When the question was posed: “What do you want from church?” I have been on a writing spree. I am glad this question was asked, because I have been spinning my wheels-and restless-trying to put into words what has happened to me-and why it hurts so much. This week I have uncovered a lot of important issues that goes beyond what happened to me.
This morning I am home from church, and I am so sad about this. It is amazing to be in a place now that missing church makes me sad. This church (Wilshire Baptist Church, if you haven’t heard me talk about it. Ha!) is a lifeline for me-no matter how I am feeling. I woke up at 2:30 AM this morning, and could not go back to sleep until 5! I am so groggy -I would be worthless at church. I had to do yoga, a meditation, and clean house to get myself back to sleep. I think I am feeling stress about life changing – seminary, and I am going to apply for a program at the school I was avoiding. Dang, if I don’t try to run away all the time. I am committing to applying after I write this post. It also helps I got a personal invite that they are still waiting on me applying. 🙂 We all like to be invited personally, don’t we?
Yesterday, I wrote about “When the Game Changed” for me. I wrote it after I read two Facebook posts I had written when I was in a state of grief two years ago. What I find interesting is today I am reading a Facebook post I wrote a year ago about Julie Rogers telling us when she and her partner attend church, her pastor lights up. As a gay couple that is a big deal. They are not only accepted, but wanted. I wrote that I am feeling the same way. Not only did George reply that as my pastor what I am saying is true, but my dear friend Charles wrote as a member he feels the same way. I still choke up reading these words. Not only did I know what I was feeling was true-two men validated what I was saying is true. We talk a lot about “toxic” masculinity- this would be “healing” masculinity. George and Charles, thank you.
Isn’t it ironic that this message is the day after I read two posts that reminded me of grief yesterday? Through time and space comfort came the very next day through another Facebook post reminding me I have been comforted. The timing isn’t an accident, and this gives me chills.
Writing all of these posts this week has taken me on another journey. Questions I have been asking: “Why won’t people from my past, who once talked to me, talk to me anymore? I come in love, and they talk to haters.”, “What am I needing people to know?”, “What am I needing to know?” I got some good insight this week.
First of all, I realized I have been really hard on the girl I once was. I blamed a lot of this crap on her-and she never asked for any of this abuse. I feel like I needed to go back again and stand up for the girl I once was, and receive grace from her. She had been trying to live in peace and love this whole time, and was ripped to shreds in every aspect of her life. There was a lot of love too, don’t get me wrong; but the wounding is real. I haven’t even fully written about gymnastics – that is another wounding.
Remembering the abuse from my ex-boyfriend was revealing on so many levels. When I was in the midst of the abuse, I was not interested in listening to truth-tellers. The ability to tell myself another story-and get mad at friends-is something I used to feel shame about-but now I know that is what abused women do. Now I get why so many don’t want to talk to me who are still in the system; they don’t want to hear it. They won’t be able to see until they get out of the situation. So many of us think we are here to save the day too. I know I did. We are used to fighting, and think we have to fight for everything. To accept my call to ministry, I had to be gently prodded -but then I needed my past to come at me when I tried to run away. My fighting spirit makes me come back and say yes again and again. But, I am saying yes to a world that doesn’t make me fight for my place. I am treated so beautifully, and I want women -and anyone else mistreated by church-to know this is possible. We can receive without having to fight.
I am grateful for my friend Mike Phillips, who is a Twitter friend (former pastor-now a trauma and sex therapist) who is also helping me learn more about the psychology of all of this. We cannot see clearly until we are removed from the situation. I could not see until my relationship with my ex was no longer an option. That is when the veil was ripped from my eyes, and I mourned the real story. Being able to mourn and grieve led me to make a good decision when I dated and married Jake. I can say the same thing with church.
I guess this is why I am asking the church to lament. It isn’t just for me, but sometimes I wish even if it was just me that would be enough. But comfort came for me anyway, and I am in a world where men and women value me. I relate so much to the woman wiping oil on Jesus’s feet. Someone has seen you and thinks you are special-and they aren’t rebuking you for who you are. Who this woman is, the woman I am, is enough. Nothing in our life is wasted. Our life is part of the gospel story. The sin of Patriarchy is not our story. People’s ideas about our story is not our story. We are God’s delight.
It also means a lot to me that Cheryl Johns, my spiritual mother during the days I was down, read my post yesterday and encouraged me to keep walking ahead. Receiving a blessing like that from someone who guided me is everything to me. The ones who won’t talk to me – will talk to her. I get to move on and enjoy this new abundant life that has been given to me. Grateful. Joy. Dancing. Believing I can walk on water and Jesus will be there when I sink.