My world is falling apart, one question at a time. I am a shadow of the man I once was, but, somehow, I stand taller at the same time. My strength fails me. My prayers are no longer given to my Maker upon my knees, but upon my pillow, exhausted by a sorrow I don’t understand. I am weak. This is no longer a theological statement I use as some kind of mantra. This is my life. I understand now just how true it is. I fail. I lose. I feel hopeless even with all the knowledge of salvation and a great God within me. I’m weak, but I am also honest, and it is honesty that keeps me moving.
While I can not produce the fruit of the Spirit as evidence of my walk with God, and I struggle as to why God has not shared his joy with me for so long, I do take comfort in the way I resemble the DNA of the Divine. For God defines himself as the truth, and the truth is all I have left to identify with. I’m more honest than I’ve ever been, and that makes me stand, despite all the weaknesses that weigh me down, taller than my former self.
Questions are dangerous. Far more dangerous than anyone realises. They are double-edged, cutting both ways. If you ask a question, you not only have to accept the truth you find through them, but also confront the lies you have believed for so long. I was never afraid of discovering the truth, but I now realise how frightening it is to face the lies I’ve been deceived by. Here I am, a man who spent his whole life being supported by people to be a pastor, only to question myself out of a job. Out of an identity that held me up for so long. Now I walk a road with no signposts, only a lamp upon my feet. Funny how I never really noticed that lamp before now. I guess now that all else has been removed, it’s the only thing my eyes yearn for. So here I walk, worn out by religion, a ex-pastor on a spiritual journey, searching for grace.
Honesty is a revolution to the soul. It has allowed me to discover my true self, the person God created me to be. I don’t think God cares much for masks, do you? I spent so long afraid of taking mine off, convincing myself God’s children were to be, well, the same – same thoughts, same actions and same vocabulary. Turns out God made me unique for a reason. I’ve figured out that God likes unique things and I don’t have to try to fit a common mold. I don’t have to wear a mask. I don’t have to use the same words, believe the same things, accept the same theology. It’s a shame more of God’s kids don’t also enjoy my company, in all my uniqueness. They preferred me in my mask, but my mask has been abandoned, and most of my spiritual brothers and sisters have disowned me because of it.
The arena of honesty is completely different to the religious arena I spent so long in. All the rules have changed. In the religious arena, the obsession with being ‘right’ is the battle cry, judging others the sword, and inclusion the reward. I was a valiant fighter in the arena of religion. A champion admired by all who surrounded me, cheering me forward as they too took up their swords. And now they shake their heads at me. ‘Oh, how the mighty has fallen’ they think. In their minds I have betrayed them. They don’t understand my journey. They don’t resonate with the rules of fighting in the arena of honesty. In this arena I have no need or desire to be ‘right’, I condemn no one; in fact, I find such a weapon repulsive to my spirit. And about the reward of inclusion, well, as I stated, most of my sibling in Christ have rejected me. So here I stand, expelled from the favours of religion, an outsider.
Truth, I have discovered, is an outsider. If you want it, you’ll never be allowed to remain in the circles of main stream acceptance; like Jesus, truth isn’t accepted in religious circles. I tried to make it work, to find a middle ground, we all do. But there came a point when I simply stopped understanding the religious mind. It is a strange thing, because that was my mind for so long, but I can’t sympathise with it any longer; I want no part of it. And I am not alone. I’ve become part of a band of rebels who have found each other along the path of honesty. We’re not considered rebels because we are looking for a fight; we are rebels because we openly reject the cry of religion, demanding we return to captivity.