Tag Archives: evangelical

“Why Didn’t You Just…?” – Thoughts on Spiritual Struggle in Retrospect

Photo by - Jesse Weiler Creation Swap
Photo by – Jesse Weiler Creation Swap

It’s the most frustrating part of the movie, right? There’s a simple solution – an action the main character could have taken (or avoided), that would have circumvented the whole, messy thing.

If she’d just said that she loved him, he never would have left. If he just hadn’t raided the hotel mini-bar the night before his hearing, he would have gotten off Scot-free.

If Uncle Billy had just paid attention to the giant pile of cash in his hand instead of accidentally sticking it into Mr. Potter’s newspaper…

If the lovely (but kind of dumb) blond protagonist hadn’t wandered alone into the dark house…

We’re a little more patient with complications that come from the outside. The protagonist is really no match for a car crash, after all, or a lost job or King Kong or a sudden tsunami. It’s easier to have compassion for a narrator when the nosedive that she finds herself in is brought on by Some Terrible Something that we can understand.

But when she is her own antagonist? When she is sabotaging herself just as much as any antagonist ever could? What then?


In my memoir, When We Were on Fire, I wrote the story of growing up “on fire” for God…and of the spiritual landslide I found myself in when the constructs of the evangelical culture (where I’d always felt at home) began to crumble around me.

I won’t tell the whole story of my slide toward cynicism here (because, you know, I want you to buy the book.) I will tell you this: Disillusionment with church and barbed interactions with Christians was the loose rock that started the avalanche. But it was the Depression – clinical, serious, unnamed – that kept me there.

In those really dark days, there are a million things that I might have done. But what I actually did was to keep hurling myself into different evangelical, community, and nondenominational churches that seemed like they might be like the church I knew and understood and wanted.

The one I had once known and loved before it all went to hell.

My youth pastor used to say it all the time: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  I was insane, mad with my own darkness. I was lonely. I threw myself against the doors of a dozen different churches, hoping that finally, the community I wanted would open up around me.

Instead, I ended up bruised. Broken. Bitter.


I’ve been asked, before, why I didn’t find another kind of church? Why didn’t I try a Catholic Church or a Quaker community? Why not try the more mainline churches, the ones who might not see a pressing need for a separate music genre called “Christian Alternative”?

I rarely read reviews of my book, but I stumbled across one the other day that said this:

“I at times wondered why she couldn’t more easily adjudicate the cheesy and superficial and odd aspects of American fundamentalism, and why she didn’t realize that most Christian theologies and communities aren’t like that.”

The answer is as simple as it is frustrating. Because I didn’t.

Because that’s not how the story goes.

Because I was my own antagonist, my anger as powerful as any real life enemy.

Because Depression was warring against my mind, and I was so tired, and I didn’t want to fight anymore.

In the end, there are lots of ways I could have approached my spiritual struggle. Healthier ways. Looking back, I can see the first dark threads of Depression winding their way around my soul, and Lord, if I’d have known that’s what it was, I would have seen someone right away. I would have started taking those little pills. I would have begun talking through my spiritual baggage right that second with a person who could help me sort it out.

If I could go back in time, I’d hand myself The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle and Kathleen Norris’ Amazing Grace and Paul Miller’s A Praying Life. I would hand myself a mix tape of Sleeping at Last and All Sons and Daughters and Josh Garrels. I would have pointed myself toward the mystics and the poets.

I would have flipped on the computer and pointed out all the writers there, struggling through the same things themselves in this strange, public sphere. I would have whispered in my ear, You are not alone.

Instead I failed, faltered, struggled, sank. I drank a lot of wine and margaritas and stumbled drunk around my own life. I came to the sharp edge of an affair and I might have fallen straight down into it if Grace hadn’t grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me back.

I don’t know why I couldn’t separate the bad of the Christian culture from the good in one simple cut. I think it’s because the whole thing is tangled for me, wrapped up in nostalgia and first love and heartbreak. Because people I loved and respected and meant well said really untrue things. Because I still remember all the words to every Christian rock song and can’t seem to throw away my Christy Miller books.

