Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Was Silent for a Whole Thirty Seconds

A few months ago, I wrote a smokin’ article for Provoketive e-magazine that addressed the slew of anti-public school trash talk that followed the Newtown tragedy in the name of Jesus. You can read it at your own risk here: (That last paragraph was a doozy, let me tell you…)


I got mixed reviews, to say the least. Many people understood my angst, but others, whom I love and cherish and would never hurt to save my life, were less inspired. Insulted would be closer.

I’m not looking to rehash the argument of the public school system being to blame for our societal ills. Public schools have never inhibited a student’s right to pray freely and it is not the Great Satan. I don’t need to take that discussion further with people who will never see it any other way. I do believe, however, that the discussion that followed on that thread was amazing and begged some great questions:

What’s a girl to do when she sees that a portion of the church adheres to paradigms that she knows in her knower aren’t true? What’s a girl to do when it feels to her that the church has taken that collective paradigm and seemingly created a mini “subculture” of thought which makes her feel as if she’s in the wrong if she pushes up against it? What’s a girl to do when she’s accused of being (let’s see… how many have I heard?) insensitive to the Holy Spirit, deceived by the father of lies, shaped by the world, or just straight up simple-minded. I have questioned those subgroups and voiced my opinions, sending the saints screaming into their prayer closets on my behalf, while I scratch my head and try to shake it off. I’d love some wisdom on this.

But you know what? I’m also falling in love with the church again. I see Christ’s body acting with patience and compassion all the time. I was Episcopalian for a day and fed the homeless a beautiful meal (which they do all the time—it wasn’t just a one-day shot) with some beautiful friends. A lady in my church is starting a support group for people who have been abused and just can’t seem to love themselves no matter what. She has a cure! I speak at churches whose members just can’t seem to hug me tightly enough when I tell them my story. They even let me sell my book with the f-word in it! Sweet, conservative, God-lovin’ folks who have read the book—all the words—still put their hands on my cheeks and say, “Bless you, child. You went through so much, and we can see that God has brought you from a mighty long way.”

I wasn’t expecting that.

I’ve underestimated the church. I’ve overestimated the church. When is it ever going to feel ‘jussssst right’?

Carlo Carretto captured my quandary when he wrote, “How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you! How you have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I would like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand what sanctity is. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and yet I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms. No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, though not completely. And besides, where would I go?”

Indeed. Where would I go?

* Daisy Rain Martin is the Author of Juxtaposed: Finding Sanctuary on the Outside, a comedic spiritual memoir. Please connect with Daisy on Facebook/Twitter and visit her website: www.daisyrainmartin.com. If you have ever been the victim of abuse, contact her to receive her free book, If It's Happened to You.


Anonymous said...

I’ve underestimated the church. I’ve overestimated the church. When is it ever going to feel ‘jussssst right’? good question!!! I grew up in church, I believe in the church but its not for me, I don't fit that mold and I feel it every time I walk through the doors. No where feels safe including church. After 13 years of attendance, you would think there would be a small corner of safety but there is not. I feel so guilty for not going but most weeks its just too hard I DON'T BELONG THERE ANYMORE. I never really did, I just thought because I played the role that everything was ok that I was ok but I wasn't, I was hurting and they couldn't help me. I hope others reply and this turns into a discussion...so many questions...

Daisy Rain Martin said...

I remember after having someone look down their nose at me at the church I go to now (Crossroads Community Church in Nampa) and criticize what I wearing (of all things) it upset me so much I had to just come home. My husband was livid. He went back to the church (they were having a picnic), and he found the pastor there. I remember that pastor calling me up to apologize that I'd... how did he put it... I'd shown up at the house of God and ran into the village idiot on the front porch. (He has a way of putting things.) I remember I cried and told him, "Jim, I'm just never going to fit into the subculture that is the church." You know what he told me? He said, "You know what, Daisy? I never will either." And he's the pastor. I think there might be a lot of people there that can relate. You hung out for 13 years. All I can do is encourage you on your journey and tell you to keep walking. If we haven't met, I hope you'll introduce yourself.

Big love to you,
Daisy Rain

Cody Stauffer said...

