Church

Our Soul Mission and A Lifetime Alone

The other night, I asked God to explain to me in a dream exactly why I’m destined to spend my life alone. I asked for the dream to be thorough and clear, and for the ability to remember all of the details.

 

This is what followed.

 

I woke up at 4:40 am remembering vividly the two different dreams I had just had. Though I remembered them so thoroughly, that I felt the need to write them down immediately, I also felt very intensely, like I needed that last hour of sleep. I went to the bathroom, and when I lied back down, I prayed, as I quickly found myself hovering in a space between both awake and aware, and also in an REM state. As I prayed in that state, I asked for the ability to remember the details when I woke, if I was still in need of sleep. And I did.

 

I woke just after 6, and needed to start getting ready to go run. I prepared and as I drove there, I made a voice note recording the dream. This is my first time writing it down. I knew it must also be written, in order to be both fleshed out and processed.

 

The first dream began as I entered the apartment of a couple I am friends with. The apartment was old and filthy on a level that was beyond cleaning, but they obviously took very good care of the place, to make it was as nice as it could be. They were cleaning up after dinner and preparing for winding down for the evening. When I walked into the apartment, for what must’ve been the first time, I noticed the old wall next to the door had, at some point, been dug into as though someone were trying desperately to either get out, or get to something inside the wall, or perhaps just out of sheer madness. I noticed three specific layers in the wall. Maybe paint, plaster, then brick. Even the brick had been carved at, but not penetrated. And I was amazed by the fact that, as old as the building was, and as hard as that mystery person had tried, the wall was still fiercely resilient and standing strong. It also struck me that, rather than building the door there, the builders had decided to build the door right next to this individual’s feverish digging. It kinda seemed sadly ironic, and also a like a slap in the face to that person’s hard work.

 

As I sat in the kitchen, talking to my friends, they had moved on to doing things in the other rooms. Their cat proceeded to walk into the kitchen, stop right in front of me and sit, watching that area of eerie wall. It sat completely still and just watched for the longest time, and I thought to myself, “its as if the cat is watching the person who is still digging, after centuries, never realizing that the years had passed.” At that point, I was pretty thoroughly convinced that the place was haunted.

 

I followed my friends into their living room and sat on a loveseat perpendicular to their couch, chatting with them. I mentioned the unusualness of the cat’s behavior, and my friends rolled their eyes, as though people had commented on it before. As I moved my hands while talking, and tucked my hair behind my ear, I kept feeling a third hand on me. The hand wasn’t aggressive, or chilling, but rather, offering my hands support. It was trying to help me, as though it were my own, third hand. Totally creeped out, I mentioned the feeling and stood up. I moved to their couch. My friend then stood up, all huffy and annoyed. She said, “I don’t appreciate what you’re implying about our home. I know all of the superstitious things you believe, but you can keep that to yourself.” She also expressed offense at my suggesting that they’d make their house sitter who was coming soon stay in haunted environment. Obviously offended by my comments, I apologized frankly, and shut up. That pretty much had killed the conversation, though. And as awkward silence took over, that scene closed, and another began.

 

Dream number 2:

 

In this one, I seemed to be in a commons area of a church. It was hard to tell if it was a small church or a mega church. Two of my pastors were there. My female pastor from my most recent church, and the only pastor of my church in North Carolina. My female pastor was explicitly ignoring me the whole time I was there, which was hurtful and very similar to one of our last interactions in real life. As my North Carolina pastor pulled me aside, my other pastor pulled aside someone else.

 

My NC pastor spoke with me, checking in to see how I was doing. As we talked, the conversation of a group of men from my North Carolina church was starting to drown us out. Now let me say, the men in this church were the kindest, most polite, gentlemanly, and respectful men I have ever come across. In my dream, however, they were shootin’ the shit like a regular group of guys. I was generally ignoring them, but when something totally inappropriate was said, my pastor reminded them that I was in their company, to which one replied “well, she’s a bitch.” He said it very articulately and spitefully, making eye contact with me as it came out. I was totally unaffected by the comment.

 

The guy who was leading the disrespectful conversation sticks out to me. It is someone from that church who was a serial dater. He was one of those people who goes from relationship, to relationship, and so on, ad infinitum. They never lasted terribly long, and he ended up dating almost every woman in the church at some point. He recently became engaged, and as far as I know, that relationship still stands. (He seems to have deleted most of the people from our church off of his Facebook friends list, including myself. Which is cool, because I don’t have to worry about his seeing this. I guess things get awkward when you have a history with every woman in a church. Haha—I’m not included in that list though. Just sayin.)

