Monday, March 21, 2016

We're here in the first becoming days of spring, and I can already feel the itch for warmer weather, for the promise of summer and adventure and romance and days where the sun doesn't go down in the sky, taking away all elegant ramblings about beginnings and endings and giving way to a beautiful, constant hope.
I've always had trouble with summer. Every year I get a little restless, a little uncomfortable, a little overwhelmed with the wide open spaces that stretch out before me, and at least for a little while I crave the comfortable confinement of winter.
But in this current season I'm in, summer sounds like a relief, a promise. Because I'm having trouble with this season too.
I remember someone saying to me during my first year at PRBI that you should stay in this place until you can answer these 3 questions about your faith (I don't remember what the questions were) and that this is a place where you really can't go wrong when choosing it.
I kind of held to that mindset when I decided to come back for a second year. I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I didn't feel totally released from PRBI yet.
This year I'm calling my wilderness season. Over and over it feels like I am repeatedly being slammed into the wall. I'm constantly fighting against something. I've encountered some continued breakthroughs, but I've also been tested in ways that have made me want to crumble on multiple occasions. Everything I thought I knew about myself was shaken, whether that's a good thing or not. And I feel it now, the release. There is an itch inside me, a pulling of "You were made for more than this."
I didn't ever imagine Bible college could be a wilderness place. It is supposed to be a place of richness, and growth. And yet it wasn't like that for me this year. And I'm learning to be ok with that. I'm learning the 'Bible school bubble', the exclusively Christian circle, isn't right for me right now. And that's ok.
I have Isaiah 52:11-12 on my wall. It was a verse handed to me by a friend during a study I did on wilderness, and I have 3 reminders written beside it. Leave but leave empty handed. leave clean. and don't rush.
And oh how I want to rush. part of me reasons that if I can change my environment, I can change my spiritual season, that once I leave this place the hard work of the desert will give way to the beautiful richness that I've been creating. But I don't think its that easy.
I think that once I leave this place, there will be a different kind of hard. My mind is already filled with worries for life beyond here as I stress about finding a job and finding a way to get the training I want and making my dream job a reality.
I'm learning there is still work left to be done here, as much as I want to avoid that work. There are people I need to forgive, commitments that need to be carried out, work that has to be done so that when I leave this place I can leave clean.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Showing up and telling the truth

"People are truth tellers. We are born to make our unknown known. We will find somewhere to do it. So in private, with the booze or the over-shopping or the alcohol or the food, we tell the truth. We say actually I’m not fine. Because we don’t feel safe telling that truth in the real world we make our own little world and that’s addiction"
I've been thinking a lot about stories lately. In one of my classes for school I'm knee deep in research on issues like gender identity and abortion and sexual abuse and eating disorders and self injury and I'm coming to conclusions about what the church should do in these situations. And as my fellow classmates pipe up with ideas about being a light in a dark world and holding to our convictions and not tolerating sin, I feel this tiny voice stirring inside of me that says "No! That's not the way its supposed to be."
There's something inside of me that doesn't sit well with creating opposing teams, creating an us and a them. Because, as Glennon Doyle Melton says, "We belong to each other."
Because I've been that girl and words spoken in a classroom about what the church should be doing are great but they mean nothing when the church isn't actually rallying around the people who are struggling, regardless of their sin, regardless of the nature of their addiction, regardless of their degree of 'not ok.'
Maybe this is a different story, or maybe its all part of the same story, but I don't feel called to be here anymore. Here being Bible College. Here being surrounded by Christians and the church. And its not that I don't love people that love Jesus. It's that I see Jesus in the eyes of the transgendered teen. When I look into the face of a baby at the women's shelter I volunteer at, I feel like I am looking at the face of God. When a teen tells me her story of living with an eating disorder or having been abused, I feel like I am being ushered into something sacred. And its not to say that all of those issues don't exist within the church. They do, we churchy folks are just better at putting on masks and pretending they only exist for people out there.
I've decided I'm one of the people out there. I'm tired of putting on the 'I'm fine' mask and not telling the truth out loud.
“I want to be outside with the misfits, with the rebels, the dreamers, second-chance givers, the radical grace lavishers, the ones with arms wide open, the courageously vulnerable, and among even—or maybe especially—the ones rejected by the Table as not worthy enough or right enough.”
I've been telling the truth. Just not out loud. I remember a moment a few months ago when I was in the middle of an episode where I found it hard to breathe and I texted my boyfriend the words 'I'm not ok.'
It was the first time I had ever admitted it out loud, to another person.
I write cryptically about how messed up I am, partly because I write naturally poetic and have a love for metaphors, and partly because I am afraid of my own darkness.
So I tell the truth in other ways. I tell it through a codependency addiction. I tell it through food, in a way that looks to outsiders like doing what my disordered body wants to do to survive but is really, underneath all the layers, a really neat and tidy form of disordered eating. I tell the truth through excessive time spent on technology.
In all of these things I tell the truth that I'm not ok.
I relate more to the addicts, the prostitutes, the bruised and battered. I understand their cry. At least they aren't pretending they are ok.
Part of deciding to be sober means I have to find new ways to tell the truth now. I thought beginning to figure out my life would be easy, but it turns out being sober gives me a clear head to think of all the things I was avoiding in the first place, and makes me want to go back to avoiding them again.
So I'm being honest. I'm not ok. I'm a mess actually. I'm a recovering everything and I have a lot of issues, as it turns out, with relationships and love and sex and being angry and I'm terrified every single moment of every single day that I am going to screw up this thing that I have now. And I'm trying to tell the truth but I find I encounter things like other people and expectations of who I feel I'm supposed to be and I don't know how to let go of those yet. I'm not ok, but that's ok. Because I'm showing up anyway, and I'm trying my best every single day to be present and feel things and live from a place of freedom rather than fear.
Maybe you're there too. Maybe you're tired of not telling the truth about your life out loud. It's a scary thing - why do you think I spent so long avoiding it? Actually being present in my life and sober is terrifying. People talk about how great it is all the time and encourage you to get sober and feel your feelings and embrace your life, but they don't talk about how hard it is. I thought it would be easy. But its not. I'm showing up anyway.
If you want to show up and tell your truth, there's room for you here. I'll create space for you. I'm on your side, regardless of what side that is. On second thought, I hate sides so I'll just say this: We belong to each other. I've got you, friend.
Let's start showing up
"I like to compare God's love to the sunrise. The sun shows up every morning, no matter how bad you've been the night before. It shines without judgment. It never withholds. It warms the sinners, the saints, the druggies, the cheerleaders - the saved and the heathens alike. You can hide from the sun but it won't take that personally. It'll never, ever punish you for hiding. You can stay in the dark for years or decades and when you finally step outside, it'll be there for you. It was there the whole time, shining and shining. It'll still be there, steady and bright as ever, just waiting for you to notice, to come out and be warmed."