In a religious culture that taught me I was a worm, a wretch, a sinner undeserving of God's love, compassion, and forgiveness, I had no problem believing that, when God looked at me, all God saw was my filth, my brokenness, and my utter irreparability. I was shit, and despite my best efforts, that was never going to change.
Moment after moment, my YES became louder, stronger, and more resolved. I did not go to Synod with many expectations. I certainly did not anticipate the Spirit opening me up in the ways she did. Nor did I anticipate the overwhelming experience of being loved and welcomed that came my way. But this is who God is, and this is how She works.
Waking up this morning, I felt broken, sad, and incredibly discouraged. Again, very common human emotions, ones that so many of us share. Thinking back to Sunday, to Easter, and to conversations I've had with my closest clergy friend, Paige, I couldn't help but remember how many conversations we've had about the Incarnation, about the reality of Jesus joining us in our fleshly experience. The act of God putting skin on is one of joining, of empathy in its truest form...
I can remember the first time I saw Frankie read the cards. He was dealing with some questions about his own career path and life journey, and there in our bedroom, on top of a comforter gifted to us for our wedding, he laid out a spread. I was dealing with my own questions at that time, particularly about pursuing chaplaincy and ordination. So I asked him to read for me, and he proceeded to do so. But I had questions. Was he telling the future, or something else? How did he know what the cards meant? Where and how did he learn to tell the story? Was this divine (or demonic) inspiration?
...Then there's a different kind of anger — the kind that surfaces in response to feeling hurt, the kind that wants to hurt back, and badly. I don't mean with superficial cuts. I mean with utter obliteration. The kind that wants to destroy another person's worth and value simply because you can. What has been troubling for me is just how often this kind of anger shows up in my thoughts and in my imagination, and how I've felt God challenging me to "get curious."
DEAR GODDESS, you who always answer our very best questions, even if we ignore you:
Please be here with us right now. Come inside us with your sly slippery slaphappy mojo. Invade us with your silky succulent salty sweet haha.
Hear with our ears, Goddess. Breathe with our lungs. See through our eyes...
Feeling drawn in by a person's smile or eyes or affinity for dark chocolate or knowledge of Natalie Weiss doesn't make us best friends.
It doesn't make up for the time it takes to find yourself on the other's couch crying silently when there aren't words to describe your sadness.
It doesn't account for having those knock down, drag out fights where you both scream and say mean things and have to learn to forgive.
It doesn't mean that you like each other, much less that you love each other.
It doesn't mean you know each other.
SOMETIMES I THINK IT IS MY MISSION TO BRING FAITH TO THE FAITHLESS, AND DOUBT TO THE FAITHFUL ― PAUL TILLICH
Rambling. I do it when I feel vulnerable. Doubt makes me feel vulnerable. I like people to think I have my shit together, that I know something about something. I like to feel competent and trustworthy. But in the world of chaplaincy, of caring for the spirit in the throes of crisis and loss, it would seem my doubt and disbelief are gifts. It isn't that I disbelieve in a *fill in the blank with a typical, evangelical Christian adjective* God. It's that I don't mind questions. I hate not knowing, but I don't mind the questions that come out of the not knowing.
...if you were to ask me, "Where do you see God working in your life," I might be able to answer you. I might be able to tell you that I've felt God's presence in such and such event, in this conversation or in that encounter. The other day, I started a sentence with, "I felt the Spirit," and I nearly had to stop myself from stopping myself. I don't cringe at words like "salvation" or "God's will" like I did for a while there. Perhaps most importantly, my response to the inquiry of "How are you and God" would be, "We're good. We're okay."