My Christianity has been a process. A journey of knowing and understanding the spirit of who Christ was in unusual and nontraditional ways. I've never felt as if I fit in within the culture of the Christian church. There came a time when everything I experienced in church was directly opposed to who I was in my heart. It never made much sense to me and, quite frankly, it hurt. I love the ways of Jesus. I appreciated my history as a Christian growing up in the Lutheran Church even if some of the beliefs felt incongruent to who I was and who Christmas. Yet, the experience of the Spirit and the spiritual awakenings that I had there were more powerful than any of the other experiences that I had in all the places I explored. The question that burned inside me was...how was this possible? How could something so clear to me be, simultaneously, so wrong for me?
H how could this be possible I ask myself often over the years. Became a time when I felt no option but to leave the church and simply visit from time to time, praying a sincere prayer that certain aspects of it would change.
As a result, I did Christianity backwards. The more I was told that secular humanism was something to fear and the place to stay away from, the deeper and further explored straight into the heart of it it was not because I wanted a different religion or another God. I simply wanted to live in my heart congruently and authentically.
Many said that I was trying to do Christianity my way. Perhaps. They said I was picking and choosing from the Bible what I felt like doing, what was most comfortable. They said I would be influenced badly, by evil. Well I saw no evil there and I did not experience any of it as fearful. I knew the difference between what felt was; and what was born of evil, injustice, and cruelty. I experienced enough of the latter three to fill another book, and none of them were in places my spiritual seeking led me.
N; and what was derived from lack of authenticity, injustice,". I experienced enough of the latter to fill another book but I did not experience that in the places where my spiritual seeking me. That was the one place I remembered who Jesus was. Even though I would not have passed a theological exam, or been able to quote Scripture from memory as my Sunday school teachers taught me. I did know, however, what Christ stood for, what mattered to Jesus, what enraged him and what he didn't tolerate, how he suffered, and how the Holy Spirit had changed my life from the inside out.
In recent years, I hear a lot about the subject of doubt. Christians and theologians right about the importance of living in the questions and now condone the subject of doubt. As much as I understand why it is being referred to as doubt, I often wonder why that's the word we use. Doubt, from my definition and understanding, isn't this more closely aligned with the idea of skepticism. But I think it's not as much about it out as it is about desire it's not as much about out as it is the desire for understanding, logic, critical thinking, and making sense of something that is a foundational and formative part of who many of us are.
At the risk of sounding completely arrogant, I often wonder if many of us who were raised with a Christian upbringing don't intuitively feel or no that their faith is intact. The real issue at hand is their inability to buy forward to up or embrace the interpretations and messages they were being told by the growing fundamental, evangelical community.
I'm not sure it was as much lack of faith, as it was missed trust. The spirit of church no longer resonated in the hearts of people. We were being screamed that, yelled at, told what to believe, and we're not being asked to participate in the conversation. It had become so black-and-white that the mystery has been taken out of it and what we were being told was completely incongruent to who we had become.
The joy of life how you go into an ongoing unfolding and discovery of our similarities, not our differences the world has become smaller and smaller as our ability to get information became bigger and bigger suddenly, the rhetoric about Israel and Palestine began to Sound inconsistent and dishonest. The people on the other side of the boundary in Palestine became human. The truth about how they were being treated and the reminder that it takes two to tango became more and more evidence. It was moments like this in understanding conflict and the opportunity to step into humanity more fully that superseded old dogma, the beliefs, and what we perceived to be, lies.
The more Christians told me to stay away from secular humanity the more I bristled. It reminded me of being in a situation in the late 70s. I was in a primal group therapy Community where we processed her issues and express them emotionally in front of the group. It was humiliating, contrived, and driven by the group leader taking little into account as to what was true for us as individuals. Over time, some of those flashback and resisted, Eventually quitting. There came a time that I wanted to try out AA because it had become a popular resource for those who wanted to get alcohol or drugs out of their life. The culture was changing from a drinking culture to a sober one, and I wasn't sure I knew how to be in a sober one. Alcohol had been a big part of the social scene my entire life, from my parents to my own adult experience.
The group leader discouraged me from attending AA, and asked the rest of the group which included by best friends and the man I'd lived with for 4 years, to end their relationship with me and lock me out of my house if I went. This was clearly wrong. And red flags were up. My internal alarm was ringing.
yBecause the party life had becom of my life.
Years later, when I was a member of a Christian community and people began discouraging and strongly suggesting that I am not attend a 12 step meeting, or sign up for meditation class, or risk some tonic exposure if I tried yoga, Etc. I knew something was wrong. It was much too similar experience I had therapy and smelled of control, fear, and cult-like behavior. In fact, it did not feel like; but rather, it felt as if it was dishonoring God because I knew the spirit was in many of these choices and experiences.
These were the places I encountered other spiritual seekers. These were the places my soul was at peace. These were the places Jesus and I traveled together.
Over time, the only way I could resolve this within my own conscience was to constantly and consistently take myself into scripture, into reading, and connect again and again to the essence and spirit of Christ.
This did not mean
It is difficult to explain the hurt and sadness I felt all those years. I desperately wanted to be part of the community that new the love of God. I longed for others to study with and converse with that would allow a conversation to go beyond the film the blanks at the end of a superficial and controlled study guide. There was a little bit frustrated me more than this form of learning. It always felt like lemmings 101. I wanted to consider the possibilities of the text, I wanted to stretch into the edges of what something might me, I wanted to play with interpretations from every angle and every side. It excited me beyond words to dive into understanding the relationships, conflicts, the creative tension, and the longing that those who wrote the scripture experienced. What could possibly, I thought, the more fascinating than looking at the Bible from the perspective of human stories, from their cultural and sociological context what was more interesting and feeling what they felt, seen thAnd then relating it back to my own and our reality today.
t these were the things that were exciting to me. I love sparring with someone on a good look on term station I'm just playing devils advocate what are the legions or not. As a photographer, when I press the photograph in Photoshop I take the dial all the way to its extreme on either end and then I worked my way back to the place where the picture appears to be right. This means that I can see the photograph as beautiful. The picture fits my ability to receive it. There are those who prefers a vintage faded in the 70s, and those who are only pleased by the photograph that is perfectly realistic and completely shocked when you want it and understand things in different ways. This is not at all unlike the Bible and how we interpret it.
w it does not mean going for that the Bible is saying different things up but it doesn't for that we are evolving and changing all the time because that is the natural process, it is this that makes life dynamic and beautiful. Without it, we would be stagnant and rotten and smelly. Which is exactly how I experienced many Christians even though they could not see themselves. It was very difficult to be patient, tolerant, and no was being judged by those who like most wanted to be in community with. It was frustrating, Lonely, and I never felt good enough.
I I told everyone that I was a bad Christian. But I didn't deserve to be in church. That if I went to church, I always felt awful when I left. Going through life never feeling good enough and simultaneously knowing that you love God was hard. I'm the type that always wanted to celebrate God,thank and love him, share the spirit of God with others, but this God wasn't the God I knew anymore. He was unjust, cruel, intolerant, and disingenous. Most of all, he was inconsistent.
Most people I knew didn't care about the dogma, and the literalness or not of the Bible. Most people I knew just wanted to know the spirit of God, the love of God, the authenticity of those who followed Christ. They didn't care about who was most right, or whether they would get into heaven or not. These questions seem now so far from the essence of being authentic, open, and loving.