Working my way from fundamentalism to freedom (without losing my mind)


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Sometimes I believe Mark Driscoll.

I’m sorry my writing has been so sporadic lately. I’ve been busy with school and I’ve been fighting off a particularly bad bout of depression for a few weeks now. I’ll try to write as often as I can, but I need the extra rest lately. Thanks for understanding! 

A couple of weeks ago, Mark Driscoll decided to preach a sermon telling people, “Some of you, God hates you,” and I decided to forgive him for that. I wrote a post in which I decided that I was going to show God’s love by loving Mark Driscoll.

That post went on to become the most popular post I’ve ever written, so naturally, it got a wide variety of responses. Some people agreed with what I had to say. Many people also had a hard time loving ol’ Mark. Others defended Driscoll’s views.

And then, there were a few people who responded with something like this, “It’s just Driscoll. He says stupid things all the time. Just don’t let him bother you.”

That’s not bad advice. But it’s not easy for me to let Driscoll’s words go in one ear and out the other. They always get tangled up in my brain somewhere. It’s not easy to ignore his words…

…because sometimes I believe them.

When Mark Driscoll pointed his finger at his audience and said, “God hates you, ” I felt like he was pointing his finger at me. He obviously wasn’t (unless one of you told him about the jacket!), but his words still cut straight to my heart.

My head knows that God is a God of love. My head knows that God loved me enough to die for me (and there’s no greater love than that!). But my heart isn’t as convinced by Biblical evidence. My heart wonders…

Driscoll’s words brought me back to elementary school, when I would sit in my room almost every night and cry, and pray the “salvation prayer” over, and over. I would put inflections on different words, or switch phrases around, because I just couldn’t convince myself that I’d said it “right.” I would try to believe more or feel more sorry. I couldn’t just believe that God really wanted to save me.

Driscoll’s words brought me back to high school, when I used to imagine God sitting up in heaven, looking down at me, just waiting for me to sin so he could shake his head and scribble my latest mistake down in his notebook.

Driscoll’s words brought me back to college, when every “Jesus is my boyfriend” worship song in chapel tempted me to picture Christ as my abusive ex–slapping me across the face across the face when I made a mistake, yelling and screaming and pushing me, telling me I deserved it for the way I was acting.

Driscoll’s words brought me back to every nightmare I’ve ever had about hell. To every cut I’ve ever made on my arm because I didn’t believe God’s grace was enough. To every panic attack I’ve had while wondering whether or not I was one of the “elect.”

The truth is, I’ve spent most of my life believing that God hated me.

Now, I know that isn’t true. But somewhere deep down inside of me, there is fear. Horrible, dark, ugly fear. Fear that is crippling and paralyzing. Fear that makes me wish I were an atheist so that I could stop wondering whether or not God truly loves me.

God’s given me courage over the years to face that fear, and God’s shown me glimpses of his character that help me combat that fear.

Now I know that God isn’t in heaven with a notebook, jotting down all my sins. Now I know that he is walking next to me when I mess up, putting his arm around me and saying, “I remember when I was tempted with that sin. It was hard for me to say no, and I’m freaking God! I’m here for you–you’re not alone.”

Still, even when I can almost physically feel God’s loving arms around me, words like Driscoll’s feed that fear. Words like Driscoll’s are to my fear as water is to Gremlins (I would have owned the SAT, obviously). His words leave me wondering, “Is it true? Does God really hate me?”

Right now I’m at a loss for how to combat that fear. I’ve been depressed and discouraged, bordering on despair.

But I know God’s holding on to me.

Because he loves me.

Do you ever doubt God’s love and grace? Are you ever tempted to believe that his love for you is conditional? What brings you comfort when faced with these terrifying lies? 


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When there’s nothing else to cling to….

You've got that right, Courage Wolf!

I’ve not kept my recent spiritual struggles a secret. Anyone who’s read this blog will most likely recall a few spiritual temper tantrums. I’ve been a bit of a party animal lately- a PITY party animal (and there ain’t no party like a pity party!). I suppose this makes since, however, since the past year and a half of my life has been a bit of a transition process, and as any good musician will tell you, transitions are often marked by harmonic instability.

I suppose the transition that God has expected of me has been rather tough as well. He COULD have just moved me to my dominant key, or to my relative minor, or any other near related key (I should stop with the musical analogies. I may lose some of you), but no. He’s God, and if you know anything about God, you know he rarely wastes his time with easy journeys. Though, when God called me to start this journey back in the summer of 2009, I half expected it to be just that- easy!

That summer, God said to me, “Hey, I’m going to make you face the past that you think you’re over. It’s going to be tough, but I want you to cling to me.” And I said, “Sure God! Bring it!” But, when the time came for “clinging,” I ran to my church instead (not that going to the church is a bad thing, but I had gotten to the point of “Who needs God when I have church?”).

