I realize that I've made some big changes in my life the last seven years so, it's understandable that people are curious. They have a lot of questions and sometimes they even put words to them: (By the way, these are real questions that I've been asked so they are 'quotes.')
"So, where do you go to church?"
I don't but I still speak at them and enjoy the people in them -- and out of them. I kind of live like life is my church and everyone attends. I call it 'humanity.'
"Do you call yourself a Christian, a Buddhist, an Agnostic, an Athiest...I can't tell about you, Stacey. I mean, you used to sing in churches and lead Bible studies and now you're posting on Facebook about 'sustainable living through hemp' and you're quoting Ghandi."
I think hemp is great and think we should explore more of what it can do for us.
I always quoted Ghandi but didn't give him credit because some people couldn't handle it and there was a time when I couldn't handle people not handling it.
Yes, I sang in churches and led Bible studies and that was its own special time in many ways -- and it was also fraught with a grave misunderstanding about God and his love. That's not me saying that I think all people in church have that misunderstanding and should wake up and leave. I'm saying that about me.
I was wrapped up in limiting judgments of who was qualified to be loved by God and what those qualifications were. I was a sin detector. I resigned from that job when I went on a journey that led me to a God of Love that is beyond my imagination and I can see that he lives in or out of churches and in or out of the Bible.
I don't define myself by a certain religious label anymore. I call myself a 'human being'. I found it's a club where everyone belongs and no one's left out. I really like that.
"But what about Jesus?"
Jesus and I have gone through a lot together. I have found that he can handle a lot more than the cross. He can handle my doubts, questions and considerations. He can handle my seeming irreverance and see my heart beyond all of it.
"Then, why don't you call yourself a Christian?"
Because being 'for' Jesus doesn't mean whole-heartedly agreeing with what Christianity has become. And being 'for' Jesus doesn't mean being against Ghandi, Buddha, Krishna or science or Democrats or Republicans or Gays or Catholics or women who wear low-cut blouses (or Gay Republican Catholics who wear low-cut blouses.)
"What about salvation? Don't you help to 'save' people anymore?"
I'm not trying to 'save' anyone because I don't think anyone's broken or at risk -- and I don't think that God is dangling our feet of faith over the fires of hell as a way to motivate us toward his love. Because I don't believe he does that with us, I don't want to do that to others.
I just think we don't see ourselves clearly. Part of what I think Jesus came to do was to restore our sense of belonging to the Divine and a sense of how truly amazing, powerful, beautiful and loved we are. When we live in that, we live differently.
"Don't you make sure your kids go to church so that they can be saved? Don't you want your kids to hang out with Christians?" (Reminder: These are real questions I've been asked.)
I don't. My kids have gone to churches and church groups in the past and they've had some great times around great people. I try to make sure they leave before any 'salvation' call is made because I think it's a confusing message: "God loves you so much that he'll send you to hell if you don't believe in him just right." I don't know. That just doesn't sound like 'love' to me and I can't twist it enough to make it sound like love.
As far as hanging out with Christian kids: I don't look for that as a standard. We have a kid who lives nearby, goes to church twice a week, is in the worship band. He's thrown rocks and baseballs at my kids' heads, stolen their scooters and is mean to them when he thinks I'm not looking and nice to them when he knows I can see. He's a Christian.
A Christian can be wonderful or not.
The standard I teach my kids isn't about looking for designer religious labels but about looking for qualities of love and kindness and making things right when they're done wrong. If that shows up in Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Athiest, Whatever-ist, I'm good with it.
"What political party do you vote for?"
I was raised a staunch Republican and then, about 15 years ago switched to Independant so that I could take in the scope of what both parties, and alternative parties offered. And then, I got into some of those thoughts like the whole thing is rigged anyway so why bother. I kind of live between a couple of thoughts on the whole thing and haven't completely landed yet.
At some point, I stopped telling people which side I voted for because I have friends and family simply can't handle anything that doesn't agree with their belief and I got to the point where it was not the hill worth dying on.
I have friends who think that you can't be a conscientious, caring Republican and others who think that you can't be a Democrat without being a self-victimized, 'raging liberal.'
Some people hold to the idea that 'Our guy is always the good guy and the other guy is always evil.' That way of thinking and those absolutes are so completely unenlightened to me. I don't follow a party line but I have my preferences. I don't confuse my preferences with "I'm right and you're wrong and now we can't be friends." I look for people I can get behind and respect. There are respectable people on both sides and even other sides that society hasn't evolved enough to include which I guess isn't surprising because we haven't exactly evolved to the point of not needing this illusion anymore but that's another story...
I have one friend in my life who has asked about my politics so many times from so many sneaky angles because she's been so disatisfied with my non-disclosure. She actually looks at the political promotions that get sent to my house around election time to see if she can figure it out (not realizing that all the other party mailers get sent to my post office box) and asks my husband and my kids how I vote.
If it matters that much for you to know, and you're so busy looking for the elephant or ass that you're missing me and all my good gluten-free love, maybe we shouldn't be friends.
"What about homosexuality? Where do you stand on that?"
In my church days, I was committed to saving folks who were gay. I was not very much fun to be around and you couldn't, at all, get a sense of my true love for anyone because I was busy weilding my hammer and my sword. People usually brace themselves or run when they see someone like that coming. As well they should. Or they drink a lot of white wine at family functions when they're around you. As well they should.
All of those are reasonable responses to someone who's coming at you with weaponry.
Again, I'm not looking for labels anymore and I'm not looking to fix anyone because I don't see them as broken or at risk of losing God's love, favor or eternity. People are people. I've apologized to the gay family members I was an ass to. They received my apology and we all live in love with each other. At the same time I don't live in that weird over-compensating, overly apologetic place people do when they're around folks they've misjudged. That's so icky and it's constantly drawing up the past into the present. No one has a better relationship for doing that. I've realized that healthy people don't want to be treated worse based on their sexual preference and healthy people don't want to be treated preferentially based on their sexuality either. Healthy people just want to be treated like people. Period.
Okay so, it's time for me to head back to bed and I'll answer more questions another time about vaccinations, organic living or whatever but here's the thing I'm coming to:
Sometimes the questions are just about the curiosity and exploration. But sometimes the questions that are burning in peoples' hearts aren't really about your politics or your religion or your sexual persuasion
or where you shop
and if you vaccinate
and if you eat organic.
People just really want to know a few things:
"Am I safe?"
My answer: If you are with you then, you'll know if you are with me.
"Can I trust you?"
My answer: To cook for you, care for you, listen with love and share wisdom? Yes.
To cut your hair, do your taxes or fly your airplane? No.
"Am I alone in this?"
My answer: Nope. You're never alone. Never, ever, not ever.
"Am I normal?"
My answer: Not at all. No one is. And that means everyone is not normal.
So, yes -- in that sense,
you totally are.