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 wore a gold necklace that held a small glass encased mustard seed. I wore it every day to encourage me, remind me, scold me that ALL I had to have was *that* much faith. That tiny mustard seed...Pray continuously. Breath in - pray. Breath out -pray. In, out. I believed. Believed in the promise of peace that passes understanding. Believed in a great love. I believed deeper than my core in The Way. I believed in The Life.
I begged, in a church full of people speaking in tongues and being "slain in the spirit," for God to fill me in that way, to let me worship Him that fully. And I found myself the only one standing, quietly, my mustard seed mocking me. I poured and poured over my dog-eared Bible. Breath in, pray, breath out, pray. Empty yourself of self. Empty of idle thoughts, full of humility. Breath in, breath out.
Somewhere in my college years, I opened my eyes and thought, how, HOW can this be right? I have NO peace. There is no joy. I have succeeded in emptying so much *self* that I cannot stand to look in a mirror. If asked what I like to do, what music I enjoy, even just a simple description of me, I have no answer. And God? Well I am not sure I have ever met Him. Maybe I don't want to...
That damn mustard seed.
So I quit. My eyes were riveted by people not searching at all for my Jesus who lived FULL, love and laughter just pouring out of them. They were a better representation of my Jesus than I had ever been and they didn't even know him.
The world tilted, all I knew spilling out and a terrifying exhilarating feeling crept onto my toes. I felt free. I stared, wondering where on earth solid ground was and if I would ever put a foot on it again. But my empty self could not stand another second of praying for this emptying. So I let go...fully.
I moved across the country and fell in love with mountain air that, as I took a big breath in (without a prayer), I laughed out loud at the fullness that followed. Joy? I DANCED! To real music! I skinny dipped and drank beer. I said out loud in a tongue that felt foreign "I don't think I am a Christian...I don't believe in that God anymore." What does that even mean?
I, fifteen years into this other path, still can't tell you. Pray? I don't believe in that god anymore. Homosexuals degrade the sanctity of marriage? I don't believe in that god anymore. Women should be submissive? I don't believe in that god anymore. Preach the message to the starving kids in Africa? God better be a piece of bread.
My god? Well...he doesn't care if I say she. He knows we're all the same -- I am one choice from a drug addict and one choice from welfare. Saying fuck doesn't offend him -- he knows words are words. He made water to wine and I partake. A lot. He thinks laughing and dancing are far more worthwhile than praying and judging. He doesn't need my mustard-seed-size faith. He likes my questions because he is not insecure. And he is far too kind to see the small differences between Yahweh and Allah and Buddha. The thrashing? I find it refreshing...Free.
Quoting old chapters & verses left me an empty bag of bones. My god? He lives in the thrashing.
I am Paige. Or Bethany. Depends on how we know each other. I didn't change my last name when I got married. I am good at starting things. I love 4 legged animals. I laugh way too loud. I believe every day gets better when someone puts on a wig.