Jonathan Merritt has a Podcast called The Faith Angle. This is a podcast he does with Kirsten Powers from CNN discussing the faith angle in our culture. You can listen to Jonathan’s conversation with George Mason about it on the Good God podcast- conversations that matter addressing faith and public life. Two of my favorite people having a conversation that will change your life. (I want to plug the Good God Podcast too. Every conversation is so important and necessary. I can’t recommend it enough). I love Jonathan is writing a book called, “Learning to Speak God from Scratch”. It is a much needed book discussing how our language is changing and why that matters. For instance, spiritual words are being used less often, but economic terms are up. We even use economic terms in relationships, for instance, “Invest in relationships”. Our language reveals what we value, and we live that narrative.
I wrote all of that to say, after I let go of everything that was leaving anyway- I started exploring my faith. I could not understand why my friends were making decisions that I thought for sure would not happen. The cruel things that were said to us, and it was excused by our position in the club–even though we were friends. I thought there were lines. At the same time, our political environment was absolutely cruel and playing out the same way- there were no lines. This is important to understand, how we live our everyday life is playing out in politics. Politics actually means our shared life together. It is for everyone to flourish. It is not a prize to be won, and compromises will be made for the greater good. We do not get everything we want, and praise God for that because we don’t always know what is best for us. I am going to talk more about politics in another post. I learned a lot about politics in my season of rest.
I have written this before, but I remember it so vividly because the feeling was so palpable- when I told Jake we have to let everyone go associated with what happened, I felt the storm stop. I felt I was on a boat sailing in a light rain. It was the most comforting feeling I had felt in a long time. I was ready to let the story take me where it needed me to go. Let me add this took meditation. I meditated almost everyday. The change in my state of mind was dramatic. It calmed me down. I had hope for humanity again. Prayer and breathing have been scientifically proven as good for the brain. I am living proof, and faith and science back this up.
I withdrew from life for a bit. Getting out took effort. I just wanted to stay in bed and listen to Podcasts and read Spiritual books that were telling me a story I had never heard before. I wanted to have fun in everyday life with my family and people that were still in my life again, but I was too sad at the moment. I cried all the time. I broke down at work. I would be at Wal-Mart and tears would just start flowing. I was a mess. But what kept me afloat was relearning the story of Jesus. I heard a different angle on faith and I was hooked. I needed those two years of rest to listen, and I am glad I did because now I have found a joy no amount of darkness will ever take away.
I found people in the Bible who know our pain. I was relating to all of them in a very human way. The Bible is so subversive, and unbeknownst to many of us in America, the Bible is written by those on the bottom–the Empire wasn’t working for them. These are people who would be kneeling during the American anthem today, including Paul. Jesus entire life was a counter narrative to Caesar. “Jesus is Lord” is a political statement countering “Caesar is Lord”. Caesar presented death as good news (because obviously we must get rid of the other-that doesn’t sound familiar does it?). Jesus life was stated as “good news”. It was a political statement countering Caesar’s version of good news.
Jesus was a threat to the empire and the religious elite, and that is why they killed him. I could not get enough learning about all of this. Rob Bell was a huge help to me relearning the Bible. What Rob taught me to do is tell a better story. We can rant and rave about all that is wrong, but that is just making noise. We need to learn the story and tell that story. People will listen to stories more than facts. That is why Jesus spoke in parables. Truth can be uncovered more in fiction. I love it.
I also went to Twitter and found a lot of faith leaders who would answer my questions. They also mourned with me and would pray for me. One pastor I love so much is Cheryl Bridges Johns. She was really there for me. She even noticed when I changed–just from my Twitter posts. She told me when she could tell I was in a better place and hopes we can meet one day. She is rooting for me to preach too. This is incredible. Beth Moore adores this amazing woman as well.
I also found Anna LeBaron through Twitter. This is a wild story, and I really only love wild stories. I saw her name responding to Jen Hatmaker and I decided to reach out because I recognized her last name, and she wrote a book on Polygamy “The Polygamist’s Daughter”. I had read a book 10 years ago called “His Favorite Wife: Trapped in Polygamy” by Susan Ray Schmidt. Susan is one of the author’s my book club reached out to and was able to talk to via a phone conversation about her book. It was also my thirtieth birthday celebration. I remembered Susan had been married to a LeBaron. I asked Anna if they were related and found out Susan is her aunt. She said she would be happy to attend our book club to discuss her book because he lives in the area. Anna came on my 40th birthday celebration. How wild is that?! Anna picked up on the depression I was in and said this, “You are becoming free. Free people, free people.” These are words that have changed me forever.
My next blog post will address how losing my sense of community in my own church was hard. When you love people so much, but cannot stay because the system isn’t going to change. My joy in finding my new church home. What it is like being faced with the task of speaking what has been revealed, knowing I am going to lose people near and dear to me. This journey is beautiful and brutal. The soccer world threw me into the deep, and now I can never stand in the shallow end again.