When I arrived at Fuller, I looked back on my time in InterVarsity with nostalgia. Now, nearly six years later, I look back with pain.
Pain because even though I was supported in exploring my beliefs, there were some instances in which I still experienced anti-intellectualism which shamed me for my natural approach to God. Pain because while moderates were welcomed, my theology has continued to subtly change in ways that now make me question certain approaches to ministry. Pain because as a leader I actively participated in the marginalization of LGBT Christians because I was afraid to admit my own theological uncertainties and risk losing my leadership position—a choice I now see as cowardly and selfish. Pain because I cared so much about pleasing others that I “heard from God” in ways that I now don’t believe were authentic—making it harder to know how to listen to God (vs. myself, peers, or authority figures) today.
Perhaps most of all, pain because despite certain ways in which I had changed, I still saw my time in InterVarsity as overwhelmingly positive and thought I could contribute positively to staff. But broad theological agreement was not enough to be welcomed back. Suddenly I, who had been practically groomed to join staff while a student, was shut out because I felt uncomfortable with contact evangelism and because I would much rather support a gay student in joining an open & affirming church than see them abandon their faith. (And yes, the former was as important as the latter—in the case of the region overseeing Texas, it was determined I was not a good fit before we even got to talk about sexuality.)
I know InterVarsity was so great for me in so many ways and so wonderful for so many friends. Yet now, having been rejected, I don’t feel I can logically give money to support its work—despite all it does to help evangelicals think about issues like women in ministry, ethnic reconciliation, and social justice. It is now awkward to talk with IV alumni who remember me as “majoring” in InterVarsity and complicated to explain why my feelings toward it are now so complex. Worst of all, I had made InterVarsity out in my mind to be the corner of evangelicalism in which I fit. For the past year, I have felt without a place to call home. Just a few months after writing, “Why I’m Still Evangelical” for a progressive Christian blog, I was forced to ask, “What is the point?” If now Fuller is the only circle of evangelicalism to which I still feel connected, does that even count? If I no longer have any evangelical contexts in which I would be eligible for ministry, how is it a useful label for me?
Transition is hard. Redefinition is hard. I still haven’t figured out where I fit. I haven’t figured out if I have any reason left to pursue ministry of any sort or if I was misguided to begin with. I haven’t figured out what to think of seminary “ruining” me for usefulness in the context that formed me. I haven’t figured out how to grieve. I’m trying to at least share a piece of my story here— in hopes that it is healing for me or helpful for someone else.