Can I tell you a little secret? I cringe when someone finishes a sentence with an exclamation mark like, “amen!” I cannot stomach Christianese! It immediately makes me feel the need to run for the door, because I smell inauthenticity like day old lobster. I question the rhetoric and parroting. The real person seems to be missing and lacks a clear sense of who they truly are. Although I am learning to see past the camouflage to the person, it’s so close to home that it still causes me to spin, like a sober drunk in a room of drinkers.
I confess I'm in recovery. I’m in recovery from institutional religion. Are you wondering what I’m talking about? I’m talking about trying to mash myself into a misshaped cookie cutter image, rather than be who I am. I am in recovery from a groupthink culture that was slowing killing me, a culture of performance, judgment, striving and preferring ritual above relationship.freedigitalphotos.net
The topic of missing identity that I often write about is real. It’s my story and sadly why much of my thirty-year experience with church culture has felt like a miss hit of smashing my thumb with a hammer. I will be talking more about this in future posts.
Why did it take so long? Why was I trying to be the “good girl” and please so hard? This is what you do if you were the lost child that became the family hero to survive the anguish and emotional abuse of a mom with mental illness. It was in letting go of the ghosts and those that couldn’t bring themselves to make the journey with me that I’ve gotten free. It’s in claiming my true God-image identity that sprung the cage door.
In my journey I’ve stumbled right into a grace encounter, transformation and expansiveness beyond a box sized God into a God that existed before the American church culture’s definition of who God is and who I’m supposed to be. I’ve learned to honor and listen to my inner GPS that signals when I’m betraying myself. I’ve taken up the challenge of vulnerability and authenticity instead of settling for a counterfeit of God, or myself.
Jesus loves me, I love him and much of the rest I leave dangling in the realm of unknowing. I choose to pass on pontificating as best I can. I hope to see and love individuals beyond ego driven, polarizing issues that separate into black and white, either or, as I am learning to live beyond the tightrope of performance. I love my friends that are gay, Buddhist, Hindu and lots of other things.
Hear this: I am not blaming anyone for my lack of clarity around my identity, or my familiar pull to environments that were unhealthy for me. This is the very journey that led me home to myself. The crazy mixed up way that I got here, the story that reads like a Broadway play matters little (although I can imagine wonderful song and dance numbers that would fit with the movie, Saved!)
The fact that I finally found my path and my way out of the matrix of confusion is the reason I help other women claim their voice, their authentic self and their unique God relationship too.
I don’t mean to offend you, but trying not to offend has kept me small. Trying not to offend kept me on the fence, living incongruently, dishonestly, and inauthentically. Being careful to speak only “what builds up” to be silent when I was told to “keep quiet” kept me controlled and living in decline and demoralization. Now days, I am learning to give myself permission to speak things that don’t always build up, because that’s authentic and something’s need to be torn down before building can begin. That’s what getting untamed means. It’s about risk and courage to face the gap and not shut the door in fear to those that see the world differently. I’m not writing this for debate, or needing to be right, but needing to be real (although I wouldn't mind a little cheering for standing up in my life in a greater measure.)
I choose to live life as an act of worship and today I choose to invest in relationships over meetings and to be my part in the church all around me. I am not tearing down what you may love and thrive in. There are some awesome church expressions out there, but the truth is church is not a building, or a meeting. You in fact might be someone who sees the faith relationship differently too. This is important to say, because I am learning to care and nurture myself. Warning, please don't post a bunch of Christianese on my page or I will have to delete you! :)
Your struggle may not be with the church. It might be your family dynamics (isn’t that where it all starts anyway?) or a work environment that keeps you peddling faster and faster until you’ve peddled right over yourself. Maybe you understood long ago that the struggle was within yourself and you’ve never tried to please, but abdicated your life anyway. Maybe you’re in transition and you want to start recreating your life again.
You are not late, but right on time to start investing in yourself. The place to start is in loving yourself first.
Maybe you know that this is your time, time to invest in the only life you have! If so here are some ways to begin expanding and investing in yourself.
- Read the following authors who write about the illusion of ego and faith: Richard Rohr books, New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton, Jim Palmer books, The Cloud of Unknowing by Elizabeth Obbard
- Read Untamed Heart, Releasing Your Creative Genius, by me :)
- Read Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
- Register for my 12 Week Online Program, Untamed Joy! Discover tools to claim your voice, your identity and your joy!
- Contact me to find out about 1-on-1 coaching @firstname.lastname@example.org