Day 38

Day 38 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

Lord, I believe in You; increase my faith.

I trust in You; strengthen my trust.
I love You; let me love You more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.
I worship You as my first beginning.
I long for You as my last end;
I praise You as my constant helper.,
and call on You as my loving protector.
Guide me by your wisdom,
correct me with Your justice,
comfort me with Your mercy,
protect me with Your power.

– Pope Clement XI (1699-1721)

Day 27

Day 27 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

I wandered the airport participating in a weird cat and mouse game.  A dozen or so people walked crooked lines, crisscrossing through the terminal. Our eyes darted here and there across the ground and up the walls. We walked with the attentiveness of one looking to avoid bugs skittering about. But it wasn’t critters we were looking for. Looking like odd little critters ourselves, each one dragging a corded tail, we just wanted power.

There were a variety of outlets under the seats and on the walls but it seemed that 80% of them were non functional and only a small percentage of the ones that appeared to be working actually were.  You know, kind of like constructions crews?  Only one out of 12 seems to be doing anything.  I finally landed on one that actually made the Harry Potter lightening signal on my phone light up and felt like I had won the electric lottery.  I plugged in and plopped down. My copping a squat here quickly turned our game of cat and mouse into one of sardines.  I was joined by three others who also “plugged in” with a sigh of relief.  I was happy to share my powered oasis with these strangers.

It occurs to me that any perceived source of power or strength can serve as a similar oasis. Take faith for instance. So often we can get ridiculed for sharing our faith with other people.  The reason I share my faith is because it is a shared source, ENDLESS source, of power, strength and hope for me.

Some day in the future these writings may be a similar source of power for others who are working through some of the same challenges I am. Who knows? However, currently what this writing has done for me is create a beautiful pool of people who are honoring my risk of being vulnerable and honest by cheering me on. It has been such a raw joy to find new companions and renewed faith in “old” ones through my 100 days.

27 days in and still writing.

Day 7

Day 7 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

I was raised in a religious environment that led me to believe if I wasn’t striving in my faith, in almost an angsty way, that I was moving backwards. If I wasn’t moving forward then I was regressing.  Stillness meant spiritual death. This is where I take my leave with faith that demands I strive in order to succeed.

I find peace in the stillness because I know God is there. It is in the blackness, the quiet and the silence that I am secure because it is where I feel the most held. There is no distraction of myself and my own feeble attempts to win the grace of One who gives it freely.

This year has been that stillness. I have not been working at my faith but thankfully it is is working on me. I have come to know it in a deeper way than I ever thought possible.

Activity report! Finally. I took a walk today. Now I am filled with the overconfidence that western immediate gratification tempts us with. My struggle to be disciplined in all areas of life is not so much in the starting. It is in the continuing. One day at a time, one right decision at a time. No room for guilt trips and failure speak

Day 5

Day 5 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

Things that others may take for granted are not constants for me.  Take parents for instance. Most people have a single set of parents, like ’em or not. Not me. I had birth parents. Then I had adoptive parents. Then adoptive parents. (Yes. Another set.) Then step parents. Then  guardianparentsfosterparentsguardianparents. Then I had parents in law. Yup that’s 6+ sets.

However ever since the third set of parents took charge there has been one constant in my life.  I have been in church every week of the last forty-ish years, except in cases of long illness or travel.  It has been a place of comfort, familiarity, tradition, relationship, fun, laughter, tears, work, play, and learning.

I love the church so much I became part of leading it because I thought, with proper leadership, it had the power to change the world! To date I have worked at seven church, three of which I helped start from scratch, plus countless other churches as a guest speaker or consultant. Perhaps this is is my non-spandex/capewearing/superhero way of being a part of changing the world? I love it and it has been a steady pillar in my crazy life.  

Until last year.
Last August, at the direction of loving, astute supervisors and with very little warning, I walked out of a church I birthed and never returned.  I had to walk away to save myself. For months I cried deep, wrenching sobs every sunday. I was white hot angry at pastors who whined about their jobs and was booger green jealous at those churches that seemed to thrive even under weak, careless or (what was that Pence word?) oh, “feckless” leadership. I still tear up when I think of those people and duck around corners when I see them because I don’t feel I can talk without tearing up and making us all feel uncomfortable.
But it isn’t just my church I got cut off on. It seems to be every church. When I try and visit church I shake, break into cold sweats, am over the top anxious and due to naseau feel ready to toss my communion wafers and grape juice. I have tried arriving late so I don’t have to interact, earplugs and several other calming techniques, to no avail. “Why does this happen?”, people ask me. I don’t fecking (pence word) know, anymore than I know how to fix it. I hate it and feel like I am being unjustly kept from oxygen. 
Without the life raft and ritual of church I am still adrift but finding patience to wait for my health to catch up with my hope. I have had to remind myself that going to church doesn’t equal faith; that’s just ritual. It has re-prioritized my relationship with God to be what it always should have been, focused on Christ not on the gathering of people. I can now focus on what I have and not what I’ve lost, the beautiful collective expression of faith.   
So, relax people. My not going to church doesn’t mean I’m going straight to hell, just to starbucks. Judge that coffee snobs, not my faith.