For me, the process of rebuilding and redefining has taken time, and it’s something I continue to struggle with and work through. And looking back, there’s a million other ways I could have done it.

But I didn’t.

And Grace found me anyway.

It’s a story as old as time, told in a million different ways: We are our own antagonists, desperate for wholeness yet bent toward self-destruction. And still, God comes back for us.

It’s a story worth telling in as many imperfect, broken versions as we can.

And mine is one of them.

When We Were on Fire Synchroblog: Non-Blogger Vol. 2

As part of the When We Were on Fire Synchroblog last month, I invited non-bloggers to share their stories with me via email. And many of you generously shared your experiences. (I posted the first volume here.)

I had planned to post a few every Friday, but I’ve been a little off my game. I’m picking up the thread now because I believe that every story matters. Because maybe one of these is the one you need to hear. Here are the next three contributions that I want to share.


Different Generation, Same Seasons

I think each generation thinks they are unique, but in reality we all go through the same seasons, just in different ways. I grew up in the 60’s, and while our music was different, the pressure was the same. If you were a good Christian girl you kept pure (although we didn’t have cards to sign). You attended revivals and went forward to renew your commitment to God, because you always knew you had not measured up. I was one who grew up with all of this and then had my fill and walked away from it.

Thanks my mother’s prayers and a faithful God, I now have a deep meaningful relationship with Jesus.
No I do not attend church each Sunday. No – by some people’s rules I don’t follow the book. But God and I have a bond that holds me strong and keeps me going and makes me long at times for the day when I will be in my eternal home with Him forever.

~ Mary McCauley

good girl

The Good Christian Girl

It was the fall of 1994. I was a junior in high school and had been invited to a “field party” that was happening on a Friday night. Well, “invited” is not really the right word. I knew of the party and planned to attend with my two best friends. We considered ourselves to be the ones called to the daunting task of being a light in our high school, and we accepted the challenge eagerly and with great pride.

When we got to the party, we immediately realized that it was no place for “good Christian girls”. I mean, there was SMOKING and DRINKING and maybe we thought that those things would tarnish us in some way. So we immediately left that party and, being so heartbroken for our classmates, went to our high school at 10:30 on a Friday night to lay hands on the school building and cry out for the Holy Spirit to start a revolution.

We were earnest in our prayers. We meant every word. We cried and held hands and prayed. And then we went home. Back to our Christian homes. Back to our church youth groups. Back to our comfort zones.

That’s who I was then. I was the “Christian Girl”. Everybody knew it. I wore the title like a Miss America banner. My intentions were good, but not real. I talked down to my friends who were hurting, telling them that if they would just give their hearts to Jesus, their problems would disappear. Never did I try and relate to their problems. I had the “Jesus as a band aid” mentality. I was on fire, but oh so naive.

When I graduated, the unthinkable happened. I began dating a non-Christian. I was unequally yoked, until six months later when my sweet boyfriend accepted Christ. We’ve been together for eighteen years now, married for sixteen, and he’s amazing. Shortly after, this “Good Christian Girl” realized that she liked alcohol. I was twenty-one, married, and realized that I had the power to down ANY shot placed in front of me like a champ.  It was fun. I liked how I felt when I was drunk. I was tired of being the quiet good girl.

Fast forward a couple more years, and I’d become a broken girl, mourning the loss of a baby we weren’t even planning. I was hearing phrases like “at least you were only a few weeks along” and “you’re young, you can have other children” and “Jesus is holding your baby”. My heart was broken, and I was angry. How could God love me, yet give me a gift and immediately steal it back? No one should have to hold their 10 weeks developed tiny embryo in their hands. I did.

Eventually, the pain led me to greater understanding of what God perceives as “good” compared to the human perspective of “good”. This is the experience that forever changed my life and my relationship with God. I was on the other side and on the receiving end of the “Jesus Band-Aid” and it sucked. Big time. But it taught me to be more human. We all hurt, whether we have a relationship with God or not. I remember that now when I have the opportunity to listen to someone’s story.

