I awoke at 6:30 this morning for my now normal routine of coffee, stretching, feeding the birds, and reading, and finished In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh. This book was loaned to me by my mom. We were having a conversation and I was telling her that I didn’t believe in brokenness and that I didn’t need to be fixed, all I needed was to finally embrace who I am and love myself and she said, “You sound just like Sheila Walsh. You should read this book.”
I am not a Christian. I was raised in a Christian home, especially in my teen years when after my parents divorced, both began attending church. Before that, I attended Sunday school with my aunt. I remember singing a song about Zacchaeus, getting gold stars (but never as many as the other kids, which really embarrassed me), and a very kind old man who visited the classrooms and gave out sourdough pretzel nuggets. He kept them in his pants pockets, which now that I think of it, is kind of gross, but as a kid, I found it amazing and always looked forward to his visits. He was a sweet man and I looked forward to Sunday school.
I was baptized when I was around thirteen, I think, in a small country church. At the time, I remember being terrified of going to hell and I really did like Jesus, although to say I loved him then may have been a stretch. Mostly, I wanted to be good, to do good, and to make everyone happy, especially my mother, who found sanctuary in the church community.
I don’t think I ever really believed what the Bible said – or maybe I did. I don’t know. I know that a lot of what I was hearing in the various churches I attended over the years wasn’t what I was reading in the Bible and I found that very confusing and ultimately decided I just didn’t get it. I was an honor student, ended up in the National Society of High School Students, and earned a scholarship to a university, but I didn’t think I could ever really “get” the Bible, despite the fact that I loved the King James Version.
From what I read, Jesus was not the happy-go-lucky, everything will work out guy everyone said he was. He seemed troubled a lot by things. He cried out to God a lot. He prayed a lot. He visited people a lot. He had a few close friends but he spent most of his time with people who were basically outcasts.
As I was constantly being told I “needed to be in church,” I found myself noticing how seldom Jesus himself went to the tabernacle. He went to a mountain. He went to a garden. He prayed right where he was. When he did go to the tabernacle, he flipped tables in anger because men there were making profits. He may have gone other times, but I don’t remember that.
You know, I think we all interpret the Bible based on what we need and that’s really the beauty of it, although I’d never say that to a Christian for fear of being told I’m speaking the “devil’s words.” I have heard that a lot in my life – that my thoughts are from the devil. My words are from the devil. My beliefs are from the devil.
Or, the other view “that’s NOT of God.”
After a while, I gave up. Apparently I was not good enough for this Great Asshole in the Sky. After a long time of hearing how oppressed I was, I turned my back on the idea of Christianity. I found it all ridiculous.
I don’t mean Jesus himself. He’s a pretty rad dude to my mind. I’m not even talking about God, although I despise the phrase “Heavenly Father.” Why? I don’t know, but I do. God is not a man. God is energy and ever pervasive, always present energy of pure love.
I was talking to my daughter about that pure love and God and I happened to say “He.” She said, “Wait, isn’t God a She?”
I have to tell you that I have never talked to my daughter about God. I never talked to my sons about god either really, except when they were really young. I had the notion that they will find their own spiritual path. If God wanted to reveal him/herself to them, it would happen without my help.
I grew up loving Nature. I would pet honeybees in my yard, I coaxed little kittens from beneath trailers to feed them and take care of them. Later, I’d steal irises from old, untended roadside beds and plant them in my yard to watch them grown, I danced in fields and swam and bathed in creeks. I trusted the wildness of Nature over humans.
Nature never purposely hurt me.
I felt closest to God in Nature as well, and never close to him in church, except maybe when we sang the old hymns (I’m not a fan of the new rock churches. Old hymns set my soul on fire). I was also not a fan of tithing money to a church. Too often those tithes were to build new buildings, when we could have helped the homeless. Other times, they were to tear down perfectly good houses for parking lots for the masses of people who felt they had to attend church on Sunday to be close to God.
What a sad notion. To think you can really only be connected to God within the walls of the church. I know not everyone believes that, but a great many MUST if they keep handing money over for “building expenses.” Where’s God in all of that? Where’s God in the coffee shop? Where’s God in the $10,000 murals in the daycare? Seriously, I’ve been in a church that spent $10,000 on murals for the walls of the daycare. I attended once. That’s all I needed.
I sound like I’m judging, but I’m not trying to. I know that churches house people just like me and none of us is perfect. Hell, follow my social media and you can see what a mess I am. I fall on my face a lot and wear the scars to prove it.
I don’t know what the point of my post is today. I had the idea to share the book and talk about how lovely it was to read Walsh’s story – the honest, beautiful, heart-wrenching story that brought tears to my eyes more times than I can count- and then share a new favorite breakfast recipe with you using savory oats. Yet, here I am, spilling all of this out for you to read.
I don’t even know you.
Yet I feel that perhaps someone will come along and read this and maybe a little light will flicker on and they may find something they relate to.
I am not anti-church. I think I need to make that clear. I think if you’re a Christian, it’s important to fellowship with other Christians. I am, however, anti-megaprofits in the name of God. I don’t believe in that at all.
Of course, I’m not a Christian, so you can take all of this with a grain of salt. One person’s opinion isn’t necessarily truth. I think we each have out own truths to live. I have mine, you have yours.
Both are important.
Maybe the key is to embrace that truth and love ourselves, just as we are. I am beginning to think that that’s what God wants as well. I mean, if the Christian God exists in the way they say “He” does, then he already knows me. I see no need for masks to hide my true self. I pray. Sometimes I cuss when I pray. I sometimes feel like I’m stronger in my spirituality now than I ever have been in my life.
Sometimes I even want to go to church. I think of how nice it might be for Kathryn to have Sundays to play with other kids, maybe I could make some friends, and I do miss the songs, although many churches have omitted the good old gospel hymns. Bummer.
But then I think of the gossip and the shame, and the judgment, and the materialism and I think, “Hey, God. That’s not for me, but lead me where you want me to be.”
Remember, I’m talking to that all-pervasive, big-ol’ beautiful pure energy of love out there in the cosmos, not a Heavenly Father..,.but maybe it doesn’t even matter. Maybe it’s all the same damn thing and humans just gum it all up with their nonsense rules.
I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know though: I am enough. You are enough.
And with that, I haven’t anything else to add….except maybe you might actually want that recipe? So, here you go!
Savory Oatmeal with Egg & Sautéed Veggies
1/2 Quaker Quick Oats cooked as directed (I added salt, garlic, and Lighthouse Guacamole Seasoning to mine)
In a skillet, heat 1 TBSP Avocado oil and sauté onion (sliced), kale (washed, trimmed and chopped), and spinach (washed, trimmed and chopped). Sprinkle with guacamole seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic. Sauté until tender. Remove from heat.
Fry two eggs over easy (or as you wish).
In a bowl, add oatmeal and top with veggies and eggs. Enjoy!
With that, dear readers, I wish you a wonderful day.