Category Archives: Faith

Fill’Er Up With Fear

My worst fear? Okay, here’s my mental process on that particular question: Humm…the leaky bathtub that is turning my walls into goo; the balding tires; the quote unquote financial slum in which we find ourselves; my frickin’ neighbor who cannot let up on using gas-powered yard devices on Sunday mornings…doesn’t he know I am writing, here? (Okay, that would be under the topic of things that piss you off ); there’s my on-going struggle with independence, yet fearing I will get in trouble for it…that if I exert myself at work, I will in some way pay the piper for it; there is the fear that I won’t be able to provide for my children…even simple things like a cello, or a used car, much less college; there is the fear I have for my true-blue artist husband–not a drop of money from painting sales in the last 14 months; and then there are the garden-variety-neurotic fears of dust bunnies, piles, missing spoons, and cat food ground into the tiled kitchen floor; then there is the fear that my face and butt are looking a tad bit older today, than yesterday; then there are those universal fears of covert governments and that our constitution is now meaningless amidst a  severely moneyed economy; then there are my related historical fears, that JFK, Robert Kennedy, post Mecca Malcolm X, and MLK were all taken out to derail the Civil Rights movement; then there are the children fears…particularly for my son who has survived depression and is three months away from surviving and enduring the  American-style educational system…I fear, will he make it? Will he be able to maintain a perspective and a willingness to finish the fight with honor? And then there is religion… I so fear the entire unreflective gang that have white-washed a whole lot of dry rot in the name of Jesus; who then think, armed with the delusion that God is on their side (a notion shared by the witch-burning crowd in Salem and pretty much every right-winged fundamentalist and European monarch of all time) that they are the arm of God, empowered with the task of shaping up the masses; Oh, and speaking of masses, I fear those whose governing notions are more like Alexander Hamilton’s rather than Thomas Jefferson’s; I fear close-door meetings; I fear mass hysteria; I fear the Costco-American Idol kinda of mentality; you know, that I-do-not-care-what-is-happening-in-the-world as long as I can have my super sized hot dog and a good show; I fear people’s unresolved pain or issues visiting that national stage, like they did during the McCarthy era; I fear things wearing out when I don’t have money to replace them; but what I fear most of all is simply this: that I won’t have the faith to push this plethora of fears off the table of my consciousness today. That somehow they will poison the little garden of faith I am cultivating. For you see, even though every shred of evidence in this noisy world begs to differ, I have this crazy notion that my faith shapes my reality. That belief proceeds a miracle; and that we create our lives by our hopes.

Yeah, I know…just look at the papers…the news…but I don’t listen. Mainly because people say what they are paid to say these days. But it is also because I think faith works best when I don’t know how impossible my dream might be, or how absolutely difficult it might be to accomplish. Seems like you need to be a bit shy of a few brain cells to achieve the impossible. So turning fear into faith is my greatest hope for the day…for with that state of mind…all the other fears shrivel down to the size of the dust bunnies that dance along the wooden surface of my floors.

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The Fake Christian

So stole my title from the great Maya Angelou–regarding faith she says this:

“I’m grateful to be a practicing Christian. I’m always amazed when people say, “I’m a Christian.” I think, “Already?” It’s an ongoing process. You know, you keep trying. And blowing it and trying and blowing it …”

I think I have been a fake Christian all my life. Like so many things, I tried to learn my role, master the script, and become conscious of the rules of this particular game. I was taught, albeit unconsciously, by my dear aunt, to “clean up my act”—the implication here that my life was more like that of an actor than a flower in a meadow. I needed to work at looking and sounding good because, at least in my family’s mythology, I wasn’t naturally acceptable as is.

I was never taught that you could “blow it”and be okay. In fact the shame from blowing it, a spiritual after-burn, culturally concocted I might add, was what hurt me  more than the error itself. I am healing up in these damaged, tender parts of my life simply by being okay with my mistakes, egotism, selfishness, and down-right stupidity. It seems like when I comfort these orphaned little children, I can feel Jesus right behind me, breathing hope and powerful restoration into these broken places.

So these last couple of years I have been learning the lesson of love and acceptance—of my self, my dear family, and others. And let me be abundantly clear, the work of spirituality, at least for me, does not end with acceptance. It is a key to a door to a new life. Yet one of the first stops on the path is humility. It is the spirit of there-is-some-work-to-be-done here; it is the still small voice that says “keep that ego in check.” I am going “Oprah” on you right here…this is what I know for sure…once I think that I deserve to be noticed, get competitive, or try a syruping-sweet-way of ingratiating myself to get what I want, my ego is going to get a-wamping. It is like when you are oblivious to a low threshold and your forehead cracks as it comes in contact with a two by four. For years this would happen, and I would not get it. I just thought people were shitty…which on any given day they are, but I didn’t get my part in the drama—this is the great truth: If I have a problem with some part of my life, I have a HUGE part in the why-this-is-happening-to-me thing. End of story. I have to reflect. Then the answers come. You see Jesus is magical. He is the fairy-godmother-good-therapist-tough-love-friend-life-coach kind of divinity. He’s a great teacher, too. He lets me figure things out, make a mess, get sad, and then he whispers a salient bit of wisdom that allows me to move forward in my life. This is Christianity to me.

