I’ve only attended church twice as a nonprofessional in the last few years, and both times were in Nashville. Just about this time last year, I made a trip out to see my oldest kids and used the opportunity to meet my blogging brother, John Pavlovitz, as he was speaking at an LGBTQ-affirming church in Franklin. John and I already had a legit friendship/kinship established and had a blast finally meeting in person.
The next day, my daughter Kathryn and I made our way to church to hear John speak. It was in that service during the worship time (church-speak translation: music concert/congregational karaoke) that I had quite the jarring epiphany.
I knew it was time to pull the plug on Four Creeks.
That in and of itself wasn’t the thing. We’d been coming to the end of everything for a while; people, money, sanity…will to live. Jimmy and I had set out to have Four Creeks be a church community where absolutely anyone of any persuasion, background, identity, ethnicity was valued and welcome to participate in absolutely every facet of church life. We did exactly that. It just turns out there wasn’t a market for it where we were, at least not one we were capable of tapping into by ourselves without resources and support. We had zero of either after the church that originally sent us out yanked everything out from under us very early on. We knew from the start we were dead walking. It was just a matter of time.
As I looked around the sanctuary at the beautiful diversity of humans worshiping together and the genuine love and enthusiastic community all the congregants shared, I welled up with thankfulness and awe that it did exist somewhere and that I was there to witness it. That Sunday last October, seeing the dream in vivacious reality in Nashville in stark contrast to our terminally ill child at home, I knew the time had come.
There was only a relieved resignation in that thought. It was the next one that I had never prepared myself to consider. If Four Creeks ceased to be, if our 20 years as professional Christians truly was coming to an end, what now? What kind of church would we want to join and in what capacity? Then came the epiphany.
This was the exact moment I allowed myself to BE what I’d already been inside for a decade in Church World – DONE.
As glad as I was that this church existed and that so many people were being loved, valued and finding value in it, all I could think as I was immersed in the familiarity of a typical worship service that just about anyone else from my evangelical tribe would find familiar and appealing (except for worshiping along side a married gay couple or 20) was, “I don’t need this. I don’t want this for myself.”
Having been on the production end of church my entire adult life and living behind the veil working with pastors and church boards as employers (dear, wise friends when we were lucky; dangerously insecure and immature mega jerks when we weren’t), I’m basically ruined for the entire church machine. I can’t just sit back and enjoy the show. I haven’t had the luxury of finding value in church from that side of things since I was a child.
I get other people finding value in the routine, their preferred music (whether it be modern praise band, hymns or liturgy) or looking to their favorite pastor to inspire them. I just don’t. Having been raised in that world with a view behind the curtain, my oldest children don’t either. My youngest have zero concept of it as all they know of church is Four Creeks, which by both design and fate had no programming or any traditions to speak of other than simply meeting, breaking bread together and studying scripture and its practical applications with integrity. Kathryn and Ryan have since expressed just how relieved they are that their younger siblings won’t be raised in the church culture they were (before Four Creeks). I am too.
I’ve heard a lot of people admit that even if they themselves don’t really want to go to church, they feel they should for the sake of their children. I’m just weird, I guess. I told my therapist that it is for the sake of my children that I don’t want to go to church ever again.
That was last Thursday. Three days later I went to church with my children…because I wanted to…and it was profoundly healing and wonderful.
5 thoughts on “The Day I Officially Came Out as a “Done””
Isn’t it amazing what our souls secretly hold onto without our knowledge? How many times have I unknowingly held fast to an idea, then let it go because it was damaging (or just Not Helping), only to find peace in it after the release? The next challenge (for me) is when I realize I have to let go again and again and that I’m not Done, even if I thought I was.
Best wishes on your healing journey!
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I love your transparency and honest, uncluttered sharing. It is so refreshing. Thanks!
Me – I keep thinking I’m done too, but there’s still that hankering after that sometimes intrudes. I haven’t darkened the church doors for a long time (having also been involved in “professional” Christianity for quite a number of years). What keeps me out is being gay and only coming out late in life. (You know, that preacher/teacher who “went gay”. Lost in sin he is.) I’m hoping to move country and city within the next 6 months or so and already I belong to an online chat prayer group of an MCC church there that I will certainly visit and hopefully belong in when I get there, though those waters will have to be tested when the time comes. I’m very much in trepidation about that!
Oh Jem…all my love to you. My next blog is going to be about unexpectedly finding myself in church again last Sunday (going again this Sunday before I write it) and how out of nowhere, it felt like I was home. I’m so sorry for the pain and loss of culture you’ve endured. I relate. I specifically chose a therapist that specializes in LGBTQ and veterans’ PTSD issues because I relate so much to the trauma associated with “coming out” in all honesty in order to truly live – mind, body, and soul with integrity. Bless you, friend. Bless you, bless you. I’m right here with you cheering you on as you make plans to go where the love is. May you find a home where you can BE.
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I suspect that as done as we may feel, the One who made us for Himself isn’t done with us (thank God). May your simple courage be met with wisdom and grace.
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