Discouraged minds want to know: after all these years, what made you leave?
As if there were one moment that changed my opinion, one thing that
Might bring me back. But I have a list that is years long and it goes like this:
It’s the existence of other cultures outside of white picket fence suburbia
That aren’t suffering for lack of steeples and Sunday school,
The recognition of beauty and goodness in the differences I used to fear.
The survival of other religions who preach the same love and peace
Without the violence, guilt and shame.
It’s the appreciation of joy in non-believers’ eyes,
The families in South Africa who shut their doors before we reached them.
The children who continued to starve after hearing the word of God.
The fifth rape of the same loyal follower and the blame
Of the victim and the sins we all commit without even knowing.
It’s the boiling down of my faith into bullet points and digestible phrases;
The incongruity of the classroom and the material world at Christian college;
The sensation of weightlessness when I unlocked the fence holding back my intellect.
It’s rebirth and finally finding joy that used to be slightly out of reach
Outside of the church, on a self-sufficient, sacred journey in the desert;
The discovery of life before death, in everyday existence,
The freedom and healing in acknowledging my struggle with abject depression
And decisively proclaiming the things it makes me feel.
It’s the joy of sex outside of marriage, with both genders, without shame,
The patterns that have repeated all my life that demonstrate I was born this way;
The unadulterated joy of accepting myself without need for outside approval.
It’s acknowledgment of my own weaknesses and the way they prevent me
From being able to speak intelligently on behalf of the supernatural,
Empathy for alternate circumstances; sympathy for the routine mistakes of humanity;
Rejection of judgment and recognition of the common ways in which we all struggle.
It’s intolerance, fear of the unknown, clouded explanations and contradictions ignored:
All of these things were the last straw.