And once you see, you can’t unsee, And once you taste, you can’t untaste
Before I was asked to start a blog by my friend Claire, I had actually been considering starting one. But I did not trust myself writing until I got confirmation. I feel like Moses (only the self doubting version of Moses) “Who am I? I am nobody. I am a poor speaker” But something I have learned in my season of darkness is that I can write. But it wasn’t until I found my new church home that the words seem to be flowing and won’t stop. I want to write about this today.
I am not going to write about the painful event that happened as that is personal, but I want to write the truth of what I learned. I am writing to try and discover truth. Truth does in fact exist. Something I have found in darkness is you find your own darkness. When everything around me started to fall apart in 2016-2017, I finally got to a point I had no energy but to surrender to the situation. I remember feeling the earthquake when it all seemed so shocking and disorienting ….to the moment I said “I surrender” and all of the sudden I felt I was on the boat with Jesus when he is telling the storm to “Be Still”. At that moment I felt I was sailing with just a light rain. I went to Jake so much calmer and told him we have to let this situation go, it is all going to go. But what I thought was death actually wasn’t death at all because new life came. And I discovered the Bible on a whole new level through this event too. I tell people that I just had a midlife crisis and I found Jesus. I have never felt so alive.
The beginning of the falling apart actually began with Trump. I was shocked christians were backing this man up as a christian and a good idea. I was not a fan of Hillary, but Trump was a whole new level of scary to me. I know people say the other side felt the same way about Hillary and that troubled me. How could we see this so differently? What in the message got so lost between all of us? I found authors/preachers like Rachel Held Evans, Cheryl Bridges Johns, Jen Hatmaker, BJ Thompson, Richard Rohr, Hart Ramsey, Jo Saxton, Jonathan Martin (I am going to write a lot more about Jonathan in another post), Brian Zahnd, Beth Moore, Michael Wear, and many many more to be of great comfort during this confusion. I made sure to include voices of color, women, conservative and liberal to make sure I was not listening to one voice to back up my point of view. They had to be a deep thinker though. There are voices I will not listen to – Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., etc. I do not deny the good work any of them have done, but the dangerous message they bring to christianity has maybe done more harm than the good they have done – or at least the good is going to be overshadowed. I do pray for them and love them though. I believe a Revival is coming – actually there really is one coming to Lynchburg April 6 & 7 , 2018 lead by Shane Claiborne and Red Letter Christians. Jonathan Martin, Reverend Barber, and many more will be there. It is not to vilify Falwell or Liberty University but to lift up the name of Jesus.
I thought these voices were going to get me through this presidency, but I had no idea my life was going to fall apart. When that happened I could not sleep. I cried every night outside trying to understand this pain. I started to withdraw from everything – even my own family. It was a form of depression, but I don’t want to say that lightly because some forms of depression need more treatment than what I went through and that is OK! Do what you need to do to live again. Despite the darkness of life, Heaven is here too. Do what you need to do to see it. I am thankful I had been reading books for so long because Glennon Doyle had said something long before I understood it – “Go through your pain. Pain means you loved”. I knew then I was going to have to lean into this pain. Jonathan Martin is a voice that reached me and literally walked me through this. More on that later!
Rob Bell’s podcast came to me too. I was hooked. I started listening to him talk about the Bible in a way I had never heard. All of the sudden I was reading the Bible feeling the writer’s pain, joy, confusion, doubt, etc. They are my kindred spirits. Rob Bell is right the Bible is for everyone, not just christians. It is a book about what it means to be human. I highly recommend “What is the Bible?” by Rob Bell for anyone interested in this. And to be clear, he did not come up with this philosophy. This is nothing new. It is actually very old truth. I also had to realize not everyone was going to be on board with my new outlook on life. What gave me energy did not give energy to others. What did not work for me still felt safe for others. This is something I also had to face when I got to the other side of pain.
For my 40th birthday this past October, my mother gave me tickets to see Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordemon on their Moxie Matters Tour. These 2 ladies also walked me through my pain. I wore out “Unmaking” and “Dear Me” songs by Nichole, and Jen had a very public fall from grace in the “Christian Machine”. Jen’s new book “Of Mess and Moxie” and Nichole’s new album “Every Mile Mattered” came to me in the midst of my pain. It felt like God giving his hurting child presents. 🙂 Listening to them talk about pain on tour was exactly what I needed to hear. But I was still ready for a new start in church because I was in a new place spiritually. I still love my old church and I am certainly not mad at anyone. I am closer to some in that church now more than ever through this. This just happens and I realize it is the Holy Spirit shaking things up. So on this tour 2 churches had sponsored this event and both were LGBT affirming and in full support of women being ministers. Wilshire Baptist Church stood out to me – I think because it was Baptist and I was certain they would not be inclusive, but this was proving me wrong. I actually like that. Ha! I love when the walls of my heart get broken down. That is true freedom—To love openly without agenda. The book “Torn” by Justin Lee did that for me regarding the LGBTQ community. I loved it. I did not want to love BUT….I want to love without the but. And now I know I can. I have never felt so alive. Have I said that already?!
Landing at Wilshire Baptist Church has literally changed me 100%. I have found joy that hasn’t been present in awhile. And it is a level of joy I don’t think I have ever had. All of the sudden I am connecting with people on a whole new level everywhere I go (SAMs, the pet store, maintenance workers, church, mission trip, etc). The Holy Spirit is doing something new. I feel so free and I want everyone to know, and more importantly join in the freedom. When I am asked to help at church… I literally want to help. I feel I am participating in something new that is happening and it is an absolute joy to be a part of it. The gospel is good news for everyone. I will live my life to that truth to the fullest extent I know how. I don’t care if I am qualified anymore. I am called to participate, as we all are, and I will obey that call. I have never felt so alive! 🙂 (Also worth noting, in just 2 months of attending Wilshire 2 MALE ministers asked me if I am called to ministry. They have no idea what that means to me because my background has never let me imagine this. And to hear it from brothers (women have usually been supportive of this) is healing.)