Day 14 — Freedom
Freedom is a confusing word for me. And in some ways is probably responsible for part of my on-going faith struggle. We raised our family in a very conservative denomination. Calvinist teachings as a whole are very narrow. We knew exactly what we were supposed to believe, where the lines are you didn’t cross, how exactly God expected us to act, etc. The preaching was solid from the Word of God and we felt safe and secure there.
But our congregation was made up of a lot of older folks and it was getting smaller. What made matters worse was the lack of new families coming into the church. We had been saving up to build a new, smaller building and had somewhere around $430,000 in our building fund. But we were tired. So few of us were doing so many things that we were just burned out.
So after a great deal of discussion and prayer, we decided as a congregation to close down the church. It was a hard decision because we truly were like family after all those years. Each family picked a charity they wanted to donate to, and the building fund money was divided up and given to those charities. Then families dispersed and settled into other denominations. And as it happened, our family settled into one that was a lot more liberal in their views. We had a lot more freedom to explore what faith meant to us. It looked very much like this to me:
It was a difficult adjustment. The only way I could explain it was to use the analogy of a house with a fenced in backyard (our old church) and a house with no fence around the backyard (our new church). Where the fenced-in backyard at our old church provided us with stability and security, the openness of the backyard at the new church replaced it with a certain sense of freedom. We were free to question more and more of our faith as it applied to our suddenly enlarged world. And confusion was the result — for awhile. Eventually my faith began to grow and mature into something far less complicated than it had been for years.
Now, after twelve years we have explored the neighborhood and compared our faith life to that of other kinds of faith. It’s been good for me in so many ways. Helped me to grow and learn to be more loving toward and accepting of other people, and, more importantly, of myself.
But that freedom was hard for me to work out. It certainly isn’t as cut and dried as I once thought it was. In many ways it turned my faith life into much more of an adventure. And the truth is, I’m STILL exploring the neighborhood and finding that the world is full of wonderful and interesting people and beliefs.
Conformity is the jailer of freedom
and the enemy of growth.
John F. Kennedy
Picture Credit: activerain.com