What If: Faith Has Nothing to Do With Doctrinal Purity?

Deconstruction is a popular word that is used in the circle of recovering Evangelical Christianity to explain the process of unpacking old thoughts. My journey of deconstruction began in 2002. It was in a season of absolute desperation and spiritual death that I began to question all of the ways in which I had been taught to look for truth and hope in ways that no longer made since. I didn’t have a box for the reality that I wanted to commit suicide. There was no way to explain the truth that I was pastoring teenagers with the Good News of hope and joy and yet most mornings it was all I could do to get my head off the pillow and face the day.

I built a life that was based on a system of absolutes. The structure that gave me a job and a calling and a purpose was simultaneously feeding my need to cover my truth, deny my doubts and run from the soul spaces that were calling me to look for more. If I admitted that I did not believe in the story of Adam and Eve as a literal creation narrative how in the hell was I supposed to teach original sin – the root of the need for a savior? While to some this sounds like an overblown drama fest, to a person with only one experience of anything faith related, I feared that my entire existence could come unravelled.

Simple math would tell you that this has not been a quick journey. In so many ways, the last almost 2 decades have been quite the roller coaster. There have been moments of big, scary climbs – moments where I thought that the decent from that climb would actually kill me. One of the first biggies that I walked away from was the denominational church system of my childhood. I spent 30 years believing that the best expression of the Body of Christ was that system. And then that reality died. To say that a piece of my soul died with it is an understatement.

I wish I could say that was the hardest death. It only got harder as the stakes got bigger. The dismantling of my understanding of ordination did me in. The moment that I accepted that the work that I was doing was indeed pastoring…mind blowing. When I realized that me not being able to check the box of every profession of faith found in the creeds of the Church and yet that fact did not disqualify me from being a follower of Jesus – I was floored. The first time that I allowed myself to think about the possibility that sexuality was not something that needed moral policing, I was done. Flat out done. This list is not exhaustive, by any means. What I know today is that I am not done.

Here is the thing about deconstruction: it never stops. When you begin to live your life from a posture of leaning in, one of openness and space for new growth, the universe allows your heart and mind and thinking and loving to come from a bigger, more expansive place. In the process, my beliefs about doctrine and theology have changed. I took seminary classes in systematic theology. I still devour texts on historical shifts in church beliefs and makeup. These things are fascinating to me. But the process of deconstruction has wrecked my understanding of pure doctrine in the best possible way. No longer is the list about conforming. My journey is now about exploration. There is no fear in saying that I don’t believe in _______ or I can’t put the Divine in the _________ box.

I fully believed, for DECADES, that by altering my absolutes, by taking certain “fundamental” beliefs off the table, I was committing catastrophic damage to my own faith. Instead, what I found is that the “purity” factor is the lie. The box of believing that without certain certainites it all goes to hell, has been destroyed. I would instead argue that what I have found on the other side is a breath of fresh theological air. At the very essence of the Divine is great mystery, a big questioning mystery. We are not supposed to know and be certain. Certainty and absolute knowledge is the opposite of faith. If we find ourselves in a place where we have it all figured out, if we have all of the answers, we don’t need the Divine.

What If: I Listened to My Own Boundaries

I can honestly say that the biggest gift of this season of unboxing (I’m leaning into this “What If” openness as a big re-birthday party with many new gifts to open) is the ability to listen and trust my own voice. As I discover that I am worthy of listening to, I have been gifted with a precious time of filtering through what I’ve always believed, to find the gift of what is really true for me. With that, I have explored some new boundaries that I believe will carry me into the next season of life.

When reading Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed, she posed the question: What is my boundary? This was one of a series of questions that guided some navigational writing back in March. As I have revisited my thoughts on this, I have landed in a sacred space. I want to stop operating from a place of responsibility to others and begin recognizing the truth that is inside me. I want to believe that the Knowing that I have in my connection to my Creator is enough. I don’t have to water it down or make it digestible to the masses so I can speak truth. My boundary will be my own discontent. When I begin to feel it, I will honor that feeling and ask myself ‘how can I respond so that the world sees ALL that the Divine is teaching me?’

