TO CELEBRATE THE OCTOBER RELEASE OF MY BOOK THRASHING ABOUT WITH GOD, AND TO EXPAND THE CONVERSATION BEYOND MYSELF, I HAVE ASKED 31 BRAVE PEOPLE TO SHARE A GUEST POST WITH THE THEME OF #IAMTHRASHING. THESE ARE PEOPLE I HAVE PERSONALLY DIALOGUED WITH, PEOPLE WHO I KNOW HAVE RISKED A LOT TO WRESTLE WITH THE HARD STUFF THAT COMES WITH SPIRITUALITY. OUR FAITH MAY NOT LOOK LIKE YOURS, BUT WE WELCOME YOU TO THE DISCUSSION.
I have never felt more empowered in my humanity and femininity than the day I gave birth to my daughter.
Becoming a mother opened my mind to a whole new world. I finally understood unconditional love. A love that I had heard about numerous times in church, but had never really grasped. There is nothing that my daughter could do to make me stop loving her. Nothing that would make me pull away from her. This knowledge affected every fiber of my being. This awakened a spiritual side of me that for once had more questions than answers.
If this new revelation of love was true, the message I was so adamant about for the first 25 years of my life couldn’t be true. Through words, I had always been taught that Jesus loves me regardless of my behavior. In action, I had been shown that love is conditional. Love is earned and taken away at the first sign of failure. Love is afraid: afraid of being found out, afraid of failure and ruined reputation. Always striving and coming up short of what would earn me love.
Becoming a mother of a daughter was a whole different challenge. This little girl would look to me to show her what it meant to be a woman. I would be her first encounter with femininity. I very quickly recognized that I had outgrown the views I had previously held about womanhood. I grew up believing women fit into one of two categories. They were either Mary: holy, sinless, pure, virginal, or Eve: seductive, man-eating, temptress. This idea can only stem from a place of black and white. There was no room for grey in my world. Things were right or they were wrong. They were good or bad, righteous or sinful. I no longer can view the world through those eyes. I have seen too much grey. My humanity lives in the grey.
I wasn’t created an angel. I was given a physical body and a physical world. I spent so much time trying to deny my physicality and humanity that I lost track of the fact that God intentionally designed me to be human. I spent my first 25 years trying to be Mary, or rather this image of Mary I had created. I wanted to do right by God and to me that meant rule following. I not only held myself to this standard but I held those around me to this as well. I hurt so many people by pointing out their flaws and weaknesses in “the name of Jesus” in an attempt to force them become more Christ like. Because if I was fighting so hard to be perfect, everyone must suffer with me… for Christ of course. I internally had an air of holiness that I had not earned. I was under the belief that I had it figured out because I had Jesus. But it wasn’t about Jesus, it was about me. It wasn’t about resting on his grace, it was about sticking to the rules and being worthy of salvation. I didn’t understand love. I certainly didn’t understand grace.
The feminine side of humanity I was exceptionally uncomfortable with. I couldn’t create a bridge between what I knew to be “true” and what I was feeling. From my vantage point, some areas of femininity were embraced by the church: nurturing, compassion, gentleness. But embracing and celebrating femininity as a whole felt like sin. Beauty is vanity. Self-care is selfishness. Sexual feelings are shameful. I wanted my beauty to be noticed, but I didn’t want to “make anyone stumble.” I wanted validation but I didn’t want to “ruin my chances for a healthy marriage.” I wanted my voice to be heard, but I didn’t want to be seen as anything but submissive. I was so conflicted between what I knew to be true in myself and what I knew to be true in the church; I was drowning in my own mind. I was so bad at being Mary. I wore my shirts too tight and my heels too high. I was far too outspoken to ever be called submissive. And I liked boys. I really liked boys. I was so tired of trying to kill myself off so that He could live. Of all things, Eve, the seductive temptress, the man-eating woman who was responsible for my very demise as a human, threw me a life raft.
Why had this human, who could have been any of us, been painted in such a light? The answer that rings true for me was fear. Fear of compassion for the sinner. Fear that compassion would some how cause the sinner to sin more. Fear of accepting her humanity as simply that, humanity. Fear of calling her beauty good rather than a temptation. Fear of falling head first into the wildness of the woman in the garden. When Eve is viewed through the eyes of humanity, she is relatable. Eve captures my heart in a way Mary never could. Eve tells me, we were created to be human. Don’t deny who God intended you to be. God created Eve to be feminine, and that was “good.” Eve’s body, Eve’s emotions, Eve’s relationship with her man were all “good.” There was no religion. There were no pews and hymnals, nor praise bands and Power Point. There was only relationship. Relationship with the Creator. Relationship with nature. Relationship with each other. This was radical.
Eve, in all her humanity, fell short of the divine. This fear of my own humanity, my own femininity, felt like a cage. A cage that has been built to force me to become an angel. A spirit, with no physicality to get in the way of her devotion to her Creator. Femininity is easier to control when covered, hidden, and diluted. But I was created human. A human with a body, emotions, desires. Is there life outside of my cage? Can I really set fear aside and live like the wild, naked, Eve?
This is my practice, The Eve Practice. My passage out of the cage. My journey from religion to spirituality. My turning from a life of trying to be Mary and instead embracing Eve, who I was so bad at hiding to begin with. Finding the beauty in my own humanity. Finding the spirit of my own femininity. Reawakening a soul that has been asleep too long. A search for truth, unadulterated by fear. And in doing so, finding a deeper understanding of the Creator, the spirit that knitted my feminine soul together.
Kenzie is a 26 year old who lives in New York with her husband, daughter, and Labradoodle, Murphie. She spent the first 25 years of her life with "everything figured out" and now recognizes that all she knows for sure is Grey's Anatomy is addictive and homemade food is good for the soul.