the Empathy List #54: Need Machines
Needing God more than ever.
Hey friend, Liz here.
I’ve been on a spiritual journey for some time now.
I was brought up conservative, nondenominational, and firmly evangelical in a (practically) all white suburban East Coast city. My parents brought us to our big box church every Sunday where they volunteered. I attended youth group lock-ins and the sort of teen bible studies that asked you to fill in the blanks every few sentences. I also spent several summers in Mexico building concrete block houses as part of a “short term mission” team.
(No, obviously, I had no experience either building houses or working with concrete. What an irrelevant question to ask!! We had something more important than experience: a white savior complex……….!)
Before eighth grade, I had spent the majority of my allowance money on NOW mix CDs from Sam Goodie or glittery make-up from Claire’s, in order to catch the eye of a popular boy at my private Christian school, in case he might want to date me. (It didn’t matter that I wasn’t allowed to date anyone, probably ever. A girl could dream.)
After a stint at a Christian summer camp where I really, truly, felt the presence of God (that’s a story for another time), I came home eager to do the dishes and ready to snip my secular CDs in half—Contemporary Christian Music all the way!!! i was suddenly disinterested in dating anyone but Jesus. I was all in.
But, as it does, the shit hit the fan. Actually, piles of it hit a row of fans.
It was depression, anxiety, and the clarity that came from a kind therapist, pressing her questions to me as tenderly as she could while I wept across from her in a wingback armchair.
I experienced emotional abuse growing up. I experienced spiritual abuse after that. And then every scandal of every male leader I trusted. And then a disabling illness which lost me half my vision.
Which is to say, God opened a window. Over many years, through much suffering, and through the patience of many therapists, I have realized faith does not look ONE WAY. Christians are not primarily white, American, rich, or Evangelical. Jesus makes room for such a huge variety of believers that the church actually does not have enough chairs to seat us all.
That gives me great hope for the future, friend. I am still a full-throated believer. But, I hope, my heart has broadened. I, like you, continue to seek a new way to meet with God—I imagine it will continue to look different tomorrow than it does today. Regardless, I’m here for the ride.
During Lent, I find it helpful to rehash this story of God’s work in my life. It gives me perspective on what he’s doing today and tomorrow to examine what God’s done in the past.
REPLY TO THIS EMAIL: Where has your spiritual journey led you? How are you a different believer today than you were last year, or five years before that?
Thanks for reading, my friend. Warmly, Liz Charlotte Grant
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