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Friday, January 12, 2007
Feeling Alone
These days I am very, very sensitive to the perspectives of people that I love, trust, and look up to regarding my walk with Christ. I have numerous times shared my thoughts, honestly, about where I am, emerging. Most times it is hit with a shock reaction, specifically with my dad, and a conversation that leaves me feeling very alone. Friends have done it as well. It hurts so bad. I want to explain myself more and describe that the answers I've heard for so long don't work in my head.

I feel so awkward, alone, and misinterpreted constantly. I never know how to really get the thoughts out of my head into words. I can't and don't want to argue my point, and I can't regurgitate scripture to show that what I'm thinking making sense. It just does. I pray constantly that I am pursuing truth. I want to stop feeling like the wierdo who has disbelief and doubts. Thats all I want.

Instead I feel very alone. Sometimes I've given up and I just keep all the questions, changes, and thoughts inside because I don't want to deal with the hurt. This is unhealthy, and is a complete contradiction to my personality.

Does anyone else feel alone? How have you ladies dealt with the struggle of emerging and finding people who throw the old answers in your face all the time? Do you try to fold those answers in somehow with new thoughts? How have you dealt with the people that you love and trust who make you feel like you have gone off the deep end?


posted by Meg at 1:50 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 1/12/2007 03:06:00 PM, Blogger lydia

    can't and don't want to argue my point, and I can't regurgitate scripture to show that what I'm thinking making sense.

    I know exactly what you're talking about.

    These ideas won't work with everyone, but I've found that it can be helpful to:

    1) provide only the necessary information - not everyone needs to know your life story, and some do better if you feed them bite-sized chunks of your new ideas, or approaches to life, or whatever it is (the general) you is working through at the time.

    2) redirection: it's not just for toddlers any longer. ;) There's nothing wrong with gently steering the conversation away from what one knows will be a meadow full of landmines.

    3) I've found that sometimes fear can be alleviated if the question is reframed. People may ask you about idea X partially out of a fear of any number of things. As odd as it may sound to us (or at least to me), reassuring one's friends and family that you're definitely still in the faith (or pursuing truth...or whatever the topic is) might help.

    4) There's nothing wrong with telling them that there are certain topics you will not discuss with them at this time.

  • At 1/12/2007 03:13:00 PM, Blogger grace

    Sometimes I feel like an imposter, pretending to be the person I used to be with the people that I know aren't ready to accept the changes in me.

    With those people, I think it's usually just best to walk out the changes in my actions. They just aren't able to deal with the messiness of my transition, so I won't expect them to.

    Then I find others who can listen to my feelings and questions and respond in a safe way. For example blogging has been a good place for me to process my questions.

    I guess I'm hopeful that, in time, all of the people I care about will accept the person I become, whether or not they were accepting of the process of transition.

  • At 1/12/2007 03:19:00 PM, Blogger Sally

    all familiar feelings- but there is a way through, pray for those like minded people- also a few years down the line I have found there are so many out there who just can't voice their thinking and feel safe, we need to be brave, to speak out so tthat others will hear and dare to do the same.

    Peace and blessings and ((()))

  • At 1/12/2007 03:48:00 PM, Blogger Lily

    You know, I can totally relate. The thing that has really helped me (like Grace said - she's one of them for me)has been finding like-minded voices on the internet. I know we can't live in virtual relationships, but what I've learned is that knowing I'm not alone gives me confidence. Finding people who understand my journey, even people I have never met, has made me secure in the idea that I'm not totally crazy. I am beginning to feel like I don't have to explain myself to people as much anymore.

    And through blogging, I have met some real-life friends who support me and don't question my journey, but who stretch me and don't allow me to hide out of fear that people won't understand me.

  • At 1/12/2007 04:13:00 PM, Blogger John Lynch

    OK I'm not a woman but I am a fan of this community & your post, Meg. And I think I've felt what you describe a lot. For me, besides finding a couple like-hearted/minded partners to share my burden, I've found a ton of freedom in releasing my desire to make others understand, or even to fully understand myself. I stopped focusing on trying to organize a complete, coherent solution & began looking more fully at the original problem/s that motivated me to think differently to begin with. When people ask, I normally share the problems, not the solutions I've begun to settle on. I figure problems are what motivates us to change... so that's probably what they need to hear anyway. Anyway, Meg, press on sister. You shine with Christ's glory in your quest for The Real & your dissatisfaction with substitutes. May He continue to whisper His nearness to all of us on this not-always-easy journey. Peace. - John

  • At 1/12/2007 05:05:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Meg, I can relate deeply to the feeling of aloneness you express so beautifully. It can be lonely letting others go on in blissful ignorance about your spiritual journey, and it can be lonely stepping out and discovering that your journey is too threatening to the security of the people with whom you desperately want to share the walk of faith/doubt/trust/unknowing/loving that many of us experience as a profound reality in our Christian experience. How I have longed for this emerging women community to emerge beyond virtuality and become a community of women who can hug each other and laugh over coffee.

  • At 1/12/2007 05:53:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Hi Meg & All,
    Yes, Yes, Yes. I have spent the last year more in my head than I ever have. It has helped that the faith community I am a part of helped me start my journey, and have transitioned with me. I have found a circle of people I know I can be open and real with. That has been really helpful. Unfortunately (only because it is virtual), this is where I get my "female" connection. Most of the interaction about my thoughts, changes etc. is with men in my community. I, too, long for a time where I have a great circle of women friends.
    I can't say that I have had much luck in the female friend category, but I hope someday to find that connection.
    The changes have brought both depression and confusion, but a more intense, connected faith. It hasn't been easy, and at times, has been a very lonely ride.
    It has been especially hard in my family. I feel many times that I can't "be who I now am". The few times I chose to share, I was attacked and at one point my own mother told me I was being "deceived" and she was concerned for her grandchildren, that I now was deceiving them. That was hard for me. I did finally say to her, that we would have to learn to agree to disagree. It has become a superficial relationship, which is sad, but I don't think it will get anywhere anytime soon. What I have found, is the more I learn and grow, there won't be easy answers, that many people want, about God and life. The further "into this journey I get" the less I have been able to put it into words. Maybe in time I will find the words, but right now, I am not able to articulate much. I am grateful for the few places I can pour my heart out. It is helpful.

  • At 1/12/2007 06:04:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Meg, I also understand the loneliness of the journey. Like those that have already posted, I'm discovering how to communicate and what to expect of myself and others as I journey in faith and seek Truth. Everyone has wonderful suggestions and I really don't have a lot to add to those.

    I just wanted you to know, that like, Jemila, it would be great to sit down for a cup of coffee together. For tonight, I offer my encouragement, support and prayers You are not alone!

  • At 1/12/2007 06:25:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Thank you so much for sharing how you are feeling. That feeling of being alone is a very real feeling, and I've been there many times.

    A few years ago my husband and I thought we were completely alone in our emergingness. We found some internet forums and seriously became addicted to places like theooze. We ended up meeting a few people on the internet and decided to get together to talk. So we showed up one night at a Borders all holding copies of A New Kind of Christian and from that our Emergent Cohort was born.

    It helped, but internet groups and once a month cohorts are not the same as close friends you can talk to about it. I have friends who are moving in that directing and my husband is great to talk to, but I wish there were people with whom I could completely be myself (and with some people like my parents there are topics I just completely avoid).

  • At 1/12/2007 07:13:00 PM, Blogger Jacqueline

    Hi Everyone,
    I'm really intrigued by some of your words and stories. Would one of you mind sharing an example of what some of your friends and family find so "deceiving" or "twisted" or so simply difficult to understand and/or accept?

