Stuck Between Two Me's
(Published September 23, 2019 on Medium)
I am not saying it’s a bad place to be, because I am choosing to accept it, moment by moment sometimes…but I feel like I’m stuck between two versions of me right now. I feel stuck between the me I left last January (right along with my life-long belief system I had held for 37 years), and the future me who is free to create her own reality and does not allow the beliefs and preferences of what the friends and family of previous (and current) me think I should be, affect her.
After fighting depression and suicidal ideation DAILY for 2 years, I began grasping at my faith in September, 2018. I had spent LITERALLY HOURS AND HOURS a day pursuing God, reading the Bible, listening to sermons and worship music, begging God to heal me, asking people to pray for me, serving in the worship band and loving it, leading small group studies at my house…I was trying to hold tightly to this faith I had been immersed in since birth and lived wholeheartedly even as young as 2–3 years old. I LOVED JESUS WITH ALL MY HEART. I was as genuine and real as they come. Christianity was my ENTIRE LIFE. Then in January, 2019, my Christian belief system fell into a deep, dark black hole. It left without any warning that it was suddenly going to completely fall out of the space it held in my brain, and it felt like absolutely EVERYTHING spiritual was completely gone forever. All of the sudden there was nothing to grasp at anymore. Nothing to pray to. Nothing to worship. Nothing to live for. I held out hope for a few days…few weeks…even a few months. But that hope felt as hollow and empty as a dry well in the dessert. March rolled around and Christianity, God, church, and the Bible were still feeling more and more foreign and distant and uncomfortably fake and awkward. I decided I had to accept where I was and in doing that, I had to take a complete step out of religion and spirituality, at least for a season…because clearly what I was doing was not working. It was in doing so that I affirmed to myself that I had finally come to accept that I am where I am…and at this point, I can’t make it come back, nor can I make anything different happen. I had already tried and tried. I can’t make myself spiritual or Christian. And I can’t have (and honestly do not really want) the god of the Bible as I understood him. In the upcoming months, I would have to learn to continually release my angst about needing black and white answers, and learn to completely let go and just let myself be. And grieve. And recover. I was in therapy at the time, and I think my therapist wanted my religion to come back more than I did — yes I missed my community and identity…but I knew it wasn’t coming back. He, on the other hand, kept telling me it was seasonal and I was still a Christian. But I knew better inside. I know who I was (not).
When I finally came to accept that my days of Christianity were over, and my previous identity was gone, healing began to happen. After I surrendered to my reality and walked away from the church, peace came more and more every week. I found this fascinating, because I had always been taught that peace that passes understanding comes from God ALONE. But I was finding that peace even more intensely now after I accepted that “God” left me (or so I thought “god left”). Maybe I just left Christianity and whatever “god/source” is is not really gone. ( I did not think this then, but now I’m contemplating what really is god to ME…after all, I get to create my own reality…and I’m starting as a blank canvas in some ways). Nobody but me can tell me what my story can be. This is definitely not what I grew up believing. But this is what I’ve chosen to embrace for now. It’s up to me to create and make the most of the rest of my life. And in doing so, my dream and vision is to invest in, love, encourage, and be there for others walking both similar and different paths. However it works, whatever happened, as I left the institution of the church, leaving Christianity in my past, hope emerged, depression slipped away, suicidal ideation began to cease, the world got bigger, my options to be and create grew intensely. What was I going to do with my life now? Who was I going to be? How was I going to do this new life and identity still immersed with and surrounded by Christian friends and family who saw me as ‘not okay’ for not following their Jesus. I love them all still. I love them deeply. They are still my friends in my heart. And I hope they can be happy for me on this new journey I am on, as I embrace a new way of looking at life that is actually very refreshing to the “new” me. And many of them are, but I know better than to believe that’s everybody. Because being fully immersed in Christianity for 38 years, I know that many of them view me as: fallen, backslidden, not ok, running from God, a prodigal, apostate, and some would even say I was never saved to begin with because they think I purposely chose to walk away. Yes I did eventually choose to walk away from the church building itself, after accepting that the god I had been following had jumped ship, but that was long after everything I believed in disappeared and it was not coming back. Put plainly I simply chose to accept the fact that the belief system failed me, and it was no longer a truth for me, so it didn’t hold. AND THAT’S OK.
