Stepping Back: What I Learned On My Break From Church and Blogging

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I am back! 

It’s been a while since I have written and although that began as an accident it then became intentional. I needed some time. Some time to just marinate in my own thoughts and let things just be as there are without commentary or narration. Some room to just be. 

I took a pretty long break from church as well. I was such a conflicted spiritual mess and I had so many outside voices and so much “should-ing” happening that I couldn’t hear my own organic thoughts. 

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In short- I was a mess. So I took a break from a lot of things. 

If you would like more on why I stepped away from church you can read Why I Have Quit Church

The church quitting happened for several reasons but there were two big breaking points. One was logistical, the sensory room for our kiddos on the spectrum was closed unexpectedly a few Sundays and it is just not feasible for me to navigate that easily with this crew. The second was spiritual confusion and frustration that culminated in the story of Cain and Abel. I read the story and found myself incredibly frustrated with the seeming arbitrary nature of God accepting one offering and not another. Add in the confusion I felt post LDS life and I was an angry mess.  So, like Cain, I turned my face from God, and I pouted, there is no other way to describe it. I was pouting. Pouting that things were so complicated and pouting that I couldn’t just have all the answers. Having all the answers would be so much easier and neater. This confusion and conflicting ideals was just messy. So, I threw my hands up and walked away. 

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Now, I didn’t walk away and suddenly start a life of crime or become a different person. I just stopped reading my Bible, I stopped praying, I stopped looking for God in my day and looked for myself instead. I rediscovered things about myself and felt how out of whack my connection with myself and my body was. Like I said, I was a complete mess. In this break a lot of life things happened, which was not new because our lives seem to be on a roller coaster at warp speed most of the time. What was different was that I didn’t pray about it or look to God. I put my head down and plowed through. I read books and watched shows that had nothing to do with spirituality, or if they did it was about a completely different faith life than any I had lived. I learned more about my chakras and found ways to balance and ground myself. I cared for my kids and loved my husband and to an outside observer you probably couldn’t tell I was throwing an epic spiritual tantrum.

I tried writing a few times during this all and I couldn’t figure out what I would want to say or put out in the world. Things happened I could have written about, I watched my nephews for a time and had seven kids under six in the house every day. Lots to write about there. The kids have returned to therapies. Lots to write about there too. And yet, I would just stare at a blank screen and then walk away. Nothing was coming. 

Then this craving started. I’m not going to lie, at first I was like “man, I am craving something really specific what is it?” and I made all kinds of food thinking it was a certain meal I just couldn’t put my finger on. When nothing came of that and the gnawing feeling was still in my gut I thought maybe it’s a big storm. Sounds odd, I know, but a big thunderstorm is often cathartic to me and I started watching the weather like a hawk hoping (not praying) for a storm to roll through. It rained a few times but nothing like the might I was looking to see displayed. 

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What was it?

What was I craving?

It was driving me nuts.

Then one day, out of the blue the answer appeared out of the mouth of my six-year-old. He had been making some not great choices and was not listening, so he was sent to clean up toys. When he came to tell me it was clean he said “Mommy, I prayed and I told Jesus I was sorry I wasn’t listening and ask him to help” and I stood stunned for a moment.

 

“Do you feel better now?”

 

“Yep” and off he went to play.

 

Then I realized, although I think part of me always knew. I was missing the connection to God I once felt. I was missing the confidence of faith that my six-year-old has all on his own. Faith that when I was struggling with something big or small that I could reach out and ask for help.

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I was still somewhat unsure, so I decided that the next Sunday I would go back to the church that has always been my home, Mars Hill, and just see how it felt. As I pulled in the parking lot, it felt like coming home. I walked the familiar halls and found my usual seat and waited for the service to start. I was trying to ignore a lot of the trappings and just listen to how it felt within myself. It was time for worship and I was excited because worship singing at Mars has always felt powerful beyond belief to me. They songs started and I was pleasantly surprised when my favorite hymn was among the opening songs.

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Thankfully, God knows I am dense and I need to be beat over the head with things before I get them. The speaker took the stage and announced that the scriptural story being discussed was, you guessed it, Cain and Abel. I just started laughing. You can’t make this stuff up. The people sitting near me probably thought I was kind of crazy, but I couldn’t believe how clear the message was. I sat up straighter ready for the story that was bugging me to be explained and to get the answers. Eagerly I waited for the moment he would say “here is the reason God would have done this”. That moment never came. He never gave me insight into what God would have been thinking in this situation. He did however point out how many times God reached out to Cain in the story and how even in his curse marked him with mercy to spare his life. He talked about how we often think God has left and we go in search of God when all the while He is inside us all reaching out for connection and relationship. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I no longer felt like I had no have the answers. I also felt the release of fulfilling the craving I had, I raised my eyes and connected with God again. 

Now to figure out logistics. I started bringing Damien and Perry to church with me and I am working through the things that make church hard for them both. Then I am going to add in Alizé and work through her challenges and finally figure out how to make it work for Caleb and Oliver. It will probably take a couple months, but I know this community is where I want to build our home and I know that with certainty I couldn’t have found until I quieted all the extra voices and just listened to my own.

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