I grew up in the Hobbiton of the Baptist denomination in the Bible Belt of the DFW area of Texas. When the time came, I was given the one ring of religious beliefs that I’d inherited and learned my whole life. It was a relatively quiet life. Good to an extent. But one day that all changed. I couldn’t keep going as I was. The ring had a hold of me, and I needed to be free of it. The God I knew was not like Jesus at all, in fact, the way He was often depicted was more like Sauron or Saruman than anything else. But Jesus was cool. Had this awesome Gandalf Jesus who protected me from the darkness of God as long as I followed the rules and stayed in the lines.
I embarked on my own journey to Mordor soon enough. Few friends joined me, but I met some awesome people along the way. Even though I’ve never met all of them in person, I can say that I have a fellowship. Though it’s small. My journey to destroy the one ring is a journey to destroy the monster god I’ve inherited in my Puritan religious soul. To wipe the lie off of my Papa and begin to learn who He is as revealed in Jesus. Not Gandalf Jesus. But Jesus.
I met my own proper guide, my own Strider, if you will, an awesome guy named Rob. A Legolas figure, named Brandon. Then let us not forget Pippin and Meriodoc. Nathan and John. Of course no journey would be complete without Tom Bombadil, Fr Bob, or the Elven leaders of Rivendell, Brian Zahnd. But as I began to change, to leave my tribe, pastors from legalistic religion, toxic folks, also, ring wraiths, began often to pursue me and spend their time trying to get me back into the fold. It didn’t help that my journey led me into the heart of Mt Doom in an attempt to learn more. I thought if I could just get religion right, get the right knowledge, everything would be fine. But in my fervor to learn and bend the one ring to my will, I got stabbed by the wraiths. A mark I will carry forever more.
I nearly became a wraith because of that. I was showing all the telltale signs. But when I awoke again, there was Rob, just shaking his head and chuckling about the close call I had put myself into. It is was now time to begin my healing journey. To see my soul change for the better.
I can go back, but I’ll never fit in. And that’s okay. I’m changing. Growing. Healing.
-The Christian Mystic