the story so far..

my whole life has been centered on god and the church in some way or another. born and raised in a baptist home i spent the majority of my life growing up in church where i learned the about the bible and christian community. i attended all the bible-drills and was a member of a boys mission club. i went to camps mission trips and was in the church every time the doors were open.

at the age of eleven i realized my need for jesus and acted on it spending an afternoon discussing things with our pastor. the following week i was baptized. throughout the course of the following year i felt god pulling me toward service. i wasnt sure about what that service would include but 1 year later at age 12 i committed myself to lifelong ministry.

and everything was seriously normal.

at 19 i was involved in a college and young adult bible study based in the church id grown up in. though based there it was really its own entity. it was mostly populated by people id grown up with in that church but there were some others coming that had not. the leaders were a group of mid 20 somethings to early 30 somethings from our church that had known me since i was a child. after being involved for a while i started helping to lead praise and worship for the group and teaching a bible study. i was 19 and already in a position of leadership.

through the course of being involved with this group i met a girl who had just started coming who had little or no church background. she was beautiful and only a year my senior so we became fast friends. over the next year we developed a steady friendship and when i returned from my first year of college – writing and calling all along – we started dating. by september i decided not to return to school and we got engaged in october. things were looking great but from the moment we got engaged we had become sexually promiscuous which led to fighting and arguing all the time about everything. this continued until january when she came over one night and in a fit of rage broke up with me.

and i was broken.

i continued to stay involved in the group but she dropped out and quit coming altogether. we tried to keep in touch but we couldnt talk without throwing blame around and fighting over everything so our communication dwindled. she was still in touch with a couple of people from the group so i checked up on her though them.

4 months later i met a girl and started hanging out with her. my ex-fiancé found out and began calling me again but now it was always very late at night and it involved a lot of screaming and cursing. she sank into a serious depression and one night she called and told me not to come to her funeral because i wasnt invited then hung up. i prayed for her for a long time and thought i would go see her the next day. but the next morning my world came tumbling down. she had called the leaders of our church group and told them some horrible stuff about the relationship.

then she slit her wrists.

somehow she survived and at the hospital she told them much more. some of it true but most of it severely skewed. the leaders then went to the girl i had just begun dating and told her everything they had been told. lastly they came to me and confronted me. they told me i had to resign as praise and worship leader and bible study teacher and that i needed to confess before the entire church. they were my spiritual mentors and i was in a wrecked state of mind so i heeded their guidance.

meanwhile they spread their misinformation around the whole group as well as the whole church and over the next few weeks it became clear that i and my family were being ostracized from the church we had been members of for 14 years. with only a couple exceptions everyone i had grown up with and known as friends and every spiritual leader outside of my immediate family turned their backs on us. i was cast away from everything and everyone i had ever known or cared about. this is when i left the church and vowed never to return. i hated god for doing that to me and i hated the church and christians for taking part. i spent the next 8 years despising anything that evenly remotely resembled christianity or the church.

or god.

after a few years of reading everything i could get my hands on from every other major religion i gave up entirely and became a deist. i still believed in god but i didnt like him and saw him as far off and just watching the little games we humans played out for him. life moved forward and i went back to college and graduated worked and got married.

then one night about 8 years ago i was standing on my back porch and i got a call that my father had suffered a stroke and was in a coma. we rushed to houston and spent the next 9 months going back and forth to the hospital. he never recovered and when he died in august of o1 i was devastated. once again i shouted my contempt at god but something in the silence calmed me. i cant explain it – i just felt at peace.

over the following few months i began to search for god – praying for him to just let me know if he was there. he didnt but i prayed all the more. i began to spend time opening up my heart to him. i still didnt like christians and church but i was opening up to god like never before. i pleaded with the sky in the wee hours of the mornings when i couldnt sleep and longed desperately for his attention. i looked for the living god – not the god of self-help books or popular culture. i tossed every preconceived idea to the wind and began really studying the scriptures.

and god drew near.

