Born Again: A Journey From Daughter of the Kingdom to Sacred Feminine Goddess, Part 4
Four people sat around the table that Sunday afternoon: Three church leaders, all male, all over the age of 60, and me—a stubborn, determined and terrified female in her late 30’s.
I don’t remember how the “discussion” began. In times of severe stress, I tend to block out details and recall only significant moments. I remember Mr. Elder making a few points. I remember me making a counterpoint. This gist of his position was “this applies today, that doesn’t because it passed away with the apostles”. The gist of my argument was “explain to me why we claim to follow the Bible precisely and literally, except where it is inconvenient or a little too charismatic”.
I remember at one point my dad spoke up. I don’t remember what he said, but I do remember it was somewhat supportive of something I had said. Then a switch flipped. I guess he decided it was my battle to fight and not his. Or maybe “the code” came to mind and he became uncomfortable. Whatever it was, he remained silent for the rest of the meeting. The third elder never spoke a word, watching in total silence.
The arguing and confrontation went back and forth for almost two hours. Mr. Elder was adamant that things were quite black and white, no inconsistencies exist, and everything the church promoted as absolute made perfect sense.
I insisted that there was a HUGE amount of inconsistency and that no intelligent human being could look at what we were putting forth and see it as remotely making sense. I saw so many places where the Bible and Christianity offered up some really cool and emotion-eliciting, Jesus-pointing experiences. I wasn’t asking for proof that they did or didn’t, could or couldn’t happen. I only wanted acknowledgement that the possibility existed we might be limiting the power of God in our lives and our worship.
That meeting might as well have been a demolition derby with two monster trucks attempting to run over and disable the other. It was nothing but two hours of conflict and arguing. Neither of us had any intention of truly listening to the other. Both of us believed the other to be exactly what was going wrong with modern day Christianity. It was a setup for failure from the git-go, and the logical conclusion was a train wreck.
I finally announced that it was apparent we would not be able to agree on anything and that further talk was a total waste of time and energy. I stood and walked out the door leaving the three men alone to process what had just happened. My tears had a whole ten seconds to well up until I reached the outter doors of the church. As soon as I was safely beyond enemy boundaries, I burst into heaving, breath-gasping sobs.
Fumbling, I shoved my key into the ignition, started the engine, and headed to the only place I perceived to be safe.
I headed to the home of a recently “retired” elder and his beautiful wife. She was one of the women who stood at the retreat to thank me for speaking so boldly. Theirs was a reputation of liberal Christianity. I knew my wounded spirit would find peace and comfort in their presence.
After sobbing until there was nothing left coming out of my eyes, I thanked them for their hospitality and comfort, then headed to my own home where my sweet man was awaiting word from the battlefield. My dad had stopped by to check on me while I was gone. I was quite grateful to have missed him because he has a gift for unintentionally triggering my cry reflex. Even as cried out as I was, I have no doubt there would have been tears in reserve had I encountered him face to face that afternoon.
My sweet hubby hugged me, then we exchanged details, mine from what I remembered of the encounter, his from my dad’s report. In his presence, I made a conscious decision that no one would run me off or silence me. I was raised to believe the most foolish thing a Christian could do was quit attending church because of conflict with another person or ideal. It simply isn’t worth losing one’s soul to forsake the assembly because of disagreement with another.
The confrontation that afternoon was proof I was desperately needed as an agent of challenge and change in our local congregation. This was a huge piece of my life. It was my heritage. I belonged in the middle fighting for a new perspective.
My oldest was playing club volleyball that winter, and as fate would have it, we missed almost a month of church chasing her to tournaments in various cities. At that point, I had released most of my guilt of missing a church service to participate in a sporting event, much to the chagrin of my parents. For years, I had maintained an inherited belief that no event should come before church, and my girls had sacrificed doing something they loved on more than one occasion to accommodate that belief. It was supposed to be a lesson in priorities, but it was in fact more of a punishment, teaching them that religion equals fun and privileges revoked.
When we finally had a break from weekend tournament play, we returned to our Sunday morning obligations at church. What a fateful day that proved to be. On that day, my determination to stay and be an agent of change met head-on with God’s other plans.
It was the strangest, most bizarre, yet most revealing encounter with Divine Wisdom I had ever experienced.
The message was undeniable. Inescapable. Unmistakable. Inevitable.