Eight years ago, I never would have been able to see myself where I am now. I never could have imagined myself finding joy outside of the Church. I had made the decision to follow Jesus. I did. Nobody else made that for me. My family wasn’t religious, so it certainly did not come from them. I walked down a path that showed me Jesus as the answer to it all. The Church was a safe haven.

And now, I’m here living a life so far removed from that. A life that, if I was being honest with myself, should have started a long time ago. Because even when it was me who made that initial decision to walk with the Church, I didn’t know that “yes” would turn into a submission to theology that would ultimately harm me.

I saw the signs, but I ignored them.

I should mention that I don’t hate the Church. I don’t hate Christians. I don’t hate Jesus. There are so many good things that came from my time in the Church. It was formational in my desire for fighting for social justice. But I was hurt by the Church. I was hurt by Christians. And if the Church is the body of Christ, I was hurt by Jesus.

It’s never a good thing to lie to yourself. Honesty is the only way that you can be free to live an authentic life. It’s the only way that you can create a space for yourself to press into your pain and name it. If we’re lying to ourselves, it becomes very difficult to grow as a person. We’re held back by the lies we tell.

I’ve been a part of many conversations about faith and it’s impact on our lives - a lot of these conversations were with practicing Catholics. And I always sensed a dishonesty in the air. I say that not because I think that these people were lying to me on purpose, but because in a lot of ways, I knew they might not have been honest with themselves.

Every time we started airing frustrations with the Church, it would seem like we’d all hold back on ever saying that maybe we were wrong. Maybe the Church doesn’t have all of the answers. Or maybe we just don’t like the answers that the Church has. But because we all knew each other as faithful, practicing Catholics and not those “cafeteria Catholics”, we didn’t want to share that with each other.

I never felt allowed to say that I’m not a fan of the pro-life movement at all - even though that movement isn’t inherently Catholic.

I never felt allowed to say that I don’t have any problem with marriage equality - even though that providing equal protections to queer couples isn’t antithetical to Catholicism.

I never felt allowed to say that maybe Jesus isn’t enough - even though you could argue that even God said he wasn’t enough. (Genesis 2)

Deconstruction was not allowed.

There was no space for uncertainty.

I had to make this space for myself. I had to put the work into creating a space where I don’t have all of the answers. And that’s me being honest with myself. It’s okay that I don’t know everything about God. I’m allowed to be wrong. And if God is as good as people claim, God will be okay with that.