So, God said to me, “Hey, I’m going to throw some disillusionment your way, which will completely destroy your faith in churches for awhile. It’s going to be tough, but I want you to cling to me.” And I said, “Alright, God! I can take it!” But, when it came time for clinging, I ran to my beloved Grace College. I hid in my Christian bubble, wrapped my comfort blanket around me tighter, and pulled my head back into my turtle shell.

So, along comes God… “Sarah, you might as well come out of that Christian bubble on your own. I’m going to pop it soon. You’re going to hate it, but you know who I want you to cling to.” And I said, “Silly God. You don’t have to do that. I always cling to you, don’t I? I don’t NEED this bubble. I can quit anytime I want. I just don’t want to.”

I’m not sure if God rolls his eyes at people, but I always imagine him doing just that at this point.

Then I imagine him coming down from heaven to Winona Lake, Indiana, with a giant needle and *POP*. Goodbye Christian bubble. Hello, world. I believe I clung to God for awhile at this point, but as things got tougher, and the bitterness grew stronger, my faith dwindled. Dwindled? Is that the right word. No. Let’s be honest here. It shattered. This became a typical prayer: “I’m done with you, God. You don’t love me. You don’t even care. You’re not even listening to me, damn it! Just leave me alone. Just stop taking things from me!”

And I clung to my long time boyfriend instead. Without God, or my church, or my Christian bubble to cling to, I clung to ol’ boyfriend so much that I ruined our relationship. And we broke up. And I wanted to hate God, but I had nothing else to cling to, so instead, I crawled back to him.

And I didn’t even have the strength to hold on to him at this point. So, he clung to me instead. And he hasn’t let go. And I know he never will. And this is what security feels like. This is what peace and stability feel like. In a transitioning life, God remains the same. And I only wish I would’ve crawled back sooner.

The dust that God kicked up in the past year and a half seems to be settling (for now…), and things do not seem as bleak now that the sky is clear again. I’ve been going to new churches, I enjoy my new school, and I’ve formed new friendships, but they have not become my strongholds. Someday, I will probably forget this entire lesson and I will probably start clinging to something or someone besides God, and God will probably have to pry me off with a crowbar again. Such is the life of a finite human. Perhaps next time I will be less stubborn. I hope that I have at least learned something from this whole ordeal.

But, even if I haven’t, he’ll be there, ready to cling to me when I finally run out of strength to cling to anything else. A beautiful thing, is it not?


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Sometimes I yell at God.

I hesitate to write this post, since, with my previous posts about cutting, I am well on my way to becoming the stereotypical depressed blogger, and I prefer to refrain from things that are stereotypical. But, let’s be real here. It’s been a painful year. I’ve had to get up just to get kicked back down; I’ve had to turn around and face a past that’s been lurking behind me my entire life; I’ve had to pull more than a few knives out of my back; I’ve had to rely on a mustard seed of faith to keep me afloat in a sea of doubts. It’s been rough.

So, what does one do when the pain grows so thick that it clouds all hope? When the fog is so deep that God can’t be seen through it, who does one turn to? When everything that once seemed permanent crumbles, what does one hold onto? When Life’s mountain path reaches a steep, jagged cliff, how does one get over it?

Since we’re being real here, I feel like, for the first time, I am truly going through this alone. God isn’t here. I mean, I know He’s omnipresent, yeah, yeah, yeah. But I don’t know. I don’t feel. I pray and no one answers, for weeks at a time. Every now and then I’ll hear a whisper- “I’ll never leave you,” or “I made this day for you.” And I cling to those words for dear life. But, they aren’t enough. Where are you God? Why are you making me do this by myself? How can you just ignore me like that? If you really loved me, you’d carry me through this instead of making me crawl. To quote a song by the Fray which has defined my life lately, “You’ve got some kind of nerve.” My prayers lately have been more like one-sided yelling matches.

Is it wrong to think these things? Is it wrong to talk to God in this way? Probably. But He knows me. He knows what I’m thinking. Why pretend that these things aren’t going through the mind that He created? Why pretend that I have perfect faith? I don’t, God. Sometimes I hate you. You know that. Sometimes I wish I could punch you in the face. You know that. Sometimes I don’t even believe that you exist. You know that too. But you know I’m holding on to that tiny seed of faith. I don’t even know why I’m still holding on, except for the fact that holding on is the only thing you’ve given me strength to do.


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The time Sarah Moon didn’t go to Anderson University

Once upon a time, I didn’t go to Anderson University.

