Today, on June 30, it has been one year since I stood before my church and resigned. I can’t believe it has been a year. Honestly, there were moments that I didn’t think I would make it this far.
I have decided to start a blog. To be honest, I am not sure where this blog will lead. Like my life, this blog will be a little unpredictable and played out as it goes along.
In the story, “A River Runs Through It”, Norman Maclean’s dad says “You like to tell true stories, don’t you?’ he asked, and I answered, ‘Yes, I like to tell stories that are true.’
Then he asked, ‘After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don’t you make up a story and the people to go with it?
Only then will you understand what happened and why.
It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.”
In this blog, I guess I just want to talk and express myself, so that if nothing else, I will begin to understand “what happened and why”. It is a funny thing to know and love someone and have him or her elude us. It is quite another thing to elude oneself. I guess that kind of sums of my last couple of years ….. I eluded myself.
Here are a few things that I do know with certainty:
This has been the hardest year of my life.
My family, though it has been horribly hard, is starting to heal.
Everyday I live with the sorrow of hurting the staff, volunteers, and wonderful people of North Point Church. I see North Pointers all the time around town and work and many times I will personally apologize. You guys are so gracious. Please know that I love you with all of my heart.
Not that it is much consolation, but it is important for me to tell you North Pointers that it wasn’t a lie. I believed in every last word I preached. All of the outreaches, baptisms, prayers, and changed lives in the community – It was all real! I had good motives for starting North Point and at no other point than my last year did I live a hypocritical lifestyle. I believed in it with all of my heart and soul. I just got turned upside down. I wanted to confess sooner and was trying to find a way to confess sooner. I just didn’t know what to do. I do want you to know that I wasn’t taking any money or doing anything illegal. I confessed face to face what I was guilty of.
I will try to unpack some of the process of what went through my mind then, this last year, and now as this blog progresses.
I am guilty. Guilty of being a human. Guilty of sin. Guilty of mishandling the influence that God gave me. My last year has literally been hell on earth processing all of this………….
But I do know what I would say to me if I were not me. I would say:
“Jesus didn’t come for people that have it together. He came for the broken. He came for the forgotten. He came for the rejected. He came for the sinners. He came for the losers. He came for you! Feel it or not. Believe in it or not. Jesus’ gifts and callings are forever. Jesus isn’t done with you; he is only really beginning.”
I would say this to me and I would believe it to the core of my very soul if I were on the giving end and not the receiving end of this conversation.
But here is the rub; right now I don’t feel it and only half believe it. It has been hard. My family and I have lacked a support system for an entire year. For most of the year I worked on Sundays and we haven’t really been to church. When we could make it to church, it just felt weird. Sort of hopeless. I felt like people were looking at me. I felt like there were no answers. No hope. Going to church made me miss North Point. My family and I have sort of lived in exile.
I drank too much this year. It killed the pain. I am starting to get control of that. I am starting to think there is hope. I am starting to get that old feeling again. It is hard to explain, but it is the feeling you get when you fight a bully. There just comes a day when you have to do it. Instead of crying about why Christianity and church seemed so indifferent to me and irrelevant at the very moment I needed it the most, maybe I should be fighting to change it. To make it more like Jesus.
You see, the difference between you and me is that all of my shit was on the evening news. Yours isn’t.
I owe the church. I screwed up big time, but I will not let this be my last contribution to the thing that I am increasingly bothered by, but Jesus loves very much. So, if I do nothing else before I die, I want to pay back what I took. I want to help the church be there for the next broken sinful loser, like me …….. I want the church to be like Jesus. My last year at North Point, I was nothing like Jesus. So I look forward. I will fight. I will rebound. I will carry on when it would be so much easier to just give up. I will do this for that rare moment when that one person that had no hope or belief, might be introduced, not to religion, but to a carpenter – To a man – To a God. To the most amazing and fascinating being that has ever lived. At the intersection of this one we call Jesus, that hopeless person, and the absence of religion, politics, and agendas ….. there is only a changed life.
So I conclude this first blog post with some very beautiful lyrics:
“Carry On” by Fun
Though I’ve never been through hell like that
I’ve closed enough windows
To know you can never look back
If you’re lost and alone
Or you’re sinking like a stone
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground