Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

My Story

People keep asking me about the personal reasons behind my “anti-church” statements. What happened in my life to lead up to these beliefs? I really appreciate this interest, especially while others have unfriended me over this issue. Although I never really thought about the connections, perhaps my past might explain why I might come across so offensive at times.

It all began, for me at least, in 1969 when I was born in a town called Laguna Beach of Orange County, California. After my mom left my dad for my step-dad, we moved a little south to an orange and avocado growing type of town called Vista in north San Diego county. It was about a 15 minute drive to the beach. This is where I grew up.

When I was very young, my parents met some Christian friends who told them about God and my parents “got saved”. So we started going to church. We went to a “non-denominational” church called Calvary Chapel and my parents became close friends with the pastor and his wife.

I also went to public school. My church taught me that church and school were very different worlds, and that I should not associate with Non-christians at my school because they might influence me to do wrong and destructive things. Most of my friends at school did not go to church, but I kept this fact well hidden, living two very different lives. I was so involved at church that some of the pastors on staff there called me “the Calvary Chapel princess” but at the same time, I was getting into trouble at school with my friends, mostly by ditching classes.

When I was in high school, I had a Christian boyfriend. I tried to confide in my mom one day by telling her that I wanted to do more than just kiss him and hold his hand. My mom began to panic when she found out that we had kissed each other, and she told me that I needed to break up with him if I wanted to be a Christian. Since we were so in love, I argued with her about it. So she set up an appointment for me with the pastor of our church, who told me that I needed to obey my mom if I wanted to be a Christian. I cried for days and I finally broke up with my boyfriend, shattering his heart too. I thought that God had required me to make some very difficult and unhappy decisions.

After graduating from high school, I became a youth group counselor at my church. One night I went out with some of my friends from high school to a dance club. A “back-slidden” youth group student saw me there and the next day, she happened to mention it to another youth group counselor, who mentioned it to the youth pastor. He called me into his church office and explained that I could not be a Christian and go out dancing. I told him that I wanted to be a Christian but that dancing is fun and he became angry with me and told me I had an inferiority complex. I left his church office in tears. Finally, I made the decision to stop being friends with anyone who did not go to church so that I could be a Christian and also be a youth group counselor at my church. I think that this hurt my Non-christian friends very deeply.

After a while, I couldn’t stand the pressure of living up to the high standards of being a Christian so I moved away from home to go to college in Santa Cruz, California. I made all new friends who were not Christians and I lived with my new boyfriend for a while and went to parties and had fun. Then there was a 7.0 on the Richter Scale earthquake and it killed some people in the downtown area of Santa Cruz, where I had been shopping 15 minutes before it hit. It was the World Series Earthquake in 1989. This scared me and I was afraid of God so I decided to start going to church again. The church I attended gained about 30 new members that week and I was one of them.

I felt that I should stop hanging around my friends who didn’t go to church. I broke up with my boyfriend and found a roommate other than my boyfriend. These relationships did not end on good terms, and I never spoke to any of these friends again. I imagine I must have left some sort of scar in the pasts of these friends by abandoning them so abruptly.

But I made all new friends and I became very involved in church once again. Then I started to miss my family and my church back in southern California, so I moved home. My family was a mess. My parents were getting divorced after 17 years and it shocked everyone. My mom said that she never loved my step-dad because he never made any money and all he wanted to do was hang out at the beach and surf. My mom had a falling out with the pastor’s wife and my family had stopped going to church; my mom seemed to have become a very bitter person. She had a boyfriend and then she married someone else. Then she divorced that man and married another. She then divorced that man too, and currently she is single but wishes she was married.

I had to disassociate myself from my family because I wanted to be involved in church; my family members were now considered sinners who had turned away from God. I think my cold shoulder especially hurt one of my sisters who wanted to be a part of my life, but I would only associate with her if she went to church with me and I got mad at her if she didn’t want to go. Finally, she stopped going to church completely and I feel horrible for treating her this way since we never had a chance to really get to know each other.

I went to Bible college, and I got a job working in administration at my church. I had always wanted to be a missionary and then the opportunity arose. I was very close with some friends, a couple, who were moving to eastern Europe to plant another Calvary Chapel church. They had another close friend, a guy, who also wanted to go with them to be part of their mission’s team. This guy and I became friends, started dating, and after 2 weeks of a very up and down, emotional dating experience, we decided to get married. Even though we were not in love, I thought this was “God’s will” for me. I realize that not every church-going Christian makes these kinds of senseless decisions, but from my deep involvement in church, this is the way I personally understood God. And many people told me they thought of me as a godly, spiritual person.

After a 6 week engagement and a simple but traditional church wedding, my husband and I walked off a plane in Hungary. A month later I was pregnant and a month after that we moved across the country to plant our own church. This church grew rapidly and my husband planted another church about an hour away. I became pregnant with our second baby and all seemed well except that my husband and I were having terrible marriage problems that we were able to keep hidden from people in our church and also from our American missionary friends and acquaintances (for the most part). I think I even fooled myself into thinking that everything was okay, even though we got into some awful fights, often finding myself in a puddle of tears while sitting very alone on a cold bathroom floor.

I felt that I needed to uphold the high standards of Christianity for our family, especially since we were paid missionaries, living off the support of quite a few different churches back in the States. I took our responsibility very seriously and I could not approve of certain issues in my husband. These were issues that I found out after we were married and I did not know how to deal with them, except by doing what I had always done with “sinners” – detaching myself from them.

My husband then became interested in Calvinism and started talking about reformed theology. This only drove a greater wedge between us since I could not agree with that hard-lined theology which seemed to remove all human involvement in a relationship with God. Our sending church, Calvary Chapel could not agree with it either (at the time) and so we were told to leave Hungary and were no longer able to be a part of any ministry that was associated with that church.

We moved back to California where my 3rd baby was born and my husband learned web developing, and started his own business which became very successful. Then we decided to move away from our roots – materialistic California and my dysfunctional family – to the beautiful Pacific Northwest area of Seattle, Washington.

After we moved back to the states, we attended one church after another, always seeming to become friends with the pastor and his wife. But never getting too involved. This semi-detachment from church was a relief for us, although it was not very kind to the people we kept getting to know, then leaving their church. We went to other Calvary Chapels, a reformed Presbyterian church and then I started attending a church called Mars Hill in Seattle led by a famous pastor named Mark Driscoll. My husband stopped going to church entirely. Never finding exactly what I was looking for, I started attending a different church every week. Every week it was a different church, even a different denomination, but every week it was the same subliminal message: Read your Bible, pray, go to church and don’t sin… and then you can be a Christian.

Backing up a little in time, my husband grew so tired of Christian ideal standards, that he decided to live a somewhat destructive lifestyle similar to mine before we were married. Although this was extremely painful for me, this began to break me of my religious legalism. I started to realize that placing demands on people only drives them away from me. Very slowly I started to understand unconditional love, but my husband and I were never able to rebuild our trust in each other and so, 3 years ago we finally separated and then divorced. Since divorce is very frowned upon within the church, I was afraid that God would punish me for the rest of my life. Still, as soon as I let myself make that decision, I knew it was the right one, and I was filled with peace and have never looked back with any regret. I think that my ex-husband would say the same.

It was a peaceful separation and somehow our kids exemplified an amazing amount of understanding. Their dad and I live in the same town and we both see our kids at least every other day. Our schedules are very flexible and we continue to work together on raising our kids, figuring out what is best for them. Some people say that we are much better friends now that we are not married and are no longer involved in church. I think that is true. We also have a greater respect for each other as well. Our relationships with each of our kids continue to grow closer and stronger as the kids get older. I have never seen a divorce like this one, where the family stays close, but I have heard that it is becoming more common.

Christians seem explain away these family dilemmas through the idea that if we stop going to church, God removes his blessings from our lives. I couldn’t disagree more. I think that religion – that independent ego within all of us – constricts us in many ways and especially in our faith. This slavery leads to rebellion which leads to more suffering, but then finally freedom. While Christianity generally views people with problems as back-sliders, God seems to say that problems are a primary means of growing and of our enlightenment.

Back to my faith, I discovered that many churches manifest a cold, insecure, demanding, wrathful god who sends people to hell if they do not comply with their pastor’s teaching. I started to question everything I have learned about God in church. I am finding some of these hold up, according to my level of understanding, even after they are placed under the test of opposing views and much scrutiny. But I believe that some indoctrination is meant primarily to maintain the power of the church institution, and its control over people’s minds.

Every institutional system exists largely for itself, although it claims to and does somewhat serve its members. The American public school system and prison system have many similarities to the religious church structure. This was something that God never meant for people, for a relationship requires personal freedom. I think that institutions have their purpose but they are not an effective means of reforming people. Only friendships can do that.

The God of the Bible is Love incarnated through individual human lives. I believe God has opened the gate to heaven as wide as the universe. As He waits, He allows life sufferings to continue drawing us to our ultimate freedom. I believe He will never give up on one lost sheep, not even in the afterlife. And I believe the Bible fully supports this truth of unconditional and unfailing mercy.

The day I stopped going to church is representative of the day I bravely let go of the stronghold of religion. I cannot explain the great wonder of being freed from the pressures of the Christian religion after more than 30 years of institutional church involvement. Maybe this is what it feels like for a bird who is released from its cage. My faith is no longer a separate subject from the rest of my life, but it is my unique, mundane, amazing, every day, beautiful life.

There are many things I still do not understand, but I have never had as much adventure, happiness and peace in my life as I have right now. I have made hundreds of new friends who are generally on the same journey. Many of these friends were discovered through The Free Believers Network on Facebook.

I am becoming closer to my dad who I did not know very well for most of my life and I am still close to my step-dad. We like to have deep, philosophical discussions and debates. I am also much closer to my family even though all of them still live in California. Sometimes, especially around the holidays, I really regret moving away from them.

I have been able to get back in touch with many of my friends from my past through Facebook. I have apologized to some of them and they have all been very forgiving and understanding. Maybe they too understand better our great need for love and close relationships. Life seems way too short to disassociate ourselves from each other over beliefs – unless communication is presently impossible, that is.

While God, heaven, and life remain even greater mysteries to me in some ways, I have learned that the Christian religion does not represent God as expressed through Christ. Instead I think that Christianity fosters an artificial religious life apart from a direct “relationship” with God through the natural, common  life. But maybe, at least for me, experiencing what isn’t life, is how we discover real, eternal life.

It’s all just part of the journey.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my personal experiences. Hopefully this will give my readers a sense of my perspective behind my blog posts. I thank you for all comments and messages. I whole-heartedly believe in the freedom of personal opinion and belief. I think that our creator meant for us to grow together in our diversity. After my own unraveling, my favorite pastime is attempting to unravel truth about God with my friends.

So pull up a chair, grab a drink and feel free to stay a while….

Welcome to my blog,

Elizabeth

You can friend me on Facebook here.

  1. I completely understand.

    I am a regular attender at a church. But for the last 8 years I have not been able to join a church because of my “Strange” theology.

    I have no problem accepting them in what I perceive to be error. But they have no grace, no patience for our areas of disagreement.

    It is as if Christ were a dividing wall rather than a uniting force of love and acceptance. I pray for that day when we can fellowship around the person of Christ without all of the labels and judgment.

    You have a unique story and your experiences have probably made you an amazing individual. While having to overcome the forces that were all your life trying to squeeze all individuality out of you. You have won…Halelujah!

    Jeff

  2. I had a similar journey, tried to find you on facebook but your link didn’t work. We seem to have a somewhat similar background in some ways. You might like the linked blog.

  3. Read this part of your blog, Christmas Eve. The part that i find most amazing about this whole story is, of how you went from cutting of friendships out of spiritual fear, to where you are now, acknowledging people where they are at and the value of their opinions.

    I sounds like you really had your fill and can better see the impetus behind your remarks. i understand but those feelings come out of very different stories…fascinating

  4. This is an amazing piece of writing. Your transformation from the way you once came at faith and the world to the authenticity and courage you now participate in the world with is inspiring. I meet so many people who were raised in the institutional church, or the attractional church, and walked away burned and wounded, some even crushed. It makes me sad. I get it. But it makes me sad. “The emperor has no clothes”, is the way one person put it to me. And yet there is a God, as you have discovered, that is so much more than all that smallness. And there is good news that is so much more than can be contained in “sound doctrine” and “church discipline”. Sounds like you have found the wild God of Scripture. As C.S. Lewis wrote, speaking through one of his characters, “Aslan (Jesus/God)isn’t safe. But he’s good.” Thanks for sharing your heart.

  5. Such a beautiful story, Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your story. I, too, have had my whole belief system unravel. It’s scary and exciting and exhilarating. There’s no substitute for freedom. None.

  6. I think you might enjoy this blog. http://www.stufffundieslike.com.

    It’s authored by a friend of mine and I think you would benefit from it.

  7. I just realized that I had comments here! Thank you for the feedback, friends.

    Russell, I fixed my Facebook link but let me know if you have any issues getting to it. I spend most of my time connecting to others along similar journeys and talking about these issues via Facebook, which gives me material for these blog posts.

    Daniel, that is a great site. My other fave is, Fundies Say The Darndest Things at http://www.fstdt.com 🙂

  8. Found this after reading the one on Negative Emotions. We knew you and Chrisitian, but never enough to know all this, and yes, I’ve wondered at what happened, especially when you divorced. Thank you for sharing your life, your heart, your hurts. I’m so glad you’re able to be close with your family again. And I can stop blaming Calvary Chapel and the whole mess of you guys leaving Hungary for having any negative effect on your marriage, which, since we were on one of the Missions Boards that supported you, I always felt horrible about. I also really appreciate you being so honest and open, it’s refreshing. And while I don’t and probably won’t ever fully agree with all your ideas, it helps to know where you’re coming from. Our backgrounds are really not at all as similar as I once thought, though we certainly share some church hurts. Funny how different people can end up at the same place for a season, huh? I’m glad we’ve been able to connect, knowing you better since Facebook has been a blessing (and a challenge! ;-)).

  9. Thanks for sharing this and I hope a lot of people read your story!

  10. Thanks for sharing so much Elizabeth. It seems like somehow you manage to always smile and not get bitter. That is a special gift displaying how you have tapped into the inner well of everlasting love.

  11. Magnificent! I love stories of spiritual awakenings of the mundane kind. Thank you. I look forward to sharing more of this “life” thing we have in common. See you when I do on Facebook.

    Aloha, my new friend!
    Wayne

  12. Whew! I just thought I was some freak of nature or something…thanks for articulating the conditioning some of us fundy kids have gone through and how it affects both our views of the world and our relationships with people.
    I feel affirmed by your story, thanks for being so honest.

  13. I read your posting of Unravel through a friend of mine. We have traveled simuliar roads. Requested your facebook friendship. I also have a blog site as well. I am a writer also. May the peace of understanding continue to rest upon you and may you continue to be blessed.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story and accepting my friend request. I found your blog very useful as a Christian, or believer, I should rather call myself. Many blessings, more of Jesus.

  15. i read this avidly, as i am on a similar journey. thanks for the perspective!

  16. It takes guts to be honest in a blog. // My motto is “I believe in God, but I am not a big fan of religion, as we know it today.” // You are a very good writer. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  17. Just now realizing why I “broke away” from the church. I am still friends mostly through facebook with all the people I grew up with in the Church and school through the same church I attended for 22yrs. It’s hard for me to talk to them a lot of times. I still cringe when people quote scripture to me. I do have a few of them who are on the same page as me. At this point I don’t know what page it is. I’m confused, I can’t always explain to them what I believe. And of course they always have scripture backing everything. 😦 My hardest thing is raising my kids to believe what? I don’t know anymore. I think I’ve gotten to the part that God Loves us, but then what? I’ll get there sooner or later, but I’m still fighting the guilt. I can’t get around it.

  18. Jenine, I can tell you from experience that it gets much easier as you learn to walk with your own two legs after sitting in the wheelchair of Christianity for too long. So hang in there.

    I’m planning to write about how freedom has changed my parenting, as well as my relationships with my kids. I can assure you that post will have a very happy ending. 🙂

  19. Makes a lot of sense, I generally started without any religious community so it all seems like a buffet to me. I have noticed that there is a drastic divide between “church” ministry and .. living life and helping people out . they don’t really mesh well, def. agree there.

    You’re an encouragement thanks for sharing your thoughts and being so open.

  20. Hi eLizabeth, thanks for sharing your story. so appreciate it. I’m currently going through this delima and fighting the church system. Reading your story, I also feel robbed by the lies of preachers in selling themselves…..it’s all with good intentions I’m sure. The system sucks. Stay free , you are awesome.

  21. I have enjoyed your blog very much. Welcome to the free world where conditional Love can finally be placed at rest.

    Blessings,
    Rob

  22. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, Elizabeth…part of the mosaic that makes up The Story.

  23. Elizabeth, I enjoyed reading your story and feel our stories are somewhat similar. Take a look at my blog if you get time. Especially ‘My Story’.

    http://whyidontbelieve.blogspot.com

  24. Elizabeth and others,
    Elizabeth, Love your testimony! I am sorry for your hard knocks, but life does that to us. Yet, It is all part of who you have become, and it is about those who you may be able to help make the distinction between “religion” and being a (JP) “Jesus Person” (for lack of a better term). The term “Christian” has begun to have a reputation associated with it I am finding as repulsive as what the term “religion” has become to me. But, We must not throw out the baby with the bath water. Leaving “religion” is one of the greatest revelations you can have from God. Yes, from God. Most Christians will never understand this. Yet, a relationship with Jesus Messiah is one of the greatest friendships I have ever enjoyed and continue to enjoy. The key to understanding the differences are found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Precisely Romans 6-8 & all of Galatians. He was the apostle that really understood “the good news” and spent much time writing about it.

    I wrote this link a few days ago about “Christian” holidays and their origin. Again exposing “religious” practices.

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150126210609828

    In addition, I found that the term “religion” needed to have a definition, which exposes its intent and purpose for all to see;

    Here would be my definition of religion; [of a common person] A practice done by individuals or as a group of individuals to relieve themselves from guilt and to earn respect and acceptance of their god. [Of leadership / priests] Whether sincere or not, a method of controlling a group or individuals as a means to an end. A) Controlling society from lawlessness and from being un-civilized. B) Controlling by means of guilt and providing the “temporary antidote” to guilt via practices done for the church I/e penance or monetary gifting’s providing “temporary atonement”. Thus continually preaching a list of sins entrapping the hearer to an item on that list forcing them to again partake of the antidote. Adhering the partaker deeper and deeper to the religion. Past Pagan religions could demand a human sacrifice, self-mutilation, or self-denial as part of that antidote. Modern religions would most likely demand monetary, or physical disciplines, and self-denial as a means of antidote. Make no mistake, all religion old or new has something in common. It requires more of its followers “then they are already doing” to achieve the “temporary antidote” prescribed by said religion. In other words, striving at better performance. This also captivates the individual by means of limited atonement or no atonement at all apart from said religion, thus perpetuating the religion, for the sake of the religion, by design. Disallowing individuals the freedom to investigate other religions (denominations) for fear of eternal damnation and the withdrawal of the antidote by the former religious leadership. Thus resulting in the pied piper effect. C) Most “Christian” Denominational Religion discourages the studying the bible apart from its “specified authors” enabling it to set parameters on the minds of its followers for the purpose of unity, control, and again self perpetuation.
    Example: Matt 23:4 They (The teachers of the law and the Pharisees) tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Read all of Mathew 23 for more examples of how Jesus condemned “religion”)

