I just saw where my old church now has a merch shop. Because of reasons? I’m not sure why the have to sell logo shirts and mission statement shirts. I think I got out of there right in time.
I’m just going to say it outright. I hate Christmas. I hate the whole month of December to be honest. People who I haven’t seen all year suddenly believe that I owe them my time just because of a story about a manger. Every year I try to set boundaries and every year people trample all over it. The sadder part is I want this to be a spiritual season for me. I celebrate both Yule and Christmas, and this is a major holy season for my faith. So at a time I’m wanting to focus on spiritual formation, I’m surrounded by stress, demands, and a constant culture wars. So here’s to us rebels who are going to try to refuse the holiday rat race again this year.
I’m about 40 pages into my latest theological read and I figured I would give some first impressions. I picked up How (Not) to Read the Bible because I’ve come to question what I really believe about the Bible. So I’m trying to dive in and study different view points.
I’m not very far in, but my first critique is that Kimball is redundant. This could be an attempt at helping with memory consolidation, but it comes off as mildly annoying. Also, a huge pet peeve is that he used a scene from Star Wars as an example of taking a line out of context (relating it to taking Bible verses out of context) and he got the context of the Star Wars scene wrong.
So those are just some first impressions. Figured I would use the excuse to update the blog.
My husband has found a new church that he loves, and while he naturally wants me to go with him, he has been exceedingly respectful of my deconstruction journey and knows that I’m not really ready to start going back. But the pressure is on, even if it’s just self-imposed pressure. I’ve gone with him to service once before, and it’s a great little community. Yet, the idea of regular attendance sends off warning bells and makes anxiety bubble up in my stomach. It would be lovely to have a church where I can deconstruct my faith and still be surrounded by people who love me and accept that I question pretty much everything. However, I’ve already experienced a church that was “accepting” of your struggles – up until you weren’t magically cured of your doubts and sins within a reasonable amount of time (and for them, reasonable was less than two months). So I have a healthy dose of skepticism when a church family says they accept you right where you are. There are usually terms and conditions to that statement.
But the work day beckons, and I must heed the call of gainful employment. Hopefully I’ll get to write more on this soon.
I don’t know what I want to believe any more. Part of me wants to continue to be a Christian. I can see beauty in the theology and in Scriptures. However, the moment I look around me and see all the brokenness, I just don’t know if I can believe in a God. I know Christianity has answers for this (this brokenness and suffering is our fault and our own doing, among other things), but those apologetics no longer bring comfort or peace to me. I’m struggling to determine if it’s Christianity itself that’s holding me back or my resistance to Christianity that’s holding me back. But holding me back from what? Peace of mind? Growth? Fulfillment? What do any of those things really look like?
Dechurching Part II
I have decided for the time being, I won’t be attending church. I have had many bad and some even traumatic experiences at every church that I have attended. I under stand that “people will be people,” that does not mean I have to submit myself to such treatment. In many cases, if these events had taken place outside the church, no one would hesitate to encourage me to remove myself from the situation. Why should church get a special pass? I can forgive and walk away. By leaving for a time does not mean that I’m unforgiving or even hostile, though I have had my share of those moments. It is possible to forgive someone (or many someones) and still protect your own dignity. I have been belittled, overlooked, gossiped about, had harmful rumors spread about me, etc. and I will not tolerate this any more. I can forgive those who have hurt and damaged me without sticking around for them to continue to do so.
There is no biblical reason to stop going to church; in fact, the Bible warns against it. But part of deconstructing is learning it is okay to do something without biblical justification. Church is not a healthy or safe place. Full stop. A thousand arguments flood my brain at these statements, all berating me as a terrible person. Ultimately, I have to take care of my mental health and enduring guilt-laced sermons every week just because I “ought to” no longer makes sense to me. And I’ve been learning that not acting the way I ought to is okay.
The past few weeks I have dove into considering what it means to deconstruct my faith. I’ve written snippets of blog posts, expanded out my reading, and have been listening to audiobooks. I felt like I was starting to see the path ahead when my depression decided to flair up again. I’ve spent the past two days unable to write, not even able to journal- a daily habit that usually brings me clarity and contentment. I’ve slacked off on my reading, and sitting in contemplation has been a bigger struggle than usual. I’m fighting my three biggest stress reactions: shopping, emotional eating, and the urge to lay in bed and stare at the wall all day. I’m still doing my hobbies, but it’s forced. And what to do spiritually? I have a goal to finish reading a book on deconstruction in the next few weeks, but the thought of opening up my Kindle app and engage in what I’m reading feels overwhelming. So how do I interact with all of this while battling depression at the same time? My brain has wired itself to bring up false guilt: that I’m not good enough if I feel too blah to have a deep thought of any kind. For years I’ve seen things of faith as duty, and so giving myself permission to be free of my goals and intentions, even for a day, feels wrong. I need to give myself more space to just be, even if that being involves a chemical imbalance at the moment. I need to remind myself that deconstructing is a process and I don’t have to already have my conclusion.
God as Mother
Prayers to Mother Jesus. The divine feminine encompassed within the Trinity. This concept seems totally foreign but has come up several times in my reading lately. Trying the words “Mother God” in prayer this morning felt awkward and uncomfortable, but just how much of that discomfort is from traditional evangelicalism? Yet curiosity has me pondering this Mother God. I’m not sure where these thoughts are going (if any where).
“Kavod [respect] is far more than mere civility, politeness, or the thin veneer of tolerance that may mask a barely concealed disdain; rather, the word kavod is etymologically related to the word for ‘heaviness,’ ‘weight,’ and ‘significance.’ Truly honoring a human being means you regard them as inherently significant, weighty, worthwhile and having something of value that they contribute to the world. Kavod means you see the other as a beloved child of God as indeed he or she is – to not necessarily agree with all they may have said or done but to recognize the essential goodness within their souls for that too is God’s will.”
Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz