Thursday, February 24, 2011


Some days, when I think about my faith, I feel hopeless and lost. Being a Christian, a GOOD Christian was my sole identity for 25 years. Saving the lost was my true purpose--THE reason why I existed in the world. But now that pieces of my understanding of Christianity are falling away, I'm not sure what I'm going to be left with.

I'm sad and resigned because it often feels like all or nothing. Like I have to make this HUGE choice--either believe everything I have ever been taught or held to be true over a lifetime of 'evangelical zeal', or walk away entirely. Sometimes I really believe that those are my only two options.

But sometimes, in a teeny corner of my heart--I see a pinprick of light. I read Kathleen Norris, and I hear something--barely audible-- a whisper: 'hold on...' and I suspect that maybe my options aren't so limited after all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thank You Tony Campolo

I remember reading something that Tony Campolo wrote years ago about homosexuality. He said that he and his wife didn't share the same views as to whether being gay was a sin or not. (Maybe it was the book 'Adventures in Missing the Point?).

This shook me up--I was FLOORED by the nonchalant way he mentioned their difference of opinion. I thought (at the time) that the most important part of being a Christian was having the 'right' beliefs. I remember thinking, how on earth are they still married if they don't agree on something as fundamental as THAT?! What if that ever happens to Dan and I? Won't we be 'unequally yoked?'

Lately, as I have been seriously reevaluating my faith, I have pictured Tony and his wife--calmly, and with much love and deep respect--allowing the other to have a different view.

And that gives me peace.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Lately I've been evaluating the things I am telling myself. What I am discovering is that much of my anxiety about this comes from way deep inside me where all of my expectations and assumptions and filters and rules live--the ones I don't even think about. I have this invisible steel frame of 'shoulds' and 'supposed to's' that rule my life, with or without my permission.

The trick for me is to recognize when and where these 'rules' show up in my thinking (first clue: anytime I feel anxiety)--and then decide if I'm going to keep it or trash it, depending on what is actually rational and true. What is diabolical about this whole process is that these 'shoulds' and 'supposed to's' live just beneath my consciousness, and they feel REALLY, REALLY true--no matter how ridiculous they seem to my rational brain. (I should never fail or make a mistake. I should never annoy anyone. I am supposed to be perfect. I should be more efficient and enjoy domestic undertakings. I'm supposed to be a good mother and play with Sadie any time she asks me to...)

Deprogramming my automatic negative thoughts is a giant undertaking. My head aches with the sheer amount of lying thoughts I take at face value to be true at all points of my day. I'm trying to find a way to be gentle with myself, and to accept the truth about myself.

I think my struggle to 'figure out' my faith is ruled by this inner steel frame as well. Somewhere in the recesses of my subconscious,  I have a list of beliefs, 'shoulds', and 'supposed to's' that I MUST hold as absolutely true, no matter what. Even when I know they make no sense--even when I don't agree with them anymore. They still own me like a evil dictator, and their propaganda is piped endlessly into my thoughts. I wish I could blame something or someone--but I know my own thoughts are the source of my oppression. The only way to find peace is to make peace with myself--and do the work to tell myself the truth.

It's like I'm volunteering to be in prison when I'm actually free. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wishful Thinking

Here's what I hope and wish to be true: that God is WAY bigger than I have imagined, and that God is the umbrella over every one and everything. I want Jesus to say to everyone 'You will have endless chances to choose me--if not now, then you have all of eternity to decide, because I will not let one of you perish.' Or that when He returns, and the trumpets blow, and everyone in the universe sees Him for Real, they all recognize Him instantly--even if they called Him by a different name while they lived on earth. I want to believe that if God is Love, (not to mention All Powerful,) then no one would be out of God's reach. And that it would be against God's nature to send any of creation to be tortured in Hell for eternity.

Believe me, I hear all of the verses in my head that would prove otherwise. In fact, I hear them all the live long day and I'm pretty terrified that I'm going to find out they are 100% accurate in the way I have understood them.  but I still have to tell the truth about my life. And the truth is, right now, the 'good news' I was taught in my conservative evangelical upbringing doesn't sound very good to me anymore. I want a new understanding of the love of God and the Grace that I keep hearing about. I realize that I can't just wish for God to be a certain way and then poof! He is.  But I'm holding out hope that there is MUCH I do NOT understand about how God loves, and how God works.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Maybe 'Crisis' isn't the right word...

I was talking to a new friend today, and we were discussing our spiritual questions. I was telling her about my latest 'faith crisis', and she was thoughtful and answered slowly "Maybe 'crisis' isn't the right sounds too negative for the journey you have described to me..."

That really got me thinking. I've always seen my questions and struggles with my faith as something I need to 'get over', or as a phase I'll eventually grow out of when I'm 'mature' enough.  I'm now considering that the process itself is good--(though it is pretty darn scary!) and that growing and changing and deconstructing and building my faith is lifelong. 

The 'crisis' part is more about my fear; and my tendency toward 'all or nothing' thinking. I have this idea that I can't just dip my toe in something--it's dive in the deep end or stay out of the pool. My 'what if's' are huge: what if I will be totally rejected by my family, friends and community because I end up worshiping Ra the Sun God? What if one day I wake up and realize that I have to hand in my Jesus badge because I've strayed just a little too far? In more rational moments, I remind myself that I am safe and tightly held by a really big God and that it's ok if I want to look into yoga--it doesn't mean I have to join an ashram.

It's funny--if someone had come to me 20 years ago struggling with these same doubts and questions about God, I would have said sagely, and with all certainty that 'God isn't afraid of your doubts and questions, and He will lead you into His truth.' (Can I just say it was SO MUCH easier when I knew all of the answers!....) The truth is I can't go back to where I was even if I wanted to. No matter where I'm heading, I have to go forward, and keep seeking--and trust I'm headed in the right direction--even if I panic once in a while.

I've been thinking about caterpillars lately--and I wonder if they call it a 'crisis' when they see themselves transforming. I mean, are they born knowing that at some point in their lives they are going to completely change shape, form, what they eat, etc. and CEASE to be caterpillars? I imagine they are pretty horrified when they reach that wet and shrivel-y in-between place of 'not caterpillar' and not yet butterfly'. And afterward, are they totally surprised, like hey, caterpillars don't have wings! What's all this? I don't know how to fly...wait...oh, here we go...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Be Yourself

I've heard it all my life, (and now I'm saying it to my own child) 'just be yourself.' As if it the easiest thing in the world to do. As if suddenly, it will become crystal clear which way I should go, or how I should behave. Here's the problem--what does that even mean? And which self gets to come out? The one that wants everyone to like me? (that person comes up short every time by comparison). The one my belief system tells me to be? (that person tries really really really hard to get it right, and ends up depressed and anxious). The one that is shaped by my family system, my socioeconomic status, my ethnicity or my education? (you get the picture).  Who is the person I am, underneath all of the layers and layers of perfectionism, negative thinking, self hatred, comparisons, and expectations?

Well, my doctor and I are working through this issue specifically by way of a stress-reduction program that focuses on mindfulness. Basically, I'm trying to get quiet enough inside my head to see what is really there. And then to accept what I see, and learn to trust myself. We're working through a book called Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is EXACTLY what I need right now. Here is a quote that inspired me from the book:

It is impossible to become like somebody else. Your only hope is to become more fully yourself. In practicing mindfulness, you are practicing taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to listen to and trust your own being.