Now, I think I am just beginning to become a Christian, and this is why: I am just beginning to have faith—to get how it works. I come from a family of hand-wringers. We hope God will come through, but deep in our hearts we believe he will fail us. Something can’t come from nothing. We have all been schooled in Newtonian physics, right? There are laws to this, right? But get this, Newton at the end of his life was fascinated with alchemy and that the Holy Scriptures were kind of like some HTML code…a living, changing, relevant voice. Here’s something more, again from science: Bill Brighton says that scientists can calculated back to the beginning of the Big Bang….ten to the negative 43 seconds past the moment of creation, and that at that point the universe could fit in the palm of your hand! He goes on to say that science, here, sounds more like religion…that indeed something can come out of nothing.

So here’s my little vignette for the week. Anyone who knows us, knows that we have had a lifetime of financial woes. I am quite certain we are not alone in this fact. Also, we have been amazingly cared for. Something works out. But here’s the confession: even though we have been blessed with help—always— I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. This month will be the month we will fail. Thoughts like that. But last week something happened. I got tired of that voice and I got tired of manipulating some outcome to make us okay. And it occurred to me to try faith. You know the kind Moses would have had to have on the banks of the Red Sea with a million freaked-out people and the state-of-the-art Egyptian military on his heels. So Phil and I said a little prayer over our need…$430 for bill…and waited. “God will make a way,” was the thought in my head. That was it. The bill was due Friday. Phil checks his phone Wednesday, and someone wants him to work. He makes $490…I kid you not, by Friday. Soooo cool. And the best thing was that I was calm and at peace, just like the scriptures talk about. It was like I did a 180 in my spirit and was over my way of doing things. I was able to draw from the bank of the universe.

I am so going to try this on all the other “Red Seas” in my life. My prayer is simple: God, I am excited to see how you are going to make a way for us amidst this sea of impossibilities.

And I figure that if he did the Big Bang he can probably handle my need for tires, cash for the rising sea of bills, college for Sam, and all the other seemingly impossibilities that bully me on a daily basis.

I think I am moving out of the fake Christianity…to being a follower of  The Way.*

*Original name for Christians

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Filed under Faith, Fear, Healing

Revisiting an Old Friend

There’s an old saying, “Fear came knocking on the door, faith answered, and no one was there.”

This was a day when a couple of old trepidations slithered their bony gray fingers up to my door knocker and rap-a-tap-tapped. I felt the sting in my chest cavity and that  way-to-familiar queasiness in my stomach. But then I did something different. I said a prayer. It wasn’t much. It was proceeded by a little attitude and a little query. “So how come it seems, Jesus, that you don’t work very quickly?” Then I remembered.

I remembered all the string of miracles like Christmas lights in the night stretching out into the tunnels of time. Then I said to him, “I know you have a plan, and I am not just saying that. I really do see that you work stuff out. But is there any chance on that big “Yes” we’ve longed for, for so long? Just wondering…”

Well at least two “Yes” answers came flying in today. Probably more, if I poke around.

But there’s something more in this simple story of a bit of faith.

Remember when I said I did something different. You see faith has been hard to come by lately. When it’s “No” all the time, the heart gets a little crispy on the edges. Not completely solid, but certainly not that any-thing-can-happen-childlike kind of  faith…as my baby girl has.

No, I have cloaked myself in a bit of rationalism, with a sprinkle of distraction, and a whole cup of busyness, as some sort of concoction to ward off the cool fog of sadness over that damn dream deferred.

But today I revisited an old friend: faith.

I’ll have a cup of tea with her tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.

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Insecurity Revisited with Love…

This is a shorty.

I am just shoutin’ out to all those voices that scrape, scrape, scrape at my fragile, stupid, occasionally brilliant, mostly troubled jumble of bones and tissue wrapped around a little star of a soul… “Back off.” I am putting a big beefy arm of acceptance around my precariousness, over-sensitivity, and unrelenting fearfulness. To that voice that hisses about the need to do things right to be safe, I defy your tyranny. I proclaim myself beautiful,valuable, and safe, even if I am cluttered with bite-off-more-than-you-can-chew projects, egotism, splintery irritability, and a habit of talking way too much. To you and your Marlyesque chains that try to weigh down my minutes and hours with a cool flat critical voice, I say, “I will not listen.” I revisit these frail parts with a soft whisper and butterfly kisses. I will say things like,”You are lovely just as you are and you will know how to deal with life…as it comes.” I will say, “Expect a miracle.” I will revisit my insecurity with love.

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Filed under "Saying No", "Self Love", Courage, Faith, Voices

Sticky Fingers

One of my most favorite authors of all time, Anne Lamott, kept a journal that turned into a great book called Operating Instructions, which chronicled the first year of her son’s life. In one section, she recorded a conversation she was having with God about how things were progressing, or more accurately, not progressing…After giving God the proverbial laundry list of concerns, she made this statement, which, no pun intended, has stuck with me. The paraphrased version is this… “Well God, I am trying really hard to keep my sticky little fingers off of all this.” It was a statement of surrender, and honestly, it is with this kind of thought in my head, that this existence begins to work for me.

This is my plan today. To try to keep my sticky little fingers off my life and listen for my next set of operating instructions…

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