And After Denial And Anger And Depression Comes Acceptance

Yesterday’s post was written a day or two after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It was a messy few weeks, of crying and ableism and cancelling plans and haze and tough decisions and more crying. I yelled at people I loved: my mom, Tom, my sisters, God. I pretended nothing had changed with everyone else. Both took a toll.

But now I’m almost a month in. And things are looking up. My worries and fears from July have come to their foregone conclusions for the most part and I am looking for the upside in them all. And life is looking a little like this:

  • Downside: I decided not to go EUDC in Croatia. Upside: My space went to Andrew, who deserves it and will do it justice.
  • Downside: I have been transferred out of Nursing and will not be graduating in 2015. Upside: The college are making what is essentially a new course for me (BSc Health Studies) and I will graduate in 2016. The next year will also be part time, which will allow me to adjust to professional life at my own pace.
  • Downside: Running is a no-no. Upside: Swimming and yoga are still yes-yes.

It helps that two of my dearest people have disabilities, and are up for a venting session when it is needed. It helps that I bought a shower chair so that I can wash myself in peace. It helps that I am getting into a low-sugar, low-caffeine, bed at 10pm routine. It helps that I am taking more me time. It helps to multitask less. It helps that I am taking a break from worship team, and approaching God in a slightly different manner. It helps that the American explains relevant theology (and makes silly faces) when I am upset. It helps to have a mother who does lots of research about fibro and test runs facials on me.

You get to a point where you start being okay with being a spoonie, a fibromite, a pillow fighter, and whatever other cute names online support groups have for their members. You start being okay with walking less and sitting more, less nights out and more sleeps in, less fancy coffee and two more paracetemol.

But it’s good. This is good.

 

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Living Authentically or Living in Sin

Sometimes, out of nowhere, I get a smack in the face of internalised Bible-bashin’ queerphobia. And I can’t breathe and I feel nauseous and I can’t shed the feeling of existential doom. 

There are multiple reasons why this should not happen, including, but not limited to:

1. Having struggled through the clobber passages and gender essentialism of the conservative interpretation of the Bible, I don’t find it holds water (a discussion for a different day)

2. I have been aware of my queerness for over 15 years, and coming out 3 years ago was one of the most liberating things I ever did

3. Personal experience (and science) have shown that it’s near impossible to pray away the gay

And yet, every once in a while, for no discernible reason, I get the Fear. And no matter how logical I try and be about it, in those moments, I can’t shake the feeling that all my Greek word studies and Biblical history and prayer are just a way of “rationalising” my sin, and that lifelong celibacy is the cross to bear on the road to relationship with God. On the flip side, why am I questioning what I know and have read and have trusted to God based on what evangelical culture has relentlessly espoused (in spite of it being an indisputably grey area Biblically?)

I am often challenged by two questions I can derive from Scripture, which I suspect I will be asking until I come face to face with the man Himself:

1. What is the balance between truth (the Law) and grace (Love)?

2. Who are the wolves? 

 

 

Damage, Communion, and Easter

I wrote this at Easter and never posted it because I am terrible but it is a Sunday so there’s that. 

There isn’t the hype and excitement around Easter that there is around Christmas. From a secular point of view anyway, and these days that doesn’t bother me. I see the excitement and the joy in the hearts of my fellow disciples in Christ and it makes me even more astounded that almost 2000 years ago, Jesus was executed for spreading the truth and then returned to life. And sometimes I hear that and it means nothing because we all hear it every year. And I’m not going to get into the meaning of Easter and the theological gravity of resurrection and everything else, because then I’d just be explaining all of Christianity and most people who read this either already know it or aren’t going to read the ramblings of a baby Christian talk about Jesus.

I’m going to write about being damaged. We all have a chapter of our lives that we recall and think that’s what broke me. Maybe it was a bad breakup or a lost job or financial struggles. Maybe it was something that filled you with shame like a sexual assault or an addiction. Maybe it was the total feeling of loss and lack of control that comes with a mental disorder, like depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder. I can only speak for myself, but I am sure that many people have sat down one day and asked, “What is the point of trying any more? I am too far gone. There is no coming back from this. I’m done.” I remember feeling so damaged and worthless that I was surprised anyone wanted to give me the time of day. I remember knowing in the core of my soul that there was no point in trying to find God because He’d only hate me too.

