Permission to Leave
In 5th grade, my school offered band class to help elementary kids learn how to play instruments. I was excited to learn and chose the saxophone since that is what my mother and brother both played. I dedicated myself to practicing every night however despite my efforts I could not vibrate the reed to make the right noise with the proper mouth placement. My band teacher, who was used to teaching high schoolers, would become irate at my lack of ability becoming quite loud and boisterous in front of everyone.
So a month in I switched to playing the trombone hoping that would be the fix. The trombone was easier to play however I still significantly struggled with it. Again the stress mounted on me from the continual pressure and disappointment from my teacher. The original excitement of learning quickly faded and instead became anxiousness and shame for not being good enough.
I talked with my mother about my concerns and she saw the continual unhappiness I would come home with from school. Eventually after these months we had the discussion of quitting. My mother always provided encouragement however in this moment she realized what it was doing to me. She permitted me to make the decision to not be in band.
Now I do not like quitting as I think there are things to be gained from enduring through various situations. However I have learned through the years we need limits and boundaries for ourselves and when something becomes unhealthy we need to rethink our participation in it. The next day I quit which did not make my band teacher very happy. The things he said reinforced why this decision was the right one for me.
I find this story relates to our faith journeys. Sometimes we just need permission to leave. Having permission makes it our choice. Immediately we reevaluate whether this is what is best for us and if it fits our current spiritual needs. It forces us to rediscover our current religious context. This can be wonderfully beneficial because it helps us ignite a passion for discovering what we believe and why. Many times we believe what we have known growing up however this journey may also push us to search new horizons.
So let's look closer at how rediscovering our faith is refreshing!
Rediscovering Your Faith
It is so refreshing when we really start to understand our faith and what we believe. We begin to feel whole and identify the things that really matter in our belief system. Investigating our current church practices and beliefs helps us narrow down what we like and do not like. We begin to formulate what really makes the difference in our spirituality.
When we find our current faith group or church is living what we believe it is exciting and invigorates us with passion. We want to share it with others so they can know the feeling. However it can also be devastating when we realize our beliefs are completely different from that faith group. In fact you might be an outsider for even having thoughts and beliefs that differ. You might feel shame or guilt for not being step in step. Just know there is freedom in giving yourself permission to explore and think outside what you have known.
So what do you do when you make the decision to leave? This article "5 Things to Do Before Leaving Your Church" gives specific things for each person to do before leaving their current church. One important statement it says is leaving your current church can be one of grace and doesn't have to be one of pain. It also indicates that the process should be one of self-examination. Carey Nieuwhof also has written an article "5 ways For a Church Member to Leave A Church Well" which also provides good insight.
Wherever you are at on your journey, continue to self-examine and evaluate who you are in relation to your beliefs.
I appreciate all of the kind words we have received. Please continue to share with whoever you feel would find comfort in this blog.
This week tell yourself its ok to think differently from those around you.
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The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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