Why I Stay: The Hope and the Challenge

Guys, I made it to day 29 yesterday and I just couldn’t do it. When you get home totally exhausted at 9:30 PM and realize you still haven’t written, sometimes the best choice is to let it go for the day. But no worries, I’m back today and ready to finish this thing out tomorrow (can you believe it?!).

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I’ve written about why I stay in the Church even when I feel like a misfit every week of this series, highlighting the things that draw me in and hold me close, that make some of the more complicated parts worth it. But the question of why I stay can ultimately be summed up in this: I am filled with hope for where the church is going, and I love the challenge I get as a misfit.

First, the hope: I stay because I hope that the church is becoming more like Christ and because I see it happening every day. This series has been so encouraging to hear the resounding choruses of “Me too” and to find myself not alone here. Not only that, but I see misfits starting to speak out, to call for change, to challenge the way that things have always been. Perhaps we’re wrong on some of the issues we disagree on, but perhaps we’re right. I have hope because I see the church starting to address some of the issues it’s been challenged on; issues like feminism and evolution and political agendas and social justice and environmentalism. I have hope for where the church is going, and I want to be a part of it.

But also, the challenge: I stay because if I leave, no one will challenge my beliefs or my thinking anymore. I don’t think I have everything right and I am still learning. If I left, it would be a declaration of autonomy, of confidence in myself over anything else… and nothing could be further from the truth. I’ll be the first to admit that I like a good argument (but only with someone else who likes a good argument- it’s no fun when feelings get hurt), but it never feels good to realize you might be wrong. Even still, it would be far worse to be wrong and never realize it.

I stay because I want to lovingly show others where I believe they are wrong and I want them to lovingly show me where they believe I am wrong. Maybe that sounds impossible, maybe it seems unloving.

I think I’ll call it church.

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Photo by Dean Gugler, via flickr.

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