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Letter from a Backslider



written 25 June, 2011

I was digging through some old papers recently, and I came across this one, sent from a member of the Jesus Christians back when we existed as a community. It came after this person had gone through a patch where they were feeling disgruntled and upset with how things were going. I felt that they expressed well, some of the issues that one needs to deal with under such circumstances.
Dear Dave and Cherry and the rest of the community.
Thanks for your emails and your patience.
I feel a bit embarrassed about my recent outburst, but in some ways it feels good to have brought those thoughts out into the light. When I think about it rationally I know that I have lived a very blessed life, with heaps of travelling, good friends and great purpose, really making the World a better place. I need to keep reminding myself of this.
And thanks for reminding me that all these things have come from choices that I have made. I'm sorry I forgot that and allowed bitterness to blind me to that and blame you for the consequences of those choices. Every choice has good sides and bad sides and I need to be responsible for the choices that I have made accepting that the "bad" sides were part of my choice too. But really the "bad" sides are not all that bad anyway!
Someone asked me this morning how God fits into my vision of a life of freedom and I had to admit that he doesn't and that I have not been thinking about him in all this.
As you said, to even consider a selfish life means that you must ignore the bigger vision of reaching the World. I have not been asking God what he wants me to do. Instead I have been selfishly focussing on "surviving". I think considering losing everything I care about has helped me to deal with that selfish spirit.
I think a lot of my motivations for joining the community and decisions I have made while being here have not been particularly spiritual. (i.e. wanting to be loved, wanting to feel safe, wanting to travel, wanting to be comfortable, etc). But I think I have made a lot of good choices too and they were all my choices. I do think that having a clear conscience was high on my priorities when I first started following God and I have become somewhat jaded. I'm sorry that I have let it slip down the list. I seem to be more concerned about being comfortable and escaping from responsibilities these days, which is bad. I need to get back to my first love and my enthusiasm for life.
I don't think that I am so far gone that I want to walk away from God just to do my own thing, but it is true that I have allowed myself to get double minded, and I'm sorry for that. Being faced with the reality of losing the people and the life that I love has helped me to be more serious about getting back on the rails. However, as you can see, I am still focusing more on loving people than loving God. I think that is a feature with me since I first joined.
I think that is what has been happening to me over the years (and it's my fault for neglecting my relationship with God), that I have been wearing down and reducing and reducing my vision to try and make it manageable, until it has become a vision of just me. It's my fault because God could have kept me inspired and on the rails if I had just been reaching out to him more.
These thoughts of blaming other people for choices I have made usually come up when I am reacting to criticism or feeling cranky about something. When I calm down I can see that I am just putting my problems onto other people. I'm sorry for doing that. When I'm in my right mind, I don't feel that I have wasted my time with you at all. In fact when I think about it, our lives together have been packed with purpose and meaning. And when I remember where I was heading before I joined I think God sent you along to literally SAVE my life, and I'm very thankful for that. I was running headlong into many things that could have been the end of me.
I think my thoughts of rebellion are coming from a mixture of pride and laziness. Each one protecting the other. When I'm lazy and get corrected, I react out of pride and say to myself "surely I'm old enough to be able to choose to be lazy if I want to", but of course when I do that I am not thinking about the consequences of that attitude (i.e. destroying my conscience, losing fellowship, losing my way spiritually), and I am making it into a battle between me and the leader instead of realising that it is my free choice. I could leave and be lazy, if that is really what is most important to me, but if I had the vision I would be asking God what he wants me to do. He may say to take a break, or he may say not to. But the big picture is that he has a plan for us and it's a million times better than anything that we could come up with. Even if it seems a bit tough now, if we trust him, it will work out for the best. (Not that I need to tell you guys any of this. I'm just giving myself a pep talk).
I have decided that what I really want is to follow God, and I will try to accept all the consequences of that choice, whatever they may be. I feel that God has a plan for my life and I would like to be a part of that plan. I'm thinking of the quote "God saves the very best for those who leave the choices up to him" and I'm convinced that that is the best and wisest choice to make. I'm sorry that I have been double minded and for allowing the "greener pastures" syndrome to creep into my thinking and I'm sorry for allowing that to make me bitter against you.
In response to what you said in your email Dave, I do hope that if I ever did leave that it would be a smooth transition and that I would not be bitter against anyone or feel the need to renounce all the wonderful things we have done together.
Love xxxxxx


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