"What are you so afraid of?" he asked.
"What if the pastors read it?!" I said, my body curling in on itself.
"The pastors? What pastors?"
There was a long pause and then I just laughed out loud, because what pastors? Who was I even talking about?
"Young lady," he would say. "This is not Right Theology. The Bible says XYZ. You are on a slippery slope, and you are leading others down a path to destruction. You are a heathen. You are wrong. You are condemned. You are no longer one of us."
All this just for thinking my thoughts, just for writing them down for others to read. I've been waiting for months, for The Pastors to come and tell me I am in error. I've been filtering my thoughts just enough to keep my imagined Pastors at bay, but even as I have gotten braver and braver, no one has come to condemn me.
So I have no idea what this fear is rooted in (other than 26 years of church, that is). I've never had any sort of pastor-related trauma that I can recall. And anyway, my fear is far from the level of phobia. I don't go screaming in the opposite direction when I see a pastor. But maybe, as I think about it now, my heart does. Maybe my heart runs away screaming from the possibility of more condemnation on top of that which it has already received from me.
I don't know how to repair this tender little heart of mine, except to give it the permission it seeks myself. So I am giving myself permission, one day at a time, to think my own thoughts and be my own person, no matter what anyone, even The Pastors, may say. I am allowing myself not to agree with every bullet point of Christianity that been presented to me. If I ever return to church, it will be once I am strong enough to be who I am, even within a community of people who may openly disagree with my views, and not to hold the personal theologies of any other human beings as the blueprint for my own spirituality.
*This post inspired by a prompt from the Story Sessions community. It's the best and you should join us.*