And that’s what makes Easter so amazing for me. That’s what makes Jesus so amazing for me. He came back from death. With God, we can overcome anything. And this is getting alarmingly close to sounding like God will fix all your problems (He won’t. Hardship still exists in Christian life, because hardship exists in life.) But when Jesus died, He took it all with Him – the shame, the lies, the hate. He was damaged by the world just as badly as we are. And when He rose, He gave us the opportunity to take the broken parts and be reborn. He gave us the opportunity to be free.

He is risen! Happy Easter!

 

Christmas 2013: My First Christmas with Jesus

Merry Christmas, friends!

I am currently sitting around with the family, listening to Beyonce, having just said goodbye to the extended family, waiting in anticipation for my father’s quality cooking. I hope everyone is having a good day with their families, or if they are not, are coping well and have support to get through the holidays. Much love, darlings. 

I went to Christmas Eve mass last night, my first in six years. The last one I went to triggered six months of paranoia and panic attacks that God was in fact going to smite me down at any given moment so I tended to avoid it from then on. But 11 months after rejoining the Church, Christmas rolled around again. The Mass was the third Christmas-Church-related thing I went to this week, and also the most different (as a non-Catholic, I don’t generally frequent the Mass.)

Because of translational things, the responses and liturgy of the Mass has changed since my day, so I wasn’t participating to the level that my Catholic friends would, but I still came away with some observations, some about our society, some about the Church, but mainly about myself.

1. Since entering a Bible based evangelical Church, I am now better able to appreciate the Mass. So much of it is prayer (good) and Scripture (great), so my experience of it was one of quite focused and intense prayer, to a level I would struggle to attain at home (I definitely wouldn’t have the discipline to pray for an hour in my room.) As a whole, I found the service spiritually fulfilling, wonderfully festive (I sang along loudly to hymns, as is my way) and overall, lovely.

2. I find myself at a loss in a society of cultural Catholicism. My reading, and learning, and church teachings, all lead to Matthew 22:37 – “He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” – and James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”. So I struggle to understand the point of going to Church twice a year – it’s not Church attendance that saves you after all. It also bugged me how not about Christ this holiday appeared even in the Church, and after stewing in my own self-righteousness for about five minutes, realised what a hypocrite I was being. I have no right to judge anyone. But it did help me come to the true realisation – I don’t want everyone to act like me, but I do want everyone to know Jesus like I do.

3. I find that throughout the holiday season, I am better able to appreciate what I have, and do my best to be helpful and humble (although this is a skill I am still working at!) Scripture, prayer, devotionals – all reminding me that Christmas is not about the spectacle, the food, the gifts (although these are a perk). The season is to remind us that God decided to come to earth to redeem us, and not only that. He came in a manner that allows us to connect with Him, and He with us. The Lord had to deal with parents and childhood and teenage problems and having a job and everything we have to deal with. His family were refugees, He was born into poverty, He was rejected and suffered and died. If Christ can make Himself humble, if He can continue to thank the Father in all circumstances, why can’t we?

So like every year, I am taking great joy in the Christmas season. However, I feel it is a deeper feeling, more spiritual, less material, not quite so fleeting. And I pray that this may continue for me (and for others) in the future.

Christmas 2013: The First Year Walking With Christ

A little background context: it is 00:14, I am not tired at all, I had cliche-ed emotions at the airport this morning due to the departure of the American, and I have wanted to recommence blogging, and particularly to start writing more about Christianity. I became a disciple of Christ in February 2013 and because of this Christmas season, I want to get into it a little. I have ideas for the new year, but this is going to be a quick background into how I became a Christian, some musings on my first Christmas as a believer, and some seasonal scripture. For previous writings on faith, see here, here, and here

I started reading the Bible in February 2013, declared myself a Christian on Ash Wednesday, and had found my church home by chance within ten days of that. I spent the next six months attending Sunday service, going to a weekly study/discussion group, and power reading my way through the 66 days of the Bible, a task I felt I had to complete before getting baptised. I was baptised on September 1 2013.  My baptism was one of the most exciting, nervous, laughing-tears days of my adult life. I could wax lyrical about my journey to baptism, my life before Christ, and my love of Jesus, but it is summed up pretty well in the video below.

I will explore my thoughts on Christmas more tomorrow, but what I want to leave you with today is this. Amongst all the hype and the money spending and the sparkles and lights and such, we get to celebrate that a little boy was born into poverty, to teenage parents, who had to travel hundreds of miles, and then escape to another country to avoid slaughter, and in spite of all of this, was the Son of God. We see purpose and planning and perseverance, a feat truly worthy of worship.