There is so much more I could talk about. The inability to conceive after the miscarriage, the failed adoption attempt, the wonderful gift of our daughter and the unbelievable surprise of twins. Life has had so many ups and downs. I believe that God is there, even when I can’t see Him or feel Him. It’s like a cloudy day. I know the sun is shining above the clouds, I just can’t see it today. That knowledge is what sustains me these days.

~ Melinda Simmons

Photo credit: Silent Shot on Flickr Creative Commons
Photo credit: Silent Shot on Flickr Creative Commons

Hearing God’s Voice

I turned 51 in September. Was born and raised Catholic. As a teenager my mother gave me and my siblings the choice to continue going to mass or dropping out of church altogether after we had made our confirmation in 8th grade.

What I remember most about going to church was the Priests sermons about the church needing more money or they were about us being guilty and sinful and unworthy. The rest is a blank. 13 years of going to church   Every. Single. Sunday. And all I ever felt was bad and sinful. And bored.

I left the church at the age of 14 because it meant nothing to me. I was relieved that I didn’t have to go back. And I didn’t… until 35 years had passed.

Not until the day I burst into flame….When the Lord Himself called out to me. Said He wanted to talk to me. Said He wanted to save me. That I could rest in His arms That He knew I was tired. And He knew that I didn’t want to cry anymore. But I still did.

I cried for days. I mean Jesus Christ had just spoken to me….I thought I was losing my mind. Normal people don’t go around hearing the voice of God. Do they?

~ Valerie

To the Current Pastors – From the Formerly “On Fire”

Photo by Sam Knutsen
Photo by Sam Knutsen

The people who collectively have the hardest time with my book are those involved in full-time ministry. Pastors. Youth Pastors.

My Mom, who’s a children’s minister, has been unfailingly supportive from the beginning. After she read my book for the first time, we went for a long walk around the block, and she asked, What do we do? What are we MISSING in kids’ ministry?

It’s a question I’ve gotten a lot since the book came out, and I never know how to answer. After all, I’m no expert here.

The Church is a kind of prism through which the Light is reflected and refracted, and we all have our own experience there. My story is just one particular slant.

For me, the youth group experience was mostly very positive. It gave me a sense of community and belonging when I needed it the most. I felt loved and I learned to love God with my whole, open heart, and I am grateful for that time. I wouldn’t trade my “on fire” years, even though there were things that I stumbled into during that time that wounded my fledgling faith in really profound ways.

And yet, as I read through the 100+ entries in the When We Were on Fire Synchroblog over the last couple of weeks, I started seeing some themes. Trends. Common threads that tripped many of us up as we stumbled through the evangelical youth culture.

Certainly this is not an exhaustive list. It’s not an accusation or a recipe. But here are three things that struck me as I read through the experiences of others and thought about my own. I’m hoping that maybe these insights will be helpful as we continue to try to help kids and teens find Jesus.

1. We need to rethink the way we talk to kids about salvation.

I know this is a sticky, theological issue and that we need to be careful here. But something about the weight of the Prayer of Salvation Moment in evangelical culture paired with the focus on big, brave, outward signs of faith creates a perfect vacuum for fear and insecurity.

In the majority of posts I read from the When We Were On Fire Synchroblog, people wrote about a compulsive need to keep asking Jesus into their heart over and over again. There was a pervasive sense of having somehow “done it wrong” when the felt experience of faith didn’t match the hype. My own experience is no exception.

And so we kept asking, kept going forward to the altar – just to make sure. Just to get it to somehow “take.”

Somewhere the most important message of this free gift of Grace is getting mixed up with performance. We speak about salvation like it’s always a Before and After sort of thing, and sometimes it is. But sometimes it doesn’t fit that mold, and we’d do well to be honest about that with kids straight away.

In reality, transformation is holy, aching lifelong work, and it looks different for every single one of us.

2. The “on fire” faith is not sustainable and there should not be the primary goal of ministry.

I think that deep down, everyone knows this, which is why when we haul vans full of teens to retreats and conferences, we talk about mountaintop experiences and valleys of faith. We warn them that the feelings won’t last and try to help them figure out how to hold on to what they’ve learned in spite of that.

And yet, in my experience, the unspoken ethos of church youth groups and parachurch organizations is that, when it comes to faith, bigger is always better. We try to encourage others toward passionate faith by putting students who seem to have sparked into fire on pedestals.

