Freedom

After college I worked for a Christian organization for a few months. I had worked at this place before and had an amazing experience, found my faith deepen, and formed wonderful friendships. Just two years later, things were different. I had a more isolated job this time and I had changed in those in-between years. I had grappled and questioned and shifted my worldview in that time. There were some misunderstandings regarding the job I was to do and it was not a good fit. I stuck it out for the agreed time but I left feeling taken advantage of, feeling unheard, and with a seed of distrust toward Christians planted.

Views from Camp
View from surrounding hills

At first, I clung to that feeling of distrust. Anytime a Christian would let me down, I would think Of course! Christians…!! I held absolutely no grace for other Christian organizations failing to meet my expectations because I had been wounded. I met a group of friends who had all been disillusioned by the Church in some way.

In the beginning, we bonded over our shared frustrations. We vented and processed and mocked the organizations that, underneath it all, we still loved. As we shared our stories and processed our feelings and built our relationships, we slowly began to let go of those hurts and distrust.

It’s been ten years since I’ve worked for that organization and in that time, I’ve found freedom in telling my story. As I’ve processed what could have been different (on all sides) in the initial days of that job, I realize all I have learned from that experience. Yes, I learned to be cynical but I also learned to recognize that it is best to address questions and concerns early on. I’ve learned that even the best organizations are businesses and need to fulfill certain bottom-line requirements. I’ve learned that, even if I don’t feel a situation is the best fit, I can do my best to serve gracefully. That last lesson is my biggest regret of that experience – I felt let down and, rather than accepting this with grace, I had a bad attitude the rest of the summer.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is how to embrace my story. As I shared my story with my friends, reflected on it, and learned from that experience, I experienced freedom from those hurt feelings and expectations. Since then, I’ve tried to be more aware of the story I’m living. How am I contributing to the outcome I expect? How is this unpleasant experience shaping my worldview and growing my outlook? How can I shift my expectations to view this in a positive light?

I’m certainly not saying that staying in a bad situation is always the answer. In hindsight, I probably should have left the job as soon as I realized it wasn’t a good fit. No one benefited from that experience. But, I also have learned to analyze those feelings and think more critically about situations before they reach that point. By sharing and embracing my story, I’m learning to embrace all those moments that have brought me to where I am today.

How has telling your story helped you view certain situations in a new light?

Linked with (in)courage’s Freedom in Our Stories.

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6 thoughts on “Freedom

  1. It’s good to have a group that listens to your story. Often just hearing ourselves verbalize an experience gives us the ability to process it and move forward with it.

  2. I think telling your story is a very powerful thing to do. Learning to see if from different viewpoints, exposing to light the parts you are tempted to leave in the shadows. All of this helps to reframe what happened and that can be such a wonderful learning experience as you so rightly say.

  3. Annie- I am blessed by your honesty and humility in the telling of your experience. It’s so easy to forget that the Church is a group of sinners who need grace as much as we do. A group that can wound and fail. However, many people find their identity in being “wounded” and never move into healing. Your testimony reminds us that no job, organization, or group of people can fulfill our longings. It also preaches that freedom comes from the letting go of the bitterness that wounds bring. Thank you for sharing your story and your gift with words here!

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