Saturday, September 4, 2010

Me and God

My blog is where I "put it all out there." Sometimes "it" is all pretty, and respectful, and unlikely to ruffle any feathers. And then sometimes I use "God" and "fuck" in the same sentence and someone takes offense.

In this case, the someone who spoke up about my previous blog, is someone that I love and respect and no matter what, I always will. But apparently when she read my most recent post, she "cringed" at my disrespect of God. In fact, had her cell phone not died in the middle of our conversation, I think she was about to politely request that I remove that one little line. And my immediate reaction was to feel really bad about myself for disappointing her. But then I got to thinking....

A few months back, my city of Nashville was flooded with more rain than we have ever seen and will likely ever see again. Historic buildings were destroyed and an entire mall was submerged in 8 feet of e. coli ridden waters. When the waters receded, buildings all over town had to be stripped to their studs in order for repairs.

My spirituality has gone through a similar process in the last few years. Growing up I was a good little Christian girl, always dressing nicely for church, carrying my Bible to Sunday School, faithfully attending VBS, and being respectful of my parents. As I got older, I solidified my good Christian girl status by going on mission trips (ironically enough, this is where I first encountered Ex), singing solos in the youth choir, and white knuckling my virginity, even going so far as to pass judgement on "that slutty honor student who, rumor has it, gave her boyfriend a (gasp!) blow job!"

Then in college things got really interesting. I became involved in a Christian campus organization that was heavy on the evangelism. I made instant friends who, like me, had realized the importance of being a good Christian early in life. Together, we went to Bible study, had prayer group, practiced safe boy/girl interactions like group dating where no one was allowed to hold hands until they had properly defined the intentions of their relationship, and went on conferences to exotic places like Panama City Beach where I would wear my required one piece bathing suit and share the gospel with unsuspecting spring breakers who were still slightly hung over from last night's numerous shots of tequila.

Oh but wait. I haven't mentioned God in any of this. Well...that's because He wasn't really involved. At least, not for me. My life up to this point, though Christian, wasn't at all spiritual. It was a neverending row of hoops for me to jump through in order to keep up the facade of the Good Christian Girl. It was an exhaustive process of checking boxes, putting on appearances, walking the walk, and talking the that everyone else would be convinced that God and I were, in fact, in this together.

Fast forward a few years, and a few divorces, and a few grad school classes, and a few restless nights at the hands of a toddler, and I am sure of exactly two things.

1. God and I are in this together.


2. There is absolutely nothing I can say, do, write, or for that matter keep to myself, that will change that.

My friend who cringes at the very glimpse of me writing a phrase that puts the beautiful word "God" and the nasty word "fuck" so close together has every right to cringe if she feels led. She is a highly spiritual person, and I would never doubt her connection with God. But that's exactly what it is...HER connection with God. I can't understand how she relates to God, because I am not there. She has a healthy handful of years on me in the way of her relationship with him, and probably thousands upon thousands of prayers communicating both her needs and her praise. She is, understandably, in a different place with her Lord than I am with mine.

Because I have not so long ago, started my relationship with MY Lord from scratch. The knowledge is all still there. The experience is still firmly in place. The ability to read and study and tear apart the many intricacies of the Bible remain unscathed. But my communication with God left my many years of habit behind and started fresh with something along the lines of, "Ok God...I'm ready. Let's do this." And since then, my spirituality has been opened in such a way that I am no longer interested in putting on a show for the sake of others thinking I am a "good Christian." In all honesty, I have absolutely no interest in being a "good Christian." I have no interest in leading others in the way of the Bible. I have no desire to be anyone's spiritual compass. I simply have a desire to be REAL with God, and REAL with people about what that looks like. My friend's concern was that my quote was "disrespectful." And I'm sure that many will agree with her. It's not often that someone who proclaims to love God will be so blatantly irreverent. But I think she's missing the point.

My walk with God is MY walk with God. And sometimes it's holy and beautiful and loving, and yes, even respectful. And sometimes it is less than stellar, a mere nod of acknowledgement during my day. And then there are times when the depths of my humanity sneak up on me, and I don't understand the things in this world, and nothing feels right or makes sense or even churns inside of me with any real rhyme or reason, and the best I can do to include God in that moment of mine is to invite Him to stand by my side as I succomb to my own carnal nature and throw a big cussing fit.

But the beautiful thing about MY God, that I love and adore more than anything...more than the fact that he created the heavens and the earth, more than the fact that He calls the stars by name and counts the hairs on my head, more than the fact that He has the power in one breath to either heal or destroy this world.... that He loves me enough to want to be there for the good, the bad, and the ugly. He doesn't want me to put on a show, or pretend that I have it all figured out, or to try and sound respectful when really I'm just plain old angry. He just wants me to move myself aside in those moments,

just barely enough

for Him to fill in the gaps with his Grace.
So, because I respect and love this friend SO much, I did at least have a chat with God a little earlier. It sounded something like this:
Me: Ok God..I made people cringe with my brutal honesty. They think I am being disrepectful. That wasn't my intention....I don't mean anything I write to be's just where I'm at. It's just that, God, sometimes I FEEL you so clearly. And everything FEELS amazing and wonderful and all I want to do is worship you. And sometimes I FEEL so strongly that I don't get you or understand what you are doing in my life, and NOTHING makes sense. And I just want to yell and cry and cuss. And I don't mean it to be disrespectful, really I don't. It's just that's where I'm at in that moment.
And God replied: I know your heart. I know you are emotional. Heck...I created you that way. You and I have a long way to go...but we will get there day by day...breath by breath. I'm not going anywhere.
Me: So you weren't caught off guard when I threw those venomous four letters into the ante of the universe?
God: Sara....we've been over this. I'm caught off guard by NOTHING. Not the things you have done or said....or the things you are GOING to do or say. I knew you were going to screw up so many times before you were ever even born. I'm not surprised by ANYTHING.
Me: you aren't mad at me for the four letters then?
God: I will see your four letters and raise you one more...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Down and Dirty

