Back in 2006 I came across a book that set me, unknowingly, on a journey of deconstruction and discovery, The book was “Divine Nobodies” by author Jim Palmer.
Some of you may recall this book from a small group I lead. We studied each chapter together and marveled at the way Palmer could find the best in anyone he met. How each encounter was seen as a learning experience that only enriched his life. I didn’t know it at the time but this book deeply marked me and would act as the impetus to take a hard look at the life I was living and the type of faith I was proclaiming.
Over time I questioned much of what I had been taught in the evangelical church. I grew less and less comfortable with the “us versus them” tone and the “group think” mentality of the church I was attending. What was called discipleship looked very much like (not so) subtle brainwashing. I found that questions were not only not welcome but targeted me for “special attention” from those in leadership. I was invited to be part of closed accountability groups with people I hardly knew and to special “one on one time” with the pastor.
Having not grown up in the church I didn’t understand that my questions were considered dangerous and that my faith was in question. Honestly I was kind of terrified by the idea that somehow, after 25+ years that I was not actually “saved.” But, I needed to know what real faith was about and followed my heart. I didn’t know then it but my long path of deconstructing and rebuilding my belief system had started.
The process has been exciting, humbling, empowering and draining. I looked deeply at what I believed and found maybe things weren’t as black and white as I was taught they were. The process is frustrating and more than once I felt I had been lied to. I began to feel a pull (or perhaps a push) away from the church.
It’s been a long strange trip. I’m not done, don’t think I ever will be. Faith is probably the simplest and most complicated thing I’ve ever encountered. There is so much more I could say about this process, but I think the one thing I want to do at this point is thank Jim Palmer for writing “Divine Nobodies”. Your book, sir, has certainly impacted my life in ways I never expected.