he showed me himself through the scriptures but more importantly he showed me his presence in my life. a peace and joy i had never known began to grow in me and branch out into every part of my life. my family relationships revitalized. my relationship with my wife blossomed. we got pregnant and had our first baby. i began to trust people again and more than anything else i began to trust god and develop a relationship with him. as a result of my growing relationship with god and his spirit within me i began to learn what it means to be still and know him.

i been through some tough experiences and come through with scars but also with a love and faith in jesus christ. i still face doubt and i still have questions that arent answered.

so ive been wrestling with this for quite some time now and what ive found as i peel back the layers of church history and tradition and doctrinal theology is that a lot of the stuff that doesnt add up has been added on and is not reflective of christ or his teachings in any way.

in addition i spend a lot of time studying two other fields which i consider related. mythology and intangible heritage. the cumulative effort has given me great reasons to believe in a god yet i still have so many doubts. not if there is a god – but who god is.

and who he is bothers me quite a bit. i dont understand him very well. i dont know why he does things the way he does. i question him often (which really seems to piss off most the xians i know) i worship him anyway (which really seems to piss off most the non-xians i know) and ultimately i believe that christ was in fact gods son – sent to earth to show the way.

if you ask me why i can give you some reasons but eventually you have to come to your own conclusion. my only encouragement is seek and you will find – but it wont be wrapped up in a pretty little package like so many people think bc god cannot be quantified by catch phrases and bumper stickers. he is a dynamic being. it seems most of the descriptions the church has given him are far from adequate and have turned out doing more damage than good.

i also find it extremely uncomfortable when people tell me how easy he is to understand. in following him the one thing i have found consistent is how much i dont understand him. i converse with him daily. i fast. i read scripture. i study. i read hebrew and greek. i read theology. i have a ba in theology and am finishing off an ma in divinty.

all this and yet i dont understand god. sometimes he makes even less sense than others. the one thing i do with regularity is to curl up at his feet and worship him. i do this bc i understand me fairly well. i know that i need time at his feet. i know that i need to spend quiet moments with him – lifting my whole being to him. i cant grasp why he is the way he is but i can almost always tell when i need to be near him.

i dont know if this makes any sense to anyone but me. prolly not – but this is my relationship with him. its difficult and its taxing and its full of doubt and pain yet theres is a peace in it that i never had without it. so be it. im cool with that.

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~ by graceshaker on February 18, 2009.

18 Responses to “the story so far..”

  1. This is an amazing post and one that I relate with though our struggles are different in nature. Like your experience I have been wrongly accused to the point of the church leaders threatening to sue me. But the sense of injustice is still a deep wound that is a constant struggle that I go through. I still believe in God and all that, in fact I’m still a stubborn God believer (haha) but i’m just dissolution with church. Anyway thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. There are two friends of mine that I’d like you to meet: the tab key and the shift key.

    The tab key is used to indent text. I see that you’re already very fond of using the tab key. In fact, you use it far too much. The tab key would like to take this opportunity to say “back the fuck off, and if you indent at all, indent at the beginning of paragraphs!”

    The shift key, on the other hand, is used to capitalize letters. You see, in the English language, the first letter of the first word in each sentence starts with a capital letter. Capital letters are the upper-case version of lower-case letters. For example, “a” is a lower case letter a, while “A” is an upper-case letter a. See the difference? Good.

    By the way, the shift key would like to add that you can find both him and his identical twin at each end of the second to bottom row of the main part of your keyboard–more specifically, to the left of the “Z” key and to the right of the “/” key.

  3. Goliath, I would like to introduce you to my knuckles at your nose. Back down, I got a round rock with your name on it, this is not grammar school. This is a man’s life. Graceshaker

    I had to respond to you in some form, and as did David I find myself “preventing the Dawn”. 4:30 am is not in my normal routine, but I am a pastor, it is what I do, I minister to people. Hopefully I do more good than harm. So far God has been good to me ans allowed me to be a positive influence by pointing to Jesus ans His love. I find that to be a major miracle, as i was chiefest of sinners for the first 20 years of my life, and not too much better after.

    Allow me to comment with this one factor that you do not possess, distance.