At the core of my love for humanity is a desire and hope that all will be included. I have camped out on this word ‘inclusion’ for years because I thought it was enough to be invited to the room of life. But an invitation or inclusion is insufficient. With our birthright, we are already in the room. Whether we are welcome there by others or not, we are in the room. I have spent much of my life living this out in the Church, continually encountering the keepers of rules and power that have exploited the places of control, only for those that they champion or for groups in common agreement.

“Unity” and “common ground” are scapegoat words in church circles that have been used for generations to quiet those voices that see the facade of inclusion to justify judgement. I was brought up with the themes of love and wanting. We have been told that the story of Jesus is about welcome. At the same time, I have bought the lie that by being open to people of different thoughts and expressions we are loving them well.

The ever burning coals of discontent in my soul are calling for something far from inclusion and unity. Nothing changes if we spend the next generation navigating the waters “carefully”. To really love people and care for those that have been relegated to the margins, we have to call out the perceived truth, as demonstrated by the masses. Seeing only what we long to see, or the “intent” for religious practice is empty because that is not what the world sees. Even from inside the club, I know that The Church is not welcoming. The Church is not affirming. The Church is not inclusive. 

No matter what name we place on the building, to the outside world it is the same judgmental, closed off and hate-spewing entity. Those that have been stabbed by judgement are not exploring the doctrines of individual congregational expressions for safety. If we are lucky, they are still willing to listen to the story of Jesus, but being a part of the instrument of exclusion is not even on the table for the majority of people today. It’s like inviting an alcoholic to come worship at a bar with the expectation that they won’t be burned by the desire to drink. Instead of celebrating the fact that those off put by our barrier building existence are still open to exploring avenues of connection to a Divine source of hope and healing, Christians continue to place on spiritual seekers the judgement of not being “true believers.” 

This is my boundary today. I’m over the cries for rallying around common threads of truth and allowing our welcome to be enough. Today, my boundary has a new wall. I’m here to honor all the big questions. I’m ready to admit to myself that I feel more welcome and acceptance from those that are far from the Church than I do from those that are close to the holy huddle. Setting boundaries are scary. Boundaries change the rules for all the players. But for this girl, the one that is trying to honor herself for a change, I’m listening to my boundaries and it feels life-giving!

(If this post stirs your soul or if you have read Glennon’s book and you want to unpack it with friends, I have a Facebook book club that is still in Part 1. Send me a message if you are interested in joining us!)

What If: Opening Yourself Up Means Changing the Idea of Who You Are?

  • “You need to change your clothes.”
  • “I need you to change your attitude.”
  • “Changing your work ethic is the only way you keep this job.”

If you have ever been on the receiving end of a similar comment, your defenses are probably already raised. You know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you have made the connection that I ponder – the need for change implies deficiency. Why would we change if there is nothing wrong? If someone calls us to change, is that a sign that things are not ok? I think that is the lie that I have been consumed by for decades.

The only times that I have felt compelled to work for change is when I was broken, hurting someone else or violating a human decency code. Usually, this comes when someone else calls me on the carpet for bad behavior. For someone wired like me, the opposite of the desired outcome is usually the impact. Watch me do what I want (insert 7 year old face with her thumbs in her ears and her tongue sticking out), because YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! To say that I resist personal change is a wild understatement. I hate it. I avoid it. Change hurts, even when the outcome is with a positive end goal. Change calls me to look for a new start, and new starts require unlearning behaviors and beliefs that have grown deep within me.

Walking in with the full knowledge that good can and should come from change, there is a root fear to soul change. To look at yourself – your questions, your thoughts, your passions, your doubts – is to stare down your very being. When we begin to dig into the deepest recesses of soul exploration we find defining beliefs. We find the causes and motivations for life decisions. We define the values that we place on relationships and wholeness and healing. The very things that characterize us as individualistically unique humans are accessed when we begin to evaluate the ‘what’s’ and ‘how’s’ of our belief systems.

