Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Well, I guess the time has come....

I had a comment on my last post from a reader that made me realize I should prolly let folks know where I'm coming from regarding my worldview and spirituality.  I have another blog (surprised?) that I rarely post on anymore called 'Tracking the Edge' where I rambled away about my (very T1) spirituality, often venting frustration as I began to see I just wasn't going to jive with the standard American conservative Christianity worldview anymore.   There was alot of sarcasm, bitterness, and anger spewed there, and I'm just not at the point anymore of needing to publically vent like that....and there's more positive ways to deal with my frustration than simply spewing a bunch of vitriol on a blog that doesn't help me or anyone else.

Anyway, I wrote this almost exactly 2 years ago, and even now, I'm finding myself in a new place.  Priorities shifting again.  But I offer this up for you're consumption to at least give you a bit of history, and how my spirituality evolves.
I had an unexpected opportunity to put together a snapshot in words about myself yesterday and thought I'd share it here. It represents, in condensed form, my journey up to this point in time. I guess you could call it my testimony? I don't know, but here it is:

I poke a stick in a hornet's nest (another of my talents, unfortunately) quite often, but my original intention is usually just some simple, respectful dialogue. I try to offer my perspective with some light heartedness and humility, but I often fail to communicate miserably. I don't mind being disagreed with, but after an intense interaction, I can feel a bit beat up. Especially when it's obvious nothing I could say or the others could say to me is going to make an iota of difference in how we each view and issue or perspective. It makes me frustrated and sad when judgements and generalities are tossed around without any energy invested in scratching beneath the surface....but I also understand my own prejudices can run deep at times even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Humans are thick-headed at times. As it's can't fix stupid.

I've wrestled with my own faith and understanding of Christianity thru the years, and ultimately found myself frustrated and let down by the 'Jesus is an angry, white, Republican American boy' mentality. I've begun to see the scripture in a different way....the call for discipleship surpassing the call to 'get people saved so they don't burn in hell'. This has put me at odds with many in the Church. I guess I'm ok with not 'knowing' the absolute 'truth' anymore. It feels more like humility to say "I love God, I know Jesus died on the cross for humanity.....but I'm not sure about much else". I'm much more comfy in the gray areas, and I try (with much effort at times) to see things from others' perspectives. I purposely "put myself in others' shoes" in order to at least understand a different view. I still may not agree, but at least I've given it a fair shake. Like the issue of abortion...I still hate it, and I volunteer at the local Crisis Pregnancy Center, but I can also understand the dangers of allowing the gov't into our personal lives (taking our guns, our right to homeschool, our choice of where to worship, our freedom of speech, etc.) I also know many, many women who have had to make the excruciating choice to abort because life isn't perfect. We aren't in Eden anymore. It doesn't help anyone to use words like 'murder' and 'killing'. It simply shames people, and we've got plenty of that to go around. Anyway, I got really sick of the militant "I'm right and you need to think like me" perspective that is rampant in America's charismatic churches. Having now been on the receiving end of blunt force bible thumping, I can say with some certainty, it doesn't make Jesus look so appealing. I try my best to follow Jesus' commandment to 'Love God and love your neighbor'. I take it very seriously in fact. I figure if I ever get that down, the rest is gravy. I just don't think I'll ever get there...but it doesn't stop me from giving it my best shot each day. Thank God for new mercies every morning, eh?

I know that others will see me as 'lost' or 'back slidden' or a 'bleeding heart liberal' or even a 'socialist'. I don't like boxes and labels. Human beings, made in God's image, are WAAAAY too complex for such simple brush strokes. I think I'm mostly a questioning, intellectually honest person who wants to please God and be kind and humble. I don't 'fit' in any sphere perfectly. I spent too many years trying to please those in the Church and following the rules they laid down. It almost killed me, literally. I was suffocating in that box. Thankfully I found a little Mennonite church that taught me that democrats aren't evil, being a peacemaker is a high calling, and serving our neighbor doesn't always include 'praying the prayer'. I believe I'm here to further God's Kingdom not by making people agree to a set of bullet points, but by modelling kindness, humility and graciousness, serving the poor, living as simply as I can in this culture of insatiable consumption, and yes, being an inigma. That's how I see Jesus living his life. He never made anyone pray a prayer, nor did he require everyone who encountered him to confess he was Lord or become a Jew. I'm hoping to get others on the 'kindness before rightness' boat with me, whether they confess with their mouth Jesus is Lord or face Mecca or pray to Buddah or shun organized religion in any form. I don't believe in guilting or shaming people into the gospel of 'Love God, Love others'. I'm into living it. No strings attached. I've guess I've just had a monumental paradigm shift in my understanding of 'christianity'.

