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Only a Person who Risks is Free

I recently stumbled on the new blog called “Ronna Russell – Preacher’s Kid“. Her posts about her life as a child and young adult, living with her Pentecostal father, have left me spell bound and gripped. I heartily recommend visiting her blog. This link of mine should make it easier to read in chronological order, as her newer posts default to showing first (and you’ll definitely want to read them in the proper order).

She shared a poem in her most recent post which truly moved me. I think it is quite profound, and I wish I had found it earlier in my life.

Only a Person who Risks is Free

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your ideas, your dreams,
before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To believe is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the
greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing, do nothing,
have nothing, are nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they cannot learn, feel, change,
grow, love, live.
Chained by their attitudes they are slaves;
they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.


– Anonymous


  1. Birdie

    I am new to this blog. I am surprised and somewhat saddened at how many of us are de-converting. I wrote a lengthy comment at another blog that I will cut and paste to save myself time telling my story again…

    “I too have left the church. Born again at 16. Water baptized and baptized in the holy spirit within weeks of my conversion. Gave up everyone (they were “sinners”) and everything I knew to yoke myself to the lord. I burned my secular music. I went to church twice on Sundays, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I married a born again Christian man. (We didn’t even have dancing at our wedding because it was a sin.) OK, are you getting my point? My faith and conversion (at that time) was 100% real. But then my daughter was born with a genetic disease. 9/11 happened. I started asking questions of my pastor and his wife. They told me I didn’t have enough faith. At this point I still was totally faithful but I didn’t understand. All I wanted was to understand. The leaders of our church came to my home to cast demons out of me. It was then that I first thoughts of, “What the fuck?” I too have had Christians tell me my conversion was not real. (!)
    As yours likely is, it is a long, long, long story. Now I believe in a God so very different but be damned if I could tell you what that is. Your words about god allowing starving children in Africa but that same god gets your mother a parking space hit the nail on the head for me. That is exactly what I feel. The world is so fucked up. So fucked up. It confuses me to no end. Anyway, all these years later I still have the same questions. None have been answered. I believe in a god because I have to have faith in something. It is part of my nature. That said, I don’t believe that anybody else is required to have faith in anything. If there is a god and at the end of time all I have to believe in a god that loves us all and will allow (almost) all of us to be with him/her/it for eternity. Then again, if there is reincarnation there is a chance I was my g, g, g, g, grandmother. (Long story!) So, at the end of the day I have no clue. And really nobody else does either. We are all getting by on half luck, a few good choices and genetics.
    So much love to you. Because that is all we have. That is all.”

    Anyway, mostly I just feel sad now. Not because of my lack of faith but the whole “god can get you a parking space but allows children to die of starvation in a planet of plenty”. And I also feel like we have all just been left here to figure it out on our own. There are so many different beliefs and ever belief thinks the other is wrong. Who am *I* to say what is right and wrong? I battle debilitating depression and have trouble managing my own life. How can I suggest how anyone should live his/her life?

    The thing is I really do want to believe in something. I have so much love inside of me that at times I feel like I might burst. My mom died in 2011 and it hurts me in the deepest part of me to think that I will never see her again. But, heaven? I hope so but if I read what the Bible says she will not be there. My mom was an amazing human but she (as far as I know) was never “born-again”. Same goes for all my grandparents. So how can I spend eternity (with no tears in my eyes) without them and be OK with it while they burn in hell? And that is just one of my concerns. What about Jehovah’s Witnesses who try to fervently to bring people what they believe is the truth? And what about the beautiful Sikhs that I visit when I work? And the Mormons? And what about people who are just weary and don’t know what to believe? Or people who have just given up believing anything after seeing the world as it is.

    Anyway, I have hijacked your post. My apologies. I send light and love to both of you and thank you for your bravery.

    • Logan G

      Hi Birdie,
      Thank you for taking the time to write. I do understand where you’re coming from. It can be depressing and sad and frightening when our faith that was so deep and so intrinsic to our being, goes away. I hear ya.

      You mentioned that all you wanted “was to understand”. I think we can all relate. Put in my own words, I wanted the truth even if the truth was ugly or not what I wanted to hear.