I have recently reached a new personal line in the sand. These are the moments in my life where I know a change is needed. When I reach the moment that I cannot force myself to live in a way that no longer feels like home, I am headed toward an interior remodel. In this season, I have been called to look at, explore, evaluate, access and define who and what I value, what I believe, who I long to connect with and where I long to grow. These excavation projects come with a similar fear that the opening three statements evoke. I might even suggest that the internal stare downs are more painful because I know the truth. I know that I CAN do better. I know that I have not worked on the things that I value. I am fully, painfully, aware that my outlook and attitude must change. And it is in that moment that I have to ask the hard question. Do I want to redefine my being or stick with my safe, known self?

I love that this question of change is posed with the word “open” as the root. That’s the very best version of change. To open is to allow access to your heart. To open is to uncover your soul. To open is to spread out. I don’t know about you, but these are the very things that I need more of in my life. I need to remove the coverings from the things that are obscured. I need to release myself from old beliefs about what “is” or “supposed to be.” When we begin to change the foundations of structure and systems, when we dismantle old thinking and truly open our heart and mind and soul to the next version of ourselves, we WILL change. And the change will hurt. The growing will be painful. You don’t get taller without stretching your muscles and tendons. You don’t get a degree without the painful work of study. You don’t get the mature marriage or friendship without changing what those relationships are when they start.

In addition to the writing that I have put out for the blog world to read, I have recently done some hard writing about changes in my own life. One of my favorite questions that has spurred both joy and pain is “What is my boundary?” I wrote this a few weeks ago:

I want to stop operating from a place of responsibility to others and begin recognizing the truth that is inside me. I want to believe that the Knowing that I have in my connection to my own soul is enough – that I don’t have to water it down or make it digestible to the masses so I can speak truth. My boundary will be my own discontent. 

There is nothing that will change your own ideas of self like honoring your soul. When I listen to my own discontent, things cannot help but change, because I change. When I know that my gut tells me that something is off, that someone is not giving me their truth – and I actually freaking listen – everything MUST change. That’s the kind of change that I am about today. Not the shame change. Not the blame change. Not even the should change. I’m here for the I AM WORTH IT change. I am worth all of the discomfort and hardness and unsureness and fear because I know that the version of me on the other side is a freaking badass. I’m making a toast to opening up. Who is drinking with me today?

What If: I’m Over COVID?

I’m wondering how many of us find ourselves at the quarantine wall? I have followed the rules. I have lived in my house (and subsequently my own head) since mid-March. This is a danger zone. As a dear friend said to me today, “We were not created to live like this.”

With that worn out spirit, I went to Wal-Mart today. I feel like this is the opposite of stay at home. I wore my mask. I followed the taped markers. I judged all the people that did not have their facial coverings properly secured. I did it. I went on a mission. I needed something specific that did not require a cart or aisle strolling, but I could not do it online. So I went. It was somewhere near the women’s undergarment section when a profound awakening happened. Girdles are inspiring, I know.

Everything has changed.

Everything. Has. Changed.

My view of the world has changed. My desire to shop has changed. My ability to put life in a predictable box has changed. My willingness to live with regrets is gone. My fear of the unknown has been faced. My heart and soul and brain have been so force-fed with stillness that I have turned over rocks that I didn’t think still lived in my deepest recesses. All of this at a time when I have not had access to my routine, people, safe spaces or tools. There is only so much that my reading and podcast listening can fill. There are unattended areas of mess that I don’t know what to do with on a good day, much less 60 days without structure or the ability to escape the four walls of my house. Dear, Sweet Baby Jesus, I’m so tired. So today, I admit that the wall has been hit. It has been hit with exhaustion and fury. It has been hit with frustration and some shame and even more guilt.

And while all of these things have been hard, I need to let you in on the secret. I have never, ever, never-ever felt so alive. To be alive is to feel. To be alive is to know that you are being more true to the person you have been created to be than ever before in your life. To be alive is to know that with each breath, you are taking in the wealth of emotions that this life gives and at the same time, refusing to let the pain win. I am reminded today, that for some, the best life – the most full life – comes after an organ transplant or a chemo treatment. When the disease is removed and healing can begin. The chains-off life comes when the old ways of setting up shop are destroyed and in its place a bigger, more beautiful way of living is embraced.

