I’m not the easiest person to get to know. There’s a lot that goes into that–I’m introverted, I’m analytical, and I’m a critical thinker. To get to know me typically means that I’m getting to know you first. I’m establishing a base in which to work from.
That doesn’t mean that I’m judging you exactly; I’m just trying to figure you out.
Once we’ve established a relationship in which I’m able to reciprocate my thoughts and feelings, I’m not quite as reserved.
You’ll rarely if ever, hear me speak intellectually in quick reaction during a conversation; rather, I’m studying the conversation. My thoughts and opinions are deeply calculated.
My wife is about the only person who ever gets to hear me just start talking. (That comes back to bite me in the ass. I say stupid shit when I don’t think it through completely.)
In my blogging world, I’m really stepping outside of myself in order to share what I’m learning.
What I share is partly based on life experience, hours of research (reading books, listening to lectures, watching documentaries, etc.), and conversations with people I’ve learned to trust.
I do not enjoy speaking, listening to, or writing about things that have little interest to me. When I do speak/write, I’ve made the calculated decision that it’s worth my time.
This website is worth my time; however, over the last couple of months, there’s been less I’ve felt compelled to speak to. I just don’t have the energy–or time–to whip out a new post every day, but what I do write doesn’t come to you frivolously.
God In A Box:
Many of you have come to know me through my writing here. Some of you have known me personally for a period of time. There are also those of you who have known me all my life and those who don’t know me at all.
Those who are just getting to know me now are getting to know the new me.
I’ve always been sort of the “black sheep” who wasn’t afraid to question the status quo. But the questioning of who I was and what I’ve believed my entire life didn’t begin until around 2014.
Most of my friends and family had no idea I began down that path. Being the reserved person I am means I internalize my critical thinking. The only person who truly knew my journey every step of the way was my wife.
Because of that, I can see that everyone who has known me for an extended period of time may want more details about my shift. This comes from a place of genuine concern and love for me, I know that.
I know this because if the roles were reversed, I would have those same feelings and thoughts–only mine would remain unspoken (I think you’re beginning to understand how truly reserved I am).
I’m genuinely grateful for your love. I don’t want you to feel like you have to “sweep things under the rug,” or like things are now awkward between us.
I do not feel awkward with my evolving understanding of God, and I’m clearly not sweeping it under the rug.
I also don’t want you to feel like you’re obligated to pray me back to righteousness; I haven’t departed. Respectfully I’m asking that you don’t try to convince me of the “errors of my ways.”
What I’m learning, the positions I take, and the views I hold of God in my journey will not be evangelized out of me–just as I cannot convince you to believe as I do.
My discoveries aren’t something that I can forget or be prayed out of. I’ve made the reference to the movie “The Matrix” a few times before, and that’s how I feel about what I’m learning about God, religion, and my journey (like I’ve been unplugged from the Matrix).
I don’t mean to say that I have a greater understanding of who God is than you do. I’m simply saying that I haven’t come to these conclusions lightly.
There’s no way I can jot down everything that’s happened to bring me to the place I am now, especially in one blog post. Instead, I will speak to the concerns I know some of you may have and summarize where I am now in my journey.
I know the concerns, believe me, I know them.
“My son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend is walking away from God. He’s listening to lies. Satan is warping his understanding of who God is. What about his family? He’s supposed to be the ‘spiritual leader’ of his wife and kids! What about his kids? What are they going to grow up believing? Why aren’t they in church? Why doesn’t he believe the Bible? How can the Bible possibly be anything but ‘inerrant?’ He says he’s agnostic now–what is happening? How does his relationship with Jesus tie in with all of this? I’m afraid for him. I’m concerned he’s going down a path that will lead him directly into darkness. What if he or his family were to die and go to hell? What if he’s wrong about everything? What if Love isn’t enough? How can Love be found outside of Christianity?”
I think that’s about the size of it. Those would be the questions and concerns in my mind if the old me were staring at the present me.
The simplest way I know how to answer the old me is to do it like so: If “fear” were a person, I would say to go back and begin every question/statement above with “Fear,…”–as if you were having a conversation with Fear.
What I can tell you is I’m unafraid. I’m not shaken by my discoveries, nor is God.
That wasn’t the case for me when I began my journey, but as I’ve gone along the way, I’ve only known complete peace and trust.
There was a small stint in which I felt very alone. That was primarily due to our move away from Texas to Minnesota. We knew nobody, and for a person who is as reserved as I am, that is a daunting place to be.
It didn’t last long, however, and I can say now that we love being in MN! We have a new tribe of people that we’re doing life with, and they’ve made this transition easier.
I’ve also made friends with folks the world over via Facebook and through this site. We speak of God often and carry invigorating conversations. They make me a better person, and I’m grateful for their friendships.
I’ve come to know people of other faiths, atheists, and those on journeys like my own. Doing so has expanded my understanding greatly, and I have greater respect for those people now–where prior to this journey, I was completely opposed to listening to their stories.
Where I am now is difficult to put into words, but I’ll try to explain it some.
I’ve come to understand that I’ve been wrong my entire life to believe that Christianity wasn’t a “religion.” I remember regurgitating phrases like, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”
It really doesn’t matter what gift wrapping you put on the box, the box is still a box. In this case, Christianity is a religion; it’s a box.
There are so many different varieties of religion–let alone varieties of Christianity–but what I’ve discovered is that it’s impossible to put God wholly inside a box.
Fear and manipulation are also found in religion, and I don’t believe God to exist in those places either; therefore, I cannot be a part of it.
Belief in hell, a place of eternal torment, is fear driven and anti-Love. It’s also a man-made idea that is only found within the confines of religious traditions passed down. I don’t believe it to be an inspirational writing given by God–ever.
Sure, there are great things we can learn from sacred texts and teachings passed down, but I don’t view them as I used to. I see them now as man’s attempt to explain God.
Taking the Bible as “God’s literal word” is bibliolatry, and no different than idol worship. Even the authors noted that their writings were inspirational. It’s an attempt to gift wrap God between a front and back cover, and he doesn’t fit.
From the earliest points in history, we have records of people groups giving their ideas of who God is. I’m grateful to those people for expressing their thoughts, but in the end, that’s all they are to me.
Please understand that I do NOT condemn you for believing the way you do. I do not think little of you, or think you’re stupid or any less enlightened than I am. I’m just looking at all of this from an entirely different perspective.
Love doesn’t fit into a box.
I choose to model my life after the life of Jesus, not because I believe he was the “son of God,” or because I’m “trusting him for salvation,” but because he modeled God’s love to me better than anyone else.
His life was more inspirational to me after taking him out of the religious box I had him in, and I’ll never regret making that decision. I might add that from my perspective, Jesus took God out of the religious box of his day.
My friend, John Pavlovitz, puts it this way, “You can’t go where God is not anyway, and so the most faith-affirming decision you can make right now is to trust that wherever you place your feet, even if it is outside of religion—it will still be holy ground.”
I’m leaving God in a new place I’ve never known before. I’m choosing to leave him in a place of mystery.
In this place, there’s no need to define heaven, hell, or sin. Honestly, there’s no need to have anything concrete. God is God, I am not, and I cannot possibly begin to define him or his character outside the frame of Love.
Outside of Love’s frame is wonder and mystery. It’s like exploring areas of space that haven’t been seen. Inside of Love’s frame is the beating heart of God. It’s all the security I will ever need.
I don’t need questions to be answered, nor do I feel the need to answer them myself.
I am content. I am happy. I’m loving those around me, and we’re exploring God’s wonder together.
I leave you with the words of Jesus:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”