Wow, looking at my very first post from 7 years ago got my gears really spinning. If you are interested in what I wrote you can scroll down to below the asterisks. It was written from when I was a Christian and very idealistic and feeling like God was about to change my life. What happened is that I lost my faith and deconstructed, and then reconstructed, my whole worldview and lifestyle.
I would say I’m no longer an idealist. I also realized from reading the post that I miss that idealism. Like, my heart hurts that it’s not there. Unfortunately, with the idealism came turbulent emotions and inability to function. So, of course there can be a middle ground in there somewhere.
If you have just found my blog you may not know that I am a 41 year-old agnostic atheist with bipolar disorder. I’m a mom of two teenagers, one who has mental illness. That I spent 2 decades of my life suffering from bipolar depression and a decade of severe social anxiety on top of that which kept me out of work and without friends. That 6 years ago (so about a year after I wrote this first blog post) I completely lost my faith. I had been an evangelical Christian, a born-again Christian, from 15-35 years old. And my faith unraveled, which coincided with my getting mental health treatment.
And in the past 5 or 6 years I’ve been trying to recover and to find myself and figure out my world. I separated from my husband 6 months ago. We’d been separated in our own separate rooms for years, but I could finally afford to move out and am waiting another 6 months before I can legally file for divorce.
Honestly, I’m doing better than is to be expected, however I am deeply dissatisfied with how my life is going and feel I’m on another precipice, like I was when I lost my faith, except this one isn’t as steep and I know what’s below. Basically, if I’m not intentional about what I want my life to become I will waste another decade and that shares the shit out of me. But does it scare me enough to take action?
I’ve moved out; I got a job with health insurance; I got a pet, I’m making friends, YES – I am doing stuff. But it’s been 6 months now and so, what’s next? What do I want to accomplish or do by the time I’m able to file for my divorce?
It feels like there is some big decision that has to be made but I’m not sure what it is and maybe it’s not a big decision. Maybe I just keep making smart smaller decisions.
Anyway, hope your weekend is going great. Enjoy the cringy post below:
ramblings of an idealist trying to live in the real world
My Darling, You Are the Church!
Posted on by Quixie
This is my first blog post written on November 4, 2014 before I actually created this blog.
I am a writer. Mind you, not a very good one. I am horrible with sentence structure and have no eye for detail. However, writing is my thing, my preferred method of communicating. I enjoy it because of the lack of pressure. I can take my time finding just the right words to use. When speaking I’m either entirely quiet or, if I feel someone has the patience to hear what I have to say, I ramble on at a fast-pace with no option for the other person to get a word in. I become afraid that I won’t be heard and that the point of what I was trying to say will be lost. It makes me quite socially awkward at times. But communicating through the written word, this I love. I was made for it. I’ve written journals upon journals of thoughts. My hands fly on the page as I try to keep up with my thoughts. I type 90 wpm, a skill I’ve had to learn so that I can get down all that I’m thinking.
I want the world to hear me. And that’s just not going to happen in the real world because of my shyness and verbal ineptitude.
In order to provide context you need to know that I love Jesus. I believe he is God and that he is alive and very real to me. I talk to him (occasionally) and sometimes he answers back in my heart or through my dreams. I know to some that may seem insane, and perhaps I am. Fortunately it is a sanity I share with millions of others so at least I’m not alone in this! There is a peace that passes all understanding that comes over me. Rare moments when my heart and mind are in alignment with what the Bible says is true. Plus, while I am largely emotionally driven, I pride myself on my critical thinking skills. In fact, I was one of the few students to ace my Critical Thinking course in college. I pursue an equal balance of spirit and truth.
I’ve spent most of my life trying to get to know Jesus, even before I had ever heard his name. He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” He created this world and every good is from him. Notice I do not capitalize the “h” in him. It’s not a sign of disrespect to him (and he knows this), it just feels so…religious. As you come to know me through my blog posts you’ll find out that I can’t stand anything religious. Even to the point where I don’t even want to provide the scripture reference to where “the way, the truth, and the life” comes from. I mean, I should, perhaps in an effort not to plagiarise. But I’ll tell you – it’s not from me. It’s in the Bible and you can go look I up if you are interested.
I’ve spent most of my spiritual pursuit looking at others and trying to emulate them. I’ve tried to fit into church, and I just can’t. Not in this current paradigm. I don’t belong in the culture that has become the church. I thought maybe I just wasn’t conservative enough but, having swung to the other side of the pendulum, I realize I’m also not liberal enough. I’m just me. I’ve asked people to tell me who I am, but no one knows except Jesus. So I’ve finally decided to start asking him and he’s been answering me.
It’s a lonely walk feeling like you don’t fit it in, but Jesus is telling me something so beautiful that my heart is soaring with hope: he did not make me to fit into any sort of culture or club; he made me to reveal something about his beauty in a way that only I can do it. I am unique, and so is every person on this earth.