I am over COVID. I am over the stay-at-home season. I am over not seeing my people. I am even over not hugging. But, I’m not over what this time has given me. There are things in my life that I could have kept tidied up and neatly boxed for many more decades. My routine and busyness has been a cushion of avoidance on many fronts. Instead, this two months has pointed a magnifying glass of better living like a lighthouse into my future. I know that it is not going to be simple or easy, but watch out world, Lacy is coming out of the house and I am ready to live.

What If: I Choose Courage Over Comfort?

There are a handful of people that I go to when the pain is too great. They live on a special bookshelf and have a place of honor at my house. Only the wise truth tellers are found on these 3 shelves. I have mentioned a few of them to you already, but there is one voice that can cut through the heavy with bombs of emotional genius. If you don’t know her, stop what you are doing and order her books. Now. My people, it’s time for you to join the Brene Brown fan club.

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Brene Brown Rising Strong

Oh, Brene. Why you gotta throw these truth bombs into my path? Here I am, minding my own business of wreckage and you roll up with the knock out truth punch. I want the comfort. I want to be admired and loved and honored. I want to say just enough where people think that I know the things, but not enough that I push myself to feel the discomfort of change. I don’t want to have my ass kicked. Unless, of course, I say that it is time for you to kick my ass and I know you are not really capable of hurting me because you don’t have enough weapons to do damage. Yep. That’s my very best thinking, people.

I am obsessed with Dateline, 48 Hours and all Oxygen and A&E Crime Documentaries. I love watching the investigation. I am fascinated with the way that people think they can commit a crime and cover it up. I can relate to this way of life. I am a master of the well thought-out and supremely organized cover up. No, I have not taken to the streets of hard crime, but I have done equal damage to my own soul with my expert ability to portray the version of Lacy that I want you to see. You like church Lacy? Check. Interested in the sarcasm and foul mouthed story teller, I got you. What about the soul diver? The one who could hit you with 2,020 questions to get at your truth but avoid her own at all costs? Well, hello, my little friend.

The more I unpack, the more that I feel. The more that I feel, the more that I see the damage of being comfortable. Comfort is the lie that tells you that you will be fine. Comfort is that facade that wants you to believe that you are safer in the box. Comfort is the doubt that tells you that you won’t be able to enter the fullness of truth and experience joy at the same time.

But, courage. Freaking courage. Courage is the moment that you admit in your soul that this does not work anymore. Courage is allowing yourself to think ‘what if?’ Courage is knowing that I can’t control the outcome – of responses, perceptions, relationships – and still being willing to walk through the doorways of the unknown. For me, these things are only possible by trusting myself. Knowing that I can tell my truth and still be loved. Trusting that by using my courage muscle, I am creating a bigger circle that not only includes my whole self, but welcomes others that have bought the lie that they are somehow excluded. Courage and vulnerability are the salve on the wounds of inauthentic living. It’s time for me to get to work.

What If: I Always Feel Afraid?

I promised myself at the beginning of this 50 day journey that if I reached a day that I could not write, I would give myself grace. I typically schedule my daily post to publish at 10am. It is currently 9:12am and I have exactly 2 1/2 sentences on the page. Why? Because I am living in the midst of a fear storm. If you are a person who does not fall prey to a soul flattening kind of fear, well, in the most loving way I can say this, fuck you.

What does fear look like for me? It is an all encompassing. It starts with a thought that deviates from the norm. Oh, “normal” is a lovely place. It has a warm, status quo where by the shallow water of life’s undercurrent has no waves. It lulls you to believe that you are safe. It rocks you with tiny, gentle swaying that allows you to believe that a simple, almost stillness is the perceived goal. For some, this may be the final destination. Remaining in the shallow is life giving for them. The wonder of the deep is not interesting. For most that hold this worldview, the deep is unnecessary. Why would you even look for more when you are safe? But I hate the kiddie pool. I’m one of those people that knows that the warmth of safety is actually the pee that heats the water. I hate that warmth. It is actually everything I hate. All of it. I would rather jump into the scary deep, the water with all the undertow, with the Great Whites or off the 10M platform than sit safely in the shallow.

Why? The number of times that I have had this question posed to me in life is beyond my ability to count. Why would you disturb the safe? Why would you need to change this? Why are you “messing with” a good thing? Because I cannot do anything but the guttiest of the gut level today, I only know my truth. I do these things because safe is not living for me. Risk is where the reward is found. Questioning is where the best version of me is unearthed. Jumping in, even on the days when I don’t know if I can swim or float or even tread water is the only thing that gives me life. It is the single greatest fear inducing reality of my life.

In case you can’t tell, the ‘What If’s’ are wrecking me. Most days this is a great thing. Most days, I am brave and untamed and stalking the peripheries of life with a confidence and passion. But, some days. Days when I think I may have ventured into the deepest deep, I find that I’m making camp with all of the fears. There was no way I could write this journey without a few days like today. I will always have fear. Fear is the pulse of a person that is alive. Fear is the reminder that we are not in charge. Fear is the only reason that I am forced to take a deep breath and jump. I need the fear. I hate the fear. But the choice is to die inside, so LET’S GO!

(If you made it to the end of this post and there is something inside of you that feels the need to “check on me,” don’t worry. I don’t write for attention. I don’t write as a smoke signal for help. I write to remind myself (and others that are on the same page) that I am alive. My deep diving is exactly what I was created to do, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.)

What If: I Invested As Much Time in Myself as I Do Other People?

Today is Mother’s Day. I have a love/hate relationship with this day. Because it always falls on a Sunday, two things have been true about the celebration. First, it has traditionally been a “work” day for me. The second is a bit more complicated. I hate the way that we celebrate this day, especially in the Church world. This is a day that invokes so many emotions. It is not a Hallmark-able fuzzy celebration. It’s true confession time: being a mother is not a natural thing for me. I found it especially hard and perpetually draining in the younger years. I was not created to be a lovey, book reading, storytelling, cooking, homemaking mommy. I was, however, born with the reproductive system that allowed life to come from my body. I also have a powerful shame game and fully convinced myself that by choosing not to have children, I would be setting up resentment and regret. So, here I am. Happy Mother’s Day to me!

It seemed only fitting that this would be the day to tackle a question that seems to plague so many women and mothers. Even as someone who does not thrive in all things nurturing, I have perfected the art of diminishing my personal needs, time and interests. I can run to the bedside of a hurting loved one or rush to a friend in crisis, all while my own ass is hanging on by a thread. My therapists through the years would call these boundary issues. I would call it the crisis of the female conscience. I had the example lived before me that as a woman, it was my job to care for all the people. By birthright, I was created to meet the physical, spiritual, emotional, relational and anything-else-that-you-can-think-of needs for all of the people in my view. And I should do it with excitement and joy, as a good woman should. I mean, you have read Proverbs 31, right?

There are times that basic caregiving (you know, like the infant stage) just take all the life. I don’t care who you are, certain seasons are just life suckers. This is normal. What we are talking about here is the sustained, long worn path of self denial in the face of other-care. As a women in my 20’s and 30’s, I fought the MAJOR shame gremlins that liked to steal all my joy. If I planned a date out or a fun activity with a friend and a child or parent or friend needed me, I would naturally and without much thought, move to the space of their service. Duty and responsibility always led. These are not virtuous traits. These are the lies that my ego feeds me. The ones where I am convinced that no one can do things the way that I can. The ones where I believe that people really cannot handle their own lives without me.

As I have moved into my 40’s, I have sharpened my caregiving skills in my own direction. I have begun to define what differentiates my needs from the people around me. Drinking a cup of coffee by myself is lovely, but an entire morning of sitting on the beach writing is soul filling. Starting my day with a devotional is an endearing goal, but putting on my walking shoes and walking 4 miles will turn my day (and the previous day) around. When my soul is weary, my family is much better off for me to go on a long drive than for me to begrudgingly throw together dinner. Nothing good can come from that kind of need meeting – except a big heaping pile of resentment.

