Leaving the Church Cured Me of Imposter Syndrome
A Very Cheeky and Short Reflection
Yes, leaving the church cured me of imposter syndrome. I think, maybe, don’t pressure me!
But in reality: do you know how hard it is to believe in yourself when you spend all your time believing in somebody else? And then when you do find success some old guy in the sky gets all the credit?!
I left the church the way normal people leave an unhealthy relationship: by slowly pulling away until there’s an explosive event that makes a perfect excuse for ghosting. Or is that just how a Sagittarius does it?
I also had the incredibly (in)convenient excuse of a global pandemic that made it very simple to slip into the night like Batman. I was never the hero the church needed. Except when they needed a young person to read something in worship to prove the church wasn’t dying. I didn’t even have to be in worship by the end thanks to Zoom, I pre-recorded my last few times “participating” in worship.
The things that made me a good English student are also what could’ve made me a good pastor. I was used to doing the reading for everyone else and explaining it so they could still pass the test.
JK, turns out church is graded on attendance, not understanding the material. I do still have this handy gift of being able to draw a straight line of metaphor between any of life’s inconveniences and God though. The same muscle makes me a good poet. The same muscle makes me feel a twinge of guilt for calling myself a good anything.
There’s no need to come up with your own plan or desires or believe in your own efficacy if it’s all part of someone else’s plan. You can just blame anything and everything on “Daddy God.” (I just threw up a little in my mouth.)
I was going to be a pastor until I wasn’t. It can really be that simple if we let it.
And then I stayed in ministry out of my ingrained Midwestern social obligation. We’re really bad a leaving. Alternatively, we’re really good at extending goodbyes until you’re both on the porch and shivering clutching Tupperware with taco soup while the host holds the screen door open to make sure you know you’re welcome to stay. Even though you are trying to LEAVE, Debbie.
(This is no shade to any of the Debbies I’ve known, the name just fits the demographic and had the right number of syllables. Every Debbie I know is wonderful and deserves zero shade thrown. I only have shade for exactly 3 people in my church past, and they probably know who they are.)
People think that ministry is mystical and fulfilling, and sometimes it was for me, I guess. Other times I spent 45 minutes trying to position an oscillating fan to blow on strips of paper so they wave enough that they could represent the Spirit of Pentecost on a Sunday morning. Ministry had a lot of #theaterkid energy sometimes.
However, the best part about not believing in “God(™)” is that now when I take my restorative yoga class I don’t have to contemplate the universe or holiness during our resting meditation to build it into a holy reflection by Sunday School.
I can guiltlessly imagine the corn dog I’m going to eat when I get home. Golden and delicious and good.