Sharon Luecke
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Leaving the church + arriving

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When I finally reached the place in my life where I knew it was official - I was leaving the church, indefinitely - the waters of my soul become still.

And not still in a peaceful, calm way but still in a void-of-life way.

 

Feelings of stagnancy and numbness made me second-guess my decision many times.

 

“Am I feeling this way because I moved away from the community of the ‘life source’?”

“Is this sadness a sign? Are these tears telling me to return?”

“Should I try visiting even more churches?"

“When will I feel vibrancy and movement in my life again?"

 

But in my gut I knew that I was feeling that humid, buggy stillness in my spirit long before I left. I also knew that if I returned, nothing would change for me, personally. Something was missing. I no longer had a connection there. I carried shame for residing there. My instincts knew I had to leave.

 

So the past several years have been just that. Leaving.

 

Carrying anxiety about what will happen when family finds out that I’m *leaving*.

Bearing the weight of vulnerability that comes from *leaving*.

Not knowing how to make friends because I’m *leaving* the community that has provided them.

Fumbling for directions elsewhere because I’m *leaving*.

Facing prying questions about why I’m *leaving.*

 

January - leaving.

February - leaving.

March - leaving.

April - leaving.

May - leaving.

June - leaving.

July - leaving.

August - leaving.

September - leaving.

October - leaving.

November - leaving.

December - leaving.

[rinse & repeat]

 

And that’s the problem. I’ve spent years living my life as if I was leaving something, When the truth is that some time ago, I left.

 

I left. And all of the time since then has been arriving.

 

Making the conscious decision to leave one thing is choosing another.

 

It is not just loss. It is gain.

It is not just grief. It is joy.

It is not just saying no. It is saying yes.

It is not just questions. It is answers.

 

And most importantly, it’s not automatically "leaving behind your faith". It just might mean authentically, fervently, unapologetically going after it.

 

My decision to leave the church was not a denial of a higher power or the sacred things in life. It’s because I believe in those things so strongly that I refused to remain somewhere in which I felt they were being twisted and misused, damaging souls in the process.

 

When I was able to realize that, the waters in my soul burst forth and smashed together in the middle, making unrestrained waves of life and power and sustenance - reminding me that I am not an exile. I am a spiritual person. I am a mystic. I am a seeker. I belong. I am held.

 

And though seekers may not have a "proper" place to hang their dusty Indiana Jones hats right now, the adventures and experiences are plenty, the lessons learned are fresh and tangible, and we can travel as far as we'd like because we know that the divine is not limited to dusty pews and altar calls.

We carry the divine within.

 

You are not leaving.

You already left.

And ever since -

each step,

each breath,

each tear,

each awakening -

has been you,

arriving.

 

Together, we have left.

Together, we are arriving.

 

It is in the wilderness that the wild thrive.

And in the wild, your definition of church might change. Let it.

 

In Love + Light,

Sharon

 

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Sharon Luecke