I’ve had a number of years to think about the consequences of losing my religion. I have often thought about the years leading up to that decision and years since. I have been clean and sober since I ended my addiction to churchanity almost twenty years ago. The years since have been well spent. Time has given me a great deal of clarity and hindsight. I am much better equipped today to understand the aftermath and far-reaching implications of that decision than I was the day I first made it. I’ve learned many lessons since that day and experienced many changes.
I’ve learned that the process of our “coming out from among her” is just that - a process. For those of you who have also come out of her or contemplating doing so, I speak. That decision is not an end in itself. It is only a beginning – a pivotal, life-changing moment, yes, but only a beginning. If you think you arrived at that moment you are mistaken. Pilgrim’s progress is “A Process.” It began the moment we finally admitted to ourselves that we were sick and tired of being spiritually sick and tired. That moment of epiphany was, in itself, only reached after years in the making. Even when that point of certitude was reached concerning the spiritual falsehoods we had bought into over the years, our journey really just began. Truths percolate through our hearts and minds as time passes. They find lodging in our souls with fresh understanding. New paradigms coalesce. We spiritually evolve. Our roots deepen and expand. Our understanding of the word matures. His voice grows clearer.
That “aha” moment when we realized that there is a vast difference between churchanity and authentic Christianity launched us on a voyage of exploration and discovery in Him. It was the start of a new beginning in Him. The journey is one that is long, often lonely and occasionally hard. It is a journey where we gradually learn line upon line, precept upon precept upon precept, here a little there a little and through it all the truth continues to set us free. It is a process where we grow in discernment, wisdom and understanding.
It is the same pilgrimage others have taken before. We are following in the footsteps of Father Abraham who was also called out of the comfortable confines of his old life to seek a heavenly city even though he didn’t know where God was leading him. (Hebrews 11:8) Like Abraham, we responded in simple faith with only the foggiest idea where that journey would take us or what that journey would entail. We too have left our old ways. We’ve forsaken comfortable churchanity. We have come out of her and all the familiar experiences that came with that embrace. We have finally said “yes” to being a pilgrim and a stranger in a strange land.
I spent years finding myself questioning the discrepancies and contradictions of churchanity. I wrestled with what I had been told and bought into. I weighed what I was questioning and experiencing in the balance of God’s word and often found them failing miserably.
I look back at those melancholy times sitting in church during another service and asking myself, “Is this what it is really all about? Is this all there is? Is this what I see in the early church? Do I really know His joy and peace and love? What happened with those days of youthful innocence when I just wanted Jesus?”’ I am discovering the answers to those questions now and, in some cases, rediscovering them. He continues to lead me as He will you. He continues to deepen my understanding. It is a journey that will continue until that day when we reach that heavenly city whose builder and maker is God.