2023 – The Year I Was Set Free

New Years 2024

It’s cliché to say ‘good riddance prior year, welcome new year’ and for the last 2 years I’ve also found it not to be the case. On December 31, 2022 I was sad to see it go. The year had been good as far as good could go. Now on December 31, 2023 I can say the same.

Much like 2022, I’m sad to see 2023 go. It was a year of freedom for me on so many levels. I have my less-than-memorable years which I liken to bad franchise movie sequels like Superman IV, Star Trek V, Rocky IV, Alien 3, etc. 2011 and 2021 were two such years where nothing seemed to work – nothing seemed to click. 2023 however could be summed up as “2023, the year I was set free”.

How was I set free? 2023 saw me leave my church of 15 years. 15 years is a long time at anything let alone a church.  “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” but few us is walk in it way we could. I needed to let go of the sense of security it gave me and stand alone. There were many reasons for this.

The reasons for leaving were numerous. My church did not support the outreach effort I was involved in, would not reinstate the covering I lost in 2012 when I took in my daughter, and to my knowledge never investigated how I was suspected of human trafficking. Once I left I learned another powerful lesson.

Another powerful lesson I learned in 2023 when I left my church: nobody cares – it’s true. Beyond using your gift or your tithe… nobody cares. And I’m fine with that because I don’t need either to validate me. I shared with my church some losses I’d suffered – no one cared. I shared with a pastor that the way I was treated affected my will to live. The response astounded me.

He never responded. I had previous text responses on a variety of issues in the past from him. I thought the church would at least care if a parishioner lived or died. I wondered after that what would happen if I brought a loaded gun to the church and blew my brains out on stage – if he would simply step over my dead body and continue with the tithe and offering. Nobody cares. Some said they wanted to do coffee with me. Others said they wanted to keep in touch. None of that happened. It’s true – and once deprogrammed it’s even more evident.

I had to deprogram in so many ways. There were phrases ingrained in me that had to be uprooted. Such phrases included “small groups make a large church feel small” – I’d argue that’s not true, “when you find your church family you find your purpose” – many find their purpose outside of church. I found these phrases to be more about retaining parishioners than actually for the good of the individual parishioner. Financial Peace University is an example.

It reminded me of how Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is marketed to churches via ‘Momentum’ – increase giving at your church. It’s not about individual parishioners being set free, it’s about reaching giving and capital campaign goals. At last, in 2023 I was set free.

2023 was the year I was set free. It’s harder being set free – thinking for yourself, making decisions for yourself, and walking in faith by yourself – without the validation of leadership, charismatic pastors, self appointed mentors, and mentees who look up to you. But it has required a deeper walk with God and reliance on a relationship with him and him alone. Here’s to 2023 – the year I was set free. Now here comes 2024 – Let’s fly.

One thought on “2023 – The Year I Was Set Free

  • Stephanie

    This is great Ron. So heartfelt and true. We all need that freedom.

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