faith, God, Jesus, parenting, Uncategorized

You Can Manage and Control Something, but You Can’t Enjoy It at the Same Time. (Yeah, Let That Sink In.)

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My daughter got up early today to join me at Magic Church. I call it Magic Church because for the past six months I’ve been attending this 125 person community that all believes different things about the Gospel. Some are married, some are divorced, some are gay and married, some are gay and single. Not everyone believes in the same path to God but all believe in one thing: Letting each other figure it out the best way we can.

I’ve struggled with certain elements of right wing religion for a while, so the freedom to breathe for this A-personality control freak has been nothing other than MAGIC. Even with my doubts on some of progressive Christianity’s approach, I feel in my gut such a joy and peace. From the moment I step under the oak trees my soul whispers, “I am home. I am safe.”

The inner Evangelical in me is not too happy with this concept. With big hair and long nails (with her purse matching her shoes) she finger wags, “This is blasphemy! You need JAYSUS! That’s where the healing is!”

The only problem with Evangelical Annie’s proclamation is that such advice has not turned out to be the case. The healing has not come in the form of dogma and a one-way scripture reading ticket. Transformation, like a flower emerging from a bud, has come with colorful questions and the fragrant ability to share my story with honesty and transparency. I have found the only requirement to a beautiful garden of peace is to ask the master gardener, God himself, to show me who he is in a way I can understand. No control games. No strings attached. (Ding ding ding! He’s shown up every single time. Like a true gentleman, he never barges in without me asking, but once invited, boy does he wine and dine me! That Holy Spirit is such a cheeky one.)

Control + My Kids = Bad Move

This same concept of control has been very true with my kids. In the past I attempted to manage and control them to fit my exact specifications of how they should behave (from healthcare to grooming and study choices) but I could not enjoy easy relationship. To quote Sam, Rex and my mentor, “Control is never loving.” How true that statement was for me and my kids. Our relationship was fraught with tension, hurts and inevitable rebellion. It was only in relinquishing my need to be in charge that freedom came in. And in that freedom, a beautiful connection and bond formed.

Side note: I am not talking about letting go of stuff that matters. Serious bodily injury or outright defiance? Not happening. But if they don’t want to change their pillows every other day, despite my concern that their face could be clearer if they did so, I let it go. I’d rather have a kid with a few pimples who is happy with themselves than a brow beaten acne free teenager who begrudgingly complies. And if it means that much to me, I can just change the damn sheets myself. Some days I do just that. But most days I look at it, sigh, and refill my coffee cup. That seems more reasonable. (Oh, and do I change my own pillow every other day despite my acne? Oooh, snap! Not so much. Moving on.)

Today in church, when my daughter rolled into my pew in the back right hand corner, one kid after another smashed their way into her row like little spiritual sardines. “Pip!” they shouted. “I want a piggy back ride after service!”

Later, when Pastor Craig announced that the kids approach the front of the sanctuary for Children’s Hour (Ages 13 and under) Pip went right up there with the kids. She’s almost 15, but it didn’t matter. Flanked by kids on both side of her, she joined the Jesus mosh pit, participated in the message, and marched right out the door with them to Sunday School.

I bring this up because none of it was planned, but it was perfectly acceptable. No need to argue over technicalities. It just was. Magic.

The fact that my son was at my previous church and my husband was home washing the car? No big deal. Lack of worry about this less than ideal set up? Magic!

The old Andrea would have been in despair over such a fractured family. The new Andrea knows that every one of us gets to be spiritually fed the way we need it.

I won’t lie. I sometimes see the families with matching tee shirts and Bible verses from my old church and think, “Man, where did I go wrong?” But these days I’m mostly seeing where I went right:

  • Not sweating the small stuff to allow space for God’s miracles to manifest
  • Allowing humor to replace critical comments and sarcasm
  • Opening up our home to friends and family regardless of perfectly cleaned floors
  • Choosing to live with older cars and furniture so that newer belief structures could replace antiquated fears (fears that served only to root me in shame and second guessing)

Some of you might feel very differently than I do about this subject, and that’s okay. All I know is that the world sometimes feels very very unsafe. But in my little neck of the world, at least at this very moment with my daughter still swimming at her new church friend’s house and a belly full of pizza just hand delivered by Rex, my universe feels so full of joy and gratitude that I can only refer to it like I refer to my church: Magic.

