When A Facebook Group Is Your Church

 

grace

 

I joined a private Facebook group several months ago where members gather daily to learn about and discuss grace. The person leading the group is a former pastor, now grace teacher. Many of us are former church members of a variety of denominations, and quite a few of us are former fundamentalists. It’s become the place I can go where people can laugh and lament together about past religious experiences, as well as learn about grace and love.

Many of us in the group knew God as an angry judge, or as Jason Isbell sings, He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow. We lived in fear of doing the wrong thing, of being punished, of being the wrong person, of being eternally tortured by fire, of being left behind in a rapture. We didn’t know how to live other than living in fear. That, my friends, is a living hell. Now, we’re all learning how to live in freedom and love.

Grace is the exact opposite of my past religious experiences, so it’s attractive in every way. I admit, though, there are times when I feel like I take one step forward and ten steps back. Though I write and talk a lot about grace (and sometimes live it), my head and my heart often don’t seem to connect about how radical and revolutionary it is. My heart knows truth and craves it; however, my head has been trained to default to religious dogma. I’m seven years into the unlearning process (four of them of which I have been unchurched), and still, the default to early-childhood programming is instinct.

Yet, I am becoming more comfortable in living with questions which only have mystery as answers. My concept of God wavers, but more often than not, I know and experience him (or her) as love. Sometimes, I even still wonder if God exists, but I think there’s grace for that, too. I have a group of people I’ve never met in person to thank for these things.

Instead of finding a church where I can go for a couple hours every week and burn myself out while trying to prove my worth, I’ve found a group of people who gather daily and accept one another with all our questions, our wounds, and our doubts. I think that’s the church Jesus intended.

 

If you’d like to know more about the private Facebook group mentioned in this post, email or message me for information.

 

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Comments

  1. Rebekah loved your article. I love our grace peeps…It has been so helpful in all of our lives. You are an amazing writer by the way…..<3

  2. Sharon O says:

    I think this is awesome. I belong to at least three Facebook groups.

  3. Thanks for writing this. For the past several years I’ve been going through a re-evaluation of my faith and learning that my beliefs about God were flat out wrong. I’ve come to realize that I can’t deny the lense through which I view God, but I wonder if there is another way to live and/or share the gospel, by starting with Love first and emphasizing how much we are truly loved for who we are. We are accepted. We are enough. Period. And perhaps our pursuit should be one of finding the love that exists in the world and learning how be more like that, rather than focusing most of our attention on our individual sins -which I’ve come to believe have more to do with our humanity and how we were raised (along with psychology, hormones, nutrition, stress,etc.) more than it does with any inherent flaw in who we really are. But if we are to focus on sin, it should be on the collective sin that we (as the body of Christ), continue to allow (like poverty, lack of food and clean water, racism, injustice etc). I believe we were all created in love and our lives will end in love, and not in some sort of judgment. Our personal sins (lust, greed, lying, gluttony-whatever they may be) are really distractions that keep us from moving in the direction of love. I think that being a parent, experiencing several friends and family members pass away in the last several years, along with my own failures and general life experience have brought me to this point. My therapist, a book called Effortless Mastery, Brene Brown’s, Paulo Coehlo’s and Richard Rohr’s writings and talks with friends about what Richard Rohr calls second half of life “stuff”, have all been super helpful as I’ve been trying to make sense and reconcile my “first half of life” with where I am now. And I’m finding peace in not having to know “how God works” or in jumping through any self (or church imposed hoops) to feel like I’m getting closer to God. I think (for us who were raised in the church and taught to fear), this whole God thing is so much bigger, amazing and mind blowing than we were ever led to believe. God just is. Words don’t do him/her justice. It’s a mystery. This whole idea of death and resurrection, the hero’s journey etc are all around us in nature, in the people we know and the stories we read. I’m beginning to see it in my life too. Everything points to this great mystery. And part of that mystery I believe has to do with the idea that Grace is being accepted just as we are, now. We will ALWAYS be accepted just as we are now. And there is nothing we can do to change that. We ARE loved, really loved and all we have is now.

    • I echo a resounding “Yes!” to everything you’ve written. I call what I’ve been through “the great undoing.” lol. I’m not sure I would still be here if I hadn’t experienced Love and Grace. I couldn’t keep up with the rules anymore, yet my own failures kept me in deep shame. I’ve come to realize we are simply humanity (with all our flaws) wrapped in grace.

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