I doubt anyone still reads this blog, but if you do, I just want to put this out there.
I look back over this blog and almost don’t recognize the person who wrote here. I was a naive nineteen-year-old, with absolutely no experience of anything I was writing. I had bought into the idea that the world was all black-and-white, that God was stuck inside this little box and had to do everything according to the rules in them. I had never been in a relationship and was merely spouting theories. I had absorbed ideas pushed by people who seemed to have all the answers to a picture-perfect Christian life, and I was just mindlessly – if not passionately – spouting them.
Now, almost seven years later, at twenty-five, I’m a completely different person. I’ve lived life now. I’ve been in a relationship and seen that rigid “courtship” rules don’t work, that each individual person has to follow God’s individual plan for their life. I’ve realized through studying Scripture the grave, crippling error that ideas like “emotional purity” and “betrothal” and “defrauding” are. I’ve realized that being “modest” doesn’t mean sticking with a rigid set of rules in clothing or taking full responsibility for men’s actions. I understand the error of words I threw around so carelessly like “patriarchy” and “courtship” and “role of women”. There has been some seriously fiery trials in my life within the past few years, and as I’m left here,with absolutely nothing in my life the way I thought it would be back when I was nineteen (both for the worse and so, so much for the better), I have to shake my head at how the standards I held to so rigidly, depending on them for happiness, have failed me so miserably. I depended on a set of rules and outward standards to prove my worth, instead of depending on God and allowing Him to truly guide my life. I squelched the dreams and desires He had set in my heart since birth, and tried to fit a mold forced on me that I was not made to fit. I understand the crippling power that legalism had over my life, and the harsh, unloving, utterly unChristian judgmental attitude that I displayed at times. Pointing fingers is not the answer to solving problems, and now that I’ve been on the other end, I understand the pain people suffer when they are trying to follow the Lord and being judged by finite people.
I’m not throwing the baby out with the bathwater entirely, although I’ve steered away from those that I once followed so ardently. I still have my faith, still believe 100% in a God who loves us and died for our sins. I *do* believe that you are responsible to show Christ to others and lead others to Him, but that you show His love by the way you treat others and by His love shining through you, not because you look, sound, and act completely different from others. I still believe in the sacredness of sex, and I believe that it is best saved for marriage – but not that you are somehow less worthy if you come to the altar without your “technical” virginity intact. I don’t believe that “staying pure” includes affectionate physical contact – both in a romantic relationships and just with your brothers in Christ – or that “liking” a guy can “give your heart away”, or that not marrying the first guy you have a relationship with is a failure. I don’t believe that never talking about sex or acknowledging the sexuality that God has hard-wired in us solves problems, but rather creates huge new ones.
I don’t believe that higher education is a sin, but rather something good women can use. I don’t believe that young, single girls should not have the opportunity to work, to go to school, to use their talents and hobbies and pursue their dreams. I believe there can be a place for Christian women outside of the home, and they can use their talents just as much as men can to change the world. I still believe in strong marriages, and that motherhood is the most important career a woman can have. But it’s not the only one. Some women will never have marriage. Some will never be able to have kids. And I think that God is able to use women for many different purposes. Single women should not feel a failure because they’re not married. They can still be used mightily by God. Women who are infertile are not failures at marriage. I still want to eventually marry – to marry a man who will love and respect me, who I can work beside as his equal to impact others. I still want to eventually be a mother – and perhaps even homeschool – not because I think that other options are sins, but because I loved it. Please don’t take from this that I hated my life. I love my family. I don’t regret a minute of growing up in a large family, of homeschooling. While my parents made many mistakes, I cannot completely blame them. I blame the leaders who sucked naive trusting young families into believing that their formulas were “the way” to perfect families. I blame people who used their position to gain power over others.