My story begins in fall of 2009, in the little town of Winona Lake, Indiana, at a little school called Grace College. Grace College was a magical, sparkly, rainbow world of happy Christian goodness, where you walked onto campus and immediately felt like you were being hugged by Jesus. I might be exaggerating slightly, but I was happy there. It was my “comfort snuggie.” Grace College was also home of an amazing School of Music which I was a part of- a School of Music that gave me a chance, even though I wasn’t exactly musician material when I first arrived. After being told by several other music schools that I shouldn’t even bother auditioning (people should learn never to tell me this. I don’t really do things like give up), this chance was a miracle for me. In short, for two years of my life, Grace College was the perfect place for me. But, then one day something changed.

In the fall of 2009, God spoke to me. He said, “You don’t belong here anymore. Its time to leave the Christian bubble. There’s more out there.” I replied something along the lines of, “You don’t really mean that, God. I am here to prepare for the real world. I’m not done preparing. I’ve talked to some of my professors and they agree with me. Plus, this must be ‘your will,’ because I’m happy here.” God didn’t give an answer to that. I thought I must have convinced him (note to self: trying to convince God that I’m right and He’s wrong is like trying to convince your dad that its okay to wear sandals without socks).

Still, I wanted to appease my conscious, so I met with a professor at Oakland University (a state college in Michigan), and explained to her my musical background. When she heard that I had not had classical training until college, she told me (before even hearing me play) that I was not cut out to major in music. I was hurt, but it was okay. I had my “Grace College snuggie” to crawl back into. “You can have your dumb ol’ sleeveless blanket, OU!” I thought. And, then I added an “I told you so” to God.

I continued to think this way until February of 2010, Grace College decided to close down the school of music. It feels silly to say, but I’m still not over the pain of the experience. Pardon the cliche, but I felt like the my world had ended. I don’t know how else to put it. But, I hate cliches, so let me try this again: I felt like God had come down from heaven and ripped my comfort snuggie away. And, now I was sitting there in the cold watching  the non-music students walking around campus, and to me, they looked as happy as the families on the Snuggie commercials that go to the movies in their Snuggies and raise the roof. But, even though I’ve been to more than enough funerals to know that my life felt like one for the rest of that semester, I had decisions to make.

After researching several schools, the choice came down to two very different ones. The first, Anderson University: a Christian School, which, when they heard about our situation, offered to accept all Grace College students without making them audition. I wouldn’t have to deal with the rejection I’d felt at Oakland University. I could finish my Bachelor of Arts in Music degree, and they offered to be so flexible with my transfer credits that I would probably be able to finish a semester early. These all seemed like wonderful advantages, but above all else, the school reminded me of Grace College. It was like comparing the “Cuddlee” to the “Snuggie.” There wasn’t any noticeable difference. They both had all the fuzzy warmth of blankets with the added convenience of sleeves.

Then, there was Bowling Green State University. The only thing that attracted me to this school was the fact that they were one of the few schools that offered an undergrad music history major. I didn’t even know that one COULD major in music history until I saw it on their website, but as soon as I saw it I knew. I knew I why I had been struggling through music classes for two years, wondering if I’d ever find a job in “the business” that I could do without having to fight to keep up. I was supposed to be a music historian. That was something I could do, and do well. It was my “thing.”

And, still, my mind was set on Anderson. I was afraid to go try to audition for Bowling Green. I didn’t want another Oakland University experience. I was afraid to be told that I wasn’t good enough. I was afraid to have to make friends with people who had different beliefs than I. I was afraid to give myself the freedom of going to a school that held events like “Beer tasting” and “Sex Olympics.” I felt a bit like Jonah. God sent a storm to get my attention, he sent me a whale, he sent me a gang of pirates and a worm named Kahlil (that’s in the Bible, right? I know I’ve heard that somewhere), and still, I didn’t want to go to Ninevah. I was afraid. But, I went.

And, now, here I am at BGSU, and its the last week of classes. I am glad to say that I am not QUITE as stubborn as Jonah. I am very glad I came here. I met amazing people (and they don’t slap me with fish). I am getting an excellent education. I understand so much about the world outside of my Christian bubble, and I think this world is a beautiful place. I’d be lying if I said my life was perfect right now, and everything were easy, and that I lived happily ever after. Actually, its been the toughest semester of my life. I still struggle in my non-history classes, I haven’t made as many friends as I did at Grace, and my introversion and social anxiety have gotten much worse. Plus, my parents want me working (i can’t convince them that Music Historian is a wise career path), and when you work 35 hours a week and are taking 18 credit hours in school, you don’t sleep. Ever.  But, for some odd reason, I have never once regretted this decision. I know this is where I’m supposed to be. As the Fray says, “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” There is comfort in that.

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