      You feel sad and disoriented now. Christianity brought comfort because it promised that it had ultimate and total TRUTH. But when we earnestly looked behind the curtain, we found there was no wizard. Instead we found profound errors, contradictions, and a lot of deeply disturbing and twisted shit.

      I don’t know how long its been since you’ve left the church but know that we often go through stages of grief with our loss of faith. Someone wrote that we often go through 4 stages. This is a good post on that topic:

      I also agree that we live in a fucked up world. But I found awe in the understanding of the science of Natural Selection. That’s not a replacement for faith, but it does give an understanding of the world we live in. The world finally made sense to me after absorbing the truth of evolution and natural selection.

      But that scientific understanding doesn’t really give our lives meaning, does it? The good news is, we’re now free to decide what will give each of us meaning in life. It’s freedom. You’re no longer under the tyranny of an ancient holy book that made crazy demands. We no longer have to rationalize the crazy stuff that didn’t make any sense!

      Humanism used to be a bad word while I was a Christian. Now it’s profound but simple. Here’s how the American Humanist website puts it: “Humanism is a worldview which says that reason and science are the best ways to understand the world around us, and that dignity and compassion should be the basis for how you act toward someone else.

      Humanism is non-theistic. By this, we don’t mean to say that there is no God. Instead, we say that there is no proof for the existence of God, any gods, the supernatural or an afterlife.

      Therefore, we take very seriously the idea that “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” We are living the only life we’ll have, in the only world we know about. The responsibility for the choices we make are ours and ours alone.”

  2. Birdie


    Your words and the linked article have given me so much to think on. My brain is going in a thousand different directions right now so bear with me.

    I work in home support and today I was in the house with what Christians would consider a “sinful” house. I love the people in this home. They have welcomed me as family. They are loving and genuine. To add to that, they both have a wicked sense of humour. I used to think that a couple like this couple was sinful but I changed my mind on that a long time ago. I wrote a post in this a while back now.

    So, there is that. I was so wrong. So very wrong. It was a time of doubt. And the church did not fit. If that was wrong what else was?

    My second thoughts are the ones that maybe I am not a bad person. Maybe I don’t have sin in my life. Maybe I am just going to die and I am not going to hell. The thought sort of gave me space to breathe. But is also scares me. I live a life of service because it calls to me. I have never done it because of a reward in heaven but if there is no consequence then why not just serve myself?

    Anyway, as before. I just feel sad. And a little ripped off. (OK, a lot ripped off.) I gave up everything to serve the lord when I turned 16 and I am 44 now. Have I wasted almost 30 years? The grief over that seems insurmountable.

    Ok, I am so very tired. This whole realization that maybe god does not exist is an exhausting one. I don’t know who to talk to or where to turn. I am too tired to live and to tired to die.

    • Ronna

      Hi Birdie, Sounds like you are in a hard place right now. There is help available, if you want to reach out for it. I know a psychologist who specializes in this transition. Her name is Dr. Marlene Winell. This is her website; There is a lot of support in the group and she does therapy sessions via skype. You don’t have to be alone, you don’t have to figure this out alone. There are so many of us.

    • Logan G

      Thank you for sharing the link to your post. It was so heartfelt and moving. I think a lot of us can relate to our past hypocrisy and judgmental attitudes. I was there too! I also burned my secular records as a teenager (damn, wish I had them today!). Like you, I was convinced by the preachers I listened to that homosexuality was a choice. A sinful choice. It was probably 25 years ago that I became friends with someone who was gay. He had HIV and sadly, he died a few years later, but I realized he was a human being just like the rest of us. He had hopes and dreams and struggles. That was the first of many realizations for me that life was not so black and white.

      You mentioned about your fears. The teaching of hell in the Bible kept me chained to my faith for a long time. There was a period of time when I figured I was doomed to that eternal fate because I left the church. As I continued to read and research, I realized that the earlier stories and concepts of hell were Pagan and without merit. You might enjoy this YouTube video by 43Alley too:

      Please keep blogging! And know that we can relate to the feelings of exhaustion and futility. But life can be truly wonderful. Serving others, showing compassion, enjoying friendships, exploring the beauty of nature, music, love… there’s so much to make life awesome! If you ever want someone to talk to, I’m thrilled to hear about the new Recovering from Religion hotline that’s now available. And they don’t try and convert people! They offer empathy and compassion instead.

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