I am posting these twelve confessions in response to the conversations on the blogosphere of the past week incited by Rachel Held Evans' post and others who have shared reasons why they have left and returned to the church.
Growing up in and now serving the church, I humbly offer these confessions as a self-proclaimed church chick. I am someone who has known God’s love in a local congregation and someone who has been both lost and found. I share these reflections from the inside looking out.
We all start from somewhere, for good or ill. There is a place where the beginnings begin, a place where the story first unfolds like the soft petals of a rose; my beginning is by the sea.
Warm white sand melting away under your feet with each step, me in my yellow polka dot bikini and matching sun bonnet holding hands with baby sister who is dressed just like me, carrying pails and fluffy, soft terry cloth towels and nose coat to find the perfect place on the shore under the watchful eyes of the Son. Sea shells and digging for crabs and sand castles washed away by the afternoon tide. A place of laughter and pure joy where each hour passes into the next filled with more warm, sunshine goodness.
It is cotton candy and carnival rides, it is lobster tails and drawn butter, it is daddy throwing you into the pool and mama covering your nose with white goo every time she can get her hands on you. By her own profession you are part fish, more suited for the water than life on land. Years later floaties are exchanged for hula skirts and tender skin kissed by the sun, it is hot tubs and star filled nights to hold a thousand dreams of what life will be.
It is before the beauty got banged up by the realities of this world. It was before I knew that marriages broke up, before he and she went their separate ways, it is before I ever knew the word cancer, before granny got sick and before anyone I loved left me for good, before I ever stood over the hole in the earth they call a grave. It was before I realized some endings were not happy, before I was aware that the hard, cold blows of this life could shatter paradise. It was before there was worry or fear, before anxiety attacks, before I wondered if God could really be good, it was before any brokenness entered the realm of my own little world.
Painting: Woman at the Well | Hyatt Moore
He saw her. He looked past the façade, beyond the lie that she wished were real, the image that she tried to project and saw down through to the gritty truth of her life. She wasn’t perfect, her path anything but ideal, her world eschew. You don’t come to the well alone and in the middle of the day if you are living the dream. No, she was persecuted by pain, her soul punched through by the gossip of women confronted with the smallness of their own lives. She came that day, as every day before, to draw water from the well in the middle of the day hoping, praying, desperate to avoid their clucking tongues and dark stares. She had come to draw just enough water for the work of the day, just enough to see her through and instead she had stumbled into the light of eternity.