    Again! “Religion” and following “Jesus” are two completely different practices. Spend time making the distinction between the two. Eternal life is still an “end of life” goal to be obtained. By faith in the atonement only!

    Joh 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Joh 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    Free from what? Religion, sin, law (all 613), religious manipulation, guilt, etc. Freedom to be a new creation in Christ! Jesus is the antidote once and for all for sin! We no longer need to return to the “church” or “religion” for their injection, Jesus injected us (so to speak) once and for all time!!!!!

  25. Love your story! Press on!

  26. Such a poignant and painful journey! I too traveled from church to church, though my journey was after leaving mormonism. I found the dogma and legalism of fundamentalists more traumatic than my journey out of mormonism. They have so much power. Say the magic words, and they will pronounce you saved. But, only if they think you vote for the right party. Interpret scripture the way they do. I was actually told to leave a baptist congregation during the first election of senior George Bush, because I didn’t spout their political crap. And finally, after 23 years, much prayer and many tears, the scriptures have jumped out at me. More than 70 of them speaking of God’s grace for all his children. Why didn’t I see this before? That he, being perfect, would not create us just to torture 3/4 of us eternally. There is peace to be found, and learning to love those who treated me poorly is my challenge. I wish I could go back and ask all of them what exactly does the 2nd commandment mean?

  27. I have mixed emotions reading your story. I am very sad for the scars and bruises the institutional church has inflicted upon you. I am glad that your journey did not take you away from the authentic Christ who has only wanted a grace filled authentic relationship with you and me. After 30 + years as a misfit pastor in the institutional church I have broken free and I am loving my relationship with Christ. My ministry is now outward focused – not inviting people to a place but going wherever people are and loving them whether they become Christ followers or not. I take seriously the command to love my neighbor whoever they may be. God has removed any desire to judge. I want people to know the true Christ who was not part of the religious institutions of his day either. He was correctly called the friend of sinners and the hated publicans. I remain committed to helping people realize God’s love, forgiveness and grace. There is a movement bubbling up across American in which people are hungry for the transparency and authenticity of true love and acceptance. I want others to experience the freedom I have in Christ. I don’t believe it will be found in a building. I believe it can be found in small groups of honest seekers of truth in Christ. Thank you for sharing your pain and sorrows, but also your new found joy. many blessings, Mike Wilder

