I have a “Dear Jim” Gmail folder with emails from people who have shared a part of their journey with me… like the one below.
“I just got tired of wearing the ‘Christian mask’. Sick of it, actually. I grew up in a conservative evangelical household where we read the Bible, went to church on Sunday and I attended the youth group. We were all expected to talk the same, pray the same, interpret scripture the same, and above all else, vote the same. It was more like we were members of some spiritually exclusive club. Yet I experienced deep loneliness. As my disconnect grew, I started to look outside organized religion and evangelical settings for some answers. I just wanted to be emotionally whole, but when I brought my issues up I was told to read more scripture. When my father found out I was looking for answers elsewhere, he told me I was going to Hell if I believed anything other than how I was raised (a nice conversation starter, huh?). Anyway, that was the day I left the institutional church and it became the first day of Freedom. I’ve never looked back. I don’t hold grudges against other Christians but my crap-detector goes off immediately when I meet anyone who’s wearing the ‘Christian mask’. I consider myself a follower of the teachings of Jesus and I strive to be like Him. The term ‘Christian’ carries too much baggage for me.”