As many of you know, I’ve struggled for years to find my higher power. I have wrestled with the guilt of not fitting into an evangelical mold that I thought was going to save me. But I had misplaced religion with faith. I had misplaced fear of not being good enough with an impossible Biblical task list.
I have many friends who promise me that Jesus is the answer to feeling good enough. I adore them and their strong foundation for living. But for me, it took letting go of a Biblical model, and a good dose of 12 step, to get serenity. I don’t apologize for this. I’m just being honest.
I have solidly landed in the place of Anne Lamott meets Lin Manuel Miranda when it comes to my faith and, well, I couldn’t be more grateful. That said, the Evangelical devil still sometimes shouts at me. It comes in the form of angry shame poking at me:
Acck! Run! Shut down your brain and just believe! Because, no, cults aren’t started like that, right?
Scary as that shame can feel, I can’t do the “Must Do’s” anymore to fit into some Christian design for living that only one group of people adhere to. There’s other interpretations. I’m not such a pile of poo for leaning toward those. That said, I’m not ready to give up Jesus. He still calls me. In fact, when I pray to him, and I comb the scriptures and his messages, I see nothing about hard core “Must Do’s.” I do, however, see a hell of a lot of love and acceptance. Yeah, filling up on that feels amazing. (It’s either that or a tube of Trader Joe’s Ho Ho’s. Jesus is better for my figure.)
“This concept of yours? That’s not love, that’s wishful thinking to create a God based on your human understanding,” many of my church friends have told me. “That’s you wanting to play God.”
Comments like that had me second guessing myself, but I trudged ahead with my new found peace anyway. My serenity must have irritated a friend of mine, because when I told her about my new found contentment she remarked, “Of course you feel relaxed. That’s exactly where the devil wants you.”
Side Note: When someone is struggling with something spiritual, telling them that they are falling into the clutches of Satan’s evil grip is not particularly helpful.
Last week felt particularly stressful. Between burying my husband’s father, some work shake ups, and being alone with my thoughts for an entire week while on vacation (oh yeah, this over-thinker sure knows how to do Spring Break!) I was pretty uncomfortable. That’s when I had a life changing conversation with my sponsor, Rosa. She reminded me to stop thinking and start praying. Specifically, “Pray that God shows you in a way you can understand.”
This was on Wednesday.
I started praying… really praying... every day. When I’d feel guilt or shame for bucking the system, I’d pray, “God please show me in a way I can understand.”
And then something incredible happened.
On Sunday I brought my friend Annie my new church. She brought a friend, Tina. Both had never attended services there.
As a reminder, this is a church I had attended as a little girl. I have had dreams about it for years. I could literally smell the pepper trees and feel the calming presence of God from the old school chapel. In those times of quiet, and in my dreams, I could almost hear the words, “Go home… go home…” so I finally did. For the past 3 months, despite feeling like a rebel without a clue, I kept going home. I felt safe there. It felt right. And on Easter I knew why.
When Tina asked me why I drove to this church instead of staying closer to home, I told her the above story.
Tina: “Where did you live as a little girl?”
Me: “Woodland Park.”
Tina: “I live in Woodland Park. What street did you live on?”
Tina: “I live on Martinez.”
In my gut I knew before she even asked the last question.
Tina: “What house #?”
Tina: “That’s MY house!”
It was then, truly then, that I knew I had heard from the God of my understanding. All those peacocks… all those many eyes of God… I had finally listened. I found home. Literally. And for that amazing experience, on Easter Sunday no less, I am so grateful and humbled.
What Length Are You Willing to Go to Find Your Resurrection Story?
Happily Ticked Off Tip #43: Careful about asking God to show you in a way you can understand. He just might… and it’s unbelievable! Be ready!