And I don’t think it does anyone any favors – not the kid on pedestal, not the kids looking up at him.

What it does do is create a culture of trying harder to attain some elusive feeling, scrambling to earn God’s love, and the constant need to prove devotion through bigger and better sacrifices. (Like this guy who preemptively broke up with a girl he wasn’t even dating…just so he wouldn’t replace God as Number 1 in his life.)

I love what blogger Kristin Tennant said about the on fire moments – that they serve an important purpose, often providing “an important bridge from one solid faith ground to the next.” But those great bursts of passion for Jesus can only lead us to new ground if we’re honest about their transitory nature.

Yes, the fire matters. But also, when we glorify that kind of faith, we inadvertently set kids up for feelings of failure when the emotional high fizzles out.

I’d love to see us get really purposeful about honoring every stage of faith – from doubt, to anger, to fire…to the routine, daily work of practicing love. All of it matters, and all of it can lead us to Jesus, and this faith business is not a ladder, climbing ever upward to God. It’s a spiraling, circling around and around this beautiful Love.

3. Create a safe space for hard questions.

I think there was this general feeling in evangelical youth culture when I was there that if we could just get kids fired up enough about God during high school and college, they’d be able to sail into a steady faith of adulthood on the momentum of that passion.

But the more I talk to others, the more I’m convinced that questioning and doubting is inevitable. Regardless of how “on fire” we were in the past, most of us go through something that quakes the solid ground we thought we were standing on.

It’s a part of the messy, beautiful process of becoming. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s necessary for most of us to enter more fully into the mystery of Grace. But when we use language like backsliding and falling away, and when we talk about doubting as though it something to be avoided at all costs, we create a sense of shame and hopelessness around this necessary breaking and reassembling.

The best thing that we can do for one another is to create safe spaces for questions – not just from those who haven’t embraced the Christian faith, but also – especially – from those who have been in the faith for as long as they can remember.

Too often, church culture responds to these people with fear – If it could happen to them, then maybe it could happen to me – and as a result, we tend to dismiss doubts and questions with neat answers. Just pray about it. Are you having your quiet times? God doesn’t give us more than we can handle…

We have to get better at leaning into the questions, at believing that God is big enough for them all. That in the midst of all the pain and questions and mystery, He is always, somehow Enough.


What about you? What would you add? I don’t normally add little “response questions” at the end of blog posts because it feels sort of contrived. But I’m making an exception today because I really want to know. What can we do with kids and youth moving forward to help foster healthy faith?

When We Were On Fire: Synchroblog Round-Up

Photo By: Stacey Lewis, Creation Swap
Photo By: Stacey Lewis, Creation Swap

We were on fire, or we weren’t, or we were faking it, trying to muster ourselves into something we thought we should be.

We were so much alike and so different, and the chorus of our voices here in these posts sound like nothing so much as a prayer. An offering. A lament and a praise all mixed into one song.

Thank you.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you took the time to share your stories. So much of what you wrote was raw, intimate, painful and beautiful.

Not one single post tried to diminish the complexity of those days. To say that they were all bad or all good. We were all touched in beautiful and terrible ways, and what I loved most about this synchroblog were the honest, thoughtful ways each of you tried to sort it all out.

As I read, I came across this song by Greg Laswell on Pandora and it stopped me still. It sounded like a love-song for us – the on fire and burned out. The searching. The still-barely-hanging-on. I want to share it with you, because it sounded like an anthem, a healing, a benediction.

There’s no cool music video to go with it…just the music and a still photo. But it’s worth listening to you as you scroll through the quotes in the round-up below.

When I finished reading the synchroblog posts, I had 16 pages of beautiful quotes from your stories. Obviously I can’t publish them all here…but please know that each of your posts mattered. I am grateful for each and every one of them and the conversations they usher in.

Here are a few quotes. But really? Read them all. Every single post. Especially if you’re a pastor or youth pastor or youth group volunteer of some kind. They offer so much insight into what went wrong and what went right, and I think more than anything, stories like this will pave the way for us to do better.

Thank you again. Really.