 

Anyway… While this was all going on, the guys were around a coffee table, playing a strategy game. The game was a series of stacked circles, 3 or 4 to each row. The board was actually reminiscent of the mat in Twister. I watched closely and diligently trying to understand how the game went, as they had invited me to play the next round. I was almost able to understand the game, when it ended.

 

In real life, playing new games is one of my biggest anxieties. Despite being a gifted writer, everything else has always been difficult for me to understand. I suck at reading comprehension, and the number of repetitions needed for me to understand a concept, far outnumbers most people. Even the most basic concepts are like a foreign language the first 38 times I hear or see things. So, games are always stressful for me, as I fear my inability to understand the rules will reveal how utterly stupid I’ve always believed myself to be. The only game I’ve ever excelled at has been scrabble.

 

So, just as I started to learn the game, it ended. And that board disappeared, and a new one appeared. These circles where in an oval, curving, kind of resembling the outline of a lake. Apparently, the board changed with each round. My stomach dropped, right when the guys decided they were done playing for the night anyway. At this point, a wave of relief washed over me.

 

Reflecting on this part of the dream, the pastor from my North Carolina church feels like a very Jesus-like figure to me, which seems accurate. He was listening carefully, engaged, and invested in what I had to say, though there wasn’t much. I think it is interesting to consider, knowing that, the fact that I paid him very little attention. I was too focused on the guys and figuring out how to play that damn game. Sooooo, that’s an interesting side note, that means so much more when I read it back to myself. Yikes.

 

It has been days since this dream, and I have had a lot of realizations since. I’m not sure whether to include them here, in a new post, or at all, as they might be revelations best left to my book.

 

I will say this, the next day I went to have a reiki session after a yoga class. In the session, two Netflix shows came to mind, which both feature a group of people intensely connected, whom are on very important missions in the world. One is Sense8, about a group of spiritually connected people who can pop into the lives and experiences of each other. The other is Travelers, in which a group of time travelers have gone back in time to, of course, save the world. Both of these groups are fighting powerful evil forces, and are deeply, fiercely connected. But what they both most importantly have in common are their soul missions on this earth.

 

Similarly, during the session, my practitioner got the image of two energies, one being my own, and one being another. At first, these energies were raised up on a platform together, but then they split off from each other, going in opposite directions. She said that she got the word “mission” as if these two souls were parting to go serve and important earthly mission, but she said she got the sense that they would reconnect down the road.

 

What she reported seemed very interesting, as I had not told her of the question I had asked to have answered in my dream the night before. Only that I had asked one, and it was answered. I gave no indication of what the question had related to. The vision she received seemed to pose the possibility that the question itself had been based on a falsehood. It seemed to be a confirmation that my belief in a lifetime alone was wrong. That being said, I cannot really say whether these souls will reconnect in this life, or realm, or another. Only time will tell. Unless, of course, I ask another question.

 

Honestly, whenever I have a question for God, I have simply asked for an answer, and He has consistently offered answers to what I have asked. I truly believe, He will tell you anything you want to know. All you have to do is ask.

The Fear of Commitment and My Walk With Christ

Seven years ago today, I sat in church pews long after the congregation had left. Tormented about making a decision to follow Christ or go home and die. I had questions, tons of them. And fears and doubt and hesitation and anger. One thing I did not have was anything left to lose. And that’s how this all began…

My parents like to frequent the same restaurants. They find one they like and go there loyally from that moment on. There was a tea room in a nearby town they discovered, and fell in love with. Once they became regulars, they got to know the family who owned it. The family had lost a son to suicide some years back, and they got to talking about me. I’m not sure exactly what those conversations looked like, but obviously my having lived a suicidal life arose at some point. When I moved back to the area, I became a pet project for that family. No one in the family was more relentless in this pursuit than Kathryn. Kathryn was obnoxiously enthusiastic about Jesus. Like… she REALLY effin loved Jesus. Her spunk drove me insane. I was low energy, grumpy, and wanted to be left alone. I’m not sure how I responded when she started inviting me to church. In my head I imagine smiling, nodding, and shrugging it off. She did not stop asking. Eventually, I decided I’d just shut her up by obliging. “Then,” I thought, “She’ll leave me alone.”

