I had a breakthrough/breakdown today. I was driving home and (rather helplessly) trying to figure out how to reconcile the God of my youth with my newer revelations. Suddenly I found myself in tears, talking out loud. I was replaying a moment I had a few weeks ago at my bookclub (which isn't spiritually based but happened to read a book about the bible last month). I was trying to help my friends, who for the most part had never been Christian, understand my thoughts. I found myself in tears on that night as well, explaining that I had believed so many things and that I felt like Dorothy spying the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. It was a betrayal but also frightening because if Oz was just a man then how would I get home. Today, in the safety of my own company, I dug a little deeper and discovered that I felt more than betrayed and scared; I felt as if I'd lost a friend.
I grew up believing not in the Jesus that non-Christians see- the poor son of a carpenter who died 2000 years ago. I grew up believing in a personal friend. When I had troubles he would let me lean on him. When I needed help he would guide me. When I needed anything, he would be there. I also believed in his personal, unconditional love. I believed that when Jesus died on the cross he did it for me. Yes, for the whole world but also just for me- we all needed saved and he stepped up but even if I'd been the only soul that needed saving he'd have done the exact same thing because he loves me that much. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I didn't just believe it, I felt it. I questioned a lot of things about the religion of my youth but never that Jesus was my friend.
But now I see him in a different light. I see him as an enlightened being, a great teacher, and someone who died for his convictions. Someone to learn from but not worship. A person in the past to study but who can't be my friend because he died a long time ago. I realized in that moment that I needed to grieve the loss of my friend just as if he'd been a living, breathing person I used to call on the phone and spill all my deepest fears and greatest joys to but no longer could. I needed to treat it like a death. So I cried- sobbed really- allowing myself to mourn. And when I had no more tears a weight had been lifted.
I think I'm ready to move forward wherever my spiritual journey takes me now without feeling the need to somehow make it fit with Christianity. I'm sure there will be times when I'll grieve some more, Christmas and Easter especially, but I know that this will get easier with time because I'm not holding on to a corpse anymore. I can finally let go.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
These posts are scattered and short because my feelings don't have names yet. I have let go of the Christianity of my youth. I see now that my own spirituality is deeply personal and cannot be confined within religion. In addition to my traditional Bible and books by Christian authors I have turned to Buddhist writings, the Tao, new age writers, and pagans. What I've found is that none of them feel 'right', none of them are expansive enough to define my truth. One of my favorite quotes from my favorite book, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert comes closer to expressing my current state than anything I can articulate on my own:
...when the question is raised, "What kind of God do you believe in?" my answer is easy: "I believe in a magnificent God."