A year or more ago I was miserable. In a deep depression. Unable to even believe God was real anymore.
I had been swimming, drowning, in legalism for a couple of years. Living in a spiritually oppressive environment. Shackled to rules and unreasonable expectations.
The Bible Belt almost broke me. A world where only hyper-conservative, right wing, classical homeschooling was the way of Christ and anything different is mocked and looked down upon. Where Calvinism abolishes your ability to pray for your atheist friend. Where wine is the devils drink. Where church attendance and belief in the right set of history saves you but no one even attempts to love and serve their neighbor.
Slowly, the bonds of slavery clanked tight around me feet, and then my heart, and then my tongue.
I couldn’t move in Christ. I couldn’t think in Christ. I couldn’t breathe in Christ.
I could only lay in bed at night, weeping and gnashing my teeth in the hedge of fire that had been created around me. I felt nothing but guilt, all the time. Nothing but inadequacy. Nothing but failure. Every time I wasn’t perfectly loving to my children, every time I didn’t channel my inner Kirk Cameron and ask the lady at the drive thru window if she had ever told a lie …
I probably would have drowned there with that sea of legalism separating me from a loving God.
But then a miracle disguised as a disaster happened. My proverbial brothers in Christ saw me grasping at grace and greatness and with jealousy in their heart they said, “Here comes the dreamer!”
And then they threw me down a well.
I’m not going to lie, I sat there at the bottom of my well and cried a little. But then I dusted myself off and recognized the opportunity that had been given me, the freedom to pursue truth with less barriers. A few others quickly recognized that potential as well, and welcomed me to be in charge of a few things within their stain-glassed Body. I thought maybe I could find happiness in my Egypt.
But the honeymoon didn’t last. I was less scared this time, less crippled by guilt, more willing to respectfully stand up for what I believed in.
Egyptians don’t like that.
And so I found myself unsupported again. Thrown in proverbial jail, disconnected from the organization that I only wanted to help.
The green eyed monster is alive and well in Christ’s Church.
However, whatever my “enemies” intentions were, God used it for good. Because it wasn’t until I was completely free of mere rules taught by men that I could finally experience the glorious freedom found in Christ.
Now freedom is my anthem, my mantra. Freedom, grace, and love.
It is for freedom that Christ set me free. So I won’t let myself be burdened again by the yoke of religious slavery.
I found a lot of things within the four walls of church. I found rules. I found traditions. I found oppression. I found snobbery. I found big-headedness. And all of these things perfumed with the sickly sweet scent of good intentions.
But I never found Christ.
Sure, I found words about him, teachings about him. But I never found Him. His love and acceptance and freedom and Spirit. Especially not his Spirit.
So that’s why I can’t truly be mad at my brothers, my jailers. Because in the end, they set me free.