So, I probably just made walking away from the church seem easy to some of you reading this. Was it easy?? HELL TO THE NO….Leaving one’s identity and source of life for 37 years, ALL MY FREAKIN LIFE, was NOT EASY! But I also did not choose it initially. I just learned I can resist it and suffer, or I can accept it and breathe and have peace. I don’t know how many days I sobbed randomly. I would fall on my bed and just melt into the blankets as tears poured from my eyes so heavy and deep that I thought the pain and loss and grief would never stop. It felt like a death. A terrible, horrible death that is unexpected and unrecoverable, leaving you without family that understands to surround you. I had to find hope in an online community as a fake me in this process. It was with a terribly broken heart that I stayed home my first Sunday in March, and my husband took our 6 kids with him alone to church. I did not feel ok. He did not feel ok. I was still intensely broken that I had lost myself and my loss of belief system probably more than doubled that pain. Sunday after Sunday, he has taken the kids to church on his days he’s off work, crying when he’s there, friends praying over him, praying for me to return to Jesus, praying for strength for D. Oh how much my heart ached so horribly deeply the first several months of this process. But that has slowly healed too. And I love where I am at now. And each day that goes by, things seem more normal.
Surprisingly my heart is opening back up again. I’m beginning to feel. My spirit is skeptical, but also beginning to be open to a new reality. A new way of viewing divinity and spirituality. A way that doesn’t have just one way to God like I was taught. While I’m open and want to embrace new teachings and decide what I want to believe and write my own story or reality that fits me, I randomly get blocked as the old me periodically steps in and tells me NOOOOOOO YOU CANNOT DO THAT!!!!! THIS IS NOT OK! THIS IS NOT RIGHT! I then think, well I KNOW the other way isn’t right either…it can’t be. Look at all the contradictions in my life and in the Bible. Look at the healing outside of religion. Look at the sickness and hate inside of religion. Things do not add up. I cannot go back. I will not go back. But I will choose to love and show compassion and be genuine. And if there is a divine, I do want to connect to it. Even in leaving Christianity, I feel a connection again to something, but I think it’s the same mystical connection I had before, but it’s not restricted to the Bible, nor is the Bible completely accurate about whatever this energy source is. I won’t claim to know what the Bible is right now, other than another sacred text like many other religions, one that is not more inspired than many others. (and that is my opinion that I am allowed to tweak and change, for the rest of my life, because it’s mine. And because if you’re not changing, you’re not growing.)
So I’m searching. I’m open. I love where I’m at right now. I am learning to love the journey, to love the process. Life is exciting because I can choose what to believe and create and what to make my reality. Whatever fits me and resonates with my spirit can become a part of me. I don’t know that I can necessarily choose that part at this point. I cannot MAKE something resonate with my spirit. Like I cannot MAKE the entire Bible resonate with me as the ONLY HOLY WORD OF GOD or that JESUS is the ONLY way to God and heaven anymore. That is no longer my truth. And it doesn’t make me wrong or bad or going to hell. I am not looking for black and white answers. I am not looking to hold to one specific truth for the rest of my life. I am open, free to evolve, free to change, free to be whatever I choose to create myself to be.
Being in the middle is hard — because I have places that I am not authentically me yet…meaning, there are hundreds of people on my fb that believe I am still Christian in their definition of the word. I am not. I am not a Born-again, Bible believing Christian. Do I strive to be like Jesus by loving people and doing good? Yes. But God, if God is real, is not restricted to the Christian’s holy book. I’m seeing, hearing, learning, and experiencing that there are so many other avenues to connect to this divine being or source(s)…whatever that is, whatever that means. If you were to talk to people from other religions, you would find that they too, have the same mystical experiences as Christians do, same answers to prayer…its got to be all be interconnected somehow. I do not need to have answers anymore though. I do not HAVE to know anything absolutely. There is so much freedom and peace in that. I am happy to just experience whatever comes my way any given day.
For me, for right now…I enjoy learning about vibrations, frequencies, and synchronicity. I often experience confirmations or interesting happenings in groups of 2–3. This happened before and after deconstruction. There’s something I’m connected to. Idk what it is. But I will pursue more knowledge of it. And I will choose to accept and enjoy the journey…between the two me’s. :)
EDIT…since writing this, I decided to post on my facebook. I have decided I am done hiding anything. The work I am pursuing is to walk along-side others in their deconstruction…whether it’s a major or a minor change in their belief system. They need to know people are there who will walk with them non-judgmentally. They need to know there are people who have been where they’re at. And they made it. Right now, THIS is my purpose.
♥ LIFE IS GOOD ♥