A few months ago, in a different corner of the Internet, a prominent vegan blogger came out with her decision to no longer be a vegan. She had been sick for months and decided the diet was no longer worth the misery she was experiencing. She received a multitude of comments about this decision, some people encouraged her and congratulated her for being honest with herself, and some people threatened to kill her. The most common comment she received was that she had simply not tried hard enough to make it work. Most people responding to her post believed that if she had simply done more research, or added this or that vegetable to her diet she wouldn’t have been sick and the vegan diet would have worked for her. From what I saw of her journey, she had spent years trying everything to make it work. She wanted to believe it was the only way to live, she wanted it to work for her and prove her beliefs, but eventually she had to come to the mindset that it wasn’t right for her, regardless of those beliefs and what people said.
I also hear the, “you didn’t try hard enough” comment quite often, but pertaining to my experience with Mars Hill. It always goes something like this, “You had a bad experience at Mars Hill? Well you probably didn’t try hard enough. Did you join a community group? Did you read his books? Did you become a member? You didn’t, well then that explains it.” Every time I entered those doors I felt my heart and soul dying. I was in complete misery. Why would I join a community group when interactions I had with Mars Hill members left me depressed and bitter? Why would I read Mark Driscoll’s books when his sermons killed all the joy I had previously felt in my faith? Why would I continue down a path that was spiritually killing me? I know this argument will never be enough for those who have said these things to me, and I honestly don’t feel the need to sway them. God has shown me what is healthy for me and what is not. I know this for myself and that is enough.
My goal in writing this is to offer some support to everyone else who is being told they didn’t do enough, or that they needed to just try harder. A lot of you attended community groups, you read Mark’s books, you tried so hard, “to do it right” and somehow it still didn’t work. You believed in everything Mars Hill said, so when it didn’t work for you, you felt that you were to blame. You then gave up everything about yourself to be the perfect "Christians" Mark described and felt your souls die as a result. Some of you were then disciplined and abused for not fitting into the mold. I want to tell you that you tried hard enough, and it is okay to stop. You are not at fault. The misery you are experiencing is not from God, and I would encourage you to question anyone who would tell you that it is. Your experience with church should not be one of enslavement or bondage.
Just like the vegan blogger I mentioned, my own time spent as a vegan made me extremely sick. Hearing her story helped me to realize that a set of morals surrounding food were worthless if they were literally killing me. Her story didn’t change the minds of people who were happy with the vegan diet, except to make some of them more open to the idea that a vegan diet doesn’t work for everyone. What her story did was help people who were suffering and miserable be honest with themselves. That is my goal now. If you attend Mars Hill and are happy there, I have no desire to take that away from you. My only hope is that you would hear these stories and be more open to the fact that the Mars Hill lifestyle doesn’t work for everyone and isn’t the only way to live a Christian Life.