On the Nature of Fire:

“[My] flame was far from the gentle light that could be hidden under a bushel. I was more like a raging inferno of self righteousness out to prove I was working harder than anyone else to follow Jesus.”
~ Ed Cyzewski at In a Mirror Dimly

“We laid relationships we didn’t have yet and things we hadn’t gotten yet on the altar before we could even hold them in our hands, the fire lit and already licking at their edges. We mortgaged the future like it didn’t matter (and we would later wrench it out of God’s hands, burning ourselves a bit and swearing we never meant a word of it).”
~ Jennifer James at Jen is (Sometimes) Excited

“The problem with fire is that it gives the appearance of being a living thing–it breathes, it grows.  But it isn’t alive, and ultimately, it consumes everything before it burns itself out.  That’s not the kind of faith I want, and it’s not the kind of faith I want my children to have. Better is a seed.  There’s a reason Jesus doesn’t use fire as a metaphor for faith.  He uses seeds–more than once.” ~ Amy Mitchell at Unchained Faith

“The fire wasn’t a fiction, I know this, and even when it has gone out I never found it a childish or unrealistic thing to want. The world needs people on fire. The world needs those who don’t hold back from life, mentors and go-outers and every-day-doers, lovers of the unbearable beauty and sadness of all this sacred beat-up earth.” ~ Lyndsey Graves at [to be honest]

“Those “on fire” moments are all about connecting with God on a deeper, more personal level, while also building your own faith community, apart from your parents. Sure, those experiences aren’t sustainable (and are often cringe-worthy), but they can provide an important bridge from one solid faith ground to the next.”
~ Kristin Tennant, Halfway to Normal

“When were were on fire, we shaped our gold into a god in the refining flames – A shape to worship that made sense and we could hold, until, in a fit of tears, we would melt our golden god down; reshaping Him again and again.” Nicole Romero at 1000 Strands

“In one of life’s great ironies, I attempted to become wild with fire by shoving myself tighter and tighter into a place no contamination could reach–not realizing that even the smallest flames, once contained, burn out.”
~ Shar Carlson at Wild Introvert Rumpus

“We were the Daniel Generation, the David Generation, the Esther Generation. We existed only in three-part sermons, alliterative dot points, prayer walks and fire tunnels. We screwed our eyes shut and thrust our hands into the air, hoping that maybe this time we’d feel something.” ~ Bree at Falling Joyfully

On Doubts, Questions & Complexity:

Here is the truth: black and white exist– but so does gray.  I didn’t know that growing up amongst evangelicals. ~ Jackie Sommers at Lights All Around

“After the event, we gathered back in one of our hotel rooms to debrief, and the students were quiet. Finally, one of them spoke up. He was seventeen, and he had a daughter, who his mother was quietly raising. He was angry. He didn’t know how to process the feelings he was having, except to say that he felt humiliated and defeated.” ~ Steve Wiens at The Actual Pastor

“I didn’t know an outside the box faith was possible or that it would save my faith in the end.”
Leigh Kramer

On The Christian Subculture

We all had different experiences, but it was all strangely interchangeable: the concerts, retreats, books, music, youth pastors–we were all told of the love of God, in a way that the young and the privileged can understand.” ~ D.L. Mayfield

“I don’t care what anybody says, Audio Adrenaline is not and acceptable substitute for Everclear.” ~ Brandi

“Once upon a time, the same hyped-up, choreographed, style-conscious approach to God that I find so distasteful now is what kept my battered teenage heart from drowning.”
Bethany Bassett at Coffee Stained Clarity 

On Fear and Salvation

“Later, I will wish someone would have seen me with my fear and earnestness. I will wish they would have taken this girl’s arm-she still is a girl, growing into a woman’s body–and walked her away from the altar. But they don’t. They show movies on Friday nights about the apocalypse. They talk about how even a hint of impurity will ruin you and separate you from God. I will need to take my own arm and walk myself away from the altars, but I don’t know how. ~ A Holy Fool

“I spent the better part of my adolescence compulsively praying to give my life to the Lord, trying to ask in just the right tone, with just the right mixture of repentance and fear of hell-fire. Still I was broken, and I needed fixing.” ~ Kendall Ashley at Distracted Blogger

