Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When a sanctuary becomes a battleground

In this moment, I don't know which is more painful--the grief of walking away, or the continued pain of staying.  It's like a bad relationship where you continue to hang on, hoping you can change the situation or the person, but knowing in your heart that things seldom change in the ways you want them to.  It's hard not to look back as we contemplate walking away, afraid that we might return, or that I might just turn to a pillar of salt on the spot.  Although I believe in resurrection, sometimes things just have to die in order for something new to be born.

As much as I've fought to stay, to heal, the place that once was a sanctuary is now a place of accusation and suspicion.  I'm tired of pointing fingers and I'm tired of the blame game.  I'm tired of my own responsibility in it and how it is provoking the bitterness that I thought I had buried forever.

When I dream now, it is of gathering with friends, and the laughter and deep reflection that comes from authentic and unplanned times of sharing.  It's about finding connection again, with God and others, without submitting to the rituals of "this is how we've always done it."  I want to be moved by the power of relationships and the vulnerability of uniting in our struggles.  I long to dig deep and find meaning without drawn out discussions over policy and meetings about programs.  I want to shed this exhaustion and frustration and get back to the love that first drew me in.

I catch glimpses of how it used to be, back in the honeymoon stage where everyone was on their best behavior.  There are moments now when we can remember and share, and the defenses come down, and the urge to fight or leave is exchanged for a desire to have a seat and stick it out.  We can acknowledge that we are all hurting, that we have been both victims and accomplices, and that we want to make something beautiful out of this mess.  It seems only appropriate as we walk through Holy Week and admit that we are broken, grieving sinners in need of salvation.  We can simultaneously hold the very real threat of death with the hope of the resurrection.

I want to believe in resurrection.  After all, isn't that the gospel my faith is built upon?  I long to understand what Jesus was talking about when he told of the temple being destroyed and rebuilt in three days.  What does his death have to teach us about the many deaths we experience?  Shouldn't church be the primary place we practice the art of creating new life out of what appears to be dying?

I my unbelief.

I don't know where we will end up on this journey, but I know it look different than where we started.  We'll keep walking, one step at a time, and put our trust in a God who became human in all its messiness and pain.  Jesus lived as an example of divine love and grace, was put to death, and then rose again to make a new way for us all.  When we reach the empty tomb on Easter, may what we find be a joyful sign that love has won out over death once again.


  1. All these emotions you write about are everything I help when I wrestled with from 2005 - 2006 over whether I should leave my childhood church. It is still so fresh but for me, walking away was the best I could do. I don;t think God could have continued to move in me if I had not. Keeping you in my prayers as you walk this difficult journey.