Friday, September 30, 2011

Let Go of My Soul (Spiritual Journey Part 1)

I think I’ve been avoiding talking about God on my blog. I don’t want to misrepresent myself. My beliefs change almost every day. 5 years ago I was a fundamentalist, yesterday I was an atheist, tomorrow I may be a Buddhist. This journey has been painful, liberating, intriguing, and confusing, and it is far from over. Part of me wants to wait until I know what I believe before I write about it, but it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else who has ever walked this path. So I’m finally going to write about the things that are bursting the seams of my mind, and the events that led me to where I am now.

My brother in law graduated high school in May of this year. Husband and I were at the grad party late into the night sitting around the bon-fire with Brother and his friends. These guys had just graduated “Someplace Christian High School” and their conversation represented everything that upsets me. They were chatting about how they “hated fags,” and “dikes in the military.” They used inappropriate derogatory terms to describe the girls they know. I’ve spent enough time around guys to know how they talk, but some of the things these boys said were just too much. I was angry at their senselessness. The undertone of their conversation was pride. They were great kids and they knew it. They talked about everybody else they were dirt.

Obviously these boys don’t represent the entire Christian community, but their attitude of self- righteousness was all too familiar too me. I started to see it everywhere; pastors, relatives, friends, all these Christians who judged and labeled and ignored. This was when I began to see that religion and personal morality did not go together. I believe it is wrong to hurt or discriminate against people. But if I chose to be a Christian like my friends, I would be forced to ignore my belief and vote against the repeal of "don’t ask don’t tell." 

Why is God so judgmental? Why is he so cruel? It wasn’t long before words like “Holy” and “judgment” “sinner” started making my skin crawl. I was angry with God. For the first time I was able to say it out loud. I would rant at my bewildered Husband about how selfish and vile God was. As my anger died down, I began to hope that maybe he just didn’t exist…

When I first started admitting that I struggled with the concept of God, it was very hard on my husband. God represents everything good in his life, and here I was bashing Him on a regular basis. We fought about it a lot at first. He pressured me a little, sometimes a lot, I think he felt like I was running headfirst off a cliff. It hurt me more than anything to think that my struggles with God were driving a wedge between us. We spent many nights hopelessly holding each other and crying, neither one knowing how to fix all this hurt. Slowly however, I learned to be sensitive to him and not so aggressive. He learned to let go of my soul and just hold on to my heart.

In church one day, the pastor talked about growing up in a home where God is used to hurt. He talked about his own struggles with faith. With tears in his eyes, he promised the congregation that God loved them and wanted to know them. That God was patient and empathetic. I cried through the whole last 20 minutes. I couldn’t stop myself. The tears just kept pouring down my face. Not because I felt particularly close to God, but because another human being had been where I was now, and he was telling me that it was going to be okay. That day I made a deal with God. If he would be patient with me, and love me, and show me who he is, then I would listen, and I would let him teach me.

And so I made peace with my “god” and peace with my husband. And for the first time in years, I was able to rest. I read a little, I blogged a little, and I let my heart rest. I stopped trying to fight my feelings of anger and sadness. I stopped trying to ignore the things that I secretly thought were good. I stopped forcing myself to think, and finally let myself feel. Of course anyone who knows me, knows that I can never rest for long…………

…………To Be Continued

(Next time I’ll talk about where I’m at now and what has helped me get here!)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tired of Being Green

I try to hide my age. Most people think I'm in my mid 20's and i just let them. But since this is my place to to be completely honest, I think I'll go ahead and out myself. On Tuesday of this week, i turned 20 years old. It was my Golden birthday. I guess that's supposed to be special right? One year older means nothing to me, except an excuse to stretch the budget for some new clothes. I feel like Ive been this old forever. Maybe when I'm 30 I'll finally feel my age...

I know it sounds strange, but i really like the idea of getting old. I mean REALLY old. I picture myself standing in front of the mirror counting every wrinkle and grey hair. I think age is beautiful. I long for the day when my body's flaws will not be my fault.

Outside the trees are drooping and changing colors. You can't tell which is best because they are all so different. Nobody expects the maple to be lush and green like his oak neighbor anymore. Nobody is disappointed when the shrubs stop blooming. The leaves were so beautiful when they were born in the spring, but when summer came they had to fall in line with everybody else. Fall does not mean death and decay to me. It's the time when the trees and grass can finally escape the strict monotony of green and express their differences.

