"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thoughts From a Church Pew: No More Victims in Here

For my second installment of Thoughts From a Church Pew, I want to say thanks.  Thanks to my mom for raising me in the church.

Last Sunday, I attended church for the first time in ten years and then wrote this post about it.  However, last week's post still had quite a few concessions in it.

"Well I learned a few things from the church but then a lot of people hurt me."

"Well sometimes it felt good to have a relationship with my divine source but then he made me feel guilty."

"Well there used to be people who I could count on in my church community but then they started judging me."

Victim, victim, victim.  Woe is me, look at how much I've been hurt.  Blech.  Gross.  I'm done vomiting my victimhood around.  It's getting messy up in here.

This Sunday, I attended Inner Light again.  I looked forward to it all week.  It felt so good to be there -like a warm, fresh, chocolate chip cookie straight to the heart.  Everything about being in church again is comforting to me.  Everything.  I love it.

So I'm going to try this acknowledgement thing one more time, this time with open arms, no reservations, and nothing but love.

I am grateful to have been raised in the church.  The church taught me compassion, service, community, selflessness, and spirit.  It gave me a role model in Jesus - someone who preached nothing but unconditional love and selfless service to those most in need.

The church brought some of the closest friends I've ever had into my life.  I was surrounded by people who really, truly cared about me.  I was prayed for and tended to.  When my mom had any one of her many surgeries, our house was filled with home cooked meals, and people came over to clean.

The church taught me that I am divine, and that I am connected to the divine.  It taught me that life has meaning and purpose, that life is beautiful, and that our greatest calling on earth is to share that beauty with others.

And finally, the church taught me to sing!!  Well, technically all of the voice lessons, years of being in the traveling choir in my town, and performing in musicals taught me to sing, but church taught me to sing as an act of  service.  In church, I learned that my voice is a gift that I can use to bless others, not only for my own ego fulfillment.  No concert with my choir, show with my band, or karaoke with my friends has given me the special kind of satisfaction that I had when singing in church.

The fact that I've felt ostracized by the church for the past ten years is my fault and my fault alone.  I removed myself from the community.  No one kicked me out.  I created my own, self-pitying cross and carried it loudly and publicly, telling all who would listen how much the church had hurt me.  I denied myself entry and then complained pitifully at the door that I was not being allowed in.

I am reminded of some powerful words that I heard a wise woman named Ada Belinda Dancing Lion speak once at a women's herbal conference I attended.  She was talking about the things that we women tell ourselves that hold us back from living in our full, divine potential.

She said something like, "Some women say, 'Oh I can't because you don't know what's happened to me!  My uncle so-and-so messed around me with me and blah blah blah.'  Newsflash: EVERYBODY had an Uncle so-and-so.  Did it suck at the time?  Yes.  Is it over now?  Yes.  MOVE ON, LADIES.  Live your life."

This woman (points to self) is done being a victim.  I am done blaming the church, christians, god, men, and anyone else for my pain.  Life is too beautiful and too full of potential to spend even one more second feeling sorry for myself.

So thanks, mom.  Thanks for taking me to church and raising me with faith in my life.  Thanks for teaching me that I am a holy, unique being designed with love.  Thanks for showing me how to pray, and for modeling compassion.  It has served me quite well, I'd say.  Quite well, indeed.

Walking away from victimhood.
Walking toward the light.

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  1. And to be complete, I didn't mention my Dad because this post is about church and he wasn't a big churchgoer (which I also TOTALLY get), but he loved me WHATEVER I believed. If I ever asked him his opinion on a decision I was making in life, he'd only say, "Are you happy? That's all I care about, that you're happy."

    So also thanks, Dad, for the unconditional love.

    Ok now I'm done.

  2. You made my eyes misty Melanie! This is really beautiful. I was feeling pretty self-pitying at church last Sunday and this Sunday I made an effort at a feeble pray during our sacrament that I could get beyond myself. The result was such a lightening of my spirit and an awakening and enabling of my heart to see the divinity in myself and in those around me, and so many opportunities to serve. Love this!