    Your letter starts out with 2 paragraphs that describe a young fellows commitment to Christ. You then say “and everything was seriously normal”. I disagree. For a 12 year old to have a life plan is not “normal” in any way. I am not saying it is bad, but it is not normal. I personally would not encourage a 12 year old to the ministry. I would not discourage. I would be like Gamaliel in Acts. If it is of G*d… I do not have faith enough in the prepubescent mind to judge. I am VERY hesitant to baptize youth for the same reason. So let’s start over, this was by psychological and sociological standards very abnormal.
    So I read on, leadership at 19, beautiful girl,[I see it coming] and then promiscuity! no.
    Here is the definition, In human sexual behavior, promiscuity denotes casual sex between many partners . You were not promiscuous. You were in a committed relationship. That is God’s design for sex , to be in a committed relationship. Unfortunately the beautiful woman you were involved with needed to be committed. I will prove that in a minute.
    I question how sex lead to fighting. I have been married 30 years, sex is a bonding agent, it is God’s glue for a marriage. Guilt might lead to fighting, but not sex. Sex leads to Napping in a spoon position.
    Now is when as you know the story gets weird. After four months of being broken up, the stalking should have stopped. To accuse some one of a crime, is a crime. To accuse some one of something 4 months after the fact is, ask any cop, stupid. It is unprovable. To call leaders of a church 4 months after a dead relationship , is clinically nuts. To act on such a call is nuttier. If you are a church leader and get such a call, you must respond in one way, crimes are reported to the Police. Call 5-0, get the po po.
    Churches are not equipped to adjudicate such cases. If the police were called in a city this girl would be lucky to get a call back. After 4 months even her testimony is suspect. What blows her story to any cop is the word, repeatedly. It is a horrible experience. Nobody goes back for seconds.
    Now the proof of insanity. She slit her wrists. Across the road or up the highway? Most likely across the road. In our society that will get you 302’ed . Involuntary commitment. Proof of nuts.
    Women under 30 who slit their wrists do not want to die, they want attention.
    So here is what should have happened. Elders[ I am not sure, there are fewer elders than we think] have proof the girl is whacked, they pull you from leadership to protect you,tell the girl to call the cops,sit you down and have “that talk” with you where they tell you not to dip your wick in oil that is not yours . Period. Do you think there is not an elder that has has a sexual sin? Thought about one? So your old church could pick up a stone after they saw Jesus write in the sand? Rough crowd.
    Now’s where I get mad. They ostracized you? And your Family? Your Family? Is this Islam where they rape your little sister for revenge? Ostracizing a family is not in the bible, not even the Scofield.
    So the miracle part, is that you love God. You learned He does not fit in a box He is a mystery.
    God was not surprised by you and the chicklet. He has seen these horror movie love affairs before, he does not say young men with testicles will be twice judged. He says elders and teachers will be twice judged. Pray for that bunch. You describe a cult to me, but everybody’s church seems like a cut to me, except my own. Stay in touch, god a s a plan, Ostracized your family, I gotta take a walk…..

  4. […] graceshaker put an intriguing blog post on the story so far.. « the holy wildHere’s a quick excerptmy whole life has been centered on god and the church in some way or another. born and raised in a baptist home i spent the majority of my life growing up in church where i learned the about the bbible/b and christian community. i attended b…/b out and began calling me again but now it was always very late at night and it involved a lot of screaming and cursing. she sank into a serious depression and one night she called and told me not to come to her bfuneral/b because i wasnt b…/b […]

  5. Oh, dear friend. When I knew you in high school, you had such a passion for God – you were a mighty influence on me and others in our school. I am so sad that the leaders of the QV church behaved in the manner they did. Perhaps in the years since, they’ve matured and maybe learned the errors of their ways. One can hope… :)
    One of the things my pastor has been preaching on this month is that, while all things are not good – God can use them for good. It looks like that is exactly what happened to you. There were some really bad things that happened, but God has used them for good.
    Praying you’ll be blessed in unimaginable ways.
    With much love,
    Your friend and sister in Christ ~ Tanya (who, just for the record, no longer has big 80’s hair.)

