Never Say Never

Should I stay or should I go?

Here’s an interesting thing: Just when I was accepting what I thought my clear understanding was, based on experience—that I could never, never, ever go back—there was a shift of awareness that this time, in this place, for so many reasons, it was time to turn around and go back. Lord knows I had come a long way, and I had come to the point of no return…or so I thought. Never say never.

It’s complicated, and I cannot even begin to explain why. Perhaps by processing here and laying it out in the Red Tent, it will start to make sense—at least to me and perhaps to you too.

How curious that Red Tent’s prompt for October, Daring to Stay, gave me pause and a gentle invitation to at least consider the possibility of going back. I left that other place so long ago. Now, here I am, prompted by the Spirit to dare to return. To take the first step, put my big toe in the water, and see where the current takes me. Maybe full circle? Oh, I am hesitant. I want to dig in my heels, but at the same time, I am curious and will turn around with an openness and all the courage my good, wise heart has gathered over the years.

The return will not find me in the same place, for both I and the geography have changed. For one thing, I’m in a different state—literally and figuratively. I’ve moved from my conservative roots in SW Lower Michigan to the state of California. Crazy, then, to find myself in an even more conservative community in the inland empire of the Golden State. Next, there is my state of mind, which has led me down that longest of routes from the head to the heart. So, my heart leads in this discernment to return. To return to a place and people that have hopefully evolved over the years, although I truly have no great expectations in that regard. Indeed, I am prepared to deal with disappointment. Even so, the times, they are a changing. Even as I have changed. 

For the past twenty years I’ve been led along a path that spun me out to the fringe of church involvement. Too much hurt, too much duplicity and hypocrisy. I know I’m not alone in this estrangement. I see so clearly how the culture of church had cultivated in the codependent me an addiction to busyness that was fueled by fear and driven by the need for approval. 

Here, then, let me stand up and say that I am a recovering good church lady. 

Now you know. And that statement allows me to declare that I dare to stay in recovery mode. But please don’t ask me if I’m coming or going, staying or leaving. It’s a long winding road that narrows—actually disappears—on the horizon. A seemingly circuitous route where I am met at every turn by love. 

I hold this firm reality of love in my heart of hearts as I dare to stay. A recovering good church lady whose time has come to return to church and choose to stay in the tension with courage and curiosity. I am gently asking myself, with so much grace, “Why didn’t I dare to stay way back when?”

Linda Lyzenga has recently embarked on the adventure of a lifetime–moving from Michigan to Southern California to share life with her Grands. After eight years of travel since husband’s retirement, she’s ready to put down roots and play, bake, garden, knit, and watch the hummingbirds on her little piece of God’s good earth.