***Before you start reading, this post is about God and my journey of figuring out my faith. Also, its really long.... FYI.***
I went to Women of Faith this weekend. I went not really knowing what to expect, but knowing for sure that I am not the key demographic of this weekend, or really any Christian conference or retreat or meeting.... or... whatever.
I always head into these things with my jaw clenched, ready to just deflect the things that I don't agree with (which is a lot.) One of the speakers used to be on the 700 club, and had great things to say about her good friend Pat Robertson. I was about ready to walk at that point. But this weekend was a gift to me, so I decided to keep and open mind and just listen. It was like a 24 hour thing, I could handle it.
It started last night, friday. There was lots of over the top christian music, a lot of jokes about being a mom and a wife, neither of which I am or am even sure I want to be, and definitely, neither in the traditional or conventional sense. There was some dude who talked forEVER about the guilt he felt for his girlfriend in college having an abortion... a lot of really typical christian crap.
This morning it started again at 9.... I hate being up before 10, if you don't know me, so I was already like "uuuuughhhhh."
I guess regardless of anything I could complain about, I know what to expect from these things. I am on a quest to know My God and I feel like a lot of people are seeking a god of a specific ideology, which in essence I suppose is true about me as well. I know that i will always come to these things and feel out of place, even if I someday fill the roles that are expected of me, I will still not be like other women, I have NEVER been like other people. As long as I am a christian and am attending christian events, there will be things that make me cringe, that make me question, that make me want to leave, that make me want to scream, and that make me reconsider, but I know that because the God I am trying so hard to understand is bigger than not only their ideologies, but mine, there will always be things that are universal, and that are true for both this "key christian demographic", and for me.
I sat and politely listened, clapped, and stood, at the appropriate times. I even sang along when I could. As much as I could be there, I was, but in my heart the mighty conflict raged on. I am not a woman on the path that most of these women are on, I'm not thinking: how do I become a (better) mother, a (better) wife? How do I make sure my family is walking on the right path.
How many of the women there were thinking "how do I pursue my artistic talents while still finding a way to always be helping people?
How will I ever make it out of this college and into another one?
How do I finally get out of this terrible town I am stuck in?
How will I make it when I'm on my own?
I see white women and black women, but there is absolutely no representation here for the Latina woman. Are we not women of faith??
Is there even a place for unmarried, childless, very young adults in "the church?"
How do I find people who see God like i do and who will not just tolerate my presence, but will make me part of their family.
.... How do I even meet people? How do I start rebuilding what was once a mighty social empire... when all i have is really some casually friendly rubble?
I am friendless, I am overwhelmed by school... I don't want the life everyone else is settling into... i want to change the world, and not just by telling people Jesus loves them, I know that is not enough for 99% of the world."
All of this was on my heart while I skeptically listened to these women speak and sing.
More than anything, those questions, my life, my heart, resound loneliness. I have suffered from depression for a very long time, but most people know me as very happy, very outgoing, very confident. I have felt very little of any of those lately. I have lost so many friends, so many contacts in the past year. Its insane. I have never ever felt this alone. This has been so so so so so so so so so so so so so heavy lately.
A young singer got up to sing and speak, and I hardly remember what she talked about, I just remember being like "I do not belong anywhere. I cannot fucking handle this" and tears streaming down my face.
And then "God will never leave or forsake you....God has not forsaken you" popped into my head.
and then "the God who held you when you were six, sitting, waiting with your suit case, waiting for your dad to take you on the last trip you were never going to take, the God who held you when you had to understand he wasn't coming again... is holding you now.
The God who held you when you were eight, and your grandpa died of lung cancer, is holding you now.
The God who held you when you were fourteen and you lost your grandma, your rock, the one who raised you, who knew you like no one else, lost her battle to cancer, is holding you now.
The God who held you when you didn't think those painful high school years were something you could endure, is holding you now.
The God who held you when your first attempt at adulthood was tragically unsuccessful, and you didn't talk to anyone at all for weeks until you had no choice but to move back home, is holding you now.
The God who held you when your calling fell apart in front of your eyes and you shamefully had to tell everyone you failed...again, is holding you now."
And then, the young singer said "God is holding you now"
and I crapped my pants, and by crapped my pants, I mean, tried not to let the people around me see how hard I was crying. I think like, three times, I was thinking something, and 2 seconds later, this singer said it almost verbatim. It was insane.
The God I am trying so hard to understand, to see as something real, something relevant, knows that my heart is totally broken, and he knows i feel alone. And he knows that i have been abandoned and wounded a lot in my life, and He hasn't stopped holding me like he has so many many times before when I wasn't sure if I would make it.
I have had some shitty things happen in my life, but everyone has shitty things happen. Because I know this is true, I have tried to minimize their impact on my life, and make lots of jokes about them. Because people like funny way more than they like honest. This weekend, I had to come face to face with some serious abandonment issues and how they are impacting me, especially right now when I feel so foresaken by my friends, by life, even by God.
In this time when I feel so alone, so lost, so weird, so unacceptable, I have also had the privilege of experiencing one of the most amazing, most generous, sweetest, most loving, most impactful, wonderful, amazing, friendships I know I will ever experience in my life. My heart has blossomed under the light of this relationship in my life. I have transformed. But I am coming to understand, this astounding relationship must come in addition to the others in my life, not as a substitute for. And my friendship must not replace his existing ones, either. Its hard to remember this when I often, literally, have absolutely no where else to turn.
I know it will take a lot of work for my heart and brain to come to work together to make this understanding a reality. But I know the work will be worth it, we will both be so much better if I can trust that I am being held, in spirit, in heart, and that being out of someone's arms does not mean being out their love.
I have not been forsaken. I will make it through this time of uncertainty, I will find something sacred in this loneliness. I am not the only or the first to find myself here.... and my glimmers of great hope will be even brighter if I continue to seek the peace and understanding that are slowly making their way back into the chaos of my life.
I know this is a shit load of crazy crazy, weird, rambling, and most likely no one else will ever read this, and thats okay. If I didn't get this out of my head I was going to explode.