I may be an un-believer or and idiot or what-have-you to those who hold to a more conservative Christian viewpoint, but what counts is how I see myself, how I treat others, and how much I act like Jesus. I see my job as finding others trying to do the same thing and partnering with them in bringing God's peace and restoration to a broken humanity. For instance, this election cycle brought a new face, a new perspective, and some edgy ideals that challenged the status quo. That resonated deeply with me, and while I don't see Obama as a savior or politics as the answer to humanity's woes, I do appreciate his 'thinking outside the box' as well as his focus on being our brother's keeper. I appreciate his call to personal responsibility and community involvement. I like that he hunkered down and made something of himself, having forgone the easiest path to riches and glory as a bigtime lawyer, by doing community service in some of the most poverty stricken areas of the midwest. That he recognized "something different" in the church folks he worked side by side with in those run down neighborhoods...who then became the catalyst that caused him to walk down a church isle, kneel before a cross, and asked forgiveness for the wretched man he was. That he asks for God's wisdom each day. That he REALLY wrestled with the issue of abortion, looking at it from moral, ethical, medical, and legal standpoints....and allowed a Christian pro life doctor help him take a good look at the language of the Democratic party regarding 'choice'. That he has the ability to say "I messed up". Is he perfect? Nope. Will I agree with everything he does or says? Nope. But then I'm not a Democrat. Or a Republican.  And politics are politics for the most part. There's no wool over my eyes on that account.

I don't mean to defend myself, change other's opinions or even change their opinions about me. I only hope that thru interacting with me, other believers might begin to see that not all Christians tow the same line....and that it doesn't make them stupid. Or ignorant. Or wrong. Or off the deep end. I lived in such a small universe of people within the charismatic church, that when I finally got out, I realized there were immensely compassionate and kind people who would never step foot in a church for a myriad of understandable reasons. I began having to answer for some of the behavior of the Church toward their fellow man. I began learning to say "I'm sorry we've represented Christ as an angry, white, Republican American and not the Light of the World". It was humiliating, yet hugely freeing.

In short, my hope is to be a 'rebuilder of the walls long devastated'....not to bring yet more devastation. I think this was Jesus' hope as well, but he also knew bucking heads with the status quo would necessarily need to devastate the appropriate walls of injustice and hate and oppressive tradition. In doing so, it ultimately got him tortured and killed. The keepers of the status quo and protectors of power don't like to be threatened with change....and it usually takes a revolution of the people to bring change. In America, this past November brought a revolution via the voting both. I'm grateful that I live in a country where I can be a part of challenging the status quo simply by choosing leaders I feel offer the most chance for God's Kingdom to be seen. On a smaller scale, when I challenge the status quo, I pay with rejection, misjudgement, and second-guessing myself alot....but then I remember it's a small price to pay to shine the light in darkness. I probably won't have to pay the ultimate price as those like Jesus, Ghandi, or Martin Luther King did.

This is where I find myself in the present moment, 4 days before turning 42 years old in March of 2009.

So there ya have it. Have I scared all of you away now? :) I want to let you know I'm not turning this blog into a spirituality thing, but my spiritual beliefs will obviously come thru as it did yesterday. As I said in my response to to the commenter, my intention is never to offend or convince others that my way is *the* way. I'm simply sharing my journey, and that will include my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual changes along the way.

Tomorrow I PROMISE to leave behind the seriousness for a while and bounce back to some funness with my last weeks' outfits and accessories. :)


  1. We've pretty much been on the same path, Cindy.

  2. My faith has undergone a lot of transformation, too, having started at a conservative place similar to what you describe. I now think of my faith as progressive but still Christian. And a lot of what you said resonated with me!

    Also, I am a Democrat, so I can say with complete confidence that Democrats are not evil. And I am beyond thrilled to have our current president in the White House!!!

    Do I have a bleeding heart? I suppose so. But so did Jesus, in my opinion.

    Thanks for sharing your faith journey!

  3. Sooo not scared away. Drawn in more. I love people who don't fit a label. I come from liberal Dems and find myself leaning Libertarian. I am very conservative and Christian. I am pro choice. I am many things but ever faithful and thankful. Be YOU.


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