You are not for me.

"Of the increase of His peace and of His government there shall be no end." Isaiah 9:7


Exactly 2 years ago,  I quit a job that I thought I would be in forever.  I didn't know that I'd quit to become a "secular" musician. I just had a conviction that something had to give. I was both tired, and a little too immature for some of the things my job required of me, so I quit my beloved job as a worship pastor.

I'd been groomed for this job since I was 16. I missed school dances, and slumber parties. When I went to college, I missed out on entire weekends to lead at 4 or 5 services. I was an intern by the age of 18 and employed by the church by 19. 

I was killing it. I was well versed in scripture, and was experiencing God with a realness and intimacy that has kept me ALIVE to this day.

However, being so "successful" came with a special set of survival skills.

I laughed when a pastor made a joke about liberals. I've always been liberal,  but they didn't need to know that. It might tarnish my image.

I smiled politely when someone made a blithe remark about my color. Color doesn't matter. God doesn't see it, right? (Wrong.  Revelation 7:9).

I shut up like I was told after I got into a heated discussion with someone about the LGBTQ community and how I don't think it's our job to legislate marriage. Or, how I think it is IDIOTIC that being queer can get me fired or barred from serving in a church, but sleeping with someone of the opposite sex outside of marriage just gets me a tap on the wrist.

I stuffed my dissenting thoughts and opinions because at the heart of it all, I wanted to promote peace and build up the church. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, right?

So I secretly voted blue, and sat almost undetected in a sea of righteous red evangelicals thinking it was better for everyone (and my job) this way.

Then I quit and when I quit, my only "valid" reason for being quiet went out the window.

Still, I took it slow. A post here and there, a quiet conversation in a pub. Nothing too crazy. I didn't want to cause too much trouble, lest people think I have turned away from God and become a woman with loose LA morals (lol).

Then Donald Trump was nominated and I watched professors, theologians, and pastors (some that I have walked closely with) support him.

It was fine at first. Agreeing to disagree is something I'm crazy good at. I stayed firmly rooted in my liberal ideology whilst carrying on in spirited (albeit quiet) debates with brothers and sisters who don't believe as I do. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, right?

Then, when he made fun of a disabled reporter, I watched as you didn't bat an eyelash.

When he called Mexicans rapists, I watched as some of you nodded along.

When he made a joke about Megyn Kelly's period, I heard you laughing.

When he spoke out about barring Muslims and refugees from this country, I watched and read as you passionately agreed.

Throughout his entire campaign, I watched friends and people I respect, ignore, and excuse a blatant lack of human decency all in the name what I think you actually believe is righteousness.

Throughout his entire campaign, I was virtually silent.

Until this morning. It's Wednesday November 9th.

 Donald Trump will be our next president.

I get that every 4 years a party wins and a party loses. I've sat through endless tirades about Obamacare, and how you would have voted for any other black guy (*gestures to Ben Carson*). So I knew we oversensitive liberals were due for a good lashing.

Last night, before the results were called I went to bed early because I've been pretty sick. When I woke up and scrolled through my feed to see people's reactions to the results I couldn't be quiet about my anger, sadness, and frustration anymore.

Blessed are the peacemakers, right?

The thing about being a peacemaker is that you have to acknowledge a lack of peace, and then strive to create harmony out of that void.

So here it is.

Church (by which I mean this 21st Century evangelical political institution/ invention), it has never been more clear to me that you are not for me.

I have been more than for you.

I have given up more than you will know to lead you on Sunday mornings. 

My intentions have not always been pure. At times, I've been motivated by fear of man  more than fear of God, but as I fought to correct my heart, I have fought for you.

I have fought through panic attacks, and well-meaning but manipulative commentary.

I have fought through a year of counseling through forgiveness because I want to speak highly of you to people who don't understand all that you are and all that you will be.

You have fought for me too, at times. Meals when I was hungry, money when I was poor, prayer and encouragement when I was sick and sad. I have been the least of these, and you have done these wonderful things unto me, and more importantly unto Christ.

Awhile ago, I would have said your love for me was boundless.

Until, I watched you blindly support a man who has belittled and mocked people of color. 

Don't you realize that as I am a person of color, as he said those things of them, he said them to me?

I saw you dismiss a tape of him describing sexual assault. I heard you call it locker room talk.

Do you not see that as he did those things to young women, he did them to me?

I listened to you condescendingly tell me that I cannot be pro-life and vote Democrat, and then turn around and throw your support behind a man who pandered to this delusion you have that being anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion actually means you are pro-life.

I kept my mouth shut about how the percentage of faithfully committed LGBTQ parents who adopt all those babies you feign concern for is higher than the percentage of heterosexual couples who adopt.

Beyond Trump, I packaged up and hand delivered research on the use of violent force on people of color because you couldn't be bothered to consider that even though all lives do, in fact, matter, at this point in our history our system doesn't reflect that.

Don't you see that as they have done to Gray, Martin, Bland, Castile, and countless others, they have done to me?

Do you understand my frustration?

I'm not mad because I disagree with you. I've always disagreed with you.

I'm mad because in your attempt to "love the sinner hate the sin", legislate your righteousness, and Make America Great Again, you have considered me and my family collateral damage.

You try to explain why extreme conservatism and/or Trump is good for America and the kingdom of God with the delusional grandeur of an abusive parent telling a child why they deserve to be shouted at, spat on, and insulted.

Church, you are not the mothers and fathers of this generation. Only God is Father (Mathew 23:9). You are brothers and sisters. We are equals. Family. Standing on level ground. 

You have stood far removed from that reality for too long. You speak in lofty ideals and do the bare minimum to actually help people live the life you say we are called to live.

You have done a bad job.

You have broken my heart.

You have proven you are not for me. So I am no longer for you.

Don't read that as me leaving the church.

You'll see me there next Sunday morning because I believe in fighting for family.

However, I'm not going to be quiet this time.

Crack a joke about my race and see what happens.

You'll see me there next Sunday morning, but you won't see me on stage leading any time soon.

I was already planning on taking 2017 off from leading worship, but I think a more indefinite break is due.

You see I need to save my voice.

I need to save my voice to sing songs of hope in bars.

 To read scriptures in small home churches made up of those you've ostracized.

To shout Katy Perry lyrics in a club where people come to forget the weight of the calamity you have brought on us.

I need to rest my fingers so I can help lift the burden you've just laid on the shoulders of the oppressed, and wipe the tears of the broken hearted.

I can't be for you, owned by you, and consumed by you anymore.

Not only because you have proven you are not for me, but because we live in a time where people need to know that God is for them. 

Hell, I'm going to need a few days to remind myself of that too.


I love you & believe in you,

Joy O.