  28. I simply am so thankful to Christ for His gift of salvation with all it’s freedom. I also bare the burdens of my religious brothers and sisters that try to earn Fathers favor or simple go to church once or twice a week to punch the clock and or get a weekly inoculation. They on their journey are loving God and others the best they know how to this point. I really do feel for the pastors, that are often trying so very hard to contort themselves and others into something “acceptable”. I eat the meat and leave the bones. I enjoy and give to my King in worship and listening to His word. Put a few bucks in the plate to help with the expenses and keep my eyes and heart open for any and all opportunity to be Jesus with skin on to those around me, Offer a word of encouragement, comfort or even loving rebuke if needed. I try to always speak the truth in LOVE! At the same time I’m keeping my eyes ears and heart open to give I’m also ready to receive. My purpose is to be the very same guy in all areas of my life, church, family, work, friends, neighborhood and community. I’m becoming more and more Fathers kingdom ambassador of LOVE and really enjoying that. Father Gods version of the Patrick C Martin/Jesus with skin on. Please relax HE is completing the work HE started in us. If we rest in HIS LOVE its much less painful and for the most part enjoyable. Bottom line is that HE is head over heals in LOVE with and really likes us just as we are and if we see anything in ourselves that we would like to work on, HE would love to help out. There is N O condemnation in HIM and any true conviction is for our own good and benefit.
    Have you ever been around a really handicapped person?
    Do you expect them to preform like a more normal person?
    or do you LOVE and except them just as they are?
    and maybe even feel like lending a hand if they need it, especially if they are nice, right?
    Well guess what compared to HIM we are all extremely handicapped and HE is not bummed out or surprised about it.
    HE knows we are dust! HE’s not at all bent out of shape that we are not further along than we are. HE loves it when we rest in HIS completed work and HIS LOVE and ability to finish what HE has started. Don’t worry be happy! All HE asks is if we would please just give all our handicapped brothers and sisters the same grace, love and respect that HE is completely covering us with as best we can and even if we blow that simple request HE only asks us to say were sorry and that we will try to do better… New mercy’s every morning remember?
    Its not exactly rocket science is it? our brothers and sisters will mostly all sense all our grace, love and respect and that will mostly have a very positive affect on your relationship with them, most of the time. When it does’t we can practice our forgiveness skills and thank HIM for a grace grower HE has allowed into our lives. Please learn to rest in HIM even in life’s storms.

    Giv-um Heaven!
    Patrick

  29. Awesome comment Patrick!

  30. Elizabeth,
    If I ever get the chance to meet you I would give you a great big hug! I love this testimony and I hope this allows many who follow it to enjoy you. The Kingdom of God was so important to Jesus that he never left it out of his sermons. He always spoke of it as a present tense event. I hope that you find that it is Gods closeness that is His kingdom. Christ said behold I stand at the door and knock. If ANY man let me in I will sup with him and he with me. That is true friendship and that is what I hope you find in all of us. I truly pray we meet someday!

  31. Hey Elizabeth, thanks for having the courage to post your story. It’s a story that needs to be told and an adventure in the unfolding. Keep thinking, and blogging because it takes others on the same journey. For many, a journey that needs to be traveled. I’m a burned out pastor going through a similar experience…

  32. Oh, I quoted from your blog, on mine. Hope that’s ok. I referenced your blog.

    http://thescrapheap.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/confession-i-manipulated-and-controlled-people/

  33. I see you wrote this before Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” came out. Have you read it? I think what you are repelling from is not so much the entire Christian faith, but evangelical Christianity, which at its worst is displayed in very troubled characters such as the crazy Calvinist from Seattle, Mark Driscoll. I can’t believe anyone can fall for that preaching of hate. His quote – “God hates you”. Lovely. God hates us? Really? And he created everyone – except a lucky random few – to burn in a (make believe) hell forever? And somehow this is a God of love?

    Almost always, when I hear stories like this, which are not unlike mine, except you are more black and white I think, assuming your bad church experience is representative of all churches, I find that the storyteller only tried “evangelical” Christianity. The big mega-churches, especially places with “star” pastors, like Mars Hill. You probably did not try the mainline churches.(usually small but warm and non-judging congregations) You probably did not try any New Thought churches (Christian Science, Unity, UU) which I would highly encourage you to do.

    A past mayor of the town I live in came to our church one time and said this, “There is one size church that fits everyone, but it is not necessarily the same size” Of course he wasn’t just talking about the numbers, but the philosophy / theology.

    If you only read one book this year on spirituality, make it Rob Bell, “Love Wins”.

  34. I tried viewing your site with my mobile phone and the layout doesnt seem to be correct. Might want to check it out on WAP as well as it seems most smartphone layouts are not really working with your web site.

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