Jesus wants me back.
Here’s the backstory:
I violently walked away from Christianity over a decade ago. (Actual kicking and screaming was involved.)
And this wasn’t just a parting of ways between the Church and myself. Everything even slightly connected to Christianity (Jesus included) got the boot.
But in the past year, the pull back toward JC, some of his crew and some form of “Church” is palpable. A renewed curiosity about *gasp* the Bible has me racking up Amazon purchases like I’m trying to score airmiles.
Some days, I feel a clear sense of excitement about this new unfolding of my faith. Other days, I’m fighting it… hard.
For the past 15 years, my world has been built solidly on the mountain of this common refrain — you may even use it yourself:
I’m spiritual – not religious.
And ooh, I said it loud and proud. With a pronounced pause afterwards too, to let the other person digest the moral superiority of my chosen distance from dem church folk.
I wasn’t particularly antagonistic toward organized religion. I just wasn’t having it in my backyard any longer. Sure, go do your thing. Over there. Wayyyy over there.
Saying I’m spiritual – not religious was my version of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. Except instead of putting the cloak on myself, I threw it over Christianity. Poof! You’re gone!
My wee teenager self just couldn’t deal. So I said good riddance to all things religious and began to float in the halls of personal development and New Age philosophy.
And I am most definitely not about to talk smack about either of those categories of thought. I cherish them still, as a vibrant part of my personal belief system.
Jesus texted, saying He wanted to hang out again, and I went… a little cray.
Radically modern books retelling Jesus’ words and the stories of the Bible were recommended by total strangers.
Teachers and writers who were examining Christian theology from a radiant, feminine standpoint appeared in my inbox.
Eloquent, compassionate, whip-smart Christian bloggers I have no recollection of following were showing up in my Twitter feed.
I started to remember hymns I hadn’t sung since I was 10 years old — and for reasons I won’t go into right now, I have very few memories of my childhood, so this was a quasi-big deal.
I was being pulled back toward the faith group that I had thrown out like spoiled fruit years before. Like I said: cray.
A friend of mine, explaining her decision to no longer refer to herself as “vegan” (though she still eats that way most of the time), said to me: “My goal is to do the best I can… to eat and live consciously.”
What if her approach to eating became our approach to G-O-D?
I used to believe that quickly prattling off: “I’m spiritual – not religious” was a way of clarifying who I truly was and what I valued most deeply.
But what if our insistence on these labels doesn’t clarify us as much as it binds us?
What if leaning too heavily on Spiritual vs Religious labels encourages us to be less conscious? Less open?
Building my worldview around the distinction between those two categories was actually a way that I was building a wall around my heart.
I am this. I reject that.
It was a way for me to keep at bay the very things my faith was craving: to be renewed and expanded, to be lived as a fully awakened, multi-dimensional, complicated-as-fuck thing.
We need language. We need labels. Of course.
But we run into trouble when we aren’t conscious of the places where our labels can’t go, the corners of our souls where the words “spiritual” and “religious” simply cannot take us.
And if we cannot see those less-trafficked corners, we also cannot see the big buckets of treasure propped up against them.
For years, I refused to interact with dozens of people, books, events, genres of music and profoundly gifted writers, speakers and teachers.
They were denied entrance into my kingdom, because I was convinced that we were polar opposites.
>> They were inherently rigid and I was highly flexible.
>> They were oh-so-heavy and I was light.
>> They were fire n’ brimstone and I was green juice + rose quartz.
Defining my faith in these limited terms closed my eyes to the opportunities available within the faith I was raised in (Christianity) and all the other world religions.
And maybe humans wanted me to unequivocally define myself as this or that, but that’s their stuff. Because, in actuality:
God doesn’t care about our labels.
Life, the Universe, your Higher Self is constantly streaming to us, through us, in a limitless number of forms.
And robotic attachment to the label-du-jour chokes off the fullness of that flow of variety and possibility. It holds us back from diving into the sacred waters we keep saying we’re so thirsty for.
My friend’s conclusion about her veganism is the one I want to land on regarding my faith: “My goal is to live consciously”.
Or, I’d put it like this: My goal is to live Love. In Love. With Love. As Love.
And if I am soft and open, I will notice how, when, where and through what lineage and teaching that Love wants to come through, for today.
And if Love’s passageway happens to include a hodge podge of poetry + Southern Baptist hymns + Abraham Hicks + rosary beads + intuitive energy shamans + Jesus Christ, well then…
That’s my faith.
And I’m taking it back.