During my childhood, I saw people act forcefully on behalf of the Holy Spirit, but I never experienced Him that way. I knew the Holy Spirit as a gentle nudge, a Comfort, like one of my Grandmother’s quilts. But what I heard was that He was the hall monitor of our souls: the ever-watchful Eye of a perfect and holy God, who was more interested in finding the secrets we hid in the darkest places of our wandering hearts than being the balm for our weary souls.
I just knew the Henchmen of Heaven would come and steal me away in the middle of the night as a thirteen-year-old and damn me to eternal punishment early because I’d said “shit” or been caught lingering too long on the adult movie channels late at night at my grandparents’ house. Any 90’s boy knows exactly what I’m talking about: the high numbers on satellite, blurred out, with the fuzzy green and pink lines. Every once in awhile you could catch the shadow of a boob if you just stared hard enough.
Since I’ve begun sharing how I went from a being a pastor to being hospitalized in a psych ward, people often ask about my recovery. Everyone wants to know, is there a single solution? Where does the magic lie? How do they get their own lives (or their loved ones’) back? Or, as others have said, “What is the one thing that made you want to start living again?”
I have found a virtual community, via Facebook and this blog, which expresses love in a way like I have never experienced before. It’s a place where everyone is accepted – regardless of station in life, gender, sexuality, chosen religion or any other differences. A place where seeking healing from brokenness is celebrated. Where friendships are born in an instant. Where life is messy and grace is abundant.
I have found freedom in a way I cannot otherwise explain. Through reaching out during some incredibly dark moments, I found grace, peace, and a lack of judgement.
Anyone who says church hurts are no big deal has no idea what they’re talking about. I was deeply wounded by the church and threw stones at her for a decade.
These days, I am blessed to belong to a church I love. But learning to engage the church again has been a long journey. Here’s why I stopped hating the church…