He’s also telling me that I am a part of the Body of Christ, the Bride, the Church. There I go capitalizing something when I just admitted I didn’t want to capitalize “him” because it was too religious ha! I have no good way of explaining what the Body of Christ is, so I’ll let the Bible do it for me:
(Taken from Biblegateway.com)
1 Corinthians 12 English Standard Version (ESV)
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
One Body with Many Members
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
I stepped away from the Church, feeling like I didn’t fit in, but now I’m back. Perhaps I won’t be going to many church services, but I am back saying,
“Here I am – I’m part of the body and I belong!” Now…what’s my role? Where is my ministry? How do I fit in?”
Well, let me tell you…
Firstly, I am a pastor. I actually cringed typing that. I’m afraid you might think that I believe that I’m meant to be a minister or priest. No, that’s not what I mean at all! I mean, I have a pastor’s heart. I’m never going to be preaching sermons from a pulpit or leading a church. If you knew me (or do actually know me), you’d know that would be a really awful and uncomfortable fit and that I would utterly fail at it. And actually, most “pastors” that we see in church today are not actually pastors in the biblical sense, but are actually evangelists, teachers, and prophets. Some actually are true pastors. To be honest, even after studying the Bible I’m still confused about the role of pastor. Most Bible scholars believe it is a leadership or elder role and that a pastor’s role is to shepherd the flock. In other words, guide the lost believers and disciple them.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be leader or an elder, but I know I want to help shepherd others. I am not an evangelist, and never will be. I suck at it and I have no desire for it. If you are an evangelical Christian you might gasp with what I’m about to say next…I have no desire to save the “lost.” It’s not important to me. Not at all. You may object, “Well, the lost are going to go to hell!” or “This is the primary responsibility of being a Christian!” I just don’t buy it, it doesn’t ring true to me. Brothers and sisters, do not be deceived. The primary purpose of being a Christian is to know and love Jesus and to love others! Yes, we need evangelists. They are super important. Yes, people need Jesus. Oh, boy, do people need Jesus! We are all destined to be stuck in our own hells, and possibly be on our way to a literal hell, without him.
But, I am no evangelist. I am a discipler and a friend. People are drawn to me for spiritual guidance. Perhaps this is not a spiritual gifts, per se, but the role that every Christian takes on. All I know is that it is my role to befriend the broken, grab their hand, and walk with them. My primarily concern is for the person who has already decided they want Jesus. They’ve invited him into their lives. But yet they are in this crazy world and don’t know what to do. I see so many “lost” Christians in church. Simply inviting Jesus into your life does not make your life better. Your life gets harder because you have to die to yourself constantly, every day. Christians are just as lost. Heck, I usually feel lost myself. But I will tell you what I know is true. And I will be there by your side. And I will help you keep the end in sight.
It is no coincidence that I have chosen to pursue a career as a doula. I’m no expert. I can only tell you what I know about childbirth and help you through the painful process of life. But Jesus is the midwife or OB/GYN (he he—this analogy greatly amuses me) helping to deliver the baby, spiritually speaking. And my role as a doula, or as a pastor, is to help you see what’s coming. To help you focus on that beautiful baby!
Secondly, I love mercy. I am fascinated by tales and stories of vengeance because people seek, need, justice. They will often go to considerable and horrific lengths to seek out justice. One of my current favorite tv shows is Revenge andone of my favorite stories of all time is The Count of Monte Cristo. But, while I’m fascinated by vengeance, I am thrilled, titillated, beyond belief excited, awed, and inspired by mercy. You share with me any story of redemption, no matter how heinous the injustice, and I will feel as if I’m falling in love. I don’t want the offender to suffer, I greatly desire the offender to repent. Suffering’s only purpose is for repentance. To repent is to realize, to the depths of your being, how very wrong you were and to change course to a better direction. I heard on the radio today that some local man raped a 4-year-old girl. I seriously want that man to endure endless torture. But how much better would it be if that man knew, I mean really knew, what he had done? To face the horror, to have to face God for such a egregious injustice, and for God to completely clean him out and make him into a new creature? It’s the “go and sin no more” that Jesus commands to the woman caught in adultery. It is when the Bishop Myriel (aka. Monseigneur Bienvenu) in Les Misérables buys Jan Valjean’s freedom by displaying mercy and letting him go, in order that he may to go forth and live a life as a virtuous man. I admire no greater fictional person than the Bishop and he is my inspiration for how I am to be, especially in regards to others. I’ll talk more on this in later blog posts.