The spring in my life was short and somewhat rough. I've been green since i was 12 years old... Every birthday I get one year older and stay the exact same boring color. I look forward to the wrinkles and new curves that will come with the autumn of my life. I'm tired of being green. I know it's probably a bit early to be saying that. 20 years old is young. I'm barely an adult.. But birthdays and Fall always seem to make me wistful. Maybe when my body catches up to my old soul I'll be proud to tell my age...

In the meantime, I'm going to put on my hat and scarf and go buy myself some colorful sweaters for my birthday.

I love fall..... :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Battling Depression

Anyone who has ever struggled with depression or addiction knows whats it's like to have that voice of oposition in your head. You fight against it every day just to stay sane. It pushes you towards that bottle, or away from your friends, or into the arms of you drug. I refer to this inner nemesis as "My Enemy." She is not a physical being. She is not the demon i always thought she was. She is simply everything in me that is wounded and broken. She is my depression. She is the voice of my past abuse. She is my self hatred, and she will do whatever it takes to keep me here alone.

My Enemy had built entire cities in my mind long before I learned that she was there. She used to run up and down the synapses in my brain, shouting and screaming in a voice just like mine. I thought she was me. I trusted my own voice. For so long time I thought that the things she said were true.
She used to scream at me for eating that extra cookie. She cheered me on every time I cut my wrists, and I secretly hoped I would cut too deep. She had me thoroughly convinced that I was ugly, and stupid, and awkward. She could say anything she wanted and I would eat it up, take it to heart, memorize it…. My Enemy owned me back then.

About a year ago, I was newly married, working two jobs, and trying to fit in in a new city. My enemy capitalized on my stressed body. She grew stronger than ever before. Vividly I remember that chocolate cupcake. I made it myself, with mounds of vanilla butter cream frosting. I had one with my friends, but when they left I couldn’t stop thinking about the last cupcake. My Enemy whispered that Husband would never know who ate it. “You could have it and be done. You know you want to!” But as soon as I took that first bite, her voice grew angry, disgusted, and ferocious. I ate the whole thing in three huge bites, with tears of shame pouring down face. The cupcake churned in my stomach and my Enemy churned in my mind. Before I knew what was happening I was crouching over the toilet, straining, retching, vomiting every last drop out of my stomach.

I sat on the floor outside the bathroom, hugging my knees and staring into the growing darkness. I was scared. I had promised myself I would never do that. I didn’t want to turn out like my aunt, with boney fingers chapped from the back of her throat. My Enemy promised me that it would all be okay. “This is the start of something great for you!” she promised. She showed me pictures of a thinner me. She showed me how easy it would be. No more guilt, no more consequences! The images faded to one my aunt....
 ...I was 11 years old, at a birthday party. I climbed up on the roof of our house to suprise my cousins who were playing in bedroom. As i crawled along the shingles under the bathroom window, i heard a noise, like someone pouring water in a pool.  I peaked in the window and saw my aunt there, doubled over the toilet throwing up. Her shirt was folded neatly on the counter to avoid being splashed. I could see her ribs poking up through her skin. My aunt, strong and beautiful, was here alone on her knees....
That forgotten image came flooding back into my mind. My aunt was not free from guilt. She was chained to that toilet for an hour that day. I knew then that my Enemy was lying. She was bitter, she wanted me to be alone. For the first time, my mind rebelled against her. For the first time, the foundations of her city began to shake. 

When Husband came home from work that night I was buried deep in the covers, wide awake. He kissed me held me in his arms. If he could have seen the battleground in my mind, I think it would have frightened him. My Enemy was using all her influence to keep my mouth shut. But something within me knew that it was time to speak. “I threw up tonight” I whispered. And that was the beginning of the end.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


One of my earliest memories is of playing hide-and-seek at Grandma and Grandpa’s trailer. I was lying in the dark under the bed with my face pressed down into the red shag carpet. Waiting. There were dusty shoe boxes and plastic-wrapped blankets stacked all around me. I felt like they were waiting too, for the sunlight, for someone to open them again. Like most children, I was patient only when it came to hiding games, and I was willing to lie there all night, if need be, for someone to find me. I put my hands over my eyes and pushed down on my eye balls. When I lifted the pressure, the space in front of me exploded with imaginary fireworks. I pressed down harder, and harder, until suddenly I thought that maybe I could see a set of eyes. They were big and round and silver and stared right back at me unblinking, like an owl. Completely forgetting the game, I wriggled out from under the bed and went charging down the hall into the kitchen.

