A Modern-Day Pilgrim

I had been on the fence for five months, one foot in the door of the religious tradition I grew up in, and one foot tapping along to new worship music in the sanctuary of the new church (and faith) I had found. It was easier on everyone if I kept going to my parents’ church on Sunday mornings and only went to my new church on Saturday nights - so as not to be missing on Sunday at church where I was expected. I had managed this balancing act - pleasing my family and pleasing God (at least, how I knew best) - for as long as I could before the tension almost drove me to apathy. I knew I had to be all in somewhere, or I would end up nowhere.

You see, the church that raised me taught me - not out of a stubborn need to be right, but a genuine belief that rightness matters - that you don’t leave. If you did, there were hushed whispers about you becoming a liberal, going off the deep end, and falling from grace altogether. The culture of that church seemed to perpetuate these ideas, while I knew my family wasn’t quite so narrow in their beliefs. I really hoped not, at least. It did grieve them, however, watching me move further toward (and eventually out) those familiar doors. But they also acknowledged that my staying just for the picture in their heads wasn’t a win, for me or for them. Ultimately, we all knew what was coming.

I spent the holidays of 2012 wrestling through theology of every kind and fear of everyone. And finally, on January 6, 2013, the first Sunday of the new year (Sunday, remember, so everyone knew I was somewhere else), I put my yes on the table with The Village Church and decided to be all in at that one place. I still remember the sweater I wore to the service, the grown-up-ness I felt in making my own decision, and the feeling I had sitting alone in that pew. Part of me grieved too, because I knew the cost was going to be high: losing relationships, gossip, accusations of rebellion and condemnation, hurting people I love, and complete sacrifice of the “approval” I’d earned from years of performance.

But, have you ever just had to do something? Like, with everything in you, you know that this is your next move and there’s no going backwards? That was this. I was a modern-day pilgrim, in search of God and freedom with such a have-to that I willingly paid the high price of this particular journey. It was the hardest thing I have ever done: walking away from everything and everyone I knew and proceeding alone into something I knew nothing of. I just knew I had to.

I am still that same pilgrim, with zero regrets, now three years later. I would do it again (and likely will); I hope to always chase after God when I believe he is calling my name.


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