peace, love, and having a mind of your own

i refuse to look at life through the lens of tradition.
i refuse to believe everything i am told.
i refuse to live a life that doesn't promote peace, love, and having a mind of your own.

18 March 2011

you'd be amazed how easy it's been to sleepwalk.

i remember when life was simple. when i didn't have to make any tough decisions, except which awesome bathing suit to wear and how many scoops of sand to pile onto my leg.

i was looking at this picture a minute ago thinking, "why was i doing that?" when it hit me. there wasn't a why. i didn't need an explanation for everything i did. there must have been something satisfying about putting sand on my leg, and that was all the reason i needed.

i've spent too much time doing things i think i should be doing, rather than what i want to do. we've all been told since the first day of pre-school to listen to the teacher, the boss, or the TV. we were instructed to follow the path set before us, ignore our instinct, silence our spirit, and stay in line. left. right. left.

we don't know where we're going, but they say one day we'll get there. it feels a lot like sleepwalking to me. we're zombies, dead to the glorious intuition that was meant to inspire us and steer us toward our destiny.  left. right. left.

sure, they give us choices. rich or poor. chicken or steak. heaven or hell. left. right. left.

they tell us we need 40 hours a week at jobs we don't love. we need to see mediocre movies. we need iphones and happy meals and cadillacs. left. right. left.

i disagree. i need prayer and yoga and sunbathing. i need to spend quality time with the people i love, and to make the world a little better than i found it. i need live music and laughter and travel.

i don't want to be in line. i don't want what the advertisers are selling, and i'm sick of listening to their pitches. nobody can define my success. i don't want "the man," or my education, or my church to tell me what steps to take to become the next version of me. nobody can guide me better than my gut.

all these opinions i let into my life, they're drowning out the one wise and important voice that actually knows what i need. it's a gentle voice. [two actually.] it's a conversation between me and God. it says left. left. straight. sidestep. u-turn. climb. jump. fly. that's right.

are you happy in line? or do you want to fly with me?

let's reevaluate the stuff we fill our lives with. listen to our guts. simplify. redefine a worthwhile pursuit. let's do things we enjoy, because if we're not enjoying our lives, we're certainly not making the world a better place. Howard agrees.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."                                                         -Howard Thurman 

08 March 2011

what church is/not for.

this is what church is for.
last week, i told you about my anxiety issues. i wasn't sleeping, eating, or thinking normally. i couldn't pray it out of me. i couldn't even focus my mind enough to pray, period.
i cried about it in front of my small church of 15 that meets every Monday.
when i couldn't do anything but struggle and cry, they sat me down, prayed, hugged, and spoke life.

i emailed some other people that i know care about me. i told them the same thing. i can't pray, please do it for me.
i got emails, texts, blog comments and phone calls.

and the anxiety began to lift.
i'm not "all better now" [nothing is that easy] but i can definitely see that God has given me exactly what i needed in the last week or so, to get to a better place.
i'm praying again.
i can smile and laugh.
my thoughts are working better.

this is what the church is for.
when you're out of everything and can't even get yourself to Jesus, they'll carry you to him. they'll cut a hole in the roof if they can't get you through the front door.

this is not what church is for.
i recently learned that one of the girls in my little church is transgender.  to clarify: she was born with female anatomy but her thoughts, emotions and sense of identity have always been more masculine. in her words, she feels like a little boy that hasn't hit puberty yet, and she wants to become a man, but her body won't let her. we all knew she was gay, but it wasn't until recently that we learned there was more to it than just liking girls.

i'll be honest, my first thought was "no." just no. i was confused, bewildered, and had a lot of questions. i felt like i was supposed to have answers, and if there was one answer i was comfortable with, it was no.

somewhere inside me, though, i knew "no" was wrong. i knew it was a reaction of fear. i'm afraid because this is unknown territory; i don't have the answers; i'm not an expert on God's thoughts about transgenders. i'm afraid. i recoil.

thankfully, that inner voice spoke up before i had the chance to act on my fear. i kept my mouth shut and just listened. i didn't know the right thing to say, so i didn't speak.

some of the people in our church are upset. they've spoken their resounding "no." they've declared this situation unacceptable and made it clear that she is not welcome in their ideal church. she didn't come last Monday night.

this is not what church is for.
it's not a debate over right and wrong, where we tell people we think they're messed up. Jesus didn't say "everyone will know you follow God if you make sure no one in your church ever sins."
he said, "your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

church should be a place where our love draws people closer to truth, not a place where our judgments push people away from God.  
and sometimes, it's best to keep our mouths shut until we're sure of the message we want to send.

so with that, Shawnee, i support you.
that's all. just support and prayer, and the hope that whatever your life-journey looks like, you're daily being drawn closer to truth and love.