So, that Saturday night, I went. I was planted in my chair through the entirety of the ordeal. My arms were crossed. I had a scowl on my face. I did not sing. I did not stand. I said nothing. “I’ll go, but I don’t have to enjoy it.” I guess I thought if I was enough of a jerk, it’d scare them away. Or maybe I just assumed I knew how church went, and I thought it was all a crock of shit, and all Christians were the same, predictable. As I heard the pastor preach, though, something in my heart started to open. I was certain he’d say something to piss me off, but he did not. Everything he said, I could get behind. It was hopeful, and beautiful, and inspiring, and yet, I was dead set on never going back after that. Kathryn, on the other hand, had different plans. Kathryn kept inviting me back. So, eventually, I surrendered and kept going.

I’d heard the “altar calls” many times, before the night of March 27th rolled around. I don’t know if it had crossed my mind. It probably had. But I’ve always been one to question authority. If this Jesus had so much hope and love and forgiveness, why were Christians often the worst of the jerks? Is God a man? Why is God a man? Men had never done any favors for me. If EVERYONE has access to the forgiveness of Jesus, then that means that the people who abused me when I was a small, helpless child had access to that forgiveness. “Some things,” I believed, “are simply unforgivable.” Where was God in all of that? The altar call came and went that night, and I wanted to go up there, but I wanted answers to all these questions and more, first. As ridiculously impulsive as I’ve been all my life, I wanted to be certain before I committed to this nonsense. I let the call pass, and after service, I started assaulting the pastor with questions. Eventually, he had to go. I sat in the pew, the church now empty except for Kathryn, her sister, and myself. I looked at the clock, then the door, and thought to myself, “If I go home tonight, I’m going to kill myself.” I figured, that this decision could not hurt, so I was going to try it.

With Kathryn and Bekah by my side, I bowed my head and prayed out loud.

Someone recently asked me what exactly it means to “accept Christ.” Here’s the thing, I didn’t really know at the time either. Truth is, its pretty simple. All it takes is a prayer, you’re own version of, “God, I’m tired of doing this alone. I need your help, your forgiveness, and your love. I believe that Jesus did all these awesome things to offer me that, and I am accepting that gift now, and accepting you into my heart.” Feel free to paraphrase as your heart guides. You could do it right this second, if you want.

God is not imposing. He waits for us. A lot of non-believers wonder where God is. God will not interfere in your life if you do not wish to have him there. He’s just waiting for an invitation. After you’ve offered that, he will take care of the rest.

I’d never doubted God’s existence. That belief came naturally to me, although the Jesus thing seemed weird. I didn’t get the death and resurrection concept. Seemed odd, zombie-like, and also there’s the cannibalistic symbolism of the last supper. It was pretty far out to me. I had been told numerous times in high school that I couldn’t be Christian if I didn’t do X, Y, and Z, and I thought “guess I’m not Christian, then.” So, for years I had left it at that. “Guess I don’t qualify.”

What Kathryn, and others in that church taught me, is all the hope that is found in Jesus. I had heard all the zillion things Christians are against, but not once heard about all the hope Jesus had to offer. Hope was something I could get behind. Hope was something I needed desperately. And who doesn’t need unconditional love?

After that night, things did not change instantaneously. It was a process, but it changed my life forever. I still had struggles, and sometimes still do. But the ball was set into motion. That was March 27th, 2011. In July, I had a near death experience that opened my eyes to spiritual truths I had previously been uncertain of, which led to my sobriety. By November, I was off to residential treatment, for all of my issues. Five months of treatment was covered 100% by my insurance. There, my meds got straight, I let go of my addictions, and my eating disorder. I had a chance to process a lifetime of trauma and grief. I moved to California on my own after that (somewhere I’d always dreamt of living), and started my life in recovery. I met a wonderful sponsor with whom I am still very close. I became strong in my recovery, and built a community. In the years since, every time I think things could not possibly get any better, they do. They get better to a new extent to which I had previously thought impossible. I have an incredible life. I have everything I need, do all the things I love, and have accomplished new goals, and set my sights on new heights. It is unimaginably awesome, and it only gets better. God certainly had way more in store for me than I could’ve ever dreamt for myself. I had previously believed I’d just be suicidal until I eventually succeeded in that, and that would be my life.

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I am a different person, inside and out.

