tools for your own path

When you finally decide to embark upon your own path, it will always mean leaving the comforts and securities of where you’ve been. It will feel very adversarial. So, unfortunately, we are rarely provided with the tools to help us on our journey. Frequently, it is more like an escape where we are required to travel lightly, scantily, with only the most basic of necessities for our survival.

But I have discovered something very beautiful. Companionship for your journey comes from very surprising, unexpected and unlikely sources. Here’s just a few for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear:

  1. I’ve made new friends of different religions and non-religions from around the world who bring a whole new sense of what divine is. They bring benediction on a daily basis. The unconditional love and genuine fellowship is profound, real, and reliable. They love me for who I am. They aren’t judgmental of my past and they don’t try to prophesy or predict or prescribe my future. They care without complication and show compassion without confusion.
  2. There are other Christians who have taken similar risks and undertaken their own journeys and have written about it. Read Thomas Merton, especially his later writing that became more and more mystical and universal. For theological depth and mystery, read Karl Barth who, although he wrote for the church, left the ministry because he found the church’s pietistic culture unbearably impossible. Read other writers such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa and Karen Armstrong. Read some Krishnamurti, especially The Urgency of Change… probably my #1 most influential book. Read quantum physicists such as David Bohm. There’s lots of material out there that will inspire and nourish your travels.
  3. Finally, for now, you must find courage to trust yourself. You have taken the risk to lose everything for the sake of something better. Everyone must do this, but few do. You are a rare breed, and a part of that breed’s constitution is that it is courageous, resilient and determined. You must listen to your inner wisdom and trust it. The same wisdom that motivated you to leave is the same wisdom that will guide you. Yes, listen to wise voices from the past and the present. Read good books. Take good advice. But filter it all through your own innate intelligence. You will be surprised how well equipped you are to walk your own unique path with nobility, finesse, dignity and finally joy.

I left the ministry early in 2010. I haven’t been back to church. I’m not saying this is permanent. It has taken me almost two years to finally be able to write something like this. But I just wanted to assure you that real joy, exuberance and even a lighthearted liberty will wake up with you in the morning.

If you are going through such a transition in your life, I provide transition support. If you want to talk, email me

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19 Responses

  1. A bit H. Nouwen-esq eh? Love it…. Ps… i love Nouwen’s stuff…. to hats off on that one dude!
    xocat

  2. Pat Pope says:

    Thanks, David. I left the church where I was serving as an elder back in April. I suspect part of my problem there was my individualism because I embrace diversity and have often dialogued with people of other faiths, no faiths, ethnicities, etc. I have found a new church, but am not serving in any capacity and it is freeing to be able to get up, go hear a sermon and leave. I participate in one midweek class, but it’s one of my choosing. One of the valuable lessons I learned from my experience was to embrace my individualism and not cave in to the prevailing voices. People will accept me or they won’t and that’s okay. After what I’ve been through, I no longer care about what other people think.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Wow. So cool. I had more tools then I thought…thanks for this.

  4. Jacquie Kernick says:

    I am re-learning to trust my intuition (might go so far as to say the Holy Spirit )but it has taken me lots of years to begin to do this. I have taken some curving paths in the process, even traveled up some dead ends (even before leaving the church 10 yrs. ago).

    It feels for me that the process of exercising my enquiring mind/heart has accelerated in the last couple of months…and more recently by the discovery of your writing/art, David.

    I appreciate your words “I just wanted to assure you that real joy, exuberance and even a lighthearted liberty will wake up with you in the morning.” That is such good news 🙂

    I’ll follow through with some of your suggested reading…I am sure we even have some of those books on our son’s bookshelves so that’s a good starting point.

    Thank you for your openness…it’s good to journey with each other and I know I’m just getting my feet wet at the moment and enjoying the freedom to do so.

  5. David Waters says:

    Thank you for writing this. It helps me understand you better. For me, leaving was about seeking more than what was offered within the walls. I could not imagine any limitations on my concept of God. I did not feel fear as much as profound freedom and the closer relationship I desired. I shed my people pleasing, approval addicted, fictitious self.

  6. Jacquie Kernick says:

    @David Waters I would like to say on leaving the church 10 yrs. ago that I shed my people pleasing, approval addicted, fictitious self…you did well to get that sorted 🙂

    I am slow in that regard…and only this past weekend have I managed to do some tidying/deleting of Facebook ‘friends’ from my previous church life …it was a big step for me (worrying about what people would think of me and having a niggle of desire to still people-please). It is very freeing now that I have done it! It’s another step of freedom…so pleased you are living in profound freedom; I wish you a free and continuing journey.

  7. thank you so much! It is comforting to know that I am not alone in this weird adventure I find myself on!

  8. Steve Martin says:

    The path to salvation and eternal life with Jesus is WIDE!

    Go your OWN way.

    Don’t worry about what Jesus said, about it being narrow…and that He is that very path.

    Invent your own path!

    .

  9. Jeff Gill says:

    I second the Karen Armstrong recommendation, especially The Case for God. That book was very helpful in figuring out how I (mis)understand God.

  10. Gary says:

    @Steve,

    LMAO – You’re a hoot.

    Yes of course because we ALL know that Jesus simply HAD to be referring to the church as the path…NOT!

  11. Obscuritus says:

    An excellent analysis, David, and one that I absolutely relate to having left the ministry and church around the same time as you. I wonder if the true “church” is no longer being “called out” of the world, but out of the existing Church and into the world!

    I would also add Peter Rollins to the reading list.

  12. Jeff Gill says:

    @ Obscuritus
    Yes, definitely Peter Rollins. Insurrection is a must read.

  13. Gary says:

    @Obscuritis

    “I wonder if the true “church” is no longer being “called out” of the world, but out of the existing Church and into the world!”

    I love this!!

  14. Mike says:

    Where is the “love” button for his one? I left ministry nearly three years ago. I have recently started attending again. I enjoy going, making friends and leaving. I nearly got involved within a couple of weeks ago. But, I had a “check” and backed off. Being an “anybody” instead of a “somebody” right now sure feels great!

  15. Caedmon says:

    My last church just called. They’re in a pickle and expect I’ll come riding back in to fix everything. Posts like this are helping me recognize it’s okay to decline their invitation. Thank you.

  16. Steve Martin says:

    The church is not the path…but it is the means for keeping one on the path.

    As if God’s Word and Sacraments can be received at the dry cleaners, or the ashran down the street.

    Where two or three are gathered in His name, there is the church.

    YUK, PHOOEY, CHURCH, BAD,

    Tell it to Jesus. The church was His idea, not ours.

  17. Gary says:

    @Steve,

    But what happens if the church wanders off the path? Do we just blindly follow it over the cliff…or do we realize that the true path has always been Jesus?

    I agree that the church was His idea…but I may not agree that the church He had in mind is represented by today’s “church”.

  18. Lydia says:

    You are one of my heros, David. I admire your big, open heart.

  19. nakedpastor says:

    thanks so much lydia.

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