Jane Arie Baldwin

Personal Tools for Living at the Highest Levels of You

Tag: feminine

I’m a Christian. Why does that make me uncomfortable?

The Wrong Store, Marfa.

The Wrong Store, Marfa.I

It’s Holy Week in Christendom.  What better week for my coming out party as a Christian.  There.  I said it –  I am a Christian!  So why does that make me so uncomfortable?

Could it be because I was raised in the eighties when evangelicalism ran rampant?

Or because I’m from Texas?

Or because I was raised in an extremely conservative community?

The answer is most likely  the perfect storm of these overlapping ideas.  As much as I want to write about faith and God’s love and call myself a Christian I still feel locked in the stranglehold of the evangelism of my youth.  I cannot think of the word Christian without massive judgement coming up about the conflicting ideas about what Christianity is supposed to be.  What I’m wondering is — If Christianity is truly about loving your neighbor and acknowledging that all people are equal in the eyes of the Lord — what the hell have I been fighting against?  And more importantly, who am I without my Christian rebellion?

I have just as much a right to my Christian heritage as the next American.  I was baptized as a Protestant, probably Methodist because my family attended the Methodist church.  I could have also been baptized in the Christian church, the church of my grandparents — though probably not.  I only ever saw my grandparents in a church at funerals and weddings  but Granny would go out of her way to say things like, “Oh, I am a very proud member of the First Christian Church!”

My dad’s side of the family was Baptist.  Dad’s mom, my Granny Pearl, liked to drink Schlitz long necks and go dancing at the honkey tonk bars.  She also rocked her grandchildren to sleep singing old Baptist hymnals –“On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…” yet the Bible thumping section of my dad’s side of the family considered her the darkest of the black sheep.

I’ve seen the inside of many  denominations of Protestant churches, know more than a few hymnals and  hundreds of uplifting Born-Again songs from the 1970’s.  I attended Catholic elementary school in a tiny town of a thousand people.  We went to mass every morning and said the rosary every day after lunch.  I could never make an ‘A’ in religion class because I was not a Catholic, even though I felt I knew more about religion than most other kids considering that I went to the Methodist church with my family on Sundays, went to the Baptist Sunday school across the street from our house and then went to Catholic mass every weekday.

Just yesterday I linked to a blog about instilling value into our daughters.  I was so excited to find the voices around how to raise healthy daughters.  And then there it was – right out of the gate the blogger asked, “Are you raising a rebellious harlot of Babylon or a Bride of Christ?”  Really?  Those are my only two options? The nuns I knew in elementary school considered themselves to be Brides of Christ, married to God’s son, celibate in physical reality.  I knew that was not my path.  Bride of Christ gets me in knots for many reasons – it feels submissive, judgmental and pious.  Then there’s the obvious snark – If I’m the Bride of Christ does that mean I am cheating on Christ when I get married or does that make me polyandrous?

Herein lies my uncomfortableness.  Where I grew up these were my only two options — rebellious harlot or Bride of Christ – I chose the former and because the options were so narrow I questioned God’s presence and also God’s nature.  I eventually abandoned Protestantism for Catholicism in my late teens and almost abandoned Jesus altogether a few years after that because they had taken Him as their own. They had appropriated Jesus, made him the husband of their daughters.  I couldn’t compete with that!  My rebellion and I couldn’t compete with girls who wore virginity rings and took virginity pledges and went to church on Sundays AND Wednesday nights.  My doubt and skepticism did not come from my lack of faith, it came from an idea that somebody was doing Christianity better than me.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 20% of Americans claim no religious affiliation.  In research and media circles these people have become known as the “nones” (somewhat ironic but bearing no affiliation with actual Catholic nuns).  These people include many of my friends.

While working on this blogpost I mentioned the title of this post  — I’m a Christian. Why does that make me uncomfortable? — to a few close friends to see their reaction.

One of them looked at me befuddled and said, “Wow! I haven’t called myself a Christian in a long time.”

Each one of the women I talked to said something along the lines of  — I’m not atheist and I’m not agnostic, I just hate what those pedophile priests have done to Catholicism and I don’t agree with evangelical Christians.  See!  These women are spiritual and maybe even Christian, they just don’t want to admit it because there is no clear paradigm of their beliefs.

So goodbye to my rebellious nature and goodbye to the uncomfortableness that keeps me separate from who I am, from God.  I’m off on a journey to clarify this paradigm for myself and many other women who no longer feel at home in the Christian faith that has been designed for us and who very much want a place to call home.

Links that inspired this post:

http://sarahbessey.com/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/2013/03/washed-in-his-blood-my-ass/

http://onelittlelibrary.com/2013/03/20/full-frontal-feminism/

http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2012/12/13/watch-dan-savage-wants-liberals-recover-hijacked-christianity

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/20393178

Overcoming Overwhelm – A Delicate Balancing Act

ALL THE SPACE I NEED

I have all the space I need to express myself fully.”

I’ve been dealing a lot this week with feeling overwhelmed. It’s an old feeling that has waned in familiarity over the last few years.  Yet the closer I get to the heart of the story I am writing; the more contracted I can sometimes feel.

A part of me wants to play the victim. I really want to write but I haven’t got the time.  How am I supposed to write when there are bills to pay, letters to be written, calls to make, addresses to be changed, and things to buy to become more organized?

Feeling overwhelmed and embodying the victim are old, old MO’s.  They are familiar terrain for the women in my family.  These feelings and ideas have traveled successfully through my female lineage for many generations.  My mom felt it, her mom felt it, her mom’s mom, and I suspect on down the line a few hundred generations.

There is a huge element of unworthiness involved.  This feeling of unworthiness, I’m sure, is a huge part of the reason I make copious lists (I have a slight addiction to the new iPhone Reminder app).  I’m not saying that’s bad and I’m not saying I’m going to stop making lists.  I’m connecting to a feeling that happens when I check things off my list and still can’t feel complete or feel like I had a successful day.

When I’m in this feeling I stop breathing.  That slave driver voice of unworthiness comes in and tells me that taking time to breathe and enjoying getting the list done are frivolous distractions to the task at hand.

It’s not about making the lists or not making lists.  It’s the feeling that, “I am not enough” and my day does not have a shiny gold star on it unless I have done what I intended to do for that day.  Meanwhile, my brain is wrapped all around trying to break this multi-generational cycle of feeling unworthy and NOTHING IS GETTING WRITTEN! Then I feel REALLY unworthy.

Creative writing requires a whole different side of the brain and side of the being than the list making. There is a subtle interplay between me doing the writing and me allowing the story to surface from the depths of my being, my experiences, and my subconscious.  This interplay requires finesse.  It requires concentration in a way that is not focused on doing something to get it done.  The more I focus on the enjoyment of it, whether its writing or completing tasks, the more movement there is – paragraphs get written and to-dos get done.  This interplay can also be described as masculine (doing) and feminine (being).  Indeed it is a balance, learning to balance the masculine and the feminine within my being.

So it happened that yesterday I went to see sweet Barbara for acupuncture.  She picked up quick on my emotional imbalance as I struggled with feeling overwhelmed.  Barbara immediately suggested a mantra.  She said I had to come up with the words that I needed to hear.

The word space popped into my head.  I wanted to feel more space, more expansion.  Then the word express came into view. Without hesitation I said, “I have all the space I need to express myself fully.”

A slight change in the temperature of the room was accompanied by a calm that said, “You can do this.”  I felt safe.  I felt supported.  I felt loved…by myself.

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