Hope and Friendship on the Slippery Slope

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 9.13.18 PM

Photo by Ellwantstoholdyourhand via Flickr

“Remember the revivals?” my friend Dee asks me.

We are drinking iced coffee on a Sunday morning in the small town we met, the town of our fiery Pentecostal days. The last time I was at this coffee shop, I was a teenager, sipping a strawberry smoothie and listening to my youth pastor talk about how I need to Press In to God more consistently to see the release of miracles in my life.

Everything has changed since then. Today, I have come to this coffee shop to unpack the damage of those Pressing In days.

“Remember those scary camp altar calls, how everyone would convulse and shriek and thrash on the floor for hours?” I say.

Of course she remembers.

I remember when Dee stopped coming to church. There were whispers and rumors at Youth Group about her backslidden state. She was flirting with serious sin, they said, and it all started with a hardened heart toward her leaders. We were warned, in hushed voices, to pray for her, but keep our distance.

We all knew backsliding was contagious.

When I walked away a few years later, for the same and different reasons as Dee, I wrestled through my grief and anger and questions alone. I didn’t talk to Dee—or anyone else from that time of my life—for years. I tried to bury that part of my story, until it rotted underneath the surface and stunk up everything in my life and I had no choice but to deal with it. As I slowly found my voice, as I finally worked up the guts to process my feelings for those confusing, screwed-up church years, I found a friend in Dee.

“Remember being forced to groan before God?” she asks.

I don’t remember this, specifically, but as Dee tells the story, I feel like I am there.  Kneeling in a circle at a prayer meeting, she says, the Pastor commanded the Youth Group to audibly groan before the Lord, or else they would be asked to leave.

“That was borderline cult stuff,” she says.

“It was a borderline cult,” I say, shaking my head. “It so, so was.”

This sounds so natural and true coming off my tongue now, but the process of realizing and admitting it to myself took years of painful work. We pause for a moment.

With this truth uttered between us, conversation flows to effortlessly to travel, children, God, anxiety, and therapy. There is a shared understanding between us in many things because we remember.

We are two backslidden women—to reclaim the cruel label they gave to us—sharing life with each other, laughing, remembering, and working toward wholeness and peace. We are happy.

“I never thought my life would end up this good,” Dee says.

And I agree. The thing I lived in fear of for so many years—backsliding—is the thing that saved my life. There is so much hope at the bottom of the slippery slope.

That’s Good Enough For Today: Anxiety

Sometimes the anxiety comes and seizes me and I feel so small against it.

Something little will trigger it, a worry about the future, a regret of the past, a disappointment in the present – and out of nowhere I’m having to practice Lamaze breathing in the middle of Starbucks.

Once it descends, I can’t seem to shake it. I practice positive self-talk, exercise, smiling, talking through it, prayer, aromatherapy, and warm baths, all which offer [...] Continue Reading…

When Your Faith Doesn’t Move Mountains

The gypsy had a layer of skin where eyes normally should go. He also had stringy hair with yellow flakes falling out, and a dirty unbuttoned white shirt. His home was made of cardboard, and his kitchen was a fire pit. The least we could do was heal his eyes.

This was my second Teen Mania missions trip to Romania. We had pulled up in a charter bus to the gypsy encampment that morning to [...] Continue Reading…

Do you remember?

This one is for those who have fallen away from a charismatic faith.

Do you remember the days?

The days the Holy Spirit was an intimate force in your life that spoke to you. Sometimes it whispered for you to approach a stranger and bless them with a few dollars. Other times it quietly, but firmly asked you to turn off the TV and intercede for someone you know.

The days the presence of Jesus felt so [...] Continue Reading…

Domesticating God

My friend Caris Adel is a gifted storyteller and I am so excited to share her words with you today for our series on From Grape Juice to Red Wine. I so relate to her journey of finding a God who is not contained to a book. Do you? Read the piece first and then let me know.

Check out Caris’ blog if you have room in your life for a fierce woman writer who [...] Continue Reading…