else or anyone else. I am tired. I am running into the dark places in hopes of finding Him and me there, because for me, He wasn’t inside the walls and I really wasn’t either.


>>>What leaving institutional church Doesn’t Mean for me<<<

  • It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God or a higher power anymore, but rather I just simply don’t know anymore what or why I believe. I am longing for a firm place to land.
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t care about Jesus or don’t want to know him, but rather that he isn’t who I have always been told he is, so then, who is he?
  • It doesn’t mean I think I’m better or have it all figured out.
  • It doesn’t mean I’m an imposter or a fake, but rather I am unlearning what doesn’t fit and what does.
  • It doesn’t mean I’ve lost my way entirely or given up my soul, but rather that I lost my voice along the way, I lost my me-ness, and I am on a journey to finding her, knowing her, and introducing her to myself now where I am standing.
  • It doesn’t mean I’ve attained some new and better level of spirituality, but rather I am in a place of unkowing, of not-knowing.
  • It doesn’t mean I have thrown away all the good and beautiful with the bad and ugly, but rather I am headed towards more consistent beauty and less criticizing, hating, judging, controlling, measuring, and comparing.
  • It doesn’t mean I hate church, but rather I am weary of spinning wheels and checking boxes.
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t want to fellowship with others seeking to know themselves and God better; I love relating, I love authenticity…where is it?
  • It doesn’t mean I think everyone who still attends an institutional church is narrow and legalistic; but I am sick to death of hate and arrogance being the driving force of most behavior and words within church walls.
  • It doesn’t mean it’s mostly about the others.
  • It doesn’t mean it’s just about the hurts inflicted on me by those inside the walls.
  • It doesn’t mean there is nothing good inside those church walls.
  • It doesn’t mean I was intentionally abused.
  • It doesn’t mean good-intentioned people meant to not see me or give me a chance.
  • It doesn’t mean I only have questions and doubts.
  • It doesn’t mean I have no faith anymore, but rather my faith is in pieces, and I am in a time of reassessing, gathering, and tossing away.
  • It doesn’t mean I still secretly cling to the faith of my childhood, but rather that I don’t, I can’t anymore, it just simply is a tangled mess that cannot be unwound, it must be burned away and found anew.
  • It doesn’t mean I’m an atheist, but rather I am a recovering bible belt southern girl who wants to really know if it’s true she is loved unconditionally by a higher power, and beyond that even personally by this-person-called-jesus.
  • It doesn’t mean I’m still who I was but I’m just hanging out with God at home because I’m tired of giving, serving, and tithing, but rather than I need the space to breathe, the space to find dear-whoever-you-are-up-there.
  • It doesn’t mean I’m full of hate and bitterness, but rather I am facing demons in the church, demons of my own making, and the impact of evil on my life and my soul.
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t miss pieces of it.
  • It doesn’t mean I have no regrets.
  • It doesn’t mean I didn’t mess up.
  • It doesn’t mean I’ve made myself my own god.
  • It doesn’t mean I think I’m better off going it alone.
  • It doesn’t mean I’m trying to get attention.
  • It doesn’t mean I think every word of the Bible is untrue and man made, but rather I want to know simply God and simply Jesus, not man’s decided upon theology or man’s created religious system based on ways they have tried to earn God’s favor or ways they have tried to box themselves in and get it right.
  • It doesn’t mean I believe God is contained inside walls and pages and I’ve decided to walk away from him, but rather I am finding it necessary to leave and go beyond to actually encounter him in this season of my life.
  • It doesn’t mean I woke up one day and decided I had to leave suddenly, but rather this need to leave was a gradual awareness.
  • It doesn’t mean I even know all the whys.
  • It doesn’t mean I think I know God very well, but rather the opposite is true.
  • It doesn’t mean I’ve figured out how to live and love more thoroughly, but I aim for deeper living and deeper loving.
  • It doesn’t mean I’ve gone crazy, but it means I am not who you think I am.
  • It doesn’t mean I know the path I’m on and I chose it cheerfully, but rather this has been excruciating and painful to navigate, and if I could choose I would have chosen another way towards knowing my creator.
  • It doesn’t mean I think we are all alone here on this big bouncing ball; I cannot un-believe the existence of something infinitely larger than me.
  • It doesn’t mean I think I’m only in this for myself and what I can gain, but rather I left to save myself so I will in turn one day have more to give the community at large.
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t care about people anymore, but rather I am a lover of people, of relationship, of authenticity.
  • It doesn’t mean I’ve found my way, but rather I am lost, yet I have been found, and I am finding me, and I am finding him.

{Hope Wood © 2014} >>>So, there you have it, this is where I am and this is what it didn’t mean when I decided to leave institutional church in January of this year, and this is why I feel like a SpiritualMisfit.<<<

>>>Post/Story is part of a series on #IamaSpiritualMisfit by Convergent Books<<<

**THIS QUESTION WAS INITIALLY POSED BY Bree at Falling Joyfully, thank you Bree!**

>>>I am linking up with Cynthia on this post as part of her “An Unapologetic” weekly series at Spirituncaged<<<