My goal in my life? To go by the Bible, and by the Bible only. My life in the past three years has been one of taking every single thing in my life and examining it by the Scripture. Not the verses that people picked and chose to fit their pet beliefs, but just 100% the Word of God. Yes, my life looks drastically different from the girl who started blogging in June 2008. I never thought I’d be in college, have a job, been in and out of a relationship, kissed formulas goodbye, worn pants and shorts and even swimsuits, have an occasional drink, kissed a guy who wasn’t my husband, identify as a feminist, enjoy being single, be in theatre, or agreed with things I thought were completely against my worldview. It’s been difficult in a lot of ways. But I believe that this balance, trying to show more love and compassion, and ridding myself of all these unBiblical trappings, has actually put me on the path to being a better Christian. It’s given me a new love and compassion for others that I never had.
To anyone that I pulled astray, offended, or misled in any way by what I wrote here, I ask for pardon, and I ask that you give me grace. Grace in the knowledge that I was an enthusiastic young girl who thought I had all the answers and wanted to share that with others, and had to learn the painful way that I totally, completely did not. But God was faithful to show me my error, and He is leading me into a more balanced path. And to those who have tried for years to shine light on the errors others like me believed, don’t give up. Even the hardest, staunchest supporter can see the light. One of the things I am most thankful for are the friends outside of my legalistic circles who stood by me even when I snubbed them and their “worldly” lifestyles, who showed by love and not by shunning that maybe you didn’t have to follow all the rules to be a good Christian. Maybe it was about a relationship with Christ, and not that you wore the right clothes and talked the right talk and did the right things.
I’ve seen it happen in bucketloads around me. The girls I blogged with, girls I knew, girls I read are all coming to the same conclusions. We’ve learned the hard way that formulas and boxes just. don’t. work. I’m writing this now for the next generation. For girls like my sisters, who were little girls when I was learning this and who are beautiful teenage girls now. I want them to know that God loves them, that He thinks that they’re important, that being women doesn’t make them any less in His sight. That they don’t need to be ashamed because they think a boy is cute, that their hopes and dreams don’t have to be squelched, that they’re responsible for their own thoughts and actions and no one else’s. I’m writing this because I don’t want young girls to ever come across my blog and get sucked into all this the way I was. Life has taught me a lot, and in the words of one of my favorite songs,
The more I live, the more I learn.
The more I learn, the more I realize
The less I know.
Each step I take, each page I turn,
Each mile I travel only means
The more I have to go.
What’s wrong with wanting more?
If you can fly, then soar!
With all there is, why settle for
Just a piece of sky?
(“A Piece of Sky” from Yentl)
I don’t know what part of my future blogging holds. Frankly, my life is getting far too hectic for the kind of constant blogging that I used to do. I have a job now, I’m in school, and I’ve finally gotten into theatre and am pursuing the deep, hidden dreams that were squelched for so, so long. But I do want to share – share what God’s done in my life, what I’ve learned. I’m praying about exactly how He wants me to do this, and I’m prayerfully considering someday writing a book about it. But for now, I’m moving stuff out of my life that holds me down, that reminds me of that life I’m not living any more. And the blog is part of it. I just don’t want to hurt others any more by it…it was a well meaning mistake, but it was still a mistake. I’m planning to delete this in a few weeks, but I wanted to put this out there before I do.
Thanks to any still reading this, and to all those who followed me through this journey. The Internet is a pretty crazy place, and I’ve learned a lot through my journey of being a public (however small that way) part of it. When I started, I wanted to become a huge blogger like the girls I read. In the six years since I started I’ve gotten a small following of people who have become close and dear friends, and my blog is nothing like what I wanted it to be. And I’m so thankful for that.
Lastly, to those who read or know me who still believe these things…please don’t think that I look down on you or think that you should drop all your beliefs just because I reevaluated mine. I respect your opinion and still love you dearly. If I did not, I would be no different from the judgmental person I once was, and I would have accomplished nothing. One of the doctrines which I believe is the concept of Individual Soul Liberty, which is that “every Christian has the liberty to believe, right or wrong, as his/her own conscience dictates.” If I tried to control someone else’s conscience by insisting that my way was the only right way, I’d be no different than those I am trying to disassociate myself with. Do I disagree with you? Yes. Am I going to try and shove my beliefs on you? No.
Thank you all again, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do in life!