A really important question was asked of me the other night: What do you want from church?
This question was asked in regards to my past experience. I can write about this now because I am in a good place. I am at a church that values me. I love them with every ounce of love I have inside me – and the weird thing is; my love can keep growing – it is not limited to what I feel today.
Mark Charles was recently on PantSuit Politics. He is an independent running for president, and he is also Native American. The Native American part is especially important to me, because my husband is Native American – so are our children. We have never leaned into what that means. Jake’s family has been colonized, and I am going to write more about that in another post. I bring this up because what Mark says to America is what I want to say to the American church. We need to go into lament.
When I fell apart, I had to lament for a good while before I could do anything to repair what had broken inside of me. I went down mad, and I had every right to be mad. I had given my heart and soul, and was completely taken advantage of and crushed in a way that should make us all cry. Not because I was hurt, but for the system that allowed this to happen. Although, sometimes I wish people would cry for me too. Why are we treated as selfish because we want people to feel our pain – not to go down with us, but to be a friend? Let me know this pain is real, and I should feel pain, because this damn well does hurt. I don’t need this anymore, because I found a church that does do this. (But I continue to speak, because too many haven’t found this church). This church has healed wounds I did not even know I had. The power of church is when we can own our story without shame, and now use our story as part of the redeeming work of Christ.
When I found no comfort in church-but was finding it on Twitter-I knew something was up. I am not blaming church for what we did not know – I did not know. All I know is when I got back up, because I learned the Bible is half lament, I could not go back. I tried to fit back into the soccer-world and church-world; I could not. Who I had become could no longer compromise on things that are not to be compromised on. “Both sides” argument can have devastating results; think Charlottesville. We continue to push away those who mourn by catering to the powerful-the ones with money or influence. We don’t want to lose.
I cried out: “Where are the brave faith leaders? The ones willing to take the fall for the gospel? I see them on TV (Rev. Barber (not televangelists))- I hear them on Twitter; where are they in my everyday life?”
Moxie Matter Tour happens – The Journey to Wilshire. I found it! What shocked me when I arrived was the invitation to join the brave leaders, and take some falls with them-but this time these leaders have my back. The fall will be cushioned. What?! I did not come for this.
I want churches around me to lament and listen. Continuing to have hierarchies (and exclusion) only causes harm. My #MeToo story is not unique, #MeToo #Silence #Church, but even if it was- I wish the church would express their grief it happened. Watching the SBC taking on their massive abuse with zero remorse and repentance is so painful. It continues to reveal what I have known to be true; the church overall doesn’t care. When we ignore the Bible as half lament, we miss half the story. If we can’t feel pain – we don’t feel joy either. We chug along trying to do business, but completely miss the people around us who are weeping.
I heard a story that breathed life into me. It is from the Bible too. The same book many are using to oppress, I have found joy and inclusion. I thought I was receiving my own healing, but turns out I have now feel this wonderful responsibility to share this story. This one gives life, and gives room for pain. We can walk side-by-side through joy and pain. I did not need my pain fixed. I needed a friend. God sent me so many. I have never felt so loved in my life.
I shared on Twitter last night that I am so glad I found a church that doesn’t make me fight for my place at the table. I was lovingly invited without trying to prove my worth. George is constantly telling me, “You don’t have to do or say anything to prove anything to us. You are in”. I have never been told that in my life. My whole life has been striving to prove my worth: gymnastics, school, college, my job, the soccer world, church. Now I am at a church telling me to slow down. I am worthy as I am. Join our chorus. You aren’t fighting for limited space here.
Can you imagine if I stayed where I was? What if I stayed and fought – and got a seat at the Table – but then had to deal with the resentment from those who don’t want me there. This is why I speak. I don’t think church should be a place we have to fight for our seat at the Table.
When I shared this on Twitter I got some deep responses. A friend reached out and asked me if I recommend the difficulty of finding a new church to everyone. That is a great question. It was taxing finding a new church. I don’t think the burden should be on the one who mourns to have to do the work. Church should be this place already. This is why I speak – and also why I am going to seminary. I am hearing too many saying they feel emotionally healthier outside of church.