On Witnessing

We’d leave the door wide open so that others would hear how much we loved Jesus, and maybe, just maybe, realize Truth. Maybe we’d even let them in.” ~ Cara Meredith

“What my superhero glasses prevented me from seeing at the time was that the Lutherans already had Jesus. What’s more, they also had a practical theology far more well-developed than mine; One that compelled them to not only talk about Jesus, but to actively serve him in their daily lives.” Jen Bradbury

When you were on fire…I saw you at the anti-choice rally. I was the girl with my back to the abortion clinic, fighting for women’s rights. You were the girl fighting against me. You held a sign that said, “No more killing.” Both of us were crying.” ~ Esther Emery 

On The Pressure to Be “Good”

“This is the story of how I played the perfect little Christian girl, and how, ultimately, that didn’t work.”
~ Lizzie at The Bends in the Road

“This is the tragedy of growing up in a system that assures you things will work out a certain way if you hold up your end of the bargain. There is no way to be good enough, and when you give up trying, you lose the whole system. It doesn’t sound like a great loss, but when I lost the only way I knew to get to God, I lost God, too, for a while.” ~ Kari Baumann, Through a Glass, Darkly

“My role at this college would be to prove my worth as a Christian: how fluent was I in Scripture? How dedicated was I to the pursuit of behaving better? I would spend the next eighteen years on this quest—clawing air in wholehearted attempt to reconcile who the God of the Universe was in comparison with the image others had taught me to see.” ~ Renee Ronika Klung at Quiet Anthem

“I told kids to clean up before they went to altar- don’t go down there if you don’t really mean it. Oh, how I cringe now to read those words. As if God couldn’t be bigger than all that.” ~ Lindsay Tweedle

“What I desperately, urgently needed was for someone, anyone, to tell me that I was already the woman God wanted me to be.” ~ Shari Dacon

“We were taught to distrust ourselves, distrust our feelings, distrust our experiences. As a product of this era, I seem to have internalized the message that we must first deny our feelings and “get in line with Scripture,” which sounds like a lot like a power play and clashes in its tenor with Jesus’ invitation to come to Him with our heavy loads.” ~ Mallory Pickering 

On Relationships and Loneliness:

“When I was eighteen years old, I preemptively broke up with a girl I wasn’t even dating. I was surrendering everything to God. And because God was jealous for my affections, it meant that I couldn’t talk to her anymore because I liked her too much.” ~ Micah J. Murray at Redemption Pictures

“The problem is “Jesus” is a five letter word, “life” has four letters, and “sex” has three. What we were taught simply didn’t fit in the blank neatly in a lot of ways.” ~ Sonny Lemmons at Through the Windshield

“When I sat alone, I could imagine that God and I had our own little club, something I found much more difficult surrounded by rest of the youth group, and their little clubs.” ~ Cara Strickland at Little Did She Know…

“This is an A — B conversation, so you better C your way out of it,” Shekinah said to me over her shoulder before whipping her head back around. She was named for glory, but delivered the worst parts of middle school like badly-written irony. I wonder often if I had been baptized with fire, or if I was just looking for my own A — B conversation. Regardless, that is what I found.” ~ Antonia Terrazas at Deeper Church

“All I had was my rosary and my memorized prayers and a deep-seated feeling of inferiority. Of not good enough. Not for my boyfriend, and not for God.”
Ashley Brooks

“‘Look, I don’t date so unless we’re heading towards marriage, we should probably end things now,’ my boyfriend said late one Wednesday night. I actually swooned on the other end of the line. How Godly…”
Osheta Moore

“As the crowd thinned, we quickly realized that absolutely no one was looking for us.”
~ Susan Schiller at The Other Side of Reason

“I think about all that raw, consuming sadness coupled with just being a teenager, and maybe the reason we didn’t all go under is because we had each other.” ~ Emily Luna, Noting Now

“I have spent too many days waiting for one of those Jesus girls to invite the weird kid to be in their group. They never do. I suppose I could be mad at the Jesus girls who don’t invite the weird kid to the project group or the lunch table. But I was that Jesus girl. I never thought about the weird kid either. I was too busy being on fire for Jesus.” ~ Abby Norman at Accidental Devotional