My schedule in the last two weeks has been C*R*A*Z*Y! I finished Bartender College, started my grad school internship, juggled a new E schedule (thanking God for the best damn Ex husband EVER!) and have been on at least 5 dentist appointments thanks to a mistake by my dental professional. In this chaos I have done the following:

left my crock pot turned on for two days
forgotten to feed the cat for nearly three...
lost my name tag for my new bartending gig at a local business travel hotel...(yay!)
and completely forgotten that I have to take my grad school comprehensive exam tomorrow morning.

And the emotional result of all of this was my pharmacist telling me that my prescription hadn't come in yet which brought me dangerously close to bursting into tears right there in front of the shelf of condoms. I've just been slightly overwhelmed.

However, there has been a nice side effect of all of this chaos. My hair. You see, I've always been a "wash your hair at least every other day" girl so as to avoid anyone thinking that I am a total skank. But my scheduled insanity lately actually led me to push the envelope on this little rule. And by day 3 of "Operation Skank Head" I realized that my hair looks A-Mazing when it's completely covered in its own filth. So my new rule is now "Be a skank...who cares?!?! My hair kicks your hair's ASS."

Also, there has been a new theme in my life in the past two weeks that could basically be summed up by saying that God has brought a healthy amount of special people into my life. Some of them are delightful reruns from years passed, but some of them are new to me entirely. I found them in strange places. But the common thread between them all is that they have set up camp in a small wooded area in my soul, and I'm damn glad they are there.

AND....I've discovered a new passion in my life. For someone who enjoys writing like I do, I've never been much of a reader. My choice of literature has always been that book with the cartoonish cover about a woman who ALWAYS has an earth shattering orgasm whenever she has sex...which any (honest) woman will admit is obviously fiction. But thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love, I have discovered that I enjoy reading books by women about their lives. I'm currently on my fourth book of this kind, and every time I read one, I learn something about life, love, faith, and the question marks that often dance wildly next to each of these.

One day this week, just after reading a delightful email from one of my new treasured friends, and just after picking out my next book by a woman who loves Jesus but has been bitch slapped by life, I met up with my "rerun" friend for dinner, coffee, a chocolate cupcake with two forks, and a conversation that contained the quote "My comfort zone just isn't all that comfortable to me." I left this evening feeling overjoyed to have friends that "get me" and with a new realization that life is best lived with a down and dirty, reckless abandon.

I have many friends, most of them of the facebook variety, that have neat little lives. They got married, bought a house, picked out a dog, had a baby, and then repeated something in the sequence. Many times, I've found myself watching them post on their status update something along the lines of "I have the best husband on the planet, and my child actually just pooped a pretty little bow for me to place on top of my pretty little life." Ok...that's not true. That's my own ugliness peaking out from the corner of my blog....and possibly a little bit of that second glass of wine talking. But in all honesty, I have often wondered how these wonderful women (who I adore and mean absolutely no offense to) managed to scrape together such neatly packaged lives when mine feels like it's just an insane mess of misfires. Why did they get the house, the dog, the 2.5 kids, and the doting husband, and I got the "Best Damn Ex Husband Ever," the crazy insane "other one" and a cat that insists on chewing on my skank nasty hair and shitting in that one little pile of litter that she managed to throw from her box?

But then my friends, the new BFF and the delightful rerun, showed up without even a bit of warning and reminded me that my life is different. Like my friend, my comfort zone is anything but comfortable. I was designed to thrive on change, maybe just for this season, but maybe for life. My path, my purpose, my desires...hell....even my address....they never stay the same for long. My foundation remains the same. I always know who has my back, and I never forget who I am. My faith never waivers. I always know who my God is. But everything else shuffles like the quick feet of a skilled tap dancer. I am in constant ebb and flow, feeling out the bumps of my life as if they are braille. Even my communication with my ever faithful God oscillates wildly between "My Lord, you amaze me" and "Ok God, What the fuck?"

The conclusion that I've come to in all of this, is that life, at least MY life, like MY hair, looks its best when it's just a bit dirty. There's something beautiful that happens when you allow life to fall naturally where it will, after all of the dirt and all of the oil and all of the grime have had their way with it. My life may not ever be neatly packaged, but it's also not dulled by a daily routine of wash, rinse, repeat. In a moment of mercy, God has brought me to that place, just on the edge of my comfort zone, where the dirt, oil, and grime of an unwrapped life, a life fully flung open to its core, they win. And for just that one moment of mercy,at the end of another day, I think to myself, "I've got at least one good day left in me."

And the next day, I wake up to something beautiful.