In the past two years, I’ve lost 130 lbs. Thursday, I’ll celebrate one year of running. April 15th, I’ll be doing a TEN mile race!!! I’ve written this blog, and shared my triumphs and struggles, and helped numerous people. I have several sponsees, and find myself being told over and over that I’ve inspired someone in some way, or helped people out of ruts. All without even realizing I was doing it. And honestly, I feel like the wealthiest person in the world as a result. Sometimes, I pity the people who think they have it all, when all they really have is material wealth.

Did I know ANY of this was possible on March 27th, 2011? No. I had no clue. All knew was I had an option to go home and die, or try something new that could possibly help in some way. So, I took a leap. And this is where I’ve landed. It was literally the best decision of my life.

God has healed my heart of so much hurt. I was so relentlessly bitter back then. I was angry at God. I thought he was punishing me. I wanted nothing to do with a male God. I blamed him for it all. In the years since, I’ve recognized God’s presence in even my darkest moments. He never gave up on me. And I see it now. Little things I was blind to before. Look, I know people have hurt you. Maybe the church has hurt you. Your pain is very valid, but God is neither those people nor the church. Every time you were hurt, it hurt God’s heart as well. He hurts where we hurt. It pains him to see us mistreated and abused. I have learned this to be true. God is not angry at us for our mistakes. He sees us as beautiful works of art, and loves every little quirk about us. No, God is not a man, so don’t get it twisted. God is beyond our earthly limitations. These very concepts are boxes God cannot fit into. Many languages default to the masculine when referring to something ambiguous in that way. Is it right? No, but its easy. If you have a different pronoun you’d prefer, go for it. God does not want to punish us. God just wants to love unconditionally, and help us in this process we call life. God is always there. He is faithful and reliable. Does everyone have access to this forgiveness? Absolutely, but you should know that many people will not choose to pursue it.

I am a kinder, more compassionate person these days. I make healthier decisions. I am a septillion times happier, seriously. I will always be a work in progress, but how far I’ve come is nothing short of miraculous. Anyone who knew me before will wholeheartedly attest to that.

I’ve had all of my questions answered. If ever I have new ones arise, God answers those as well. My heart has been healed. I can attest to God’s faithfulness. I celebrate this anniversary more than any other and always will. It is the longest I’ve committed to anything. There is no turning back, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out. There is so much more to say, but this is just a blog, not my memoir. Stay tuned for that. I’m just happy to share this hope wherever I can. It is too wonderful to keep it to myself.

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Trompe-l’œil: On The Devil’s Deceptive Tool and Deciphering Verisimilitude

These past couple of weeks have not been the best for me, but today was the pinnacle of that theme.  I won’t go into details, but it was the darkest day I have seen in almost two years.  My recovery almost slipped from my grasp, and I became once again certain that the good is all over and my life is more work than I am capable of.  For a few moments, I believed that my loved ones would be better unburdened by my presence in their lives.

The moment was overwhelming, and I am still reeling from the whole event.  I was feeling quite hopeless, but as I was driving home tonight, a thought hit me.  My sister and I had been pondering what could possibly the cause of my troubles.  Do my meds need adjusting?  Is it because I’m supposed to start doing trauma work with my therapist?  Am I going too long between meals?

The main question being:  What could be wrong?

The thought that hit me on the way home tonight was this:  What could I be doing right?

It is a common belief among those who share my faith that if you’re going through hard times, you must be doing something right.  The idea being, you are on the right path, you’re about to accomplish something big for God, and the devil is trying to bring you down, or stop you in any way he can.  Maybe, I thought, I’m doing something right, and the devil is trying to keep me from proceeding.  I had been looking at the problem all wrong.

So, I will tell you what I am moving forward with, now more confidently than ever.

I am applying to seminary.  I feel called to work in ministry with the LGBTQ population.  I believe there is a whole wealth of experience and spiritual growth for both the LGBTQ population and the Christian population, as they relate to LGBTQ people.  I definitely think the devil is, and has been for years, coming between a lot of people and their relationship with God.  The church has always been unwelcoming and unsympathetic toward the LGBTQ population.  And I resolve to be a part of changing that.

Also, I’m definitely going to address the traumas I have experienced.  Obviously, I can do great things once I move past these issues, and the devil is trying to keep that from happening.  I now have more resolve than ever about addressing my trauma.  I know I can accomplish great things on the other side of the work I need to do.

So, suck that, satan!

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