08/10/2013 09:01 EDT | Updated 10/10/2013 05:12 EDT

My Lost Faith Still Makes Me Furious


I need space to be angry.

I've been told that when I write about faith issues, I come off angry. Intense.

The thing is, I am angry.

Anger is one of those frowned-upon emotions. I have anger-shame.

Being angry doesn't make me a horrible human being. I can be angry AND wonderful. You may already know this, but I can be slower to realize these simple truths.

I'm angry because I dedicated years of my life to Jesus and the church. Years tied up in that mindset believing that, as a card-carrying member, I held a secret key to life and was a keeper of the capital-T Truth.

I was full of fear and judgment.

And now, years after leaving my faith behind, I'm still weeding out that fear and judgment. Picking it off like those sticky tree pods on your clothes after a picnic. I have ugly feelings about others and myself. Mean and judgmental. Out of nowhere and without warning.

Like woah--what asshole just had that thought? It's always a surprise to find out it's me.

Insecurity combined with indoctrination makes it tricky for someone like me to shake shit off. Everything feels personal.

Then there's someone like my husband who, in general, feels great about his person and doesn't have shame for simply taking up space. So, while shaking off years of one paradigm (Christianity) is super sad for him, it's not balls-out traumatic.

This business of saying goodbye to Jesus has fucked me right over. Right. Over.

I feel brainwashed. Tricked. Manipulated. Controlled.

By a system. Not people. Not you. But I can't see or touch or yell at a system, so sometimes my anger hits you when I mean to aim for an idea.

It's spilled milk: I'm pissed off, but it's no one's fault.

I was uncomfortable in my Christian skin from the get-go. Always fidgeting and readjusting. Which likely contributed to my arrogance. I was self-righteous and mean, not because I was trying to convince those around me of The Truth, but because I was trying to convince me. Always me.

Years ago I found out that someone I love is gay. I was instructed to love the sinner and hate his sin. My fidgeting became loud and urgent. How could I be part of a community that knowingly marginalized?

I watched his faith circle adjust to the news of his homosexuality. It felt wrong that our belief system had us grappling with another human being's sexuality.

I watched as people made the transition from being hurt and shocked by his sexual orientation to, today, being comfortable enough to talk about his dating life.

I mean, thankfully there has been a transition--but the need for one made my ears steamy. It still does. Christianity framed our world in a way that created this need for a period of mourning over something sacred. Personal. None of our goddamn business.

Because we have this person in our lives whom we deeply love, we had to rewire our brains. Live in the grey. Our other option was to outright reject him. So thank fuck that didn't happen.

But what other shitty shit did I believe, and maybe still do, because it remains an intangible idea or belief not yet occupying the backyard of my heart? What else hasn't become personal enough to show up on my radar?

There's residual fear and judginess present in me that I address daily. Hourly. It's the cunning thought patterns that terrify me. The hidden, hurtful, alienating beliefs that take up residence in my psyche and won't shake out until something rattles their nest.

So yeah. When I sound angry--it's because I am angry. Capital-A Angry. And if there's no safe space for my anger, I'll be too occupied smothering it in shame to notice where it grows. Likely in a bed of sadness and loss.

I'll be angry until I'm not.

In the meantime, I need you to just love me. Love me anyway.