“Eventually realized the emotional toll those comparatively small–even commonplace–adolescent dramas had taken on me, largely because they happened in church, and asked for the help I needed to untangle my faith from my bad church experience. – Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy

“But the teens at church judged me for my parents’ rules. They labeled me perfect.  They laughed at me and my “goodness” so many times.” ~ Teryn O’Brien

“We didn’t understand then that “Christian” relationships don’t necessarily mean healthy or safe relationships.” ~ Bethany Suckrow

“As you climb in your bunk bed that night, the pictures of your boyfriend taped to the wall make you feel sad. You love him so much, but has he taken over the number one spot? You think he must have because if God was number one then surely Bible verses would have covered the wall around your bed instead.”
~ Natalie Trust

On How it Is for Us Now:

“When we least expect it, a tendril of flame licks at our hearts. But it’s never consuming. It won’t ever get that way again—there’s nothing left to burn.” ~ Elora Nicole

“The words, then used so often to argue and convince and persuade, have settled into something quieter and gentler now: a background hum, steady as the blood pumping through my veins. They are no longer rhetorical weapons, polished and honed to perfection. Instead, they are part of my makeup, like my mother’s green eyes and the freckles on my nose.” ~ Katie Noah Gibson at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

“I keep thinking about those milliseconds under the water. The metaphor of it. The way I think we’re still gradually rising to that surface, becoming kinder people, more gracious to ourselves, reflecting bits of Christ.” ~ Ben Moberg at Registered Runaway

“What does it mean really, that Jesus changes lives?  Is where we end up 15 years later proof that something worked or didn’t?” ~ Caris Adel

“I met people who were very different from me. The Ones I Had Been Warned About. I am an ally because I learned what forgiveness looks like at a gay bar.” ~ Suzanne Terry at CoffeeSnob318

“[Maybe] those who are on fire need to be tempered by those who are quiet, practical, analytical, and logical. Perhaps my world needs the Christian skeptic, academic, intellectual.” ~ Amy at Fraught with Possibilities

“Crisis faith doesn’t stick. It doesn’t stick because the crisis doesn’t stick. We move on, and seasons ebb and flow. By some great mystery, miracle, grace, I married a man and we did not replicate my childhood home. And instead of finding rest and peace, I found my faith cracking all around me as the ground I thought I was firmly standing on began to quake with the uncertainty of Stability.” ~ Sarah Torna Roberts

“I thought that there was a huge dichotomy between those two states of being: the teenage me leading up at the front, on fire for God; the teenage me sulking at the back, all burnt-out. But looking back I can see there was wasn’t that much difference: both ‘me’s were scared of doing wrong and being wrong, both wanted to belong and succeed. The only thing that changed was the way I masked those failed desires: through zeal when I was at the front, and through cynicism when I was at the back.” ~ Tanya Marlow at Thorns and Gold

“In that class, reading the Bible as literature, it was like the curtain was torn, and the walls of Jericho collapsed. The Red Sea parted and my faith dried up… ruptured myself. And I began studying, absorbing what my professor spoke into me, like the bread of my very life had been made soggy from dipping it in too much wine of the world.” Brett Wilson at A Man Worth Writing For

“Whether or not I was ever “on fire” seems to matter very little now that I am in the fire. There are very few easy answers, even fewer simple solutions. Faith and hope are crucial in this line of work (and just in the work of living in general), but it’s not the kind of faith or hope that you can buy or wear or share through a clever motto or catchy play on words. I wasn’t prepared for what it would mean – for the depth and breadth of the ache that is aching for the lost. Even more – I wasn’t prepared to so often be the lost.”
~ Becca at The Unsteady

“I floundered a bit after that. What did I believe anymore? I went back to college. I got a job. I got mugged. I got depressed. I learned to drink. I learned to drink less if I wanted to survive. I learned to be cynical. Then, I gradually learned how not to be, thanks to some good Episcopals and Methodists and Presbyterians and Catholics.” ~ Laura Lowe at Connections and Conundrums

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