Thirdly, I have discernment. Let me preface this by saying I often struggle with discernment in my own life (don’t we all)! It is so much easier to see the truth in others than in your own heart. I often can’t see the forest for the trees, or past the end of my own nose, or whatever cliché or idiom you prefer to use to describe the ability to see clarity in others, but not in yourself. However, I’m generally pretty intuitive about other people. I believe this doesn’t come from me, but it is the person of the Holy Spirit at work. I have an instinct about being able to identify if a quote or idea is actually in the Bible. I have some measure of clairvoyance. I can usually tell if someone is a Christian before they ever open their mouths. I can often sense what people are struggling with. I can even tell what a particular city might be struggling with. For example, some cities I’ve felt this aura (while a new-age word I know of no other word that really embodies the feeling) of depression and sexual dysfunction. In others I’ve felt like drugs and infidelity were big issues. And in others greed and vanity. And then, interacting with people, and finding out that these things are actually big themes in those areas. The Holy Spirit is so mystical and this sounds so ethereal and crazy, but let me tell you he (or she? or it?) is a person of God and is very real. The simplest way to understand the Holy Spirit is to realize that your conscience is actually the Holy Spirit. God is in our hearts constantly whispering truth. How beautiful is that?!
So, I know what my gifts are: pastor, mercy, discernment. But, what is my ministry?
My ministry is primarily focused on the broken female. If you believe that the Bible is true and that there was a literal Garden of Eden with a literal Adam and Eve, which I do, then you know about how Adam and Eve fell into sin and what the consequences of their sin was. Eve was to suffer in childbirth. Suffer in childbirth! So, the very essence of her femininity and her biological function, which had been perfect and wonderful, was (through sin) made to suffer. And women have suffered. We suffer in childbirth, but we also suffer monthly through our menstrual cycles. And beyond that, we suffer violence against our very beings. We suffer because we are women. The devil (and yes, I believe there is a literal devil!) hates women. And I think he hates women much, much more than men. Just look at how this world has, and continues to, treat women! Women are meant to reveal a beauty about God that is so gorgeous and so awe-inspiring that the devil finds ways to use them as targets. And boy are women targets. Our very sense of selves as women are shamed and abused.
The church has finally started to wake up to how dysfunctional we are sexually in this fallen and crazy world. That sexuality is a huge part, the biggest part, of who we are. I know God loves sex. Yes, I just said that (and out comes my nervous girlish giggle)! God loves sex: he created it, he made it, and it is meant to be this ecstatic connection of body and soul. But, my goodness, we are all so sexually screwed up! Many times Christians even more so because we try to hide it and deny it. The devil has not let a single one of us escape some kind of sexual shame or brokenness, regardless of whether we have ever engaged in actual sexual immorality or not.
So, the church is finally admitting it and talking about it. At least…they are talking about men’s sexual brokenness. And my heart cries “WHAT ABOUT THE WOMEN???” It’s the male pastors and leaders talking about how men struggle with lust and pornography. It’s like the church is hanging their head in shame saying, “Yep, we men are all pigs. We know this is wrong and we don’t know how to stop it. So we’ll keep submitting ourselves to Jesus and hope one day this will be taken away from us.” But, not all men struggle with the same sexual sin! Some men are gay or bisexual. Some men are asexual. Some men have very bizarre fetishes. It’s not just porn and getting aroused by beautiful women, I’m sure. That’s just what’s acceptable to admit these days. There are multiple areas of sexual brokenness that I’m sure men are suffering from but not admitting because it’s just too perverse or taboo.
So, I do care about the men and their brokenness. BUT, in focusing on the men as these lust-filled creatures who don’t know what to do with themselves we do a disservice to the women. Women were also created to find satisfaction, and connection, and pleasure through sex! Just because women are generally wired differently from men and have different ways of becoming aroused and enjoying sex, and often avoid “the act” for a number of reasons, doesn’t mean they do not desire or enjoy sex just as much as men. And they are just as broken, if not more so! You cannot look at the success of the book series Fifty Shades of Grey or “romance” novels and tell me that women do not love sex. Erotica is a huge industry. Many women are addicted to porn as well and women spend millions on sex toys every year. But we as women, especially Christian women, are made to feel (mostly by male Christian pastors) that sex, and lust, and struggle is a problem that only their husbands or boyfriends deal with. Boy is the Church incredibly neurotic about sex! We’ve got to confess and bring these things to light so that darkness has no power over us anymore and we can be free.
Women need help! Women need healing for their sexual brokenness! Women feel ugly, abused, violated, unwanted for who they are at the core, unlovely, and unseen. And a passion and rage rises up in me that says “THIS IS NOT RIGHT!” Where is the church? WHERE is the church for WOMEN?
Jesus says to my heart, “You are the church. You, my darling, are the church. Be who I made you to be.”
And in that moment when Jesus speaks to me I feel a bit like Moses at the burning bush. Completely awe-struck. And feeling completely inadequate. My heart responds hesitantly, “Okay.”