I Am Thrashing - Because It Is My Own

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.


A couple years ago, on the coast of Florida after one too many margaritas, I sat in the car with my man and sobbed. Ugly. Cry. Sobbed. It had been building far too long. The margaritas...they were a gift. They had made a way for the words. Words that had been buried alive deep inside. Words that came forth that night like an avalanche. Me, I was unable to stop the boulders with my hands and pure determination alone. The words, they sounded something like this.

“I don’t know what I believe. I’ve always known. I’ve always been so sure. Now I’m so not sure. That scares the shit out of me. I’ve always been the girl who clung to Jesus. The girl who tried to sell him to everyone she knew. And now, now I have some very big feelings to work out. With God. With Jesus. With myself. Some really big feelings. I’m worried God can’t handle my anger. That he can’t handle my questions. They are dark and ugly, twisted and deformed.”

That was the first time that I said it out loud. That I “didn’t know.” That I “wasn’t sure.” Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t instant. It had been building for quite some time. Starting years ago, in a padded pew in the back of a church, as hymns flowed past my head. It continues still, as I spend my Sunday mornings with a steamy chai in my hand, chatting with a stranger at our RV park. The questions flow on.

I kind of wish that I could tell you that I’m now standing in a place of certainty. A place of solidness. I have a feeling that’s what you want to hear. The opposite is actually true for me. Once I started asking the questions it was like I had truly become Alice, in the rabbit hole. Swirling into a land new and full of strange creatures. Soon I found myself at the table with the Mad Hatter. Finding comfort and more questions there. The questions, first one and then a hundred, they are like an avalanche of my very soul. It is my home now. It is where I take my tea. It is where I find solace with my wild hared friends and chipped cups.

I am thrashing. Present tense. I have been thrashing. At times it has been very very dark. At other times the light of it all has been blinding. The goodness so rich and raw, as if I’m savoring the most delicate of stews, all the ingredients grown and harvested in the soil of my heart. Again spread out on the table in Wonderland. Friends and strangers there. Some familiar. Some invested in this meal with me. Some are there just to see what it all looks like.

At other times I have stood on the edge and longed to fall to the caverns, a world void of color and light. The wolves hungry below. I long, to surrender in a last ditch effort of peace. To simply accept some religion from a book or a man, fed to me like watery broth. To be able to simply say, “Yes. I know this to be true.” Something holds my feet, my toenails jagged and torn from digging into the dirt. My dress ragged and filthy from the times I have lunged to the earth, in an effort to stay on the ground. So I stand here still. Determined and wildly alive. More alive than I have ever been before.

If given a choice of a do over I would still choose this path. I would still take my nap under the tree and swirl into the land of unknown. I would still lift the flap of Pandora’s box of questions. Sometimes, I have been standing here for longer than I wish. It has been dark and lonely. Sometimes, the table sparse of conversation. In my connecting with Mandy and others who have entertained the questions, I have felt less alone. My spirit finally able to embrace more deeply the questions that loom. The more my heart opens to them, the quicker they flow towards me. I am no longer afraid of them. I have made a place for them at this table.

So where I am now. What do my questions look like? What puzzles of my own have I solved?

I have left church {or what church used to look like}. I have tripped over Jesus as if he was still lying on the floor in the tomb. I have sunk deep into the comfort of Psalms and other times been so repulsed by religion as a whole, that I can’t force myself to pick it up. I have raised my hands at a Mumford & Sons concert the same way I used to raise them in worship. I have meditated, had tarot card readings and celebrated Jewish rituals. I have lit my Guadalupe candle and swirled into the hidden realms, led to truth by my spirit animals. I don’t think it’s sacrilegious. I think God is fine with me getting stirred by beautiful words spun to the banjo. I think he’s fine with me gazing upon the shifting moon cycle. I think he is less likely to fall over by the things that I do. I believe that he is still there. I can hear him still. However, his words sound less like judgement and a lot more like freedom. I’m finding he loves a good tea party and the company that sits there.

I still panic at the realization that I don’t know what comes after this life. That I don’t have answers for my friend at the coffee shop. The one who so admired my commitment to my Christianity, not so very long ago. I have moments when I just want to know. Want to be comforted by familiar truths and neatly pressed clothes. I miss the familiarity. Miss it greatly. But the thought of swallowing all these questions, to go back to that, it would be like eating a whale for dinner. Whole. There is no going back. This is my path. These are my questions. And I am content with the thrashing. The flailing. Because it is my own. 


Alicia Thiede: I love fiercely and live free and wild. I’m a true gypsy soul, who travels the road with my tribe, and collect miracles all along the way. I’m most at home with my feet in the sea and music in my ears. One of my deepest longings is that every girl would know that she is a miracle. She spills her words at milagrogirl.com