On December 19, 2019, I posted my very first article on Medium. As a subscriber and avid reader on this platform, I’d been trying to find a way to break into writing for the publication for months. As a writer, I figured it would be a cool way to make some extra side cash, plus a good marketing tool that could lead people to my other writing. But I waited it out, choosing to be a consumer for a while so I could see how other people were doing it, what seemed to do well on Medium, and where I’d fit in best. What I really wanted to write about was writing itself, or on being creative. I wanted to share inspirational posts that would help other creatives keep going, or commiserate with those in the trenches of a creative slump because I tend to make my home there. At the very least, I thought it might help lead people to my books so I could gain a few new readers.
And then, Trump was impeached.
Seems like a weird place for things to change, right? Well, for me, it changed everything because first and foremost, I’m a writer of the truth, and my truth was that I was going through a spiritual crisis that came to a head with this one event. You can read about it in the post below:
Trump is impeached, and we’re leaving the church
The day after Trump’s impeachment, my husband and I faced each other, a decision that was breaking our hearts settling…
When I wrote and then posted the above article, it was purely out of therapy. I figured it was a great way to tell my truth to the public and get it out of my system, but not have to talk about it in my real life because I would just be one voice lost in a sea of many.
Oh you guys, I was wrong. Way wrong.
On December 20, Medium chose to curate the story, which surprised me to no end. I’d read about the struggles other people had at being curated, and this being my first story, I felt a little in shock. I also felt an inkling of fear because my raw and vulnerable truth was about to be shared to a wider audience. Still, I’m a writer, and writers want to be read. So I stuffed those fears and welcomed the excitement that I was finally a curated writer on Medium.
I reached 100–300 views every day for the first two weeks that article ran, and was pretty proud of those numbers, especially since I didn’t share it on any of my social media channels or with anyone I knew because I didn’t want anyone I knew to read it. Then, on January 3, I woke up to an email box full of Medium notifications. The story reached 1.5K views that day, and with it came tons of claps, highlights, comments, and private messages. It’s continued since that day, not only racking up views, but earnings I never anticipated. I figured I’d make a few bucks off that story. To date, this story has been viewed more than 22K times and received 8.1K claps.
All on my first Medium story.
Here’s the thing about this story. It’s real life. It was based on a very hard decision my husband and I made together, one we didn’t make lightly and was the result of many months of praying. I never meant for it to go viral. I wrote it for therapeutic reasons more than anything, and to also share something I’d been feeling for a while in hopes that other people feeling the same way would discover they’re not alone.
And I heard from many who were going through the same thing. I’ve received messages from people who are mulling over the same decision, people who made this decision a long time ago, and people who find their home in the church but are dismayed at the dark cloud being cast over their faith because people in power are misrepresenting it. The voices that warmed me the most were those who not only offered empathy or a caring response, but also offered solutions. I received wonderful messages that told me about different kinds of faith paths and practices to explore —paths I actually hadn’t considered before but seemed like something I’ve been searching for.
Publishing a story like this, I also expected the negative comments that would show up. Not just people who disagreed with me (which is fine), but those who would react to my truth with personal commentary on my life. I made a conscious decision not to respond to anyone, positive or negative, because I didn’t want to go on the defensive, and also because I know how toxic the comment section can get. I guarded myself against negative comments, and refused to be surprised when they came in. I also refused to absorb them because every person that commented on this story, both for and against, was only a bystander to what I shared and no one but my husband and me know the full extent of this truth and the reasons for our decision. An article can never take the place of true life.
And yet, I’m human. Of course negative comments hurt. As much as I tried to gloss over those comments meant to harm me, a couple of them got under my skin. Ones that told me that the church didn’t want me, either. That told me I was delusional. That I was a hypocrite. That what I wrote was a joke.
But the ones that really got me were the ones who made assumptions about the church I attended and left. The ones who cheered my reasons to leave, and then slung hate toward the place of worship I’m no longer attending.
One person said that the problem I’m having seems to be MY church, and not THE Church — the Capital C Christian Church.
I’m here to say that the opposite is true. We have a problem with THE Church. But it became so much more clear when we began to see the issues we have with THE Church seeping into our church, starting when Trump was elected president and Jesus followers we worshiped next to rejoiced. In our new president, they saw a man who would fight for their hot button issues. What we saw were policies meant to benefit the rich and trample our neighbors. The issue of Pro-Life took on new meaning as conservative Christians applauded efforts to save unborn children while we mourned for the children separated from their parents at the border.
To be clear, politics have never been preached from the stage of the church we just left. The pastor and his family have only shown love to my husband and me, along with the rest of the congregation, and have done a good job of keeping church and state separate. I also want to be clear that my husband and I have been involved in some sort of leadership or volunteer position in the majority of our time with the church (one commenter assumed we sit back on our haunches and expect the church to serve us).
I am also aware that a church congregation is made up of many different people at very different stages in their walk with Christ, and different ideas on what that looks like. But here’s the deal. When you’re a part of a group of people bonded over a belief system, wouldn’t you find fractures in that bond if the belief system felt changed? More and more, we were realizing how different our views were from many of the people we were worshiping next to, and we began to feel like outsiders. We realized we were the ones out of place. Trump and his politics weren’t being preached to us, but they were being supported next to us, and we feel so strongly that what’s going on in the White House is wrong and harmful, it was getting in the way of being a part of this community.
And so we left.
I don’t regret writing the article, as it’s my truth. Here’s what I do regret — not talking to my pastor about it first. Because my pastor somehow came across this article and read it, along with all the comments that were directed at the church he created. Because when people read a story, they take from it what they know from their own experience. Because many people have experienced hurt because of THE Church, and now here was this writer (me) sharing about leaving her church, and man, we’re going to go after this church with virtual torches and pitchforks.
There’s a lot of cool stuff that happened because so many people have read this article. I connected with a lot of people and felt so much less alone. I was offered some good constructive feedback that differed from my opinion, but showed me things I was overlooking in myself. I got a paycheck for something I thought would give me nothing. These are the blessings.
But the curse is the shame storm that’s weighing me down. The people pleaser in me has been dying an agonizing death because my truth was spread further than I expected, and people I love were hurt by it.
I didn’t mean to go viral. I only meant to share my story into the void so I could get something hard off my chest. I’ve always wanted my writing to impact others. Careful what you ask for.