For me, the inability to identify the feelings, ask for what I need and do something about it, have been the recently recognized challenges. I have spent years preparing the way for others to identify their own needs and receive the space and care that they need. I have lived 45 years on this earth. It matters not how many times I have been told to put my oxygen mask on first, I still find myself strapping that thing on other people’s faces and neglecting my own. My body, spirit and gut show the scars of this way of life. So here, on this Mother’s Day 2020, I am headed into the next 45 years with a new call. If there is one thing that the global pandemic has taught me, it is that when I take the time to breathe, write, garden, breathe, walk, be still, breathe and breathe some more, I am a better friend, mom and person. Here is to a day of guiltless, shame-free crawfish eating, poolside sitting day of remembering that I am worth intentional acts of self-care.

What If: Changing My View of Church Impacts My Kids?

I grew up never missing church. Being sick was a reason to be absent, but even travel may include a stop at a local congregation and a bulletin from the church of visitation to take home as an excuse note. Sundays were serious business and there were few exceptions. I honored that same standard in raising my children. While we don’t visit other churches on travel excursions, being in the building on Sunday has been a high value mark throughout my life.

Fifteen years ago, I began an empowering journey of reconstructing what I believed about Church organizations, denominational systems and many aspects of serving and leading the Church. But even in the midst of a huge personal and cultural shift, the value that we as a family placed on the corporate worship gathering was high. It was only as our children began competing in sports that we had a discussion of “skipping” church. Just reflecting on this term choice is telling. What I discovered as I unpacked this language was that in my hardwired system, nothing was more important than the tightly held sanctity of the 10am Sunday hour.

It was only because of the fact that our youngest called me on the carpet about this choice that I began to listen. In a heated discussion about the number of times we were going to miss church for swim meets in a three month period, I argued that some meets were “not as important” as others and that we should choose. In a very unfiltered moment, my 13 year-old twirled around on me and shouted, “Do you want me to hate Jesus for taking away swimming?” I knew the correct response. I knew what my parents and many others would have said to me. But in that moment, the Spirit forced my mouth shut (I don’t do these things on my own) and I did not come back on her with frustration or punishment. But her words weighed on my mind. To this day.

The last year has provided opportunities for me to look at this issue from many directions. There is a huge part of my heart that longs for the same kind of joy and excitement that I found going to church as a small child. I loved Sunday mornings. I don’t recall a fight about going to church growing up. Ever. Perhaps I blocked it out, but it was just what we did – it was like breathing. In different seasons, (you know, like college) there was certainly not the same excitement. But easily and quickly, the Sunday morning experience was shaped in my adulthood. As a full-time church worker, Sundays were the fullest of days. It was only as we moved into different seasons of church planting that my schedule and Sunday demands morphed. But it was Ally’s pushback last year that stopped me. Could I really damage her willingness to interact and engage with the Divine with my attempts to get her to church? Can I get oh, hell yeah?

While unpacking her feelings about Sunday worship, I required myself to hear her. This is her story: she knows Spirit. She has clear and regular encounters with her Creator. Unlike what I have always practiced and preached, she does not have these encounters with God in a certain room, with a certain speaker or for certain songs. For her, she knows connection when her head is immersed in water. She understands prayer and intention from the moments that she and God are the only ones behind the blocks as she prepares to race. She has developed a deep since of trust in her body and internal voice as she has navigated success and failure, pain and injury, love and disappointment. More than any sermon or corporate prayer time, my daughter has a deep spiritual connection to her entire rhythm of life. It was only when I quit fighting to put my liquid fueled offspring into a landlocked creation of the Divine encounter that I freed her to find her own path. Just tonight, she came into my room and I read her the previous two paragraphs. I asked her if I captured this correctly. Her smile said it all. “You got it, Mom.”

My kids are impacted. They are also some of my best teachers. My kids have opened my eyes to see the better and more true ways of experiencing God. As with most of my goals in parenting, I feel like my aim in all things Church is to get out of the way and trust that just as God shapes and molds me, God is teaching and opening my kids to the same revelation. More important than me telling them what to do or how to do it, I hope that I can teach them how to reason and listen and trust their Knowing to find answers for themselves.

