For one thing, I feel an embarrassment about leaving, because I spent so much time fervently defending this congregation and its unusual doctrines and practices from the criticisms of my friends and family. But of course, it will strike no one by surprise that I am far from perfect. Thus I can say that I was wrong.
Also and more importantly, I feel a significant degree of disappointment. We joined the congregation looking for answers to deep questions about life and faith, and the church promised to have them. Initially I found them satisfying but the doubts began to creep in like small abrasions in the walls of an otherwise impressive looking ship. I began to press on them, to see if they were anything to worry about and doing so allowed small trickles of water in. Over time more and more of these imperfections seemed to surface and again I had the inclination to apply pressure to them also. Eventually puddles were forming and making larger and larger cracks in the ship's planks until it was overwhelmed, and it became time to jump ship.
But what will break my fall? I am now taking a plunge into the deep, unknown, leaving what was familiar and perhaps even comfortable for a significant portion of my life. Sometimes, it's easier to stay on a sinking boat than it is to leave. Like a faithful ship captain and crew who would rather die than abandon ship. But I couldn't convince myself that this was the right thing to do. I had to leap without having time to consider what would be there to break my fall.
Now I find myself in the cold, fluctuating waves of a vast sea of uncertainty, floating amidst a few distended pieces of wood wondering, "now what, where do we go from here?"
There will undoubtedly be those who won't understand why I jumped or how I could ever see the ship as a sinking one. Some of these people I respect and deeply care about. I do know one thing, that I have taken care in making my assessment. Although I'm far from immune to mistakes, I can honestly say that I did the best that I could do. I didn't leave hastily, at the first sign of trouble. I watched and waited, and even tried hard to call attention to others about the compromise in integrity that the vessel seemed to exhibit. I spent a significant amount of time and effort trying to convince them that there was something wrong and listened seriously to why they thought that everything was fine. In fact, I would have continued to do so, but it became apparent that I was merely a siren blowing in the wind for which there was not room.
I will miss those that I have gotten to know and can only hope the best for them. I very much wish that our paths will afford us occasions to sit and share a cup of coffee from time to time and to respectfully disagree about difficult intellectual matters. This part is particularly hard for me at the moment. Likely, our lives will diverge from this time forward, but I harbor no ill will for them but rather only that they will find rest and peace in the truth.
Sometimes, things have to die in order to be born again. When they die, it can really hurt, but what roots up in its place may be stronger, more beautiful, and perhaps worth the pain, at least this is what we can hope. I feel scared and alone and I can't make out what lies ahead for us in the distance but I also feel liberated for the first time in a very long while. Here's to the future.
"He who begins by loving Christianity more than Truth, will proceed by loving his sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all..." - Samuel Coleridge