Day 1 of 4: DEATH
“Death is a part of life. My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone.”
– Rachel Held Evans
Some would say that death is not just physical. It can occur in a multitude of ways: Social, emotional, mental, financial, spiritual. For those of us who have left various conservative belief systems behind in pursuit of something more life-giving, we may have experienced a form of death ourselves.
Like Jesus, we may have endured the sting of betrayal from Judas’ in our own lives—dear former friends that suddenly turned on us. This could’ve occurred due to several reasons. For instance, it could have been because the wrong people found out our sexual orientation. It could’ve started with a simple disagreement with a church leader. It could’ve began with a single political article we shared on social media that relayed a message similar to Jesus’ words to the religious leaders in Mark 7:8: “You have let go of the plans of God and are holding onto human traditions.” Whatever it was—as with Jesus—the second we didn’t toe the party line, it might have led us to becoming disposable pawns in the eyes of certain religious and political institutions.
Many of us who leave belief systems like conservative evangelical Christianity may have faced some sort of price for not conceding to their exclusionary standards. Our backs may have been whipped with the pain of communal loss, our heads adorned with a prickly crown of isolation, our sides stricken with the grief of deconstruction and disillusionment. As with the women who were present for Jesus’ crucifixion, the people sitting at our proverbial cross may have been the most unexpected. But in one way or another, we had no choice but to give our former belief system—or parts of it—a final dying breath in which we uttered “It is finished.”
And with those words: The curtain of our faith-temple was torn from top to bottom. The earth of our worldview shook, the rocks of our certainty split, and the tomb of our personal thoughts released into the public eye.
Today, feel free to meditate on this piece I wrote in the middle of my former faith’s dying process:
Lord, help us to realize that peacemaking requires division. That liberation requires disunity. Help us to understand that we can’t free the captives without pissing off captors. We can’t loosen the chains of injustice without rebelling against jailers. We can’t untie the yoke of oppression without disobeying masters. We can’t love our neighbors without working to free them from the oppressive chokehold of their enemies, and we can’t love our enemies unless we make them first.