Saturday, November 17, 2007

On the Outside

Today I sit here relaxing and writing a blog on a day when I used to be parked in a pew at church with a smile pasted on my face. There was some genuine joy in me then, but in so many ways I was going through the motions. That whole scene masked a lot of pain. We ALL have it. Some people cope in ways considered "worldly", others cope by burying themselves in religion. I don't want to cope, I want to LIVE!

What a strange thing, life is.

For the most part I'm glad to be on the outside. There are days when I still feel torn. I'm a social person, so I miss the social aspect of the churchy life. I have a conscience, so the e-mails I have received from those "concerned about my salvation" since leaving the church do prick at me.

However, I am deeply spiritual and do not miss being dictated to as to how I should think, live, believe and worship. If the social aspect is the major draw and not the spiritual, then something is wrong in the big picture of religion. I think many people cling to religion because they like feeling they are "right" while everyone else is "wrong".

Hey- I DO care and that's what makes life so tough for me right now. I take time to consider things because I DO want to be the best I can be. I believe in God. Not so sure He believes in me. If He really is as powerful and caring as people say, surely He would've found a way to reach me by now? Not asking for something profound, but there is only silence. My faith hangs by a thread.

Staying busy numbs me. When I have down-time, I have to face the fact that I'm not exactly happy or fulfilled in my personal life. Make the most of it..... make the most of it.... push through and hold on to hope..... be honorable to my word. Keep telling myself to be thankful, that it could always be worse. But it could be better too and that's the torment of the unknown....

Being in your 30's is a lot like being a teenager again. You have lived long enough to have gained some wisdom, but still have many unanswered questions. At this point, I find myself asking "Is this it? Is THIS all there is to life, to love and success? To push through one hard time after another, to invest yourself in one dream, one relationship or career after another only to watch it come crashing down?"

Life is a process.... a journey.... but we're all seeking a destination. Many think they have already arrived- okay, more power to them! lol

And of course, I wonder if I am the only one who ever feels this way. Perhaps I'm losing out? Maybe life is incredibly good and I simply lack the ability to see that?? What is this ache, this hunger inside? It's been there all along and I have tried to mask it in so many ways. Proof to me that time does NOT heal all wounds. I am beyond cliches.

Perhaps it is the little girl in me who wanted so desperately to have parental love, support and security, but received so little. I don't know how to love halfway, but I have been loved that way. Not sure what to make of it. Could I recognize true love if I had/have it? Only time will tell...

When people say they care about you, but words or actions say differently, it is downright confusing. In the church, they call each other "brother" and "sister", but many have NO idea what being a family means. Overbearing criticism, trying to dictate or control someone else's life, shunning and gossiping about them is NOT love people, so you can take that WWJD bumper sticker off your car now. (I honestly think everyone does the best they can in life.) But to me, claiming to be Christ's follower is making a VERY big claim and ya better be able to back it up.

Growing up is tough. There are people who give both positive and negative predictions about your future when you are young. I was told I was bright, talented and promising by many, but just as many called me "white trash". Which is it? Should I even care??

If you allow other people to define you, there's the possibility that you will not like what you have become. So I've stepped out in an attempt to define myself. It's the scariest thing I've ever done, but in order to maintain my sense of being REAL it's a necessary step.

I realize that my choices, my attempts to find the answers may hurt or disappoint other people. This is NOT my intent. Everyone has the right to believe and live as they see fit. This has been true all along and I have been accepting of other people and their paths. Just didn't realize that freedom applied to MY life as well. I see it now...

We all affect each other- no matter what we do. I want my footsteps in life to leave as little damage as possible.


Gabrielle Eden said...

It's just so haven't had that awesome experience of the love of Jesus, really...and the love that can come through some of his own. It's so powerful and life changing. And you can't help praising God's goodness. Man, I wish I knew how to give you that.

Erin said...

I'm glad you are finding freedom for yourself and your faith. It will all make sense again one day, until then, know that God loves you no matter what.

Don said...

Thank you for allowing us to feel as you feel.

Livingsword said...

Trailady great article….I love your genuineness and openness! Also I believe you speak for many people….

My journey is the opposite of yours my friend. I didn’t grow up in the “Church”. I didn’t become a follower of Jesus still I was almost 30.

I didn’t become a follower for community; I am very outgoing so making friends is really quite easy for me.

I became a follower of Jesus because all the alternatives I saw proved to not be genuine to reality…and because the truth of Scripture rang in my ears along with Jesus and grace.

Nowhere in the Scriptures do I see an idealized perfect Church here on the current earth. Check out Corinthians or Revelation 2-3. Check out the apostles and their stupid about Judas (fake)…. The Church was a mess in the past and it’s a mess now. Of course there are many fake Jesus followers and fake “churches” out there. There are fake “Christians” in the Church I am part of….but there also some wondrous amazing shockingly Christlike persons. There is no perfect Church here anywhere and Scripture tells you that it this is the way things are…God never flinches from telling it the way it is. Look what happened to Jesus, we should expect nothing less or more!

