I’m Back To Say The Things

It is April 2020. It’s been months since I last posted a real blog post. While I could list out the practical reasons for this such as lack of time, energy being expended elsewhere, or two busy toddlers (aka the lack of time and the energy sucking) etc… I know the main reason is not the list.

I need writing like I need oxygen. The words that I put out through various platforms, or into my personal morning pages are vital to my growth and my forward movement. I have a document that I go back to periodically to dump thoughts into. I am not short on words.

Technically, the words have been there. Frankly, they have just been a mess. With the last two years of big life changes and new dreams such as writing and self publishing Pushing Into Joy there came a significant amount of personal development.

PD. I’m a sucker for personal development (aka self help) books. I know many people cringe at the thought of them. Here’s the way I see them: another human being penning their way through a challenge, a hurdle, or a lifetime of challenges and hurdles and giving readers insights to take or leave as they see fit. I’ve taken a lot from these sorts of books. I’ve also left a lot.

Back to my messy words – in the development that has occurred the last 2 years, there has been intense deconstruction occurring simultaneously.

I committed myself to growth. I dove head first into asking hard questions and sifting through hard answers. I was diligent about stepping out and into places that felt uncomfortable. The growth was tremendous, the experiences life changing.

The deconstruction has honestly been devastating. Looking back, it started way earlier than I realized. It wasn’t something that just happened. But in my pursuit of myself I set the slow progression into a fast paced flurry.

I know, I’m being vague. This is what happens when I try to come on here to write in a public way. I feel safer behind vague statements and terms like “deconstruction” and “growth” because on some level, everyone gets these terms and no one can blame me for experiencing either or both.

It’s just growing up, right? Everyone grows up and changes and blooms and paves new paths… right?

But I’m coming out of a belief system that is built on ultimate truth. I’m examining a lifetime of believing things of myself and others based on biblical innerancy (the bible being without fault or error in all it teaches). I’m stepping away from the framework of a “body” of humans who I love dearly and who I communed with intimately for all of my life.

At first, it felt right to just not talk about it publicly. It felt like a wise choice to let a handful of people in as I processed and grieved and questioned. It made sense to put myself under the teaching and words of others who had more experience in talking about the deconstruction of faith rather than making my voice too loud. Months have turned into years. Five years to be exact. Before I began talking about the deconstruction, I had moved into reconstruction unknowingly.

It has been 5 years since we decided to leave a church where I was in pastoral positions as both the worship leader and children’s ministry coordinator. It has been 5 years since we tried to express our concerns and were met with anger and hostility and accusations of hearing from the devil, being unfaithful, and causing division.

In this time we tried desperately to maintain faith, even if it was mustard seed in size. We met with other families weekly in a house church. We dug into scripture and read books on grief and Christianity. Eventually, we encountered terms like “spiritual abuse” and found that this form of abuse, while less researched than many, did have quality writing and research done about it and thousands of people had stories similar to ours.

All this to say, the deconstruction started then. It started the moment that I tried to stick up for myself and instead of being listened to, I was accused of being unfaithful. In that moment pieces of the framework for living and believing as I had began to fall away.

I wanted it to stop there. I could live with the reality that people in authority, specifically pastors, were not always leading correctly and could damage those under their authority. But it didn’t stop there.

For five years I have been diligent in widening my eyes to oppression. I have been consistent in naming my privileges and assessing them carefully in order to make changes. I have, as I said before, developed and grown hugely.

I’m afraid to write it all. Anxious to become another sermon illustration of a person who just didn’t have it, didn’t maintain that mustard seed sized faith. Terrified to be a voice that damages instead of uplifts.

Here’s the reality I am faced with: I could stay quiet and inevitably stop writing, or I could let my writing tell the unfinished story of my life and trust that you’ll read it the same way I talked about those good old PD books, take some and leave some.

I am an advocate for stories. I believe in the power of words. I believe in the goodness of humanity. I hear love and light and truth woven throughout the experiences, both good and bad, of all the people I have the privilege of encountering.

Even since writing and releasing Pushing Into Joy, I have had huge shifts in theology and mindset. This is terrifying to me. This is what makes me want to quit sharing. My inner dialogue is mean, and it tells me to shut up because I’m making a mess with my words.

The structure of Pushing Into Joy holds firm. I am fully invested in a life that pushes hard for joy, through all that may come my way. I am one hundred percent into utilizing the tools gathered in our lifetime to cultivate lives of joy, kindness, and love. I am without a doubt committed to helping other people, including my own children and my students, share their stories. I have to do the same, and you dear reader, are invited to come along.

I’m back to say the things.

This is my story.
Take some, leave some.
Push hard for joy.

Hannah