Wednesday, January 14, 2015

This beautiful, broken old road

As I've settled into my word for the year, resurgence, these first two weeks of January, I've noticed a dwindling desire to share in-the-moment stories from my journey in writing. It's as I suspected: resurgence in my life, at this moment in time, seems to be leading me to greater depths of privacy in my writing.

And this wraps around me with peace.

Even though I was just getting warmed up with practicing bravery in writing the story of this spiritual transformation I'm in the midst of. The end of the year came, baptizing me instead in the grace to begin a new year without needing to articulate the ins and outs of these changes publicly.

But I do have this to say, before I settle back into this world of privacy, with another deep breath for courage and a prayer for grace for each other - - - 

I've said goodbye to church, or church as I've known it recently, and am giving myself space to figure out where I fit. But not until more recently did I come to know, I'm really saying goodbye to the evangelical church and much of the culture that comes with it*.

I have many reasons for leaving.

Some of which can be communicated with long-reflected-upon, sought-and-prayed after words, readily available at the tip of my tongue, or if time allows for percolation in conversation. Others, I know in my gut and experience like a grating against the grain of who I am becoming. I know my reasons by how what was once as unnoticeable to me as the air I breathe now makes it harder for my soul to breathe freely. I am changing. I am accepting myself as changed.

But, as I said, I am not compelled to write these reasons one by one. For these words on my blog, I ascertain, are read mostly by evangelicals and I have no desire to alienate people, nor be dismissed as yet another voice droning among the masses of those airing church grievances.

That's not my heart. This kind of criticism is not what I'm about. 

I've felt some urgency at times, yes, to communicate my differences as they unfold, perhaps because there are more implied similarities within this specific Christian culture than I ever realized - until they no longer fit who I am. And I only want to be known as the person I am. Not the person I was, or the person I'm assumed to be, or the person who fits a certain profile of beliefs.

Maybe for me to articulate, even graciously, all the reasons why I'm leaving (as if I could) reduces me to nothing more than a non-evangelical image of the nit-picking I'm emerging from. I can produce no bulleted list, complete with scripture verses to support each point of change, nor do I want to. I'm going off the cuff of the Spirit stirring in my life, and I know, somehow, that even though I don't know what this will look like or what to call it - it's good.

Maybe the reasons why I'm leaving, in the end, are of less importance than the action itself, of one step and then another in the direction of the Spirit, repeated day after day after day.

The reasons themselves turn out to be no more than the puffs of exhaust fumes that linger in the air after the car has already sped down the road. They are not to be clung to, for they, too, will dissolve soon enough - and it's the road that remains. This beautiful, broken old road we travel centuries and centuries behind other seekers and followers, in different shoes, different vehicles, but that leads us home to Christ all the same.

When our paths cross on this road, if they do, I would wish you to look in my eyes and see love, more than any other thing, and hear these words in the offering of my hand to you:

Peace be with you. 

* * * * *

*By saying this, I am in no way trying to attack evangelical culture or generalize it singularly as negative, only recognizing that much of it no longer fits my faith.

Linking up with Unforced Rhythms


  1. It's funny, Amber, we're in the midst of leaving a particular church - for the time being at least - a church we helped to plant. It's a difficult process and I continue to be more and more convinced that our relationship with churches (locally) reflects much about our most human needs and desires, our most fundamental relationships. There seems to be something about the ability to define oneself in relation to but not against another - I think Henri Nouwen has a great quote about that, maybe Ill come across it again. I believe you're right, it's not the reasons or the destination, but the movement that holds potential, seems like God is revealed most often in the crossing of thresholds even if they, eventually, lead us back to where we started but changed for the better. Happy belated birthday, BTW, I hope it was a joy!

    1. You have an ability, in your reading and commenting, to offer back to people a different way of articulating the heart behind their words. This is it, Kelly: "There seems to be something about the ability to define oneself in relation to but not against another." I'm finding, in my world that is full of different kinds of evangelical believers, this relation to and not against is a very tender one to navigate, and I hope to do so with grace. Thank you for sharing with me about the process you're in the midst of, with your family, leaving this particular church. May you know peace and healing in your hearts as you cross this difficult threshold, and may God be revealed in these movements.

  2. Hey, I love you, and witnessing your journey is such an honor. Your communication is grace-filled and beautifully candid. I'm blessed here today. And I'm just here. With you, friend.

    1. Truly, truly - what a joy and richness this is to me, Dana - that you are here, with me. I love you, friend.

  3. Dear Amber, My heart so understands your words. Without going into much detail and taking up a ton of space here, I want to share with you the precious words JESUS spoke to me the other day concerning something that fits here..."When you walked away from man's approval to obtain My approval, it was one of life's greatest sacrifices". I wish you and I could talk face-to-face! We would have so much to share, and, oh the battle scars we could compare! If you ever want to email me privately, you are more than welcome to do so. May God bless you and continue to draw you ever closer to HIMSELF....for this is truly what I see Him doing in your life. :)

    1. Cheryl, thank you for seeing this - seeing the drawing closer to Christ in me - and letting me know. It's hard to see for ourselves, especially in the throes of change, and it's affirming to know there are glimpses of him coming through. Who knows, maybe one day we will get to sit down and talk face to face about where we've been, how far we've come, where we've seen him along the way...

  4. Amber,

    I appreciate so much your gracious honesty in your post and that graciousness is a work of the Spirit in you...I can also understand the need for privacy when one is in the deep throes of transformation and change...and I think it is wise...Grateful to have met you online :-)