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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.