Out of Exile: Day Two – Five Emotions of Exile

Note: I’m using the first few days of this journey to define “exile” in a variety of ways.

As a follow up to my last post listing five exiles I’ve walked through, let me give you five words that described how I felt in exile: 

I was afraid that the few good experiences I had were gone forever and I would never enter a true move of God again. 

  • displaced – or uprooted. It was the feeling of being ripped from where I felt at home. This was especially true when I left the small church. They were “my people.” My family. To no longer have that group of friends was painful.
  • disconnected – or isolated. This is an extension of feeling displaced. Once displaced I was then all alone with no connection to any people. No peers. No one who spoke my language. Tim Allen (comedian) said that when his father died no one seemed to understand his pain. It was like he was adrift, all alone.
  • disillusioned – church left me confused for many years. Biblically, I was a believer. Experientially, it disappointed me. Part of that was being a new believer and not understanding the breadth of church experience available. But what I was told was the “right” church wasn’t working, and every thing I did to fix that (small church, community) didn’t work any better. I was desperate to find a model that worked.
  • depressed – the lie of loss is that life will never be good again. That’s how I felt about church and ministry. I was afraid that the few good experiences I had were gone forever and I would never enter a true move of God again.
  • full of doubt – a big part of my experience at the traditional church was the lack of people who saw what I saw. My ideas were continually shot down and told they’d never work. This happens to young innovators all the time.  It filled me with doubt. I wondered if they were right…that I didn’t know what I was talking about. It made me want to quit many times. Thankfully, God sent people my way to encourage me (more on that in another post) so I didn’t give up.

What are some of the emotions that have accompanied your exiles? Leave your comment below.

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8 thoughts on “Out of Exile: Day Two – Five Emotions of Exile

  1. Lisa

    The emotions were powerful. At times they scared me. Often the emotions “felt” like they were mastering me more than I was mastering them. Panic attacks with a great desire to “run” somewhere or “escape”. I felt hemmed and walled in ( like Hosea 2:6).Each wave that smacked us head-on sent me through the stages of grief (denial, lots of anger, bargaining, acceptance). Then there was the wretched loneliness-(that would have destroyed me if I hadn’t learn to be a wise steward of it). Feelings of embarrassment, fear, rejection and abandonment all had to be addressed. I had to uproot the bitterness. I would say most definitely there was bewilderment- confusion resulting in failure to understand-how all this “exile madness” was connected. I had to confront this sense of “dread” and felt like death was stalking my family most of the time. It felt very surreal at the time.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Thanks for the honesty Lisa. It helps people to own their own emotions when they see others do it. “Dread” is another “D” word that describes exile well. It’s that impending fear that the other shoe will drop and snuff you out. It’s so odd that the exile experience create such intense emotions in us but from the outside looking in, most people have no idea that we feel of these things.

  2. Dawn

    Thanks for the posts on exile.

    My church rejected me because they had immature leaders and a interim pastor who came and bullied me relentlessly as he shmoozed the leadership. In the end they believed they could not live without him. I lost my church family, job, and friendships in one single moment. And must now live in that community and continue to be shunned.

    I know I am in exile, even though my husband got a job in a mega-church and we are there until either he retires or I find a position. God gave me Jer. 29:4-7 after many months of struggling with the emotions you mentioned. Because I am in my mid-fifties, I do struggle with wondering if God is shelving me and that was all there is for me as a pastor who happens to be a woman. Add to it, God allowed us to be in exile in a church that doe not affirm women as leaders/pastors. Jokingly, my husband and I remind ourselves that I must stand slightly behind him, smile a lot, and keep my true self hidden. So I am learning how to plant a garden of hard soil and figure out how to reproduce healthy fruit in a seemingly incompatible environment.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Thanks Dawn. I remember hearing a song, six months after I was forced out of a church, that I used to lead in worship. I immediately started weeping because I realized that my community was no more. Like you said, I lost my family in a single moment. I didn’t realize the loss I had experienced until I heard the song. It cut deep.

      I’ve heard from many women in ministry about their exile. I will be talking about this in days to come, but the invalidation that so many women experience is devastating. I’m writing this series for people like you. I don’t want you to give up or give in. I want to be one of the voices in the wilderness that God sends to encourage you to keep walking. God still has good things for you.

  3. Christopher MacDonald

    As the three of you have shared to one degree or another…an utter loss across all categories in a day. I had to live in the same town (A large metropolitan one) because I had two young sons who needed a father). I moved downtown into a small apartment with no phone and no one knew where I lived. I took a job that was utterly non-public (working in a large industrial print factory). Christians stayed away from downtown. That is where Bohemians, artists and Buddhists hung out. I liked that and they liked me plenty. I drank too much at night because I had been a sensitive man and I was howling with despair and remorse. I wanted to die.

    But I had two sons who needed me to live. They were awfully young and didn’t understand.

    I spent maybe a month away from church…not from Jesus. No…I needed Him daily just to move. He met me…even when I drank. I wasn;t angry at others. I was angry at myself. Anger at others would come later when they started to hunt me.

    I chose a Liberal church to start going to because I knew they would get into my stuff. Sure enough they didnit, but the pastor there who was so empathetic to me ended up crashing and burning just like I did a year later (an affair at 50…I had been just 28). I didn’t judge him at all. It just kind of made some of his counsel seem a little light-handed.. or perhaps…suspect. Like maybe he had been a little soft on me. I had always felt that you could have lovingkindness and truth together…just that Christians had a hard time doing both at once.

    I had been a very public figure (big church and a rising star) so if I went anywhere in the Burbs I was recognized and disdained. Downtown, few knew that I was a Believer at first. I got known the cafe’s and coffeehouses doing “word-jams” and poetry readings. I became a part of the community and was often teamed up to read with the most anti-religious readers on purpose (which kind of worked as my own writings are somewhat anti-religious in a way too). So I cannot say that I disliked ALL of my new-found freedom at all.

    In fact, I found that I could now be with anyone. I was free from judging other people and the deadly we-they dichotomy to some extent (although those who do “know Him” walk in different relationship). In many ways I started to become grateful NOT to be a pastor.

    Since then I have been overtly called back for one year (92-93) and that was with great reluctance…and one could say almost against my will)…but it was incredibly fruitful. I then went back to being a reclusive writer for two decades. That “time” may be soon over. Now, I am feeling a call again which has yet to be determined, but would seem to be much more overt. Remy’s call to “finish well” resonates deeply for me. I’m still a young man…but it is the end of the third quarter and I’ve got some offense to produce.

    It starts with a book I am releasing in a month or two called “Jesus Outed in Megachurch” (which is fairly critical of the American Church but uses mostly farce, fiction and other devises to make it easier). My goals are all positive. I really like what Remy is trying to do here, which i why I write at length.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Good stuff here, Christopher. Sounds like you are the poster child for this series. I resonate with a lot of what you said/discovered. What gets me excited about this topic is that once people see the good in exile…what God has to offer in it…it’s not as scary of a place. I’m amazed at how God takes our failures and expands us as people (if we are open to it..which is, again, why I’m writing. Our religious paradigms have to shift if we want to get out of exile better people). The garbage in our thinking surfaces, is exposed and cleansed. We can see more clearly, and are therefore more effective for God’s Kingdom.

      I’m excited to hear about your book. Be sure to let me/us know when it’s launched. I’d be happy to review it if you want a little press for it.

  4. Pingback: Out of Exile: Day Eight - Eight Exiles Categories - F. Remy Diederich

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