  6. So you respond with threats of violence, over the internet no less? Nothing but a typical hate-filled churchie response, I suppose.

  7. Wow, I’m surprised by comments made by Goliath. please if you will comment on the post…that’s all.

  8. ((Graceshaker)), Willohroots said it better than I could. All I can add is please don’t think you’re the only one who doesn’t understand God. Our view is so limited that I don’t think any human can. The best we can hope for is to love and trust Him, and to doubt as little as possible.

  9. Goliath, Pastors have a few jobs, One feed the sheep. 2 Shoot the wolves. You pop in on somebody baring their very soul, showing wounds that bleed and act like a grammar Nazi. I love feeding and caring for the sheep, but I never, ever hesitate to attack a wolf. i invite people to come to church, and i do not hesitate to toss them out if the are harmful to the flock.

    Hate filled churchie response? You know enough about the job Jesus gave me to be a critic? Shepherds carried a crook for the sheep and a club for the predators. Todays church needs to know when to use the club. I am a protector not a wuss. Pick on my people, be ready for a fight on what ever level. Some people need to be knocked down before they can reach up, I know, that is my story. If you have issues I will work with you and pray with you. If you are predatory you are my enemy. That is churchie.

  10. That’s the way! Keep on showing that Christian “love.” What an awesome witness for the monster that is your god.

    Pathetic.

  11. Goliath, I don’t know who told you “Christian love” and “doormat” meant the same thing, but they were very mistaken.

    Graceshaker is a brother in Christ. Of course, Willohroots is going to stand up for him, just as you would a member of your own family. I think it’s sad you feel you must hide behind such an alias and spout anti-Christian clichés that mean nothing.

  12. “its difficult and its taxing and its full of doubt and pain yet theres is a peace in it that i never had without it. so be it. im cool with that.”

    I you didn’t have pain and doubt…I’d wonder what kind of a god you were worshipping and what kind of a looney church had brainwashed you into believeing that life was a bowl of cherries.

    I too have lots of pain and lots of doubt…and He is there for me…in all of it.

  13. Your transparency is humbling. God bless you.

  14. goliath – you made me laugh. clever spin!

    willoh – i appreciate your walk thru my post and the words of wisdom. its been a while now and the scars are barely noticeable. and thanks for taking up where you thot i was under provocation but its allgood from where i sit. goliath is a witty guy who may just have seen a bit of his own story in mine. who knows eh?

    shawn – thanks for your thots. i do trust him despite my doubts. maybe thats what faith really is?

    oldadam – i didnt drink the punch bro. lol.

    hill – in some ways our stories arent so diff eh?

  15. Completely agree.

  16. Your story sounds remarkably like my own except for the one part.
    I was ostacized for something I did do. Not that but bad.
    At any rate I hated the church and was mad at God for a long time. I’m still not crazy about the church and do not attend.
    Will makes me laugh.
    Goliath does not. Get a life dude.

  17. graceshaker,
    I wondered over here after seeing your many comments at Steve’s blog and Will’s blog and iMonk and read your post here. I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob. Actually, I don’t know that your name is Bob or not, but you get my point maybe. What I wanted to say was that I can totally relate to your comments about God

    i also find it extremely uncomfortable when people tell me how easy he is to understand. in following him the one thing i have found consistent is how much i dont understand him. i converse with him daily. i fast. i read scripture. i study. i read hebrew and greek. i read theology. i have a ba in theology and am finishing off an ma in divinty.

    I am studying for an MA in Biblical Studies, which sounds kinda funny and I couldn’t agree more with you about the incomprehensibleness of God. My other thought was to ask if you have ever heard of Rich Mullins? I think you might really like some of his writing and maybe some of his music. He was off the wall sometimes when it came to talking about God and His “incomprehensibleness.” (I know that isn’t a word, but I am out to tweak the grammar police)

  18. Goliath is sadly typical of the religion/Christ haters.
    No content, no reason, no logic just insults.

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