What If: The Responsibility for My Spiritual Connection Was On Me?

To begin this post, I need to give a bit of groundwork. The heart of this question came from a conversation that I shared with a friend months ago. We were discussing the framework by which we are finding spiritual connection and the heartbeat of the conversation shifted to our personal responsibility for that journey. The more we talked, the more clearly I began to see the reality of the American Church.

I have accepted the consumer mentality of church attendance for years. I have fought it with all of my church leading ability, but for the past 30 years the pattern of participation in the life of the church has significantly morphed to a ‘what can you do for me?’ mindset. In seasons of personal frustration, I have fought against this current. But years ago, I gave up fighting. I have pressed into personal internal work and trusted that those that were ready for this track would join me, appealing program or not. I have thought less about target audiences and attention seeking models and more about if this is what I need, maybe someone else will see it as valuable. This is great for many, and off-putting for so many others. It is a shift. No longer am I catering to what is convenient. Instead I am focused on calling others to own their own journey.

This does a few things. First, it makes it look like you don’t “care” about people. This is anti-pastoral. Secondly, it can come off as elitist or closed off. I can assure you that is not my intent. Instead, I think asking people to own their own journey is actually quite open. More open, in fact, than anything that I have been a part of in the discipleship journeys or Bible studies of the past. Finally, this shift puts the responsibility on the participant. And guess what? People don’t like responsibility. It is heavy. It demands work. Especially in the spiritual journey. It requires looking for yourself at the things that you cannot embrace or own. When you are no longer spoon fed “truth” or a particular belief system, and instead are forced to decide if you care or value these things at all, the hard choices begin to appear. You have to own it. For yourself. And hot damn, that seems real and true in ways that are anything but consumeristic.

I want to talk to my friends that are sitting on this fence. The ones that know that they don’t fit in the system but just can’t imagine what it looks like to think about owning (really owning) their faith. The ones that do the things because you are supposed to. The ones that answer the questions the way that others want you to because it is just easier than disturbing the calm of status quo. To tell someone that you are changing the way that things have always been done or believed or participated in or accepted is terrifying. Especially when it comes to owning your faith. So much of our system of organization in the Church has pre-determined eternal outcomes and perceived truth. But, I need to let you in on a secret. THAT IS A LIE.

If you own your faith in a way that calls you to walk away,

If you find that you don’t believe what you once did,

If you listen, really listen, and find that your soul tells a different story today,

You will be ok. I am ok. I am here to be a witness, you will live on the other side.

And what if, the story on this side is a more beautiful, free, freeing, melodic, harmonizing, trusting truth than you could have ever dreamed? That’s what owning your spiritual journey looks like. When you find that the handcuffs are removed and you are finally free to reach for the most loving and generous parts of your own soul, you realize that is the very space that Creation and Healing is the most alive.

The single greatest thing that has kept me from this part of my own journey is that I have bought the shame based lies that I was not capable of being trusted. I had deeply embedded belief grooves that held my heart hostage that my “sinful” nature was not able to be barometer of goo. Instead, I needed to rely on the smarter, more studied, more spiritual people to do this heavy lifting for me. My job was simply to digest their truth and to participate in the prescribed path of connection. By doing the correct activities and following the path, I would find soul contentment. Well, guess what? That didn’t happen.

But when I allowed myself to do some guilt free breathing. When I took a long deep, open, full-lung breath of what felt warm and welcome and ME, something happened. I didn’t feel like I was breathing a tank of artificial air. There was no life support needed. Because, I had the capacity to do this all along. My Creator wired me to listen and hear and discern. The very stillness of Sprit that I have possessed from birth was absolutely sufficient. It was my inability to trust myself, my unwillingness to flex the muscles of exploration for fear of non-conformity that paralyzed me all along. I have a new tool kit these days. In includes intention setting, meditation, prayer, listening, study, reading, trusting others to speak Divine inspiration to me and most importantly reflecting on what the Teacher is telling me through listening to my own spirit. This beautiful reconstruction journey is wonderfully mysterious and wildly freeing.