Daisy, I think you would be surprised to hear how many pastors have that same feeling. Personally, I have struggled my entire professional life with my role as a pastor, because I know that merely serving in that role contributes to one thing that I don't like about the church-- the divide that is created between "professional" ministers and everyone else, when there should be no such thing. At the same time, I feel like I am also positioned in a place to work subversively, in one-on-one situations where people always feel much more welcome and open to share their struggles and doubts. Nearly every day I find reasons to just be done with it all, and then that very same day, I am astounded by the way the Gospel of God's Dream is coming true and breaking through the cracks of hypocrisy, like a Daisy sprouting out of concrete ;-)

Tony Olivito said...

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I was told "You're doing it wrong" while trying to live out my walk with Jesus over the last 25 years. I think most pastors would be better off unchurching their flocks and teaching and modeling good and right human interaction and ethics. Stop acting like Christians! That word has lost all meaning for me and many others in the West (and the East for that matter). While I am comfortable with my understanding of who Jesus may be, I am uncomfortable with the arrogance I find in western christian churches and the idea that if you are a part of it you must follow, worship and act as all the others. I would feel WAY more comfortable in a place that accepted alternative ideas, worship styles, paths, forks and turns on a man or woman's spiritual journey and then in turn didn't try to turn it into the new "program" for bringing in new unsuspecting sheep. Having said all of that I am not sure how comfortable church should be, wasn't it a privilege to worship throughout most of history, were the early followers ever comfortable with their walk or surroundings? Didn't Christians make sacrifices to worship, even ultimate sacrifices? In an environment where everyone is comfortable, floating on a "pop music" worship cloud, wearing designer jeans, while sipping their lattes in their giant buildings; I don't know if real christians - compassionate caring humans, will ever be what comes out the back door of these western machines that is the church. At least my experience and observation is that the revolving door is producing way more hurt humans rather than joyful worshippers.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I'm not brave like you. I can't introduce myself, I still have to keep my secrets, I have to protect my mother. I wish I had your voice, I wish "it" all counted for something. I wish you could come to my church and share. I talked recently with my pastor about my fears of why I don't make it most Sundays. I can tell him anything. Him and his wife has taken me in for the last 10+ years as their adopted daughter so to speak. They came to the hospital when my daughter was born, they came to my college graduation when nobody else did, he walked me down the aisle when I got married. They love my child as their own granddaughter, the two of them have done nothing but support me and show me what a life filled with God can be. Its scary. I get too close, I feel love and I run away. I can't handle it, one day he will retire, one day she will go home to Heaven and I can't bare those thoughts so I withdraw, I don't belong, its a feeling I can't get rid of. the rest of the church "family"...yeah I don't have one. Maybe 10 people know who I am and even with them, they really know nothing at all about me except I struggle. That I'm the person that walks in, don't speak, sits with the pastor's wife and leaves. There is a wall between me and everyone else, it feels so void and I leave feeling so fake and empty inside. I'm sorry, I can't put it into words and I think I'm really off topic so I'll just stop and say that I really appreciate all you do.

Daisy Rain Martin said...

My sweet Anonymous,

This is your journey to make, and I would never presume to throw out cliches or sound-bite advice. I will say from my heart that I had to make a distinction between a congregation of people who meet weekly underneath the steeple and the Body of Christ. Sometimes church really DOES happen at that building with the steeple over it. And sometime it doesn't. I also want to say that the only sanctuary on this earth is what we provide for each other. Maybe you could find someone for whom you could provide sanctuary--even in the smallest way. I believe we are all capable of that much. It doesn't even have to be in the building with the steeple. It could very well be outside of that building with the steeple. In fact, many would argue that it should. I hope that helps, and I wish you health, hope, and happiness. Please stay in touch with me. I do speak in churches--if it's a distance, I could certainly Skype in during a service. If your pastor is willing, we can make it happen.

Tony, you're brilliant. I loved reading your post. I read it about four times. It got better every time. I love your thoughts.

Cody, you should write a book. Seriously.

Love you all!
Daisy Rain

Lisa O. said...

I have felt the need for the community church provides, however, I struggle with the recitation of liturgy in which I do not fully believe. I skip church when I do not have the tithe to contribute. I make sure to not get too involved for fear I may be subjected to cruelty I do not need in my life. Never feels like I "truly belong". My church is within me. My Holy Spirit is alive and well and watching my every move, encouraging me to be the most compassionate person I can be. If St. Peter doesn't want a once baptized, non church going, compassionate person who dedicates her life to the health, happiness, and well being of others, so be it. I am at peace with that.