  • At 1/12/2007 07:35:00 PM, Blogger Helen

    This was one of the low points for me:

    A pastor tries to help me

    I think the only way through is to accept: Some people will never understand or like where I'm at. They just won't. So it's a waste of time trying to explain things to them or get them to be happy for me.

    Meg I recommend you spend less time talking to people who don't understand and more to people who do. Like others have said, if you have to talk to people who don't understand, avoid or change the subject because you know it will go nowhere except to a place that hurts you.

    Remember that even Jesus couldn't get everyone to understand or approve of what he was doing ;-)

  • At 1/12/2007 09:30:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I am not really good at the specifics...
    I was taught certain doctrines/beliefs etc. I am from a very conservative, legalistic, Baptist upbringing. In my family if you vary much at all, you are just wrong and deceived. I haven't ventured too much with my family, but for instance I questioned my mother's belief and knowledge of her "version" of the Book of Revelation...she got really flustered when I mentioned other interpretations and thoughts that I had read about. I also mentioned my views about Hell changing, and that I just didn't believe in it in quite the same way, that really freaked her out. I felt, personally, that there wasn't much about Hell in the Old Testament, and many of the descriptions of Hell in the New Testament meant actual places. I don't have any better answers for her, other than I am ok with not knowing exactly how it works. I do feel that many passages (ex. about "how to get eternal life") have been disregarded or misinterpreted to fit certain ideologies and theologies.
    I don't know if that makes sense, but those are some of the discussions I have had with family, where I was blasted for ever thinking/questioning other ways.
    The biggest thing for me is as I read and study history, theology, etc. I realize there is a lot out there I just never knew about. I try to give my family grace because that is all they have known or were taught, and they are not interested in changing that. I am just not ok with some things anymore, and view many things in a much different way. I know I am not right, but it's hard to "know" more history/information and be told you're being deceived because you want to "know why you believe what you believe".

  • At 1/12/2007 10:43:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Yes, Michele,

    I empathize with the experience of someone who has not invested as much learning-energy in an area (beyond soaking up a spoon-fed dogma from a secondary source such a Pastor or radio personality.)

    When I was first moving away from fundamentalism (I had never heard of "emerging," I confronted my youth pastor (with whom I was living for the summer) about my different views women in leadership and my understanding of inspiration that does fall into the category of biblical inerrancy, and he pretty much mocked me and said he couldn't help but believe that if I read the books HE did, I would reach different conclusions. He handed me a bunch of printouts of conservative arguments and walked away -- literally. So there was no opportunity for genuine dialogue, for me to say, "Hey, I'd like to read a book you recommend, would you be willing to read a book that has enriched my understanding?" The whole experience was quite wounding for me, to be so easily dismissed after two years of studying theology as an undergrad, and I am convinced if I had been a male, he would have engaged in me in at least a debate, if not a dialogue.

    I am happy to say, I think experience has humbled this person some and although we do not see each other frequently, we are on good terms and now that I am more clearly differentiated as "not his responsibility," I've found our interactions and conversations more respectful overall. I think sometimes when people feel threatened, they sense that they need to protect themselves from your dangerous ideas -- but they also genuinely want to protect YOU -- although what you want is a friend to honor your journey and challenge you as an equal, not some kind of spiritual body guard.

  • At 1/12/2007 11:02:00 PM, Blogger juniper

    I think Lydia's ideas are eminently practical. Its not easy when your ideas, thoughts, and opinions have shifted away from old paradigms. It'd be nice to belong to a group of people who were undergoing the same journey, but (at least in my case) that's not happening. I read on-line, I blog (sometimes), and express myself that way. I feel very old having learned that not every conversation is appropriate to every place. One thing I do from time to time is ask, well what do I believe and why. I feel better when I'm clear about what I think.

  • At 1/12/2007 11:19:00 PM, Blogger Meg

    Wow Ladies (and gentlemen)! I was moved to tears as I read your posts. I mean, I knew this blog was somewhere I needed to be, but as I read tonight I felt so NOT alone for lack of better words. Thank You.

