'Colorful people' photo (c) 2007, Becka Spence - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I have a story to tell that I haven’t told.  The story about how I came to leave my home church and find… Actually, I don’t know what I’m finding yet, but I know as much as I’ve ever known anything that God is with me in the searching and finding, whatever it turns out to be.

Voices months ago told me not to talk or write about my leaving.  They said it would disrespect people who care about me, and that it would dishonor my reputation as a leader.  They said it would confuse people, and that it would upset the teenagers.  They said sharing my private story publicly was inappropriate.

I sat in the office of the people to whom these voices belonged, and everything in me wanted to yell back: I’m a writer. This talking thing is what I do.  The sharing thing? We’re supposed to do that as Christians. We’re supposed to tell our stories, broken and tragic and hopeful and loving.  It’s how we stay connected.  It’s how we see God at work in the world, making life out of death and turning good out of bad. We’re supposed to do that in the Church.

Of course, I didn’t yell.  My time in that office, with those people, listening to those voices was done.

And it was never clearer to me than in that office that those voices were exactly why I left.


Still, as it always is, leaving is a process.  It started gradually, years ago, and only those who knew me really well picked up on the small niggling in my heart that found its way out in occasional conversations. Then I started talking about it more. Then my first class of seniors, who I started teaching when they were freshman, graduated and moved on to colleges across the mid-Atlantic.  Then I took over more responsibilities for the youth ministry, and I lost myself in it far too quickly, and my students suffered for it.  They suffered for my unavailability and disengagement, and still they loved me where I was.  And then I felt like I owed them better than what I was giving them.  Then I stopped teaching Sunday school.  Then I didn’t take communion.  And then I left.


And even though I left, those voices that lied to me all those months ago still play in my head.  Those voices are the ones that are stirring up my heart even as I type; worrying about whose reading this and what people will say at that church I no longer go to. But…

Those voices are drowned out by an even louder chorus now.  And this chorus is composed of my parents, my larger family, my friends, my students and youth leaders and parents, friends of my mom, and friends older than my mom.

And the chorus sings loudly, “Don’t you believe that for one second” and “Our girls are better because you were in their high school messes with them” and “We’re so proud of you” and “We’re praying.”

And the chorus sounds like the voice of God.

And for today, finding that voice is enough.

3 thoughts on “Voices

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