About 18 months ago, I went to a yoga practice that was centered on this idea of numerology. The ‘report’ I received was that 2014 would be a year of new beginnings for me.
In many ways it was.
I started life in a new house with a new degree, and in many ways, a new attitude. There was no question a ‘newness’ to the whole thing.
But, now that the year is coming to an end and I’m really in the midst of this ‘aha’ moment, I think that yes, it was a year of new beginnings – but, beginnings on levels larger than I probably could have really understood as 2013 came to a close.
For the last few weeks I have been going to church. Not the Catholic church that I was raised in, but a non-denominational church that was recommended to me.
Actually, there is a bit more to that story…but, another day.
So, I went and the first week was this lesson on how God is indeed Sovereign and that we need to trust that the path he designed for us is the path we need to be on. Within that teaching was the idea that although God is Sovereign, He works in these ways that creates options and obstacles and we end up in situations that perhaps we hadn’t intended, but, somehow, was the path we were supposed to be on. I connected that immediately to leadership theory that is known as loosely coupled systems. It also connected to this idea of how the world can be both black, white and gray…all at the same time. It taught me that the ideas are not necessarily opposite, but work in some sort of uncoordinated and often (frequently?) unpredictable ways.
It hit home a bit because it was that exact conversation that lasted nearly 4 months that got me into church the first time.
I went home.
And read. And read some more. A read and read and read.
As my dear friend told me, when I called her in this odd panic, “take this whole Christianity thing on like you do everything else. Be logical. Study. Read. Write. Figure out if, and how, it makes sense.”
So, I kept on reading.
But, with less fear.
And I started to read about how this idea of becoming a Christian meant compared to what it meant to be Catholic…how I was raised.
And all of the sudden, things just started to make sense.
Religion lost some of the fear I had associated with it.
In the end, we are all sinners.
As a Catholic, you have to constantly be in this state of fear and repentance. As a Christian, you are still the sinner, but you aren’t a sinner in fear. You own your sins, but you realize that in accepting Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
That isn’t a scary idea at all.
Christianity seems approachable.
Catholicism scared me.
Although, in studying the splits and the changes in philosophies, the core teachings really are not too far from each other.
Much of what I was raised to believe is what this new church is espousing to it’s congregation.
So, warming up to the idea….I went back on Sunday.
I remember when I first started to really practice yoga. Not just go to the classes and go through the movements, but really begin to understand the power movement and mind can have. My instructor talked a lot about how different movements bring out different emotions in people and it isn’t uncommon for the movement and posture and release of emotions to create people to have breakdowns in the middle of a practice. I can tell you, the months between November 2011 and March 2012, I had a lot of those moments. Lots of tears. It was cathartic. It was exhausting.
It was where I needed to be. Learning that my mind and body are not two parallel, never meeting entities, but two pieces of a structure that need to be held together and centered on something to work efficiently and effectively.
This last Sunday morning, I dropped the kids off to their fellowship classroom and I went into the service.
The musical Worship Team is actually quite magical. Beautiful voices that fill this massive church overwhelm you. Looking around, with easily a few hundred people filling in the pews, everyone was singing, holding hands; blissful.
When the minister began to speak, he focused on Isaish 8:19-9:7, which basically tells the story of how even when the world sucks, through trusting in the power of Jesus, you will be OK. (Ok, it is way longer than that…but you can read it yourself if you want to read the whole thing here)
And I listened, and then I just cried.
I didn’t really want to cry. But, I honestly, really couldn’t not cry either.
The whole thing hit home.
As you read through the non-my-version, you can see how when the world sucks, you can easily start to live in the darkness – however you want to define your darkness – but, then you are there for so long, you find you can justify the darkness and begin to see it as the light.
You find yourself living this intricate dance that perhaps, from a Christian perspective, are made up of Satan’s lies and manipulative ways to tempt you back into the darkness…you learn to see the darkness as the safe place.
When in reality, you’re living this life of destruction.
I was living that.
I was living in this sea of lies and secrets and indecency.
