September 26, 2013

All those years ago it felt like a punch, a cheekbone punch coupled with a knife to the heart. Dramatic, yes? It wasn’t their fault, it was a stupid game in which a difficult (or ridiculous) question was asked and everyone answered confidentially and all the questions were about each other. It was like being online before the Internet. Anonymous.

If life is a highway, which one of you got off on the wrong exist?
Ballots were cast,
opened and read,

Heather. Heather. Heather. Heather….

I knew it was coming. Then we all cried. Awkward, No no no Heather, I don’t think it means anything horrible. It’s okay. Oh I’m sorry! I don’t even know why I picked you! I love you.

It was the truth and the truth hurts and it extra hurts when you are sitting in a situation where you realize that the people who know you best agree that you have gotten lost. Or so it seemed, to all of us.

Yesterday, Asher and I drove along in our minivan and he said, “There sure are a lot of dead ends….but there are still way more roads.”

Of course, he was being literal. Of course, I was being philosophical.

I knew this, way back then, too. That the detours I had taken, the dead ends I had found myself in and some I had even chosen, were not the end. But when your feet are bare and you are naked and people are staring at you, it doesn’t feel like any end is near. Maybe death, but not a rebirth, no beginning to a brand new good life.

Looking up to see all the other options, the roads wide open and waiting, takes too much energy and maybe I was comfortable making myself miserable.

This one’s for the lonely
the ones who seek and find
only to be let down
time after time.

I had always felt alone where I was supposed to feel the most not alone. The truth is that I felt less alone in a bar with my friends than I did with Christians and though I remained a Christian always, I believed myself worse than all the rest. Like God made all the people in His image and then He just had a bad day and made me in the image of a Russian nesting doll. Whoops! Babushka!

I had all these other bowling pin-like girls inside of me, to keep in, hidden. Bad.

This one’s for the torn down

the experts at the fall
come on friends get up now
you’re not alone at all

Let’s cut to the chase. Much of my fear and insecurity had to do with me. I did all the things that I could to self-destruct but I don’t live in shame over that anymore. Not only did it give me a good way to look at life and you, it has grown me as a mother and wife and here I am. It is well.

It was easier for me to blame myself and then “the church” and neither is really all that productive. It’s all just a messy broken thing and when I thought that I was so far from God image–grace, peace, joy and love–I thought it was all my fault, most likely. I thought the church was mean and I was sensitive and careless and had no self-discipline. I thought I was uncomfortable because I didn’t fit because we were two different shapes. And guess what, we totally ARE, but it’s not like I thought.

I thought there had to be something wrong with me or something wrong with “them” in order for my square peg in a round hole Christian life to make sense. And you know what? There really is a lot wrong with Christianity. And also, with me. So be it. Let’s work on changing. Go team. In the meantime, I have learned to embrace our differences. I have learned to be okay with the middle. Because I have been asked all my life to be on Team Right, conservative and black and white and legalistic, and I have been asked all my life, by my heart if I’m being honest, to be way over on Team Left, and though I am there in many ways…

I cannot pay tribute to a side.

It seems like sides have a hard time finding anything past the concrete and tangible to believe in. I need something mystic and maybe even magical, not tangible and nonsense and so good.

You’ve got to fall for something, or you’ll stand for anything.

I need to believe in something radical, not religious. Something so full of grace and mystery and a lack of common sense that it strips the false and the fake and the masks and the games right down to the white of bone and I can SEE what I am made of–oh would you look at that, the very stuff of God.

this one’s for the faithless
the ones that are surprised
they’re only where they are now
regardless of their fight

When I was at BlogHer, my friend Casey read from the stage about being a Christian in her younger years and how she had gotten “saved” and gone to Jesus Camp. She said she just wanted so badly to change the world. And then she finally admitted that she’s a lesbian. And then the church and its people said, change or get out. We talked after she read this and I said “I knew we had a lot to talk about” but we were just so glad to see each other in person that we just sort of stood there grinning and eating tiny little desserts from a buffet table. She is one of my favorite “we met on the Internet” people. That’s all there is to that. All I could say in response to her words from the stage was I get it. I get it. I get it….

A little while later she said something about how it’s been pretty easy for her to hide from Christianity after all she’s been through. It has made perfect sense to avoid Christians. Who has any energy left after basically being told I love you IF, anyway? As we talked that night, Casey said, But you’re a problem for me. You’re a Christian and I really like you…

She was striving to trust me. I wanted to scream IT’S OKAY YOU REALLY CAN but how can I expect that from her?

I can only earn it, in time. Even now, since that time, these words have come from Casey – “because of you, I’ve learned to start trusting some people who are involved in Christianity. I’m less scared of Christianity in general and am starting to have hope that the evangelical church will look a lot different…”

I don’t share that because it’s about me.  I mean, it means A LOT to me. But it’s not about me, yo. It’s not. It’s simple:

God did this. I believe that. He made me in such a way that I  just cannot have an agenda when I love people. I can’t think of them as projects or even consider their lifestyles at all, in a way that means I’m deciding something about them. I can’t. It doesn’t fit and inside of this particular Christian Babushka doll is a whole lot of Casey and so many others. It’s so good to be here.

There is love. Nobody stays hallow here, in the middle.

Oh, my little Babushkas. 

All of the rest, the Jesus things and the saving things and the many many things I can’t profess to have all the answers to…the harder questions within Christianity, the truths that are professed as truths with differing interpretations, I don’t know. And I am okay with not knowing. Can I not just stand here thinking you are amazing? Loving your story? Getting to know you? Can I not?

There is dignity and respect and not just tolerance and agreeing to disagree and smiling nicely and then harboring slanted resentments. I would really like to be a problem for people. I would like to confuse them with my Christianity. I am okay with being not okay. I am good with not fitting in Christian circles and not being Christian enough and not being invited to Christian things because I’m not an overt Christian blogger. I’m okay with not having all the answers. I’m okay with all the years I felt alone, a misfit. I am okay with having gotten off on the “wrong” exit.

I am more than okay, here with you and you and you and you and even me.


This one’s for believing

if only for its sake
come on friends get up now
love is to be made.

song by
greg laswell

comes and goes (in waves)


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