I Am Thrashing - Somewhere in the Middle

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.

 


When the body goes through trauma, the protective response is shock or coma.
I am convinced that when the soul goes through trauma,
a similar protective response kicks in.
But then there is the day of awakening.

I've never been in a situation with a loved one awakening from a coma.
It's always depicted as eyes slowly opening with quiet unawareness and confusion
of the past and present circumstances. However, the way I see it in my mind is that
waking up is a startling return to reality, to what is really going on.
I can imagine that I would wake up in full thrashing mode and full of questions.

“Where am I?”
“Who are you?”
“What is going on?”
“How much time has passed?”
“Where is the life I was living?”


About six years ago, I had my first awakening experience.
As I sat in the back row of another church service, I had a startling revelation.
I was hearing the same teachings I had heard for decades, and I was
leaving the building either feeling supremely better than the rest of the world
that was in need of rescue or guilty for not doing enough, or both simultaneously.
I was caring for children so that others could have the same experience,
feeling I was paying in tithes, offerings, energy and time
for the privilege to rinse and repeat every week.
I wrote on the bulletin, “There has to be more than this”

I had been a Christian since I was seven years old when I fearfully repeated words
offered from a pastor who had convinced me that if I didn't, hell awaited.
Looking back now, it angers me that anyone is manipulated
into any faith, commitment, or situation by rite of fear, 
but to instill that type of fear into a child is reprehensible.

Fear ruled my faith walk all the way through my adulthood.
Many, many, choices were made simply to appease and please God.
Everything was motivated solely from fear and that fear accompanied my waking up.

In my first thrashing moments, I was full of questions.
I went on a search for the more.
In some ways, I think I found it.

I found more love, more grace, more peace
in living life outside the bounds of Christianity
as I knew it. There was no fear where I landed.

But getting there was traumatic.

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There were moments of walking away from the questioning for the heart pounding fear that one more step in that direction would be one step too many and I would be lost forever. I was losing so many things. I lost friends. I lost the way I had always navigated life. I lost my native language; Not everyone speaks Christianese. I lost my community. I lost the only purpose I had known: to be a good Christian woman. I lost my faith in Christians and eventually, I lost my faith in God. The proverbial warning of the slippery slope had led me to exactly where I feared … lost forever in the land of agnosticism with occasional forays into atheism.

Biblical scriptures say that perfect love casts away all fear. I have found that place in my life where I am not motivated by fear. Absolute love guides my way. That is the life I have been living for awhile now. At peace with what I don't know, with the possibility of nothing.

Until one day recently when I experienced another awakening moment, 
for as Sue Monk Kidd writes, “we are waking up and waking up some more.”
I describe my journey to this place of peace as traumatic.
Maybe my soul has just been in the protective mode of deep sleep.
I have been sleepwalking, but it is time to wake up.

While I was sitting at the computer, answering emails, online radio in my ears,
a song played that brought me to the surface. I don't even remember the song now.
But in that moment, I had a startling return to reality.
I began to cry and entered into full sobbing grief for the faith that I had lost along the way.
I miss my faith in the same way I miss my father.
I miss the guidance and the comfort of his presence
but he is gone and I cannot bring him back.
I cannot bring back my faith either.
It's ok to grieve. I have been grieving … again.
But I have woken in full thrashing mode and the questions are still there.

“Where am I?”
“Who are you?”
“What is going on?”
“How much time has passed?”
“Where is the life I was living?”

I used to think:
I would never stop believing.
I would never believe again.
Maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
I realize now that some of my peace had come because I was asleep.
I had become so complacently content with not having answers,
that I quit asking the questions.
But I am tired of not knowing.
I am awake now.
I am outrageously redefining faith.
I am thrashing.  


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Cynthia Lee has released herself into the wild where she is recovering her natural instincts, her intuitive wisdom. She lives her uncaged life as a wife, mother of many, mi mi of two, artist, lifelong learner in the upstate of South Carolina. She records her journeys at spirituncaged.com