****I wrote this four years ago, on August 21, 2016…. less than two years before a scandal broke. In January of 2018, news hit that led to the resignation of the pastor I mention in this blog and his co-lead pastor. This scandal was the final straw, but what I wrote in this blog was the day it all started to fall apart for my daughter and me.
I couldn’t post this at the time I wrote it, because I didn’t want to lose friends in the church. However, reading it now… after all everything that has happened… I feel like the essence of this story needs to be told.
It fits with the current state of our country embroiled in hypocrisy and division. You know how you read something about “those people” and it makes you feel excluded or even angry? Well this is a story of that. A foreshadowing of what was yet to come in a place where I had always felt uneasy, but didn’t know why. A story that reminds me: Always trust your gut.
So here it is… a blog written 4 years ago about a moment in time that gave warning to my daughter and I that we were not in the right place for us. Something we wouldn’t see fully for another two years.***
Today, my 11-year-old explorer joined me for the main service at church, no longer the age for Sunday School. She sat next to me as many different emotions and messages came in waves in the sanctuary. I wondered, as I sat next to her, what was going through her mind.
Then, the last 10 minutes of the service happened. To say I felt slapped by our pastor is an understatement. I felt like I should get up and walk out. I felt I was no longer welcome. His words cut, and frankly, I had a hard time breathing. All I could think was, “Keep it together, Kim, your girl is on your right.”
Jason and I believe, strongly, that our girls should hear all sides of a subject and as they become adults, they should make up their own minds. So, I kept my mouth shut.
Let me back up. Today, was the beginning of a new series. It focuses on the book of Ecclesiastics. I have been looking forward to this one, because, from what I’ve been told, this one focuses on philosophy. The book focuses on questions, and asking why. I was sure this would speak directly to my heart.
And it did. So did the pastor… until the end.
He had spent a lot of time talking about acceptance and love. He spent time talking about looking above, about not focusing “Under the Sun.” He said that if it was only under the sun, then why are we here? Yes! Yes! My daughter and I spend a lot of time talking about that. There has to be more!
Then after a lot of talk about just serving God… he shifted dramatically. He started talking about how Christianity is the only religion that believes in love over hate. It is the only religion that doesn’t believe in death to anyone who doesn’t follow their faith.
In other words, he told me, my daughter, and the entire room, that Buddhists believe you should be killed if you aren’t Buddhists. He said Muslims choose hate over love. No, he didn’t say those words, but he did say Christianity is the ONLY religion that doesn’t.
When Father Hamel was killed in France, by two men who claimed to be part of Islam and did it in the name of Islam, Muslims poured into Christian churches across the country, to pray for the priest. That is love over hate.
The next part hit hard.
He said, how are we to believe that there was a big bang, and boom! we were created? How are we to believe in evolution? If evolution were true, why aren’t we still evolving? How can we not believe God did all this?
I did not react. I didn’t say a word. I was all smiles and love as we exited the building. No judgement, no emotion. I wanted to know what my girl thought, without any, ANY, opinion of mine.
I worried that she might get lost and forget her ability to think for herself. I worried that her scientific mind might feel slighted and insulted.
I worried that she would forget that there is a possibility God created the Big Bang.
Also, when he said the part about “should we believe that there was a BOOM! and then we were created, just like that?”, he was wrong on two counts. First, the scientific theory is it took a long time for humans to form after the Big Bang. Second, the Bible said it took God one day to create us. If anything happened quickly, it was creationism.
Let me stop for a moment and say, I don’t fully believe one way or the other. Blasphemy, I know, but what I know for sure is I believe in something bigger and more powerful than us. I just don’t know how He/She created us.
We got in the van, and I asked: “So, baby, what did you think of today?”
I’m going to honor her privacy and not share details. This journey we are on is hers to explore, hers to share the details of. I’m merely driving the ship as she tells me where she wants to go next. However, after today, she seems to be asking me to steer away from this path.
It is a dangerous road we go down when we start to isolate ourselves in our own beliefs. When we don’t open our minds to other possibilities or interpretations of the scripture….whatever scripture you believe in… we don’t grow.
Today, as I pray, and I’m praying hard for our pastor, I keep in mind that I’m also on a journey. On my journey, I don’t want to block others out of my conversations or tell someone they are wrong when they believe so strongly in what they are saying. I honor that our pastor believes in what he says.
I also honor my 11-year-old child who believes the dialogue should be of inclusion and possibilities. She sees bigger skies. She believes bigger truths. She wants bigger love and more kindness.
And her exploration has only just begun. At age 45, I do not have half the faith that she does at 11. I know we will always keep our eyes open and ask the tough questions.