Like the Jesus I follow who I believe died not just for me but for all of us, it only took dying to my old ideas of management and control to find it.

Might have taken 49 years to figure it out, but that’s better than nothing.

Friends, I wish you joy, peace, love and the ability to let go of managing every little thing that doesn’t matter so you can truly enjoy what does this week.

Until next time,

Andrea

PS: I picked up quite a few new readers this week. Glad to have you on board! You are so welcome here! Leave a comment so we can get to know ya.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. )

(Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook.

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Losing My Religion. And Tacos.

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I found a new writer who pretty much describes the transition I’ve been in for, oh, the past 20 years. Her name is Elizabeth Baker and she writes about her move from Evangelical Christianity to Progressive Christianity in places like HuffPo, her own blog at ElizabethBaker.com, Scary Mommy and more. Call it the wanna be Evangelical in me, but I’m still a bit uncomfortable with some of her word choices (ex: Why People Think Christians Are Assholes) but I get her drift. She’s over hiding her questions. And so am I.

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For a long time I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I drank over it. Raged over it. Hid behind my feelings that “something just doesn’t feel right” with my soul. When I found a big church, it felt like the pieces came together just enough to keep me from breaking apart. I loved the sermons and the pastor. I loved some of the people. It felt safe. People were kind to me. But there was also a bottom line: There was one way to heaven. Doubt, resist and flail, but in the end, put down your guns.

I wanted to do this. I was used to doing this. After all, when everyone else is right, and you are wrong, this is an easy creed to follow. And yet, there were issues. I had a Jewish father, lots of Jewish family members, and many friends from other faith traditions. I tried to swallow the idea that my conservative church’s way was right, and their’s was not, but I never felt the need to convert them. The only thing I wanted to ask them was if they could pass the bagels or the Tikka Massala shrimp.

As time went on, and I found my strength through a 12 step program and a flock of girlfriends who just let me be me (as well as raised independent thinkers who asked hard questions that couldn’t be answered with just black and white Bible verses) my facade of “it must be this way or I’ll crumble” well… crumbled.

And in the rubble, with just me, the Holy Spirit and an empty cup of Yuban, it hit me: I didn’t want my church’s “religion” so much as I wanted the assurance so many of the members seemed to have. For the first time, I had honesty about my doubts. And while that honesty was uncomfortable, it was like finally taking off a pair of jeans that were too tight. I felt free. Less burdened. I didn’t lose Jesus. I just lost my need to have someone else’s Lord.

The Awkward Rebel

I know that many conservative folk would say I’m being rebellious, but if they knew me, they’d know I’m the most tender, rule following good girl there is. But often that has been at the expense of this good girl’s wellbeing. And that felt bad.

So Now What? 

I believe with 100% certainty that God is for me, not against me, but I also believe he is for you if you are naturally born gay. I don’t believe it’s a choice. And I can no longer attend a church that counsels people to deny this aspect of their being.

When I get quiet, which is where I hear from God (just like Paul did… just like many male prophets did) I hear a tender voice that reminds me, “You don’t know everything, Andrea, but you were fearfully and wonderfully made. I love you. Now go out and love others and put down the judgement today. And by judgement, I don’t mean of others. You have always loved others. I mean of yourself. And eat a taco while you’re at it.”

And so I did.

I joined a tiny open and affirming church that allows me the respect to question, seek and love my fellow worshippers exactly as they are, not as religion tells them to be. And I’ll be providing the taco bar for fellowship in a few weeks. If you, too, are a seeker, come join me. Services start at 10.

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And if you’re happy at your more traditional church, that’s okay, too. I don’t want to be right. I just want peace. And I wish the same for you.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #12: Find Your Own God, Not Someone Else’s. If You’re Wrong, God Will Let You Know. And It Will Make a Fun Story at the Welcome Back Church BBQ.

Until next time,

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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