Maybe a sea is too pretty.
It was a shit hole that I jumped into regularly because I thought those shit holes would save me.
They were some deep shit holes.
Shit holes that were deeply destructive.
But as I plunged into this ugly reality, I was also having all these moments of clarity and self and even understanding.
I hit a wall and I knew I had to change.
At least the physical manifestations of my life. I broke off relationships and quit drinking.
And I can honestly say, I don’t regret the shitholes I was neck deep in.
But, I was grasping.
I have been grasping.
I have felt like I’ve done a lot of changing and made a lot of improvements…but still couldn’t connect everything together.
Even pieces of the recent past I have tried really hard to cut, I haven’t cut because of fear.
Fear of “what happens if I do this.”
Who will catch me if I fall? What’s my backup plan?
Even when I knew, deeply, that although I had said I walked away from a life style, I was still not letting completely go.
Keeping my foot just enough in the door I could pry it back open if I needed to in a moment of weakness.
I could justify it. I could prove to myself why it was the right thing to do. Even when I knew it wasn’t.
Since church on Sunday, I’ve been reliving these passages over and over in my head.
The moral of the story is, life is hard. Life sucks sometimes. But, it gets better. But for it to really get better, you have to be willing to really find the light and face your fear and leave the darkness.
Part of this is truly trusting that change is OK.
Change is scary, but change is necessary.
Part of it is trusting that someone has you back in the light just as much, moreso even, then when you’re living in the darkness.
Sunday I KNEW I’ve been living in the darkness…talking myself into this place of correctness…telling myself that the life I have been living is OK — justifiable even because I was dealt a shitty hand and perhaps I thought the ‘system’ owed it to me.
I also realized that I NEED to learn how to trust again.
Sunday was a turning point for me in many ways.
The hour long session of tears just dropping down my face were a telltale sign that whatever the Minister was talking about was deeply embedded into my heart and spirit.
It was a sign that I need to start to really do some of the hard work and realize that I can’t just pretend that I didn’t make some really fucked up choices and move on…but recognize the implications of the fucked up choices.
From a Christian perspective, I can say that God is Sovereign and that I was trudging a path that was preordained for me because I wasn’t accepting Jesus and His Truths. I can say I was led by the Devil himself. From a yogic perspective, I think that it means I was at the right place learning the lessons I needed to learn in the moment I was living them. From my best friend’s perspective, I was in survival mode and just living another chapter of my book.
I think they are all true.
I was talking to a friend and said that the whole Christian thing was making a lot more sense. That it felt safe and it felt ‘right’ – like sitting through Worship and all the reading and writing I have been doing feels like it is something I need to be doing. One of the scriptures I read in the Bible said that God presents himself to you when you are ready to accept and embrace him. Maybe this is it. During my conversation with my friend, I said, “I’m definitely not going to turn into cape-wearing Christian girl, but I’m ready to move forward with this” – and I think that is an honest statement.
I don’t think that I’ll ever be one to wear religion on my sleeve…just as I don’t wear my politics or my education on my sleeve. But, these few weeks buried in the Bible and various Bible studies seems to have given me a framework for hanging all of these other changes on in my life. It ties me together somehow…makes all these dangling strings into a beautiful bow.
I’m not really sure where this is going to take me. I’m going to openly trust that this is the right thing. I’m going to continue to read and learn and question.
Make sense of things.
Try and find some peace in things.
Let go of some of the deep detachment I’ve been practicing and openly accept that my history doesn’t define my future.
Trust that I’m not alone.
Recognize that I am a sinner
Learn to trust that it is going to be OK.
Trust I am going to be OK.
I think that embracing and reconnecting with faith and hope as a Christian is my new beginning.
This is only the tip of the ice berg…which will evolve into the next year.
But, I do think that this IS the new beginning that was written into the stars. Not the house or the job or the degree.
The new beginning is a personal relationship with God and Jesus that is based on trust and faith.
Not the new beginning I was expecting.
But, the new beginning I needed.
How exciting it is to welcome change just before the year turn into another.