Ok, Ok, God. Part One:

You may be wondering why I would even bother to write a blog. After all, it is a lot of work (I’m discovering just how much work is involved), it’s probably going to be tough dealing with the haters, and it’s just darn irritating to be so transparent, so honest, and so vulnerable. But you know what? I’ve come to realize that it’s worth it. Here are a few thoughts why…

1. God won’t stop bugging me. Seriously. I would go to bed and think about allll the things I could be writing. I would lay my head on the pillow and try to count backwards from 100 and instead I would find myself reaching for my phone, squinting in the light and typing a quick note “just in case” I ever wanted to see that little thought again later. People always say write about what you know. Well, to be perfectly, blisteringly honest with you, this is what I know:

know what it feels like to have a pastor lean forward in his squeaky leather chair, point his finger in my face, deepen his voice and scowl, and instruct me that he is my spiritual authority and, by golly, I better listen to his commands for my life OR ELSE!! know what it feels like to watch and listen to the types of conversations where the speaker puts their creepy little arm around someone’s shoulder (metaphorically or literally) and says, Bruuuther, I think we need to have a little talk. I have an opinion about your personal life and relationship and, since I am obviously so much more in tune with God than you, you’ll need to listen and submit to my very wise and exceedingly spiritual-sounding instruction. know what it feels like to be called a whore and a slut when you turn down perverted preacher boys for dates and they spread lies about you, knowing people will believe them because they want to. I’ve tasted the bile that rises to the top of your mouth when the disgusting, handsy ministry leader “accidentally” brushes his fingers across your hair, your arm, your back, or your butt over and over again. When you tell other church leaders about it the first, the second, the third time, but nothing ever happens and you wonder if you’re going insane. I understand the sick, helpless, enraged feeling you get watching him do the same thing to even younger girls only to then be publicly praised for his “ministry accomplishments” within the hour from behind a pulpit: the sometimes not-so-sacred desk. I know the pain it causes when someone very graciously informs you that every time you have sex with your husband, you’ll be committing adultery because he got divorced years before he even knew you existed, lifetimes before he and God were on actual speaking terms. I feel the frustration and anger when you are informed that your skirt shows the tip of your kneecap so you must be desiring a prohibited sexual relationship…even though you promised to and did successfully remain a virgin until your wedding night. I know the things that rush into your mind when people decide God isn’t quite up for the task of making judgment calls on people’s sins anymore, so they’ll help out and instruct you of the consequences of your choices: apparently God’s blood is strong enough to cover their sins, but it just doesn’t quite cut it for yours? I also know what it feels like to be forced out of employment at religious institutions because you don’t quite fit in and they just can’t control you, so the safest thing is to intimidate you, frighten you, berate you, make false accusations, and drive you out into the cold, hoping that you’ll be shamed into silence forever.

None of these things are fun. None of the injustice or abuse that happens behind closed doors and sometimes right out in the open at churches is fun. Looking back, some of these things are so sad, they’re almost humorous–almost. But at the time they all royally sucked. The thing is…I really love God. I genuinely wanted God to be pleased with me. I wanted the mysterious, always illusive, and often threatened “God’s Hand Of Blessing” to remain on my life. The Holy Spirit has always been there for me when no one else was or could be. I’ve looked to Jesus and His example my entire life. I’m loyal to a fault and, gosh darn it, I was going to be loyal to my faith. But I realize now that many “church people” don’t actually believe what they preach:

They SAY God loves you unconditionally…

…BUT…

They SAY nothing you do will make God love you any more or any less….

…BUT…

The faith that I belong to now is the first place where I was EVER told that God. Loves. Me. No ifs, ands, buts, tithes,  1-2-3 pray after me, discipleship course, baptism ritual, dress code, lifestyle rules, or special offering required. I just exist and God loves me. I just exist and the church members love me. Pretty darn cool.

Now, please understand. I’m not here to tell you how to practice your faith. I’m not here to deliver The Truth About Christianity on a silver platter. That is your decision and yours alone to make. If you’re searching, if you have questions, check out the resources tab for many different, inspiring points of views. Heck, I’m not even here to tell you that you have to “get religion” at all. I’m just here to tell you that I know how it feels to hurt. That I’m writing from the heart. And that I’m writing what I know. Some people have had it way better during their time in “the church”; others, sadly, have had it way worse. And there are more who have literally no clue what I am talking about and are shocked and saddened to hear that stuff like this is still going on.

One thing I have to emphasize here is that, even though it took some time, I eventually recognized that the words and actions being perpetrated by the self-pronounced “men and women of God” were in diametric opposition to the words and actions of the self-proclaimed Son of God and the book that talks about Him. Finally, one day, I came to a place where I decided to throw all of those people and rules away and just keep Jesus.

That is the moment it all started to change. It was gradual. It was slow and painful and I kept falling back into the same, old patterns of ingrained beliefs and behaviors, but it did change. Now I live joyfully and gratefully in a faith that practices what it preaches: Love…no strings attached.

It wasn’t the first time religious leaders have tried to speak for Jesus and it won’t be the last. I survived and it worked out.* Memories are now fodder for a blog. The Worst Days Ever are now tools to help other people who aren’t quite out of the shadows yet. And I think I’m finally beginning to understand the meaning of pure religion according to the Source itself.

So, yes, God wouldn’t stop bugging me. It was like this constant whisper: I can use it all for good. Sometimes using it for good looks like helping a friend who has questions about their faith, sometimes it looks like drawing upon discernment learned the hard way, sometimes it just feels like being thankful to have seen the darkness so I can know what the light looks like…and sometimes, I guess, it looks like writing a really time-consuming blog. 🙂

To Be Continued in part two…

*Sidenote: By no means am I saying that if you have been abused at church that you should feel and act just like me. By no means am I saying that if you are experiencing PTSD, anxiety, or struggling with even the thought of darkening a church door that you should push yourself. But may I suggest one thing? Reach out to people who you know love you and have your back. Read blogs, books, and resources (like mine!! 🙂 ) that will be an encouragement and affirmation of your struggles, minus the shame or pressure to do or be something that you’re not ready for yet. And don’t ever be scared or ashamed of receiving care from a professional. We go to a professional mechanic for our car. Surgeon for our body. And counselor or therapist for our mind. If you do not have trusted family or friends to fall back on, it could be a vital resource. Just because I recovered or someone else recovered differently than you does not mean your recovery is not just as valid or is something to be ashamed of. (I’ll be searching for and hopefully adding trusted resources and names on this subject ASAP) If you already know of some, please feel free to contact me so I can add them!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s