I’ve been away for nearly 4 years. I left abruptly and without much notice, and for that, I am truly sorry.
I hope you’re able to understand that after my first child was born in 2011, I started to look at my life and the way I was living. It was then that I realized I had some hard changes to make and I needed to take care of myself. So, for the last four years I’ve been cuddled up in my comfy little cocoon to learn how to exist and live in a more authentic way.
It took the birth of Print in 2011–my first child–and the weight of parenthood to realize that if I wanted to teach my kid to be authentic, that I sure as hell needed to figure out what being authentic was for me first.
When Print was born I was still very involved in a fundamental evangelical church; I was on staff at a church but was starting to feel the pull to examine what I believed and how I had gone so far past a simple relationship with God and in to an abusive relationship with the church.
At some point I began to believe that I had not only the answer to a fulfilling life, but the right answer. Even though I remember questioning it as I got deeper in, I was holding on to the idea that it was the only right way to live. Now, with hindsight I can see by looking back at old journals that it is quite evident that I wasn’t being authentic.
I took my voice, and used it to teach things that I thought were good, noble and would “save” people–and at times it did. I now see that some of my words were coming from a place of internal hurt, shame and judgement that I passed on to other people. I regret that I hurt people by continuing to be a mouthpiece for a church body that doesn’t always show love to the world.
And for that I am sorry.
It’s taken me a long time to forgive myself for the things I said and the hypocrisy that I carried with me.
I’ve learned after years of therapy and self reflection that I never actually hated anyone but myself. I could never get the outward Lynse to match the inside Lynse, in the confines that I was restricted to and trying desperately to live in–in hopes of pleasing a vengeful god. Now, I see that I wasn’t allowing myself to live my authentic life. I had a lot of shame, pain and embarrassment around struggles with my sexuality and didn’t feel like I could ever reconcile them.
I fought my homosexuality for years. I fasted, I prayed and met with counselors and pastors, in hopes that I could find the magic switch they told me I would find if I was trying hard enough. Maybe this time I could rid myself of this part of me that I saw as a plague. The further down the reparative road I went, the more I hated not just myself, but also God for making this the “sin” and burden I had to overcome.
I was often told that God doesn’t make mistakes, so therefore I was gay because of the sexual trauma I had endured. If I could just walk in forgiveness, I would be free from homosexuality. I would no longer desire to be with women instead of men. When that didn’t work, I was told that I wasn’t out of the sinful world enough and was still causing myself to be tempted by listening to music that was made my homosexual artists, thus giving the devil a foothold in my heart.
I had this incredibly dark sin that I needed to keep hidden away because of the stigma around homosexuality and christianity. Those that were close to me knew it was an almost daily struggle for me, and I was so ashamed of it. The support that may have been there was silenced by the shame that the church systems and teachings had heaped on me.
I read somewhere recently that shame gets worse the more the shamed person starts to believe they should be ashamed. I remember the little shames piling on top of me until I was buried under the mountain of shame and self hatred. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get my “sinful nature” in check. It was clear that it was my cross to carry, so I knew it would never get better and that ultimately left me feeling hopeless. After years of this cycle I had become suicidal. The crushing shame I was carrying with me daily was too much to handle and I wanted out.
I spent over 10 years trying desperately to not be gay. The church painted a picture for me of what a godly life looked like, and that became the vision for my life. For many years, the measuring stick I used to determine if I was “healthy” was based on my desire to be intimate with a man, even though that never felt authentic and right for me. I couldn’t continue on knowing that I could never live in a way that made me feel alive and authentic. That wasn’t fair for me, my kids or my family.
It wasn’t until after my second child, India, was born in 2013 I started to see a therapist weekly who helped me process through what it actually meant to be authentic. I started to do the intense work to deconstruct the mountain of self-hating shame and learn how to live my own life. I had years and years of programmed and rehearsed narratives in my head that kept me in a constant shame spiral. I still battle them daily with internalized homophobia and perceived judgement from a church-designed god that I no longer believe in.
Since I posted about “Leaving Evangelical America,” I’ve had a lot of people tell me that the church in it’s truest sense isn’t abusive or that God isn’t abusive, and the more I think about it, I agree.
It isn’t God that is abusive.
It’s the systems, expectations, culture and leadership structure of the church that is abusive.
Modern evangelical churches entice you in with their pretty lights, catchy songs and attractive people and a message that is one of love and acceptance. It’s only once you’re in that you’re expected to fall in line and start to climb the ranks that it gets abusive. Control begins as they portray an angry, vengeful God that doesn’t want anything to do with you if you aren’t conforming to their box of standards or expectations.
Pleasing God becomes an elusive dangling carrot that you can never seem to get, an abusive father that you can never quite please, no matter what lengths you go to or how hard you try.
Here’s the dirty little secret–when the church holds the measuring stick to determine if God is pleased with your life, you will never be able to please God. This the real abuse.
At no point was I entitled to pleasing God, because I always had to submit to church leaders, acting as middle men between me and God. It discounted my own experience and invalided the unique relationship with God I was initially offered when I started my journey in church.
When you allow the church to act as your judge and jury, you are never empowered to make your own decisions.
I helped hold that measuring stick. Sometimes even on the former pages of this blog. And for that I am sorry. For many years I thought I had it right and knew the secret hacks to live and tried to share them with as many people as I could, and for that I am sorry. I don’t know what is best for anyone else but myself, and I hope to always encourage people to follow what they see as right for their lives, since they’re the ones living it.
I’ve personally found an authentic life that is mine, a life that lets me hold the measuring stick for health and happiness. A life that I hope to use to help others.
I’m sorry that I’ve used my voice to do more harm than good.
This time I am going to use my voice for good.
I’m reclaiming my voice.