"My friend was a Catholic by upbringing, but couldn't stomach returning to the church as an adult. ("I can't buy it anymore," he said, "knowing what I know.") Of course, he'd be embarrassed to become a Hindu or a Buddhist or something wacky like that. So what could he do? As he told me, "You don't want to go cherry-picking a religion."
"Which is a sentiment I completely respect except for the fact that I totally disagree. I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted. You take whatever works from wherever you can find it, and you keep moving toward the light.
"That's me in the corner, in other words. That's me in the spotlight. Choosing my religion.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
So I Married a Youth Pastor
Back in September of 2015, when I moved from So I Married a Youth Pastor to simply Liz, I was nervous. My writing, like my role in the church, was defined by who I am married to. As much as I believed I was being true to myself, taking bold and edgy leaps with the content on my blog, I wasn't. There was still so much I was hiding; taming my words, watering them down to appease my mostly Christian readers. And being misunderstood on a regular basis - because, INFJ - I would often play editor for hours, days, sometimes months before I was satisfied with my words. I wanted to be as precise as I possibly could; clearly expressive of what I was trying to say, or what I felt. But all I wanted was to vomit my words and leave them a mess. That's a more accurate picture of my truth.
Departing from full-time ministry, I could feel my voice shifting as our lives transitioned.
"The shit is about to hit the fan, " I told my husband, Mat, one afternoon. I was grinning ear to ear but covered in goosebumps, shivering from the surge of adrenaline. I knew I was about to embark on an unearthing of my faith, deconstructing and reassessing the beliefs I've claimed my own. And I knew I had to share my processing every step of the way, no matter how bizarre it might come across to some. It was time to speak with my truest voice.
Instead, I kicked off the redesign of my website with 31 Confessions from anonymous contributors (I promise, none of them were written by me) to avoid the inevitable shit hitting. But the series only pushed into my truth more; it allowed me to ease into my newfound confidence as I watched responses to each confession appear in my inbox. Collecting and sharing emails for someone else's story, protecting identities as a third party messenger, erased the fear I was harboring in regards to pieces of my own story.
After the series concluded, I began to practice using my new voice. And the shit didn't hit the fan, or at least it didn't feel that way to me.
Because my truth was never about flinging shit.
Crass, I know, the imagery. Mat explains it better, and without saying shit.
"It's like holding a firecracker in your hand. If you close your hand, when it explodes the results could be catastrophic. But if you open your hand and it goes off, it will likely just sting a little. The problem isn't the explosion, the problem is the confinement.
"You are a firecracker. You've been confined, and you thought that when you let go of your honest worldview, the results would be catastrophic. But you're finding now that as you speak your truth, in the context of freedom, the results are a lot less demolishing of the world around you."
Mat von Ehrenkrook
My writing has never been about me showering readers with all the things I used to digest but have no longer chosen to in a way that isolates me. This blog is not my personal island; I don't want to be unrelatable and alone. The shit never hit the fan because I opened my hand and when I exploded, it stung, but it also never felt better. And I think you, my reader, can tell. So thank you for seeing me and interacting with me and my new voice.
This space I have created - my little corner on the internet that still remains fairly hidden from the masses - I believe finally represents me and my honest processing. Even here there are published words that no longer hold meaning to me.
I'm over things. I made it out.
This is how I did it:
The Discovery Project - A book reveal!
During my first week of The Group Sessions, Bri led us through a guided visualization to meet and have a conversation with our future self. I was skeptical I'd be able to relax into it, but I wanted to give it a solid attempt. Turns out, spending time with my future self - sometimes she's days ahead of me, sometimes months - grants me a window into who I really am when I seem to have forgotten.
In my first visualization, I was in a white room. White walls, white floors. There were no windows or doors, no furniture. I learned later the room was representative of the rewiring of my belief system; I was beginning with a clean slate, allowing nothing in unless chosen by me and me alone. It gave me chills, and I wanted to revisit my room as often as I could to see if anything changed.
It's been 14 weeks since that first visualization, and I'm no longer in a white room. In fact, I'm not in a room at all. I've made my way outside and I don't want to go back in. It's freeing on the other side of those walls, my life unbound by rules and standards and conformity. I can breathe now.
It's no surprise I'm suddenly experiencing fernweh, seeking connection with God through nature while moving through my days with nomadic desires driving my soul.
My voice no longer scares me.
I will continue to write as clearly as I can, and I can tell you this: I won't hide my words behind fluffy sentences or vague mentions, alluding to hidden meanings using cleverly crafted innuendos. These words will represent me as fully as I am in the moment they are typed, and I will be unafraid to publish those that may or may not offend. I cannot worry about offense and shield my truth.
So I'm going to say shit sometimes, okay? It is, after all, my favorite swear word.
It's not that I don't care anymore - what people think, or what they're going to interpret as my truth - it's just that it's more important to me to be. Out here.
Choosing my religion - if I choose at all.