    I grew up much like Michelle. I remember one time in middle school I challenged my dad on the issues of abortion and I think he about had a heart attack. I have a vivid memory of that conversation at the dinner table, and I think I'm realizing why.

    When my husband and I were home for Christmas we went to my parents church (the church I grew up in) and we sang this song, "When the role is called up yonder" (i'm from the south). We both started cracking up in the middle of the song. The chours line goes, "When the role is called up yonder I'll be there" Later we were kind of joking about the song and my dad looked at me and said "Well you do believe that the role will be called up yonder dont you?"

    I just smiled and changed the subject or started singing the song again or something. I don't know what I believe about his question and I sure didn't want to give him the impression that the role wasn't going to be called up yonder cause are nice card game would have turned into a war!

    I hate that though! I hate that I can't just share those thoughts without my dad being "worried" about me.

    I agree with Sally that I think we should speak out...but I also think for me I have to leave behind the baggage and the hurt in order to live what I believe in love. I haven't really figured out how to do that yet. Maybe Lydia's four practical examples are a better place to start! thanks so much ladies!

    I think also being more confident in posting on this blog can be a great tool in helping to share the journey that we are on.

  • At 1/13/2007 09:33:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    I, too, tried to meet my mother on middle ground. My grandmother and mother are famous for buying books and writing out scripture then giving it to me. When I calmly told my mother if she wanted to read more about my thoughts, I would be happy to let her know some books that I had read. I got, "Well I have heard enough to know, I would not be interested at all in what those books say."

    I have mentioned this in pasts posts, but will mention it again, hopefully as an encouragement.
    Where this has been really painful and lonely, there have been moments where I am hopeful that my life will be attractive at some point in the future. Before my mother grew uncomfortable, she had told my husband that she was very happy to see great changes in my life. She has prayed for a long time that I would grow, get more involved in church, make some great church friends etc. Well, that happened, and now I work at church, running our children's misitries. The ironic part is I guess her happiness changed when she realized it wasn't in line with everything she thinks. It may or may not change her later, but I am hoping that those changes she saw will ease her "concern" over time.
    The flip side, relationships with other family members that had been so turned off by Christianity (ex. my father) have grown by leaps and bounds. My father has read some of the books, and we have had many lengthy discussions about "what is in my head"...so Meg, just keep on pushin on. Sometimes the pain and hurt propells us to new places.

  • At 1/13/2007 05:15:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

    Like Julie mentioned, we went through a lot of this same stuff with our old church. It's really important to know that you're not alone, and to have people who "get" you - whether online or in person.

    I don't know where you live, but you might want to check the cohort listings at Emergent Village and see if there's one near you. That can really help, even if it is just once a month or whatever.

  • At 1/13/2007 09:49:00 PM, Blogger Jacqueline

    Thank you for the examples mentioned. I feel challenged. I would consider myself an emergent journier and yet I, in some way, can identity or empathize with your family members who "worry" for you. I have a twenty year old son whom I "worry" for. Most of the worry stems from fear. But I am increasingly allowing him to live his faith differently than me. Part of the problem I have to say is my continual struggle in wanting to judge him because he doesn't live his faith in the same way I do. And, although I recognize how illogical and unreasonable that sounds, it still haunts me. God is teaching me so many lessons through my son. The irony of it all is that I'm sure that if I shared my thoughts, theology, philosophy of life with my own parents, they too would "worry" for me. What has helped me has been the conversations I've had with my son. They have been "dialogues of grace" from God...more for my benefit than for my son. Through them I'm learning to entrust my son to God. I feel I'm on a long journey, but a worthwhile one. Thank you again

  • At 1/13/2007 11:58:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Even though I have changed, I can say that there are moments where I think...what the Hell am I going to teach my kids, when I am so unsure. It definitely would have been much easier the other way. What I have found though, is each step is hard, but through the process God molds me and I am less anxious. I am much more thoughtful and relaxed with my thinking now than before. I admire you for trying to allow your son to pursue his journey. I hope that I will be able to do the same for my kids some day, I am sure it is not an easy thing.

