When Christians speak of their story, or testimony as it’s called in religious circles, most of the time the speaker will tell of a time that God brought them out of something larger than life, something impossible like a terminal disease or drug addiction, or retell a grandiose tale of how God’s sustaining power kept them from financial ruin or a marriage that was previously on the brink of divorce. In my experience, the best parts—the struggle of and with doubt in the midst—is glossed over to showcase primarily the end result. The only ones privy to such gems of gold are those who are closest to the one sharing—never shared openly with the public. Jesus is described in John 1 as being “full of grace and truth.” Why not His followers, too? There’s a lot of unnecessary fear, guilt, and shame when it comes to Christians telling other people, especially other Christians, the not-so-godly-and-nice parts of their story. I want to change that.
“Thank you, God, for saving me.”
This I said aloud while cleaning the kitchen tonight. It wasn’t random. I was thinking about my book and whether or not to include my deconversion process within its pages, since it wasn’t that long ago and especially because I didn’t write much during that time. Despite my lack of writing, I remember how I felt during that time, the upheaval of my emotions as they clashed with right and wrong theology and wrestled with both the Most High and His bride. I remember thinking that Christians were foolish and brainwashed for believing in what I considered to be nothing more than a social construct to make them feel better about themselves. I know why I left (hint: it was not just one thing that made me throw up my hands and cuss Him out repeatedly). I know why I came back: He drew me to Himself with loving kindness and I am so grateful.
I shudder at the thought of what would have happened had I died in my deconverted state. To meet Him face-to-face when I had turned my back on Him and vowed to never come back? I cannot imagine such a meeting. I know, now, that it is only by His grace that I am not there again. Thinking back on that time, I still haven’t uncovered everything. I mean, that wasn’t the first time I’ve doubted God (and I’m sure it won’t be the last) but I can’t help but wonder: why was that time so different from the others? Why were the stakes higher then, if at all? Maybe, even in all my introspection, I won’t find answers to those questions; and if that should come of it, that is, if I have more questions than answers when this is all over, then so be it.
I am not perfect or righteous or all-knowledgeable, but He is. I think that’s why I want to put my mishaps, my wrongdoings, my mistakes, and all my failings on display for the public. Yes, I’ve deconverted from Christianity. Yes, I’ve left God. Yes, I’ve cussed God out in more than one heated prayer (ahem, yelling match). Yes, I’ve torn apart my Bible page by page and thrown it all in the trash. Yes, I’ve done stupid, painful, and upsetting things to myself and others. I’ve struggled with unforgiveness and have questioned His love. In all of that, His grace keeps me sane, sometimes literally. My heart breaks for those who once walked with God but now turn their backs on Him. I know that, at any moment, if He were to remove His face from me, I’d go right back to the spiritual desert I was previously in. Thus, I can say with all confidence and assurance that there but for the mighty, beautiful grace of God, go I.