This is an excerpt from the journal I kept during my year of questioning faith in which I break from the “Us v. Them” mentality required in Christianity. I explained here why I’m sharing the journal.
My first full week without God begins today.
Waking up was weird.
I did not go downstairs, crack open my Chronological Bible, and read and pray. Odd. The flash of guilt that hit me at the thought of not reading and praying made me curious.
During my run, I still noticed the beauty of the sky. Instead of being grateful to a God who made it, I was thankful to be running under it and enjoying it. I felt more responsibility to recognize it and the people around me, to engage with them on a real level. Before, everyone I encountered came through a filter: Is this person a believer or not? And I filtered my communication accordingly.
All people were filtered through the “Us vs. Them” mentality.
Today, as I ran, I smiled more and just said, “Hello.” No filters. Very freeing.
I wonder how this could affect my work. I’m the head of an organization that exists to put conservative values into entertainment, effectively turning culture toward those values. I still find worth in what we’re doing – we all need to be kinder and more loving toward each other – but I can’t couch it in religious terminology anymore. What will the Board say?
We also have $20M in funding for the studio riding on us having a majority of Missouri Synod Lutherans on the Board. Do I need to keep attending my church for appearances’ sake? Is that lying? It kinda feels like lying.
A volunteer came into the office today. As we discussed what hours she’d be available, she let me know she’s not available on Sundays because of church.
Wow. I just got my Sunday mornings back, guilt free.
I think that’s the biggest realization of all so far: no guilt. I don’t feel as if I’m doing everything wrong anymore. It doesn’t feel as if there’s a giant hammer over my head, ready to swing down when I knowingly or unknowingly step outside God’s will. I’m thinking through what makes the most sense, what is best, for me and the people I love and acting accordingly. I’m not so concerned with the church’s perception and desires. I want to know about other people just to know about them, not to find out how I can serve them into loving Jesus. I like people, I assume that helping part will come naturally in the knowing part.
I’m looking forward to just getting to know people without the filter.
As a Christian, everyone is “us” or “them.” And “them” is an inferior term – right off the bat. They are “them” because they haven’t yet come into a right realization of truth. That’s patronizing. Off-putting. I didn’t feel how high-and-mighty-uppity my approach was until today when I accepted that, in walking away from an acceptance of God, I’ve become “them.”
But I feel free to live in honest exploration and enjoyment now.