Yesterday, someone I follow on Twitter read my blog and told me it was solid. Someone other than my mother or my best friends reminded me that I am a writer. So then I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I was thinking about all the bullshit reasons I’ve given myself for not writing.
I started blogging 12 years ago because it was a requirement for the missions program I was about to embark on. But I kept blogging because I love telling stories, because I’m a writer. I write to understand the world. I write to tell others they aren’t alone. I write to remind myself that I’m not alone.
But it’s been over a year since I last wrote something that was shared “out loud” with the world. I stopped blogging because somewhere along the line I got caught up in someone else’s idea of storytelling. It became about SEO and building an audience (why the fuck are we so obsessed with what we think the audience wants?) and making a point instead of just telling the story I’m living. I don’t know if it was me or them or a combination of the two, but the expectation of writing “lessons in being a Christian” came from somewhere.
But how do you write lessons in being a Christian when you aren’t even sure if you are one anymore?
My last few submissions for publication did include some forays into talking about white supremacy and racism and the church. I shared some of what I have been learning and some of the questions I was asking. But I didn’t share the whole truth. Because I didn’t think I was allowed to share the whole truth. I started worrying about what would happen if I did and certain people saw it. What would they think of me?
What would they think if I talked about the wounds from the weaponized theology I experienced in college?
What would they think if I shared about how my college mentor’s suicide raised questions I didn’t even want to begin to try and answer?
What would they think if I showed the anger I felt toward my church in Atlanta for the way it treated kids who were trying to navigate the truth about their identities?
What would they think if I talked about completely tearing apart everything I had ever learned about God and Jesus so I could find the truth?
What would they think if I admitted how scared I am to try and rebuild a faith that encompasses love and justice and compassion to their fullest extent?
And then I remembered Rachel Held Evans.
In the wake of her death, I’m being reminded of what she taught me: It’s okay to write about the questions and doubts. It’s okay to talk about the wounds inflicted by the things the church has taught me. It’s okay to tell people that I haven’t even been looking when they ask if I’ve found a church in Florida. It’s okay to reach a point where I don’t give a shit what “they” think of me. They don’t get to control me. They don’t get to tell me what I can and can’t talk about. They don’t get to tell me whether it’s okay to ask questions and have doubts.
Her friends have talked about how Rachel had the words “tell the truth” above her desk. That’s what it means to be a writer. And that’s why I haven’t been writing. Because I haven’t been willing to tell the truth. But that’s about to change, because damnit, I AM a writer. I don’t really know exactly what it will look like, but it will be about telling my story by telling the truth. I don’t want to add to the bullshit. I want to tell a story and let you figure out what it means for you. If nothing else, I hope you at least get to know for a moment that you aren’t alone and that it’s okay to ask questions.