I’ve been pretty tight-lipped about what I’ve been up to lately on the organized religion front.
Over the past few years, I’ve been exploring some options, and I’ve been taking my dear, sweet time about it. When it comes to religion, I move slowly, and that’s OK. Making that sort of a commitment is a big deal.
I’ve made some changes, but I’m not going to share why I’ve taken this path. At least, I won’t be doing that any time soon.
But, why not?
Honestly, partially to protect you from me.
I’m not an evangelist. I’m not an apologist. I’m not interested in converted anyone or convincing everyone I’m right and they’re wrong. It’s just not my thing.
I’m more interested in opening doors than closing them these days. I’m crazy ecumenical, and I’m more interested in understanding why someone believes what they believe and in working together on what we have in common than in lecturing anyone about why their beliefs are wrong..
Here’s the thing, though. I used to an evangelist. I used to be an apologist. I was trying to convert people into something toxic. I was young and ignorant, but still. I know how much damage I can do.
It’s better for everyone if I don’t get overly excited and start vomiting up some half-assed conversion story to try to turn your heads this way.
Most of the people who read this blog are a lot like me. Once you’ve left a restrictive environment, you’re (rightfully) suspicious of organized religion. That’s normal, and I’m not going to be some asshole putting pressure on anyone to do things exactly the way I’ve done them.
I feel like I have a responsibility to care for the people I come into contact with, and sometimes that means not putting myself out there as an example, even if my intentions might be good.
Anyway, who the hell am I? It’s not like I’m so important anyone was screaming, “We got her! We got Kristy!” when I did this. There wasn’t a denominational bidding war over me or anything. (Which is seriously disappointing.) So, really, going over the whole journey of how I got from there to here would mostly be self-important nonsense at this point.
I’ll get around to sharing this story eventually—it’s what I do—but I need to take some time and I need to make sure I’m wise enough when I share that I don’t point slightly off center and send anyone off down some twisty, overgrown side path when there’s a level, well-groomed trail right in front of us.
I’m still finding my way. I’m sure I’m doing a lot of things wrong. I’ll probably always get some things wrong. I’m probably on the freakin’ overgrown trail and I don’t even know it. I do tend to overcomplicate things. In the end, I’ll come out in the same place (I don’t think my decision was wrong) but there’s probably a much easier way of doing this. A way that doesn’t have so many chiggers. I hope you find some path without all the bugs.
To protect me from well-meaning people. I might not be interested in goading people into religious arguments, but plenty of people are. This is something I take seriously. I want to have the space to explore what I need to explore and learn what I need to learn without constantly being put on the defensive. I just don’t want anyone’s input at this point.
I’m a pretty reasonable person, all things considered. I can read a book just as well as the next person, and I’m friends with about a billion pastors and people in various ministries, so if I have some question I just can’t find an answer to, I have resources.
Especially given the route I’ve gone, I wanted to avoid all the “Oh, you just bought yourself a ticket straight to hell” folk too. I mean, what can you even say in response to that? Joke about getting an upgrade for all the cuss words you throw around? They don’t like that.
I’ve spent a lot of time out in the wilderness, totally on my own. This is a huge deal for me. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have imagined even considering getting involved with any formal religious group again. I don’t want to witness anyone trying to tear down what’s taken me so long to build up. You know that scene in Cinderella where her step-sisters shred the dress she’s worked so hard on? It’s like that.
The Problem With Testimonies
I’ve never shared a classic Christian testimony here. I doubt I’ll ever share one anywhere. I don’t care for them. More often than not they come across as manipulative.
Oh, I’m good at giving my testimony. Even before anything all that bad happened to me, I totally rocked testimony time. Before Jesus, I was this way. After Jesus, I’m this totally new way.
Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t give a testimony like that. I don’t believe this sudden flash happens and all the sudden we’re changed and never go back to our old ways again. I believe I’m on a journey, and I’m just at the beginning. I’m not a brand new, better person. I’m still me, and hopefully, I’m evolving in the right direction. That takes time and faith and discipline. I can’t sit here and type up all the ways I’ve changed since making this decision because that’s not how this works.
When I got baptized at sixteen, I thought of baptism as the culmination of my discipleship journey. You learn what you need to learn, you understand what it means to commit to Christ, then you get baptized and this transformation happens. But I was wrong. Baptism wasn’t the end of the journey. It was the beginning. I’m not necessarily at the beginning of my journey as a Christian at this point, but I’m at the beginning of my journey on this particular path within Christianity.
And I think it’s fine for me to share where I’m at and talk about my experiences along the way—and I will do that here—but that’s not the same as actively evangelizing or trying to provide steps for someone else to take. Even if I’m right, even if this is the right path for you too, even if it’s the right path for everyone, I’m not in a position to lead anyone down it.
What’s the mysterious change?
It’s not all that mysterious. I converted to Catholicism. Most of the people who read this blog already know that. People who know me were either totally shocked or not the least bit surprised, and I’m not sure what that says about me.
I’m not going to explain why I converted. I’m still a feminist. I’m still a pacifist. I’m still me. And that’s all I’m going to say about it right now.
And if anyone’s looking for a take-away, that’s it. When I was hanging around evangelical Christians, the focus was on evangelizing everyone all the time. Even brand new Christians were supposed to be out there recruiting. But when you put brand new Christians, who don’t fully understand the religion they’ve chosen, out into the wild to lead people to Christ it doesn’t always go so well. People get hurt.
To be clear, I’m not trying to knock evangelicals here. I have my issues with the theology, and I’m not shy about saying that, but I also have evangelical friends who are totally cool people. (I told you I’m ecumenical. So there.) I know some evangelicals who put a lot of emphasis on learning and discipleship. Unfortunately, in my experience, the focus was on saving as many people as possible and discipleship wasn’t really a concern.
But discipleship should be our concern. We don’t take a student who’s just decided to go to medical school and ask him to perform an operation. If people are precious, shouldn’t we want to protect them, even from ourselves?
When we find our way, we get excited about it. Of course we want to share this with everyone we know. Of course we want everyone we care about to have what we’ve found. We’d be shitty people if we didn’t want that.
But that’s like performing surgery on someone without the proper training. Just because you’ve got Jesus doesn’t mean you know how to talk about Jesus yet. And, no, the Holy Spirit doesn’t always guide you there. If that were true, we wouldn’t have so many people out here who’ve been seriously damaged by Christians.
It’s OK to get your feet under you before you go around sharing about your new faith. Anyway, not everyone is supposed to be a teacher.
What does that change around here?
You’ll probably see posts about topics as I hear about them. Some of them will be related to Catholicism. Some of them won’t be directly related. You’ll still get a lot of parentheticals. (Because they’re cool.)
You won’t see posts like: 10 Reasons You Should Visit Your Local Catholic Church Today
How the hell would I know if you should go visit your local Catholic church today? I mean, unless there’s a fish fry. Then, yeah, maybe I could see it.
I’m not you and we haven’t lived the same life, so I’m not going to just spew generalized instructions at you without even knowing what your circumstances are. You’ll see posts about my personal experiences (which is business as usual), but you won’t see posts universalizing my experiences.
Image credit: JLS Photography – Alaska (flickr, Creative Commons)