Friday, September 9, 2016

A Long Road Ahead!

Hi Gramma,

This is my first post since you've been gone. I miss having you around, and having you read my posts and then emailing me your thoughts and support. I always felt so loved and respected by you. I haven't wanted to write anything since you passed away.  It hurts just writing on here knowing you won't be reading it or responding to it. I wish there was a way we could still talk to each other. I miss you so much.

 Life over the last 2 years have been intense and full of rich learning opportunities that I probably would never have asked for if I knew what they entailed. I feel like I have been broken into a million different pieces and as I have been picking up each piece I have had to evaluate it and decide if I want it in my life or if I want it to look different. I have tossed some of the pieces out of my life and added new ones to replace them. Those new pieces have added great joy to my life (exercise, healthier eating, accepting the flaws in myself and acknowledging the positives in myself). The pieces that I pick up and decide to keep, I find I am changing how those look as well ( my positive attributes, my talents, job, parenting, and creativity).

Then there are the pieces I pick up and I am just not sure what to do with (my religion, my social views, my views of my worth and purpose in life ... that last one isn't in a negative depressive way either, just in general). These pieces I am reluctant to put anywhere are what are keeping my mind and spirit in a state of exhaustion these days. I've realized that I have been blind for my whole life on some of these pieces! I feel like in general I have sort of just jumped in with everyone in life and tried to just function how everyone else functions. Almost like a robot. Now that I am consciously thinking about each piece in my life, I am able to ask myself "is this something I want?" "Is this something I believe?" "Is this something good?".  They aren't easy questions to answer because each come with their flaws and garbage. These pieces are going to take a while to figure out where they belong in (or out) of my life.

I don't know how you would feel today about my questioning my religion (part of me thinks you'd be happy as long as I didn't stop believing in God). It's been an extremely lonely place. In my church, if you question, it is often talked about ( and I used to believe this!) as someone being weak, lazy, or lacking in faith. I don't consider myself weak, it's the opposite, I'm strong. I'm being brave and challenging a part of me that was blindly following for so many years. I'm being open minded and I am bravely putting myself in situations that feel scary and lonely. The sad part is, I am the most lonely in the church. I can't talk to many about what I am experiencing and if I did, they would be defensive and have their own churchy way of shutting me down quickly. If I challenge anything, they turn into wasps and attack (again in their own churchy, "christlike" way), they group together and shut me right down. There is little space for people who aren't thinking like the whole group. I have been the opposite of lazy. I have been actively pursuing my religion and not just giving up. I'm still taking part in my calling and being authentic. I won't teach anything I don't believe in and I will only teach the things I have conviction in (though the list is getting smaller on that, but I think I got it to a sturdy place).  I'm asking questions and praying. I'm keeping my mind and heart open the best I can. It's been a long time that I have struggled and questioned and I haven't given up yet, even dispite some of the hurtful and hateful comments I have heard (though none of those people actually realize the pain their comments caused). And lastly, I'm not lacking faith, I haven't given up. I have faith in God and in Christ. I believe in them and I believe in God's plan. I have faith that with God's help, I can find a way to piece this all together.

My questions in the church are boiling down to the culture mostly and a then a couple fundamentals that are hard for me to understand and accept.  See, when I joined the church, I knew it my heart that God wanted me to join it. He told me and I can't deny it. So I jumped right in and everything was new. It was so much to take in and at first I resisted because the confusion of it all felt like too much, but then as time went on I almost found it easier to just walk to the same beat as everyone else and not stick out. I think my foundation of God being my father, and Christ being my brother and Savior has always been there and never questioned, but I think almost everything else I just sort of took on and hoped the belief and conviction in it would just come. As I have gone on and encountered sources of confusion, uncertainty or disagreement; I buried them and kept walking to the beat of the church's drum. Eventually as my life in other areas came to place where I needed to face them and create change is when all those things I buried also came up and I realized I no longer had the strength or ability to bury them back down. I needed to face them. And that's where I am today. But even through all of this sorting through the pieces, I have felt all along that this is what God is wanting me to experience. I can see the path being built in front of me with each challenging step I take. I'm looking forward to figuring out my conclusion and I am hoping that lands me in a place where I can feel peace, where I am allowed to be myself and think my thoughts, and where I can feel without doubt, that this is where and how God wants me to be.

It's been an up and down experience.  I get easily distracted in my emotion in it all too, which never helps. My feelings get hurt easily and my logical part of my mind tries to help me out of that pain, but I definitely have a larger emotional section that drowns out that logical voice so I need to work on that. I wish it were easier just to shut the noisy and inconsiderate people out.

I've noticed that one of the loudest and most harmful voices that have existed in my mind have been my own. I spent my whole life convinced that I am unintelligent, unworthy of being truly loved and that I am different. I've gotten so good at shutting up that voice telling me I am stupid and I am now convinced that I have worth in this world and to God and to my family and to those around me. I'm just needing to fine tune that and figure out exactly what that looks like.

And finally I have come to the realization that I am different and so is everyone else! We are all unique and the purpose of coming to this earth isn't for all be perfect and the same. If that were the purpose then we would be choosing and fulfilling Satan's plan. I know we have all been blessed with the gift of agency and the ability to think on our own. I'm not going to pretend to be something I'm not anymore. I'm not going to walk to anyone's beat because I'm not a robot and that isn't what God intended me to be. God sent me here to be happy and to figure out what that looks like for me. Putting on a mask and pretending has not made me happy and it doesn't make anyone happy. So I'm going to just jump right into His great plan of happiness and I'm going to make mistakes and I'm going to be imperfect just as he expects and wants me to be. I'm going to do what it takes to draw closer to Christ in how I view and treat others. I'm going to be real and I'm not going to hide my flaws.

I could go into great detail into all the pieces that I'm debating on, but then I'd never stop talking. Maybe I'll just keep writing my thoughts out on this stuff. Writing my thoughts out has always been helpful, I just wish you were still reading them so you can help me with this stuff. :(

Love you Grandma.

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