When we leave, God is still with us
When I left,
with a head crammed full of angry screaming question marks,
god was waiting outside,
leaning on a tree.
Walk with me.
I've got some stuff to show you"
Thank you 🤎 I especially appreciated your naming the problem in elevating young people to leadership so early. I became a Christian at age 21 and by 22 I was in the worship band and the student council of my campus ministry. I know they were trying to be radically welcoming to this queer and trans outsider, but it meant I completely skipped the phase of just being present in church - straight to being responsible for its message and appearance. I burned out fast. I’m grateful for you holding these spaces in your writing.
Thank you Kaitlin. This is truly remarkable and a piece full of wisdom, compassion and love. I am sharing this with so many of my colleagues who feel, or have felt, these ways even as we navigate the act of staying as leaders in one way or another. Your writing on this is one of the most brilliant and thought provoking that I am reading anywhere. The way you begin and end is so real: I am leaving, and God is with me. Holding God as a source of spirit and with is in the comings and goings, and the liminal spaces in between. Thank you much!
Preordered Winter’s Gifts from my Indie bookstore and am looking forward to receiving it!!
Beautiful. Thank you for this.
I rejoined my childhood church 25 years ago, and slowly, it became a second job with all of the work I was doing--leadership, stewardship, personnel, fellowship. I didn't have the chance to be present. I suggested spiritual formation programs and was told I would be too busy to come. I finally left and found a Benedictine community and completed their spiritual direction program. This spring, when my mom was dying, two ladies from my old church came to visit. One told my mom that she would be forgiven and go to heaven if she had truly accepted Jesus. Spare me the threats of salvation. The other tried to wake my mom up after she fell into her last deep sleep. Then, church lady wouldn't leave and proceeded to tell my family how mad she was at me when I first rejoined the church over an issue with a church meal--something that happened 25 years ago. I don't see myself ever going back to "regular" church. My church is now a coffee shop with friends and deep conversations about faith and spirituality.
Amazing these spiritual/religious traditions and all the tenets, spoken and unspoken. I have been in so many different traditions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, New Thought...They worked while they worked. Then it came to the questions, do I hang on or leave? That part is so challenging. There were these amazing communities that I loved. Yet my soul was no longer being fed. I knew I was being called to something else, but change is not the easiest to say yes to at times. And I ended up saying YES each time. The hardest was the last one. I am a minster in that tradition, but I no longer believe in the core of what is being taught, how it is being run and the unsaid expectations that are the undercurrent of it. I have mostly left. But there still are some cords. It is a process.
And it is very true, "When we leave, God/Goddess/Spirit/ is still with us."
This space is incredible. Thank you for holding it, holding us. 💚
In fall of 2021 my partner and I chose to leave. We both said we needed a break without a going back date on it. I needed that gentleness. Looking back, I knew I wouldn’t be going back.
My husband was a youth pastor at a kinda big church. I was thrust into the spot light in a lot of ways - and, newly married, newly moved to the area, I feel so sad now for my younger self who was really doing all she could to survive.
Never felt like Sunday church was actual church. Love worship and a lot of sermons, but from a young age I knew that a space where connecting, vulnerable conversations were happening was real church. Why go on Sundays, then? That routine started to fade.
Then, a bunch of little moments became clear to us that not everyone was welcome, in spite of what they said. My husband reckoned with his Chinese identity that he really had to reject in these white spaces. Multiple moments where kind people that were queer were clearly not welcome or were shunned.
During his transition out of that role we stared attending another church in secret 😄. When they say that welcomed everyone, they meant it. It was encouraging to see a community that was not the toxic evangelicalism we had been in for so long. Being in that safe space is what gave me the safely I needed to finally leave. (It was actually on of the pastors of that church that told me about this series!)
A decision I never imagined I’d make. The months of grief that followed were the hardest for us.
And now I’ve felt the glimmers of Exploration. And I’m actually excited. I didn’t know if spinning my wheels would ever have an end. But I don’t think trusting myself is sinful anymore. There has been healing.
Thank you for sharing your stories. For making a space for us to share ours.
Ok - now I really need to read Native.
Thank you for putting words to something I had struggled with. We left our previous church - back in 2010 - and moved on to a different church - I attended on my own - my husband did not - however I never lingered for coffee hour - I just would leave - I enjoyed the sermons and worship but still couldn't do the Sunday small talk, plus the ever present Church Cliques are live an well no matter where you go. IN 2021 we moved away - about an hour from our church and with the pandemic started to watch on line- we do have a pastor that asks those questions most of the time, but I feel freed from the scrutiny because I am not in a small group or leading anything. And by not being in the building I do not feel so alone. IN the Church I always felt alone yet it was suppose to be in community. Its funny how weird people get when you are not in the building. I did lead a small group for a while - it was an art group but had trouble gaining traction - I guess it wasn't Christian enough for our church. Not sure. I have been doing alot of learning on the Indigenous history - here in Canada and what led to the many awful things that have happened not only to Indigenous people but other BIPOC groups. I have questions - one I have been pondering of late - are there oral stories around creation and God that are not in the bible but just as relevant? How did everything begin in the Middle East - yet we have history showing man was here on Turtle Island thousands of years. Sorry I am all over the place. Your Leaving Church has really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing - Michele