beginning again

I’ve just taken a month off from writing. I had internal work to do – physical and emotional and spiritual healing, and I needed the freedom and the space to devote my full attention to this. I had thought that, upon beginning again, I would take my record here in a feminist direction – elucidating the female experience for the sake of everyone who doesn’t know what it’s like, to lend my voice to whatever the feminist movement is now, to share my story.

But then – well, I told my mother on the phone this morning that I had my equivalent of St. Paul’s revelation on the road to Damascus. For all intents and purposes, I saw the face of God. I’ll relate the full story in another post, but trust me when I say I was and even still am a bit reluctant. Because this all happened in a way that made the reality of God undeniable for me. And I’m not entirely comfortable with that.

 With this revelation, I’m motivated to revisit the Bible, to study Christian texts, to understand what exactly it means for me to believe in God. Now. Because my faith was everything to me until I was about 16, but now, truly, I’m starting anew.

What I know is this – for the last six and half years or so, I’ve been trying on Darkness. I threw my purity ring to the wind, engaged in all the debauchery the world has to offer, and had some truly sensational experiences [I’m literally writing novels]. All my lights were out in the summer of 2014, when I found myself unbearably depressed, isolated, and numb, spending 72 hours in a mental facility so I wouldn’t kill myself. This was the low point. I see it as my rock bottom – the moment when I realized if I spiraled any further I would extinguish my flame entirely and that I had no choice but to go up from there. Since then, I’ve been building, exploring, studying – practicing. Gradually awakening parts of my self I’d dulled or forgotten, gradually remembering who I was as a child, as a teenager – before all the pain, before all the darkness. I started practicing yoga daily, consciously eating healthy food, treating my body with respect – I started being kind to my self. And I started exploring spirituality.

I’ve made incredible friends who explore this as well, had myriad conversations about Buddhism, faith, meditation, religion, politics, the principles of right and wrong, the way the world works, what it is to be “cool,” – etc. And I found solace, comfort, solidarity with all these people who seem as lost as me. Who are curious, intelligent, awake to reality on some level, but left without viable options when it comes to spirituality. We each seem to form a syncretic cocktail of ideas and, comparing stories and philosophies with so many, I find that we’re all headed in a similar direction. We all want love and kindness and unity and acceptance – the very ideals Christianity supposedly purports. But I’ll be honest, not many people want to be associated with Christians. I certainly didn’t – the people who claimed to espouse my devout beliefs in high school were the very ones who ridiculed me. Even now, I’m reluctant. And I know I’m not the only one.

So, as I embark on this journey of figuring out what the hell it means to believe in God, to read the Bible, to potentially classify my self, once again, as a Christian – I figured I might as well publicly document it. I’ve had enough conversations with enough of my peers to know that other people are asking the same questions I am. This is for you. For me. For anyone who wonders what it means, now, in this century, in our present culture, to live. This is for the sake of love. Unity. Understanding. Hope. For Light.

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Love –

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Breaking Up with Jesus

I recently realized that my first breakup was with Jesus Christ. Having foregone dating in high school because it didn’t seem important yet, my first real relationship was a religious one. Maybe that sounds weird, and a little incestuous in an impossible way, but it’s true. Christians will tell you it’s not a religion – it’s a relationship, and many would say they are in love with Jesus. Looking at this now, some seven years post-breakup, it sounds a little crazy.

So – what is a relationship with Jesus like? Really. I spent time with him every day, whether it was reading his word [The Bible], praying, singing worship songs, or just talking to him like he was my best friend, because, for a while there, I think he was. I know, I know, but take it easy, I was practically raised in a cult and didn’t have many friends because I was a prudish, shy, and intelligent teenage girl – a triple threat in all the wrong ways.

As I got older and gradually got exposed to the world around me, I started to think. Objectively. I started to wonder. Reading apologetics books that were supposed to help me defend my own faith, I wondered why defending it would be necessary at all, why people who believed in Jesus could be the only ones to go to this place called heaven. I started to think that heaven didn’t sound all that fun, that maybe I didn’t want to wear white and worship God forever and ever and ever. Among other things.

So, as is my habit, I researched. I secretly checked out atheist literature and read it like a pre-teen boy who just stumbled on his dad’s porn collection. Maybe God wasn’t as great as I thought. Maybe other people could be right, too. Maybe religion was something I’d held onto too tightly, and maybe I’d built my entire world around myths. Maybe I’d been in a strange, codependent relationship with Jesus Christ.

Maybe this is where it gets familiar – you realize you’re in a bad relationship, then what? After much deliberation, and probably a few tears, you end it. And then the void appears. That empty place where this thing had taken on a life of its own and formed your entire identity. What then?

Then you get to start building. First I became okay with not knowing – with having no idea of whether or not god exists or if heaven or hell are real, and I felt free. Then I started living in new ways – doing the things my “ex” hadn’t allowed me to do, trying things because – for the first time in my seventeen or so years – I could. Because no one could really tell me what to do anymore. And of course I wrestled with my still-Christian parents until I moved out a year later. And then maybe I did a lot of crazy shit. But I didn’t lose my grip entirely – I just slipped a few times.

Then I started to find balance. I realized I didn’t want my entire life to be a festival of debauchery, and that morals were good things, even if they’d been imposed on me for strange, guilt-inducing reasons. I realized that I didn’t need a specific set of rules to be good to people, but that – simply for my own sake – I would be good to people. Because that’s better for everyone. I discovered love in real-life relationships, and with time and effort and practice, I healed. And I moved on from Jesus. I found myself, which was something I’d been taught to deny for most of my existence. And I found out that I wasn’t the vile sinner I’d been taught that I was. I learned that I mess up, but so does every one, and that doesn’t define me and, I think most importantly – I learned to love myself. And I learned that I could be enough. And if you can learn that and be a Christian, more power to you, but for me – this journey of self-discovery, which is fundamental to existence, couldn’t, didn’t happen, until I broke up with Jesus.

Do you have a story of leaving a religion? What was it like for you?

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