To Leave or Not To Leave: Why I Can’t Answer My Own Questions

I’ve never known when to quit. Whip out any snappy, all-American aphorism and you’ll know that there’s a special circle reserved in hell for all those quitters who never win. Negative connotations cling to the word like the Dread Pirate Roberts clings to the Cliffs of Insanity: for dear life. Yet, knowing when to quit is a carefully and painfully acquired skill, and often an undeniably positive one. There’s nothing glorious or productive about extracting the last exquisite ounce of frustration, the one last, ragged, dying gasp from a situation before letting it go. I tend to suppress and ignore the smaller alterations in thought until they accumulate and tangle. I jedi-mind-trick myself into believing in a man-made chasm between desire and expectation. I did it with my major and career path. I did it in my relationships.  And I’ve been doing it with my faith.

In the past, I’ve been hesitant to invoke or even reference religion in this blog. In fact, the original purpose behind its inception, apart from  my love of writing, was the creation of a safe space to organize my thoughts and form opinions without the baggage of labels or expectation. In the minds of some, many of my feminist comments, my attitudes towards sex and gender roles, my undisguised loathing for FoxNews, all set up a contradiction of terms when put into dialogue with stereotypes surrounding Christianity. However, upon a little reflection, I’ve come to a rather revolutionary conclusion: that by purposefully separating my thoughts from any contact with my beliefs, I’ve all but collaborated in condemning myself as a hopeless paradox. I’ve started an endless microcosmic Civil War in my own mind by assuming that I can’t be both a true modern millennial and a religious participant. That I have to choose between the reality of my experiences and my internalized beliefs. And after three months of ceaselessly struggling against this unintentional self-condemnation, I’ve finally acknowledged that its time to declare a ceasefire. I quit trying to compartmentalize and trying to choose. But that doesn’t mean I have to quit Christianity.

Almost every news source you skim offers up articles on the alter of why the millennial generation is leaving the church. Yet, there are very few that I’ve found to justify why we stay. Yes, I’m emotionally and mentally invested in issues such as equal pay, victim blaming, the virgin-whore dichotomy, double standards, any and all discrimination in the name of God. Yes, it turns me off when I broach these difficult issues and receive a surface or judgmental reply. Yes, I even occasionally need to suppress the desire to bitch slap that person who utilizes belief as a weapon, as evidence of superiority, or as the trump card in an argument. Yes, the church can be hypocritical and judgmental, but let’s be real, so can I. The simple fact of the matter is human beings are flawed, a rather central concept to the Christian doctrine as I recall.  The divine does not need to fit inside a cubicle of human understanding to be relevant. How unfathomably boring and predictable the universe would be if it did! I stay because my God is not defined by social expectation. Paradoxes are never hopeless: they’re just another form of truth.

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5 responses to “To Leave or Not To Leave: Why I Can’t Answer My Own Questions

  1. Creepin’ on yo blog. Anyway Miranda, anytime I read a new blog of yours I feel like there is no way she can continue to top herself…and you just did. You’re the real-deal English major.

  2. What a post! Yes, we’re definitely flawed creatures, all the more reason that we need some sort of universal and internal standard of truth, an internal core of integrity. My mother used to say, “Darlin’, the church isn’t going to fall down if you miss one Sunday,” and I’d remind her that I wasn’t worried about the church. I was worried about me!

    • Haha, very true. My mother also says that church isn’t essential to faith, but for my personal faith, I believe that it is. It’s hard to stay intentional without the perspectives of others surrounding, supporting, and keeping me honest. It’s been too easy for me to put my questions and concerns on the back burner without that community.

      • Well-said. I need to be around like-minded people who are doing their best to be kind, merciful, and nonjudgmental to help me stay on a straight path.

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