This post is a collection of journal entries from college. I am sharing them in advance of the release of my new ebook “A Guide to Recovering From Fundamentalism Or: How I Recovered From Fundamentalism and Still Saved My Soul”. If you want to make sure you get a copy (for free) as soon as it’s released, make sure you are on my mailing list.
I’m sharing these incredibly personal entries to show a moment in time: A moment when I desperately wanted to be close to God but felt like my very existence was a disappointment. This is what fundamentalism does.(Trigger Warning on this post for depressive thoughts and talk of suicide. If you are feeling suicidal, please check out The Trevor Project and give someone there a call.)
Lately my spiritual life has totally sucked. But I don’t know how to change and sometimes I don’t want to change because I feel like things are going fine for me know and I like my life. And things always seem to suck when I follow God. Not to mention the fact that I am so bitter and jaded with the church and Christianity. I hate it. But I don’t know how to get over it because it makes me so angry. And I don’t care if people join the church because it’ll probably screw them over….I’m sick of the politics and pettiness. And I feel powerless to change anything because the people caught up in legalism, pettiness, and politics don’t want to change and won’t listen to a punk like me because I’m the type of person they are standing against.
I hate the church so much. Everyone who has hurt me the worst have been part of a church. Many important people in their churches or supposed leaders of ministry. And that’s crap. And all of that gets carried over to God because I don’t care if people believe in Him [sic] because then they’ll have to go to church and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Don’t people see how fucked up we’ve made everything?
I’ve begun thinking about my Christianity again. I’m just so sick of screwing up. I want something new in my life. It’s interesting to me how little the New Testament talks about homosexuality. One of the main passages is in Romans but that passage also condemns disobedience of parents and other such things. But homosexuality always gets singled out. What do we do with Old Testament [sic] law? How much was cultural and to protect the Israelites because of hygiene and health issues and how much should carry over to now? And if we follow one rule, shouldn’t we follow them all? Which means all of our clothes would be against Biblical law because we mix materials. Where do we draw the line? I just don’t know what’s okay and what’s not. Can I date someone or hold hands or even kiss someone? Or am I not allowed to even look at anyone? Should I just kill myself to avoid constantly sinning? It’s all just so frustrating. There’s no manual for this. I must say, though, that it’s such a relief to be named. To have words to tell people and more importantly myself what I have been struggling with.
Maybe I deserve to die because I am not living well. Maybe God has decided that I’ve had enough chances and that my effectiveness is gone and so it’s my time to go…I’m such a failure. Will I ever make a difference? Not only in other people but in myself? I never change in the important areas. Spiritually it feels as though I’m dead already. What a sad life I lead.
Over the years I have identified with the song “Waste Of Paint” by Bright Eyes, especially these lines:
As I hide behind these books I read, while scribbling my poetry,
like art could save a wretch like me, with some ideal ideology that no one can hope to achieve.
And I am never real; it is just a sketch of me.
And everything I made is trite and cheap and a waste of paint, of tape, of time.
So now I park my car down by the cathedral, where floodlights point up at the steeples.
Choir practice was filling up with people. I hear the sound escaping as an echo.
Sloping off the ceiling at an angle. When voices blend they sound like angels.
I hope there is some room still in the middle.
But when I lift my voice up now to reach them. The range is too high, way up in heaven.
So I hold my tongue, forget the song, tie my shoe and start walking off.
And try to just keep moving on, with my broken heart and my absent God
and I have no faith but it is all I want, to be loved and believe in my soul, in my soul…
As I’ve been reflecting on my time in the fundamentalist evangelical world and thinking about the life and the faith that I have built since leaving that world I’ve been thinking about how alone I felt. I felt like no one else had made the journey that I was making. That no one could understand. I felt like there wasn’t any kind of roadmap. And I was right, there isn’t really a roadmap. Each person’s journey is different. But I wanted to at least share my experiences in the hope that they might be helpful to someone else. So I wrote “A Guide To Recovering From Fundamentalism”. It’s partially the story of how I broke and down and then rebuilt my faith but it’s also about the things that brought me comfort while I was on this journey. It’s things I wish I would have known when I was going through that time, books I wish I knew existed, music I wish I had access to. My hope is that it helps others who are going through the same thing.
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