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Are You Burned Out on Religion?

Since our son Noah died in 2007, I’ve been on a journey reassessing pretty much E V E R Y T H I N G.

People, things, involvement, passions, even thoughts or beliefs at times have met a death grip in my hands. Some days only purging keeps me grounded. Recently I attempted to strip down to few possessions, selling our home, even shaving my head, in search of the essentials. It was my outward reaction to an internal battle. I decided to apply this perspective to my relationship with God.

"Hope is where the door is, when the church is where the war is..." Lyrics by U2 from the song, Sleep Like a Baby Tonight, Songs of Innocence album

“Hope is where the door is, when the church is where the war is…” Lyrics by U2 from the song, Sleep Like a Baby Tonight, Songs of Innocence album

 

My experience in American Christianity had become a compass for measuring God’s pulse, as well as my morality, and truthfully, the morality of everyone else. I justified, “I’m part of ‘non-denominations,’ so at least I’m not religious, but I’m definitely more dialed into God’s Spirit than so and so.”

Not-so-subtle arrogance.

The longer I lived in these well-intended camps, the foggier my vision was for the heart of God. Non-denominationalism still had its rules and playbook. It was no freer than other denominations or world religions. Sensing the darkness, I could barely see.

The way Christianity was being personified in the world seemed a far cry from Jesus’ message of “Good News.” Not hoping in Christ wasn’t an option for me, but aligning with one camp of “Christians” made me sick to my stomach. Just thinking about it made me realize I had already had enough Kool-Aid.

Messages to serve more, help plant, build, launch churches and programs, do this or that person’s Bible study but avoid another’s theology, grew louder. The yelling resembled a cage fight, yet the opponents were God’s created children.

Some had taken it upon themselves to change the total trajectory of their ministry of serving others to calling out “all the bad sheep.” Fingers were pointed in all directions, but the love was gone. The irony was Jesus’ words about judging one another still graced the pages of every Bible being wielded.

Us vs. them. As if that’s even a thing when God so loved the whole world…when we are all sons and daughters.

The political agenda in our country and the world had somehow drowned out the local church’s relevance to love and serve our neighbors. Instead, pulpits were blurred with political podiums and if you didn’t vote or support this or that agenda or candidate, you “weren’t really a Christian.” The volume was deafening and it was time to find God’s soothing voice amidst the screaming.

Fear of NOT aligning with everything such and such a camp of Christianity believed was drowning out the expansive freedom of Christ we know when we live as our true selves, our child-of-God selves (John 1).

It was too much. Nauseating. And I didn’t want to be part of any of it.

I approached God with a specific prayer where the word cadence was truly a matter of life and death:

“Lord, I want to get to know You the way You desire to be known,
not the way man has tried to make You known to me.”

I had no idea what to expect. I half-heartedly thought He’d tweak my theology a smidge and we’d be mostly back to normal. Instead, for the past 10 years, God has invited me back to the Original Garden to discover what “Good News” Jesus was talking about all along.

This Garden has renovated my theology and transformed my worldview. It has been oxygen, clean water, bright light, and salvation. My plea for truth was met before I even knew it. Jesus answered it thousands of years prior in verses 28-30 of Matthew chapter 11, “Are you tired? Burned out? Tired of religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I have so much more to say on this topic…which is why I’m writing a book. But I share this snippet today for anyone else out there who is weary and longs to know God the way He intended…you are welcome here.

Comments

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! I love you a billion and I can not wait to read your book! Happy to be on the journey with you, my friend!

  2. This is so good and true. I’m so glad to find that you have had your heart’s need satisfied in His rest. My family has been in the grieving and rattling process for the past couple of years since my brother was killed in an accident. I’ve watched my parents process their faith in similar ways, though they may have a bit to go for they embrace the settling peace to rest in yet.
    I anticipate hearing your story unfold further. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • It’s so hard about your brother. I know no words I have can take away the loss or make it feel better. Thanks for stopping by and reading. You are welcome any time. xoxox

  3. Stephanie says:

    “Lord, I want to get to know You the way You desire to be known,
    not the way man has tried to make You known to me.”
    Adrienne! Omgosh…!
    Flashback to my teens…to the day I made the decision to “ditch “Sunday school and find refuge in the back row of the main sanctuary. I was searching for freedom within the church I had been attending since I could walk. I was listening for my one on one Conversation within those walls where I could be free, separate from the unspoken “rules” and expectations of my peers. I chose the main sanctuary, not because of the sermon or the congregation but because, in that whole city-block sized house of worship, that’s where I felt closest to God. I thought THIS is where I’d most likely find him (that makes me smile now…).

    I believed that God was….LOVE: unwavering love–(compassionate and joyous!). I believed his hand was not as heavy as it often felt from the pulpit (if that makes sense!)–certainly not as heavy as it felt outside as soon as everyone went back to their non-Sunday selves for the rest of the week. I wanted to rid myself of the focus of sinner-sinner-sinner! doctrine and replace it with the generosity of His message and being whole in His eyes (vs broken). What a concept!

    Your heart and your journey are what drew me to you instantly the day we met…and that was BEFORE sweet Noah. I do not know another soul that moves me as much as you when I read your writings, my friend… You make me smile, you make me cry, you make me laugh, you give me permission… I feel the shoulda coulda woulda whys and not enoughs relax their 24/7 plight in the in between spaces of your words.
    And
    every.
    single.
    time.
    you remind me what True Love really is. I literally feel my heart beat in aching/reminded/reunited/comforted/golden-retriever-when-you-come-home response…

    I CANNOT wait to hold your book in my hands ♥️

    • Oh, my friend! Thank YOU for these words and for sharing the glimpse of you in the back of the sanctuary FINDING God’s love and your story. Your words here brought tears to my eyes and my heart is full for knowing you! I love you! xoxox

  4. Darla Loy says:

    Thank you. I’m finding myself here, and realizing I’m not alone. I’ve been burned out to the point I’ve stepped way back. I love God, it’s just His people I cannot stand. Many people tell me that yes, people will fail me, but God never will. Sadly, there’s more “people” in church than “God” lately… so I’ve had to remove myself from the church in order to find God.

    • Darla, you are welcome here. I hope you find this to be a place where you do encounter God’s extravagant love for you, as well as for the people who have caused you pain. There is no shame in taking a step back, or as Jesus said, “coming away with him…” to find true life again. I pray healing for your heart in the process. xoxox

  5. Your words will move mountains…especially those blocking the Garden view so the world can partake in goodness once again. I can’t wait to read your entire heart poured out on thousands of pages. Thank you for sharing beautiful you! Prayers, prayers, and more prayers. xoxo

  6. Loved your prayer. And still always amazed at how God supersedes our expectations. Hugs and Prayers.

  7. Have you been reading my mind? Thank you for this, especially the different wording for Matthew 11: 28-30. The words are old and familiar but you put them in a beautiful new way that spoke to me. Now I’m singing to myself the part of the Messiah–“His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
    So much more to say–I’m looking forward to it.

    • No, I haven’t, but I think God’s been reading our hearts for a long time and know He sees how the culture longs to be first and foremost with its time-sucking tactics. I love The Message’s take on those verses. So grateful to ponder different words and tones than what wasn’t breathing life anymore! Glad to do this writing journey with you, Barbara!

  8. cindy jolly says:

    Love, love, love your words and your heart and your honesty!

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