I just knew the Henchmen of Heaven would come and steal me away in the middle of the night as a thirteen-year-old and damn me to eternal punishment early because I’d said “shit” or been caught lingering too long on the adult movie channels late at night at my grandparents’ house. Any 90’s boy knows exactly what I’m talking about: the high numbers on satellite, blurred out, with the fuzzy green and pink lines. Every once in awhile you could catch the shadow of a boob if you just stared hard enough.
Since I’ve begun sharing how I went from a being a pastor to being hospitalized in a psych ward, people often ask about my recovery. Everyone wants to know, is there a single solution? Where does the magic lie? How do they get their own lives (or their loved ones’) back? Or, as others have said, “What is the one thing that made you want to start living again?”
I have found a virtual community, via Facebook and this blog, which expresses love in a way like I have never experienced before. It’s a place where everyone is accepted – regardless of station in life, gender, sexuality, chosen religion or any other differences. A place where seeking healing from brokenness is celebrated. Where friendships are born in an instant. Where life is messy and grace is abundant.
I have found freedom in a way I cannot otherwise explain. Through reaching out during some incredibly dark moments, I found grace, peace, and a lack of judgement.
Anyone who says church hurts are no big deal has no idea what they’re talking about. I was deeply wounded by the church and threw stones at her for a decade.
These days, I am blessed to belong to a church I love. But learning to engage the church again has been a long journey. Here’s why I stopped hating the church…
I’m divorced. Well, not really. I’m now married. Happily, with five kids. But I have been divorced, or, more appropriately, have gone through a divorce. There’s a difference.
The past does not define us. Divorce, in particular, is not a label.
Many Christians disagree. Many Christians deem divorce the mark of death, the breaking of God’s covenant, the dreaded scarlet letter. It’s one of those ‘sins’ that is given greater weight than others – like, you know, killing people, being gay, having loads of premarital sex – and, likewise, damns those who go through it to raw ditch pits and hellfire.
My clients were concerned. When they couldn’t reach me, they called first my wife, and then the hotel. I was lying on my back, unconscious, covered in vomit, when the police and EMT’s found me. They thought it was a murder scene. Vomit covered the bed and the floor. It had projected up the wall behind me, and coated a massive picture that hung over the bed. Apparently the pink Benadryl pills, along with the tens of thousands of milligrams of other medication I took, created the effect of blood. I had been unconscious for a solid ten hours by then.
My mom killed herself when I was 12. I’ve spent a good amount of time obsessing over the circumstances of her death.
No amount of “pray this prayer”/ “claim this scripture”/ “read this book”/ “ten ways to recover from childhood trauma” is ever going to fix what’s broken with the deepest parts of people’s souls, including mine. Yet life does not have to be dictated by the past.