"Expectations" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
Probably the best book on marriage is David Schnarch's, Passionate Marriage¬†
(a must read).¬†
Here's just one quote:
"Crucibles are always interlocking. When one partner goes into his crucible, the other partner goes into hers‚Äì or gets out of the marriage."
What this means‚ and I've seen it over and over again‚ is that if one person commits to their own personal growth and change, the other partner must enter into their own commitment to growth and change. If the partner doesn't, it inevitably leads to an often irreparable widening of the gap between them. This leads to an emotional separation that will finally manifest in a physical one.
I apply this to any relationship, including yours with the church. Your life task, if you choose to accept it, is to be committed to your own growth and freedom. If your relationship with the church is increasingly strained because of its unwillingness to embrace and make room for your growth, then separation will occur.
The separation will begin inwardly at first. But eventually, if you have an ounce of conviction and a dash of courage, it will begin to manifest outwardly as well.
You must be free, and if your church doesn't allow it, I recommend separation.
However, be warned! Freedom, I have discovered, is a beautiful but terrible thing.
As Carl Jung
"To become acquainted with oneself is a terrible shock. It's hard admitting that our lives are full of error and self-deception. But this very admission, though painful, makes possible its opposite‚Äì a differentiated life, lived with integrity. Tears of recognition and relief often flow with the dawn of self-awareness. But while the truth will set you free, remember the psychologist Erich Fromm's observation of humankind's attempt to escape from such freedom. The truth is liberating‚Äì but only when you have the courage to live it."
Although your freedom is urgent and necessary. don't take it lightly.
Perhaps you know an ex-convict‚ someone who has lived many years in prison. At least you've seen it in a movie or read about it in a book. Their transition into the real world is traumatic and sometimes impossible. This is why there are organizations that assist these people and help them integrate into life on the outside.
So your fight for your own personal freedom is twofold:
You have to fight to get it.
You have to fight to keep it.
But it is always worth it.