  • At 1/14/2007 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Jacq, thank you for beautifully sharing the vulnerability of your own journey toward setting your son, yourself and others free and entrusting the journey to God's love. Hearing you share helps me not to "judge the judgers" :) Thank you.

  • At 1/14/2007 04:46:00 PM, Blogger My Journey

    Hi everyone,
    I've been lurking here for about a month and have been encouraged by much of what I've read here. This particular conversation finally pushed me to post.
    In some strange way, just reading how others feels alone is quite encouraging and helps me feel NOT so alone.

    My hubby and I are still in a church that is somewhat against things "emergent" (long story) and I was just telling him today how I feel that I can't be real with many of the people there as they will view me as a heretic or him unfit for ministry if I admit my doubts honestly. I totally resonate with your comment Grace "Sometimes I feel like an imposter, pretending to be the person I used to be with the people that I know aren't ready to accept the changes in me."

    I've also used the tactic of giving old friends bite-sized chunks of the new me and they seem to handle it pretty well.

    Additionally, as others have echoed, we have a small group of friends that are somewhat emergent and exchanging ideas with them helps a lot. We feel safe knowing that they won't judge us negatively even if we don't hold to the same views they or others might.

    All that to say-Thanks so much for posting and being willing to be vulnerable. That alone is encouraging to many of the rest of us!

  • At 1/16/2007 09:51:00 AM, Anonymous agma

    This journey ain't an easy one. B/c of who I am & where I live, some weeks I encounter these issues every day. The only way I survive it is by remembering that I don't go it alone; as the spiritual goes, "I want Jesus to walk with me."

    Here's my survival tips:

    -Make peace with yourself & with God, b/c you are the only person you can change when it comes down to it. Ideally you'll get to a place where your convos & actions affect other people, but you can't force them to change. So be at peace with yourself.

    -Realize that many people who respond as described above do so out of fear, so do your best not to attack, threaten, or otherwise come on too strongly. Difficult, I know, when you are under attack! But many are too afraid to consider another position b/c they're afraid it will make their whole world fall apart. What can you do about that? Say a prayer, and remember when you were there, and that we're all somewhere on that path of rebuilding.

    -Look for common ground. This has taken me farther than I ever thought possible. It has been amazing how much good this has done for relationships, by focusing on the positive, no matter how general, rather than negative specifics. For example, almost all Christians of any stripe will agree that Jesus talked about loving people. Then it's usually possible to have a fairly calm discussion about the different ways we interpret that & try to live that. Same thing with caring for the poor- and a lot of people get really energized by the good that is done, so this is a good common grounder. I've found that having established common ground on such general things, it strengthens the relationship for when the ouchier topics arise.

    Blessings, all.

  • At 2/09/2007 11:41:00 AM, Anonymous LoneStar

    First of all I have no idea how to do this but if it gets published I did the right thing whatever.

    Yes, I do feel alone for a lot of reasons. I've lost both my parents at a young age and I have one sister who is much older than I am. For some reason, she lets me chat with her as long as the topic is not sensitive. The moment I begin to share what's in my heart, my joys, dreams, sorrows, hopes she changes the subject. I told her about it and she says I don't want you to be hurt. I wonder if she is afraid that she may not be able to help me.

    Secondly, in the ministry, people have put me in a place that they come to me with their stories. I have many "friends" but they are the ones to whom I am a friend in their need...but when I try to let them know of my need, many disappear and appear only when they think it is safe and they can come back to telling me their stories.

    I long for friends or one friend at least with whom I can share both positive and negative. I don't mean to be a parasite or even depend on them. I used to have such friends but now I moved to a different country even though its been 10 years I still haven't found a friend that I can go to who will not use my need for gossip but to geneuinely help me.

    I consider friendship to be give and take.



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