What If: I Can’t Ever Go Back to Church?

I have seen very few of my people over the last two months. Prior to the mid-March Stay at Home order, I would have told you that I am an introvert and really did not need to be around people. For the most part, this season has solidified this feeling. I have confirmed, however, that there is a distinct difference between people and MY people. I need my people. Like water and oxygen, I need my people. After almost 60 days of distance, I saw two of my closest in a socially distanced, no-contact, outside meet up last weekend. We drove in separate cars, met at a time that there wouldn’t be a crowd, collected our own coffee and sat (maybe not all 6′) feet apart while we talked. For hours. It was absolutely glorious. It was so wonderful that I actually had to force myself not to hug them – which, for the record, I’m not sure that I have ever hugged either one – but I did not because you know I’m not a hugger. But, for real, I need my people.

I met both of these friends in the circle of my religious life. I can honestly say that our paths may have not crossed otherwise. On the surface, we have very little in common. But there is a level of honestly that we have established that is safe. We speak to each other with all the passions of f’s and sh’s. We hold tightly to the belief that there is safe space. Even when I don’t think we intend to, we walk into conversations and suddenly find ourselves neck deep in what most consider controversial territory. It’s glorious, but not very churchy. Not very churchy, at all.

As we sat together this weekend, I confessed that I don’t know what to do with my current feelings of apathy about missing weekly gathering times. This led to a fascinating conversation about where we each were pressing into and working to find community. Our paths are very different, but we all come from the since-childhood Church world. Each with our own baggage and view of the value, we come to the table at different places of interest. It is at this point that I need to confess to you, dear reader, that this what if? question is mine. It’s one that I have been wrestling with since the pandemic began. I have never, not one time in my life, not been to church for 10 weeks. I took 4 weeks of maternity leave with child #1. I made it all the way to 6 with kiddo #2. Even when we were between churches, I visited (sometimes multiple) churches every week. And yet, here I find myself.

There is a huge part of my life, schedule and calendar that has been tied to the rhythm of all things church. We choose not to travel for certain holidays, so as not to miss special events. We prioritize the “extra” days because I have always believed that the practices of church activities were vital to my spiritual health. But something happened inside of me during Holy Week 2020. I didn’t not participate because I was not at church. I didn’t forget or even minimize the journey because I was not in charge of things. In all honesty, the opposite happened. I came alive.

I chronicled some of this in my Holy Week posts, especially my Saturday post. I allowed myself to do the things that I needed to do. I was not bogged down with telling the story so others could hear and understand, rather I told the story to my own soul. I gave myself space for quiet. I offered myself grace. It was so honoring.

My girl, Jen Hatmaker, threw down some truth on Facebook on Monday:

“Mostly, quarantine hasn’t created brokenness but exposed it. It has removed all the distractions and shiny parts that have kept us from the truth, from admitting what is real, and from the work.”

@jenhatmaker on Facebook

Thank, Jen. Thanks for calling out my crap right here on the carpet in front of the world and all of the truth tellers. That’s what this season has been. Most days have consisted of a long morning walk, gardening (yep, in my WEED FREE backyard), long writing sessions on the porch and some great conversations. I have talked on the phone WAAAAY more than I ever would. I have called friends that I rarely talk to because I needed MY people. I have trusted my truth and pain to new and old friends. I have searched for the truest of the true because I have been exposed. All of the cover of busyness and schedules were removed and I was forced to get down to business.

I have more to say about what’s next, post-quarantine, but for this question I need to honor myself. So today, I am going to speak to myself like I was speaking to one of my best friends. If they came to me and said, What If? I would say: Rest. Heal. Share. Search. Hope. Dig. Honor. Read all the things that you have been avoiding because of the what if’s. Listen to the voices that speak to you. Turn on music that stirs you to tears. Walk on the seawall at dawn when your soul is tired. Stay up too late and look at the fire. All of these things are Church for you, Lacy. And if, when the time comes, you are finding love and life in other ways, give yourself grace. God is not keeping attendance records.