“Gramma! When I hide under the bed, I can see an owl’s eyes looking at me!”
Grandma looked up from the dishes with concern on her face. Grandpa, who was sitting at the kitchen table while Grandma cleaned, ordered me to come and stand before him.

“What did you see?”

“Owl Eyes!” I laughed. “Big round silver ones! Under the bed when I close my eyes!”
I don’t remember what he said next, but I remember my excitement went suddenly cold. Grandpa was not happy. He asked me lots of questions, and before long, Grandma dried off her hands and came to sit with us at the table. They laid their hands on my head and prayed. Grandpa rebuked Satan in the name of Jesus and Grandma whispered “yes Lord” under her breath again and again.

I used to look back on that day as the moment when Satan entered my body. Later when I started hearing angry voices in my head, Dad told me it was Satan attacking me. But I was certain that Satan had already won. Those voices were coming from the inside where Satan had certainly taken up a residence. I didn’t tell Dad.

As a kid, I interpreted my hunger and growing pains as attacks from Satan; tricks from the devil, trying to make me fat and unsightly. I remember staring at myself in the mirror, screaming in a whisper. In moments like these I was consumed by hatred for myself, hatred so powerful that it terrified me. I remember digging into fleshy thighs with my fingernails until I bruised. Once I accidently cut myself shaving. I soon grew addicted to the sight of blood swirling and mixing with water on its way down the drain. I cut my fingers, toes, arms and legs, It was sweet release. I couldn’t stop. When my Dad read the story of the demon-possessed boy who threw himself against stones and into the fire, I was sure that I was like that boy. Possessed with rage, with hatred, with guilt. Possessed by the Devil.

I was ashamed of my sexual feelings from a very early age. I used to agonize and beg God to take away the demon that made my fingers stray to forbidden places. At around 13 or 14, I had my first explicit sex dream, and I dreamed about a girl. I was horrified. Dad had once told me that the homosexuality demon was particularly evil. I knew I was doomed.

I remember once I borrowed an old News Boys CD from a “liberal” friend and listened to it secretly at night. I had to sneak the CDWalkman under my pillow because they were not allowed in the house. I made copies on a tape recorder before returning the CD so that I could listen whenever I wanted. The songs were stuck in my head for days. When I started to pray, the lyrics would surface in my mind. That was when I knew my Dad was right. The Devil was in this music. It was preventing me from prayer! I crushed up the tapes with my bare hands and threw them in the garbage.

As I write all this my mind is flooded with demon-tainted memories. I mourn all those hours wasted begging God to take Satan out of my mind, out of my body, out of my wayward heart. Who would I be today if I had never been told there were demons to fear? How much blood did I lose as I stood stoic at the sink, watching Satan slip down the drain in swirls of red?

 What memories did I miss while I hid my true self from the world, afraid they would see that I was Possessed?

What do you say to "moderate" Christians?

I got in an argument on Facebook the other day. I always tell myself to stay out of it, but sometimes my frustration gets the better of me. I was arguing with a guy who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian family. He left home at age 20 and rebelled against his parent’s religion. Since then he has “found his way back to Christ.” He claims to be totally different from his parents. He is constantly preaching “moderation” and uses words like “love” and “freedom” all the time. His unsolicited advice to me in this debate included:

“Don’t fall into the trap of hating your parents and blaming them for everything”

“Remember that we “free-spirited” kids often provoked our parents to hit us. It’s your fault too”

“Don’t be bitter and keep talking about it. You need to keep your chin up and move on”

“You will never be truly happy until you submit yourself fully to the Lord”

I won’t bore you with all the details; I’ll just show you the comment that stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t even finish reading it the first time. I had to come back later and read it with a clearer head. I am equally confused and angry, but I still don’t even know how to respond. Please read this and tell me what you think:

“As for female submission, yes I do agree that is a point that is always poorly interpreted amongst believers. You can dance with a girl, but if you control her every movements (which as a man, you are supposed to lead) she won't be fun to dance with. She'll be a robot, aka unattractive, however, if you (males) lead with a gentle touch and she submits to the direction, but you allow her to add in her own skills and gifts and ideas, she will twirl and do things that are amazingly beautiful. In a sense, dancing is life. We are constantly moving through motions (you can't stand still in life) and if I lead too strongly, I won't find a dance partner, and if I just let her lead it's just not the same. But, the idea of submission is supposed to be based off of trust and knowing that your dance partner wants you to express yourself and be free. At the same time, he, if he knows what he's doing, won't make submission an issue because he'll have genuine love for the steps that she's taking and who SHE IS as a human, and there is this great level of freedom that comes with trusting each other. I cannot say to a hand that I am an eye and therefore better...I cannot say to a woman that I am a man and therefore better...WOMEN are the icing on the cake...God made them to be one notch more special than everything else on this world. Also, Due to sin it is now imperative that a woman "check in with her husband before eating any new to speak" aka "Submission." it's not supposed to be slavery and it never was”

This was a few weeks ago, but it’s still bothering me. I know SO many people who think this way. I dont even know what to say to refute them. No one's really getting hurt, and they seem to have the bible to back them up. I don't know what to say to these people, I just get angry and uncomfortable.

Can anyone help me out here? What would YOU have said?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Begging for Spiritual Bread (Part 2)

As the water rushed in around my head, the anticipation was replaced by confusion. There were no God-like voices under this water, just green murk and muddled gravity. God had promised he would meet me here, so where was he? All too soon I felt my body being lifted back up. I wanted to struggle, I needed to stay here! Stop! Wait! Too soon!

And then I was standing up, breathing air again. I heard applause from the shore as I blindly followed my Father out of the water. My skirt weighed me down and my bare feet sunk deep into the mud. I looked up at the sky, as bleak as ever, and saw no rainbow, not even a ray of sunshine that I could call my own. Reality came sweeping back in. I was a fool, and I had done it wrong again. Behind me someone else was being baptized. My moment was over. Deeply ashamed, I trudged back to the van to get myself a towel. I imagined God was looking down at me, shaking his head and giving me the silent treatment. My dripping hair disguised my tears. How could I have been so wrong? Had I imagined the “leading” I felt? Had I fabricated to joy it gave me to believe? Or had I never truly believed at all?

My mother was sitting in the van nursing the baby. Dad didn’t want her doing that in public, even with a blanket. “Sorry I didn’t see it honey” she said to me. “Hurry up and change, that wet shirt is clinging to your chest” I shuffled up to the house with my towel pressed to my chest. I had never been so thoroughly ashamed.

Over time, I came to have faith in my own inadequacy. I was not good enough for God, but that was okay. He is god! Who was I to question his methods? So I continued to obey him. I shared the gospel whenever I had a chance, and prayed fervently for others, especially my married older sister. I idolized my older sister. She had done everything God’s way and he had blessed her with a Godly husband. At 19, she was newly married with a baby on the way. She was a living testament to how God blesses those who please him. I prayed every day for her and for the baby in her womb. I felt that I knew the baby already, I wondered who’s eyes she would have, and longed for the day I would meet her and hold her tiny hand. When the news came that my sister had miscarried, I took it hard. Very hard. For the first time in my life, I was openly angry with God. My sister and her husband had done EVERYTHING right. Why would He do this to them?

Why was I taught that God rewards obedience with blessing? Why do Christians use phrases like ‘the power of prayer” when prayer itself clearly does nothing but comfort the one praying? Why is blind faith so encouraged when it almost always leads to bitter disappointment and confusion? I was raised in home “full of the holy spirit:” My dad talked about his encounters with the Lord all the time. I truly believed that one day, God would leave writing on the wall for me, or send me a miracle. Stuff like that always happened to real Christians, right? For everyday of silence, my heart sank another inch. I spent the first 18 years of my life begging for spiritual bread and getting nothing but disappointment. I have stopped asking God for things. When I pray, I ask him to have patience with me, and show what he’s really like.

I am no longer angry with God. Either he is nothing like I was taught, or he doesn’t exist.