For quite some time I have been in a cocoon with my rapidly evolving views on faith and Christianity.
This week was my coming out.
It was the moment I’ve been deathly afraid of, because I knew that coming out as having moved beyond Christianity would cause great discomfort for me.
I knew that I would receive judgment, condescending concern, negative comments, and an overall increase in conflict in my world.
I do not like conflict.
I am not used to conflict.
I grew up in a very conflict-free family (the conflicts were held internally, not expressed externally).
So you can imagine how scary it was for me to announce to my 800+ friends on Facebook who are predominantly Christian that I have moved beyond this religion.
I knew it wouldn’t go over well.
And I was right.
There have been many public comments and private messages I’ve received, in direct opposition to everything I’ve been posting in my blog.
Some have been respectful, kind and loving, just trying to get me to see that I may have lost my way,
and others have been downright mean.
When you are boldly sharing your story with no other intention but love,
and you have made yourself emotionally naked to the world,
the mean messages DO hurt.
Some of my worst fears have been realized.
And yet, I can tell you honestly, confidently, 100% assuredly,
that every uncomfortable, painful moment of this week
has been like a little pin prick that I’ve already forgotten,
compared to the outpouring of authentic, full, loving support I’ve received from a handful of you.
Some of you have even supported me publicly, defending me as a person – defending my intentions and my heart.
There is nothing that can compare to the incredible reality of having true support like this, when you have offered yourself vulnerably to the world!
It’s truly worth any amount of criticism I EVER receive.
So from the bottom of my heart, to those of you who have supported me this week, words don’t even begin to suffice, but – THANK YOU!
One of my biggest supporters, and more than that,
my inspiration for what I have done this week,
is David Philip Norris.
Way earlier this year, I came across his blog, and started reading about
his journey of coming out
as gay and as an atheist.
WOW! I was so shocked to find out these facts about him, because we went to college together at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN (now called University of Northwestern), and we were both Christians doing the ‘Christian college’ thing. I had no idea.
Greater than my shock at learning these truths about him, was the inspiration and admiration that instantly flooded my spirit.
I thought, If David can announce to the world that he is not only an atheist, but that he is GAY, certainly I can think about coming out with my new radical views on faith.
For those of you who did not grow up in the mid-western Christian culture that David and I did, you may not understand the bigness of coming out like he did.
I was SO inspired that he was courageous enough to share himself with the world, in the face of knowing he would be the target of much concern and judgment from his family and friends.
And he WAS the brunt of much judgment, and still is.
But he keeps sharing. He’s a brilliant modern renaissance man with so much to offer the world – his beautiful music compositions, his writings, his incredible intellect, and his heart.
He boldly shares his struggles with depression and his journey after feeling like he lost so much of his life, growing up in a culture that he knew wouldn’t accept who he really was.
He shares all of this vulnerably in his blog, A hard and a rock place.
And the amazing part of this story, is that the friendship I have built this year with David is not based on shared beliefs at all.
My whole life and career is about God, Spirit, miracles.
David doesn’t believe there’s a god.
But here is the beautiful thing about authentic friendship:
It really doesn’t matter what you believe.
I have no desire to convince David that there’s a god.
Because what I’ve learned since moving beyond finite religious beliefs,
is that inside EVERY person is wisdom, truth,
and a unique journey that must be traveled authentically
and must be honored,
no matter how different it looks from MY journey.
And because we’ve both moved on from the Christian culture, the narrow and limiting Christian theology, we find common ground in LOVE and in mutual respect for each others’ beautiful and unique paths.
I have no agenda with David. And he has no agenda with me.
We can just fully support each other, honoring that we each have so much to offer each other.
David is incredible with fancy words, with intellect and debating.
I am not.
So when he came to my aid yesterday in a Facebook conversation, I was flooded with the reality of what my coming out this week has brought to me: It’s brought me
and the beauty of a friendship with someone I never knew I would ever talk to again, after leaving college 10 years ago.
I am crying now, just feeling overwhelmed with the beauty and power of LOVE.
And although David doesn’t believe there’s a god, all I can think is that David has been God to me.
Unconditional support, unconditional love, the love that is beyond belief, beyond religion.
And now I can resonate with that line from a song in Les Mis:
“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
So what parts of yourself are you afraid to share with the rest of us?
Yes, it is scary. But anything really worth anything is gonna be scary at first.
I’m telling you — YOU have something to offer the world that no one else has.
Be bold, be courageous –
because when you authentically share yourself with the world,
you not only find yourself,
you find the most deep, powerful authentic connections with others —
you find your true support and community.
We’re here waiting for YOU.
Will you join us?