I venture the big difference between teen years and the 30’s (I’m 43) is that in your teen years people tell us “you can be anything”. When we get to our 30’s the money is not what we thought, the relationships are not what we thought and more disappointing we are not what we thought, for some this starts mid-life crisis….a bit early I should add :)

When a person becomes a follower of Jesus they admit they are “screwed up”, “broken” sinners. They know they come to Jesus with nothing. God offers us grace, a free undeserved unearnable gift. We turn from our pride our ego our sin to Jesus in trust of who He is, what He has done and what He will do to accept this free gift. This is relationship not religion, religion and is a stick or tutor directing us towards relationship with Jesus, religion is not following Jesus is all about.

When one becomes a follower of Jesus God begins transforming us. Yet no follower of Jesus will be sinless till the other side of the veil. I am a devout Jesus follower and I SIN EVERY DAY. Yet thru relationship with God and with His help, mercy, and grace I am slowly becoming more Christlike.

This is the most wondrous and exciting adventure I have ever been on (and I think you know I have been on some “trips” prior to being a Jesus follower).

I stand in awe of Jesus in that even though I am so totally not worthy of Him He is still willing to be “associated” with me, to call me His child. To accept me as His follower…He will accept any who call upon Him, the worst of the worst…why do you think the Church looks the way it does? It is because I am part of it….


Gabrielle Eden said...

I just want to say thank you to Livingsword for always going the extra mile - putting out the effort to write the words to reach out, and thank you for reaching out to our friend now, at a crucial time.

FallenAngel said...

I miss things alot at Christmas time. I miss the Christmas eve services and the music, and lots of stuff. There were alot of good people there. I miss the fellowship too. The familiar routine. The music. I love Handel's Messiah. There is so much to miss.

I have such a sense of loss at Christmastime - the songs really get to me, the songs and the whole season just don't feel the same when you don't believe it amymore like me. I really lost alot. Its really emphasized at Christmas, for obvious reasons. I remember feeling like my whole floor, my whole foundation, had completely crumbled underneath me.

But I realized I didn't have to stop celebrating. Its just different now. The things I loved are still there - the feel in the air, the change of the season, the warmth for humanity, my children. Its just a different way of celebrating. But there is definately a loss. It feels weird. Its like when you find out that Santa isn't real. Alot like that. Just empty and different.

I remember the silence too. When I still "believed". It felt like my prayers just hit the ceiling and stayed there. Nothing. Not one little bit of anything. And I needed it so bad. The silence is horrible.

I would really like to send you a Christmas card. Please email me an address I can send one too.

I'd like to wish you and Jay and your kids a Happy Holiday season - I hope you find some joy and peace and wonder.

This year I am celebrating Yule.

From A Kindred Spirit - and someone NOT concerned about your salvation.

Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, Merry Meet, Merry Part and Namaste

Miah, Wendi, Yanita and Kailianne said...

Hi Paula, I am sorry that you have been so hurt in life and that you have had so many rough turns. I do not want you to think I am pricking you either--I just felt sad when I read your blog--knowing you as the bright beautiful lady that was right there with me in our spiritual walk at camp--remember MiVoden--remember our good laughs--then I remember the gorgeous song that you chose to sing at our wedding--how beautiful you and your husband sound singing together and what an inspiration you both were to me and my husband starting out in a new life together. You have had alot of laughter with him and some very loving moments around that time of your life--I remember admiring them--sometimes good times are easier to forget them remember--Life is not perfect as you too well know, it takes rough turns and for you it has taken alot of rough turns--I am sorry for that. There are still people in the church that love you very very much, not all of us are out to get people--with people noone out there is perfect--in the church or out--I will pray that God will touch your heart and show you His will for you in every area of your life. I came across your blog kinda by accident~you having posted to my brother Kalvin's blog--yes this is Wendi:) I felt like crying and did not read it all--I feel like Gabrielle--what she said on this post--to think you say all this time you have not felt God--or real love--I pray that God will show His love to you in such a real way AND the love of your family--that he can give you forgiveness completely and totally towards your husband--please tell him hi for us too--and that God can begin to heal you from the inside out--please give him that chance--both "Hims". Since you have seen me last I have had 6 miscarriages....and adopted 2 kids and if God was not there to turn to I have no idea that I would be here still pushing on today. Relationships are HARD--they take work--but it is so rewarding through the pain of loss and even misunderstanding your mate during the loss, noone feels the same way at the same time--anyhow that God loved us enough to hold us together through our pain and extreme loss and struggles I KNOW He can and will do it for you--and I am praying for you!
With much love and prayers,