Sometimes I hit a blog post where I know what I want to say and why, but it turns out to be much harder than I anticipated to actually write. Sometimes this means I need to let it go. Other times the only thing to do is to just start writing and see what happens. This post is an example of the latter.
I wrote the other day that I had arrived at my spiritual home. My long journey is done. A new chapter has begun. And by the next day I was wondering what on earth I was thinking coming right out and saying something like that. Normally I take days and even weeks to think things through, but I just spouted that one out without even allowing a decent waiting period to see if I would feel the same way in the morning. So, did I feel the same way in the morning? Um, hmmmm . . . can I get back to you on that?
Here’s what I can tell you: the spirit of judgment that I have lived under as long as I can remember is finally gone. Just gone and for the first time I feel safe. But more about that later. First I suppose I should try to explain what happened.
So, what happened? Well, I was crying (shocking, I know) and praying (duh), begging God to DO SOMETHING. Specifically, begging God to do something about my husband – talk to him, blind him and hold him hostage like Paul on the road to Damascus, put him in a coma and knock some sense into him – anything! I sensed myself at the feet of God, begging like a desperate petitioner before the king. And God said, “you don’t need him. It’s me you need. You know that, right?”
And I do know that – it’s been a truth I’ve clung to many times, so I stopped begging for my husband and begged for God. And I sensed myself being pulled into his lap, like a child with her father, to just cry and cry. “You’re OK. You’re OK. You’re OK.” Over and over the words came to me as if there was a small group around me – including distinctly a woman.
“It’s been so hard. I’ve been hurt so badly,” I said.
“I know. I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I’m so sorry you went through all that.” Again and again the words came and my crying stopped. Yet, the words went on, “You’re OK. It’s OK. I’m so sorry.” Until not only had I stopped crying – I couldn’t have gotten myself to start again if I had tried.
“Did I do OK?”
“Yes, you’ve done wonderfully.”
And I was reminded that I’m just a child. I’m loved just as a child is. No one looks on an infant for not being toilet trained. No one thinks poorly of a pre-schooler for not being as mature and together as the adults around them. That’s how I’m loved – as a beloved child.
But out of the hurt and trauma of this human experience that I was born into – original sin as we call it – without even thinking, I said plaintively, “but I don’t want to be like me. I want to be like you.”
“But I love you just as you are.” And the idea of one of my own children – feeling ashamed of her childishness and limited capabilities and understanding saying, “I don’t want to be the way I am. I want to be like you” came to mind. And I knew that I would hold her and tell her that she’s enough just the way she is. That it’s OK – good even – to be a child. I don’t look at her and think of how much better she’ll be when she’s grown. I look at her and cherish who she is today. And I knew that God was saying it’s the same way with me. It’s OK that I’m a child. I’m supposed to be a child. He loves me as a child. I don’t have to be anything else.
I felt then very much like a child happily sitting in her father’s lap. I felt safe in a way that I’ve never felt before. Like I could be that child who sings a song to herself and hops up and down out of her father’s lap without ever even thinking to stop and check his reaction. I could just forget myself like a child at play who isn’t even aware that someone might be watching. Not looking for approval. Not worried that I might be embarrassing myself. Not having to be anything at all, but just being. I felt safe. I still feel safe. And that’s a very new thing for me.
I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but it’s a lot of people’s demon to live under a spirit of judgment. It has been mine forever. Always feeling like other people were looking at me and evaluating me. And always being afraid that their judgments were right and I was only fooling myself to think I might be OK. Being misunderstood and rejected were my kryptonite. And thinking that I was weak for not being able to shake it off. For not being able to get to a place where I really didn’t care what someone else thought about me and my life. And then just like that – sitting in my laundry room on a Sunday morning – that spirit of judgment was lifted from me.
You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. ~ Deuteronomy 1:17
I’m OK. And I’m free. I’m not worried that you might see me dancing or hear me singing to myself. If you want to laugh at me for it, that just doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. I’m not going to freeze up and sit quietly hoping you’ll approve of me. I’m not even going to be mad or upset that you think I’m ridiculous or unseemly. It’s not a “screw ’em” sort of don’t care. It’s just that you’re mistaken. We’re all mistaken sometimes. It’s part of being a child. It’s OK. It’s not going to hurt me now.
The next morning I stole a few minutes and returned to the labyrinth to pray. My grand, sweeping statement was bugging me: “I think I finally reached spiritual home today. The long journey I’ve been on is complete and I’m ready to start a whole new leg of the adventure.” I mean, it’s nice to know that you’re OK and not be held hostage to other people’s judgments. But is it really such a big thing? Heck, everyone from Oprah to your mom will tell you to accept yourself and not worry what other people think. But as I walked, I realized that this ordinariness is part of the point – reaching our spiritual home is not some big, exotic, other-worldly thing. It’s just that close and grounded in the here and now. If I came and told you how I had some grand spiritual ecstasy and been shown the majesty of heaven, what good would that do anyone other than me? The world doesn’t need people who go into ecstatic faints. It needs healing and freedom for moms and dads and students and workers and lay-abouts. When we go looking for the big and unusual, we are missing the sacredness of this life and world that God has given to us.
I also worried that in sharing this experience, people would hear/read just one more self-involved modern claiming, “I’m OK. You’re OK. God loves us! Wheeeeee!” But here’s the thing; every day I see messages telling me just these things. They’re all over my facebook page right now. But I didn’t get to a place of real freedom by just saying, reading or even believing I’m OK and you’re OK and to live free. It was a long, hard journey. And I had to let go of everything – and I do mean everything – along the way. Even as I approached the very foot of God, I couldn’t climb into my father’s lap carrying a 250 lb man with me.
God’s love and approval was there all along to be sure, but I couldn’t get to it without taking up my cross for the journey I’ve been on. All those “I’m OK. You’re OK. Be free” messages might be telling me the truth. But they are real the same way the moon is real; it’s there. I can see it. But I can’t get to the moon just by sitting in my backyard and looking at it and imagining the reality of standing on it. If I have a really good imagination, I might be able to get to a vivid facsimile of a “being on the moon” experience in my own head. But actually getting to the moon takes a lot of work.
So, that’s where I am. Life has gone on just as it always does lo these several days. Nothing has changed. There are no bells and whistles and heavenly choirs humming in my head. I got mad at God yesterday for not showing me a clear path to walk down – just like I always do. What is different is simply that I’m not scared of what’s around the corner. I’m not worried that my whole life might be exposed for a lie at any moment. I’m not worried that you’ll catch me singing and dancing or even being a brat and yelling at my father for not making things easier for me. I’m learning to just be. Without all the judgments. It may seem like a small thing. But for me, it’s huge.