They Tell Me I Am Broken.

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Today in church,

They tell me I am “unclean.”

Unclean?

Yes, they said. “Unclean.” “Dirty.” “Broken.”

I said, “But how?

My legs carry me to quiet gardens. My nose catches the scent the honeysuckle. My eyes soak in the colors of the sunset. My arms lift heavy boxes and my hands stroke soft kitties. My feet keep me balanced and tap to contagious rhythms. My mind reasons, imagines, and creates. My spirit is always shifting, processing, feeling, listening to the undercurrent of words, movements and actions. My soul leaps when it comes across the Divine.

 

So “Why?” I ask, do you say that I am unclean?
You want me to feel guilty and grateful.

You want to control my feelings and actions.

You want to guide me into a certain way of thinking, feeling, living.

Always indebted, always broken, always failing, never enough, never enough never enough.

 

You tell me there is something inherently broken, something inherently wrong with me.

Yet I am supposed to love myself? To see my worth? To live in this body and soul and love them for what they are?

 

Then something is wrong. Something is wrong with the method and something is wrong with the reason. Because this, this is not what I am.

 

I am whole and always have been. I am human. I fail, yes.

But I am more than my failures, my alleged broken and “sinfulness.”

 

I am human and therefore,

 

I am also Love.

 

And isn’t that what’s the most important of all?

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How do I tell them?

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I feel as if I have no place in mainstream fundamentalist faith/church anymore.

My beliefs, my gender, my questions, my doubts, my different ideas are unwelcome are deemed “heretical.” Possible options for me now: I’ve gone off the deep end. I’m “lost.” I’m no longer a Christian. I’m essentially a heretic. I’m a liberal (period). I bought into what secular society is selling. I’ve lost my way. I’m worldly. I’m letting the world change me. I’m becoming “of the world.” I’m screwed.

How do I even begin to break the ice on the concept of who God is to me now? And not just the concept but the feeling.

Damn. I miss that feeling.

That one where you’re held. Where you feel like you just know.

The one where God and Jesus make sense and all you have to do is tune into the divine and you’re emotionally recharged.

The one where the worship songs make you feel something. Make you feel connected.

The one where you’re excited to sing and pray and be taught.

Just being sure. Having a constant. Knowing who God is, knowing your place in church.

I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting the institutions, of asking questions and getting back answers that confirm what I feared was true. Of hearing lies and inequality and fear being taught. Of having all of it be bigger than me and feeling helpless in fighting back, in being a strong voice that offers a different opinion.

I think the thing that scares me the most, or that makes me the most anxious, is actually being asked or talking about all these changes, especially with my family or with someone who seems to be full force on the path I used to be on.

People who know what they know, ya know?

How do I tell them I don’t believe it’s a sin to be in a same-sex relationship (not in spite of the Bible, but because of it)?

How do I tell them I think gender is fluid, dynamic, and on a spectrum?

How do I tell them I affirm all queer people, included people who are transgender and want to have surgeries or simply identify differently than their sex?

How do I tell them I believe women should be leading in church? That there should be female deacons and elders and ushers?

How do I tell them I don’t believe women should have different but “equal” roles in marriage?

How do I tell them I think Islam is the same path to God?

How do I tell them that God is not Male? That God can be imagined as female?

How do I tell them I don’t know what salvation is anymore?

How do I tell them I don’t know if I believe in hell anymore?

How do I tell them I don’t know if substitutionary atonement is what I believe about the cross?

How do I tell them?

It’s a complete 180 from what I’m supposed to believe. How do you explain a complete switch, a complete flip-flopping of your beliefs?

They’ll think I’ve accepted too many worldly ideals for myself. But ya know, maybe that’s exactly what’s happened. Maybe instead of sexism, racism, homophobia, and blind faith, I’ve embraced equality, reason, and acceptance and love for all people.

If that makes me cracked, heretical, a lost soul, then so be it.

In Honor of Women’s Equality Day

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Favorite excerpt from my Feminist Theory text;

Women are told from their infancy, and taught by the example of their mothers, that a little knowledge of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper, outward obedience, and a scrupulous attention to a puerile kind of propriety, will obtain of them the protection of man; and should they be beautiful, everything else is needless, for, at least, twenty years of their lives.

-Mary Wollstonecraft, From A Vindication of the Rights of Women

“Like A Guy” – Gender Norms in Relationships

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Some thoughts on “gender roles” in relationships. As much as I would like to play the role of the girlfriend wanting/needing her boyfriend to protect her and hold out his hand for her and open doors and stuff for her, like I think it would be fun to play that role for a while, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the ultimate relationship goal for me.

I want to be treated like an equal. Here’s what I’ve realized. I have been socialized to want to be pampered and protected, but I’ve ALSO realized that I can be brave and protect myself “like a guy.” A guy looks out for himself and others, and I’ve realized that I can do that.

As petty as this sounds, I can kill my own bugs and carry my own bags. So while playing the role and having a guy look out for me in those things would be nice for a time, that’s not the kind of relationship I want to be in in the long run.

I want a relationship where a guy treats me like an equal and vice versa. Because here’s what I’ve realized.

I can be more “like a guy” than I thought. I haven’t had a guy around to kill the spiders for me, dispose of dead mice, or walk me home at night. I’ve done those things by myself/on my own. And as weird as this sounds, I think I sometimes actually like doing these things more because I feel empowered. Like “Hey, I can do these things for myself; am capable.”

A guy takes the lead and does the scary stuff because that’s what he’s expected/forced to do (I also acknowledge for some, both men and women, this may come naturally, yet I am pointing out that as a whole this is how males are socialized), and I’ve realized I can this it too; it’s just that I’ve never been expected/forced to do it before so it doesn’t come naturally at first.

I want to be allowed to be my best in a relationship, in life, and in general. Consistently deferring and depending on a man’s strength in a life-long relationship isn’t for me.

Anais Nin couldn’t have said it better:

“I, with a deeper instinct,

choose a man who compels my strength,

who makes enormous demands on me,

who does not doubt my courage or my toughness,

who does not believe me naïve or innocent,

who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

*Please note that I am referencing overarching cultural stereotypes and norms for men and women, but obviously acknowledge that these broad assumptions do not apply to all men and women.