I decided from the get go this would not be on a specific time schedule. I despise those, just ask my husband. Maybe, it is just because Tuesdays are my scheduled days off and my mind goes all crazy not being at work. Whatever the case, this time around, this blog proceeds the first by exactly seven days. I can assure you, this will probably not be the norm!
I would also like to disclose, as I am writing and editing, I have one child telling me how he made a timeline for a school project that included him kicking Tigger in his manly parts while at Disney ( he was three at the time, still yet, how embarrassing) and the other asking me how to figure out area of a triangle. All the while both of them are harmonizing to “Baby Shark” in between conversations. If my writing seems a tad chaotic, well, this is my life.
First, I would like to say, my swimsuit came in yesterday and I adore it! There were some concerns about the love handle area, but I figure, there is just so much love in my heart nowadays it just overflows and ends up around my waist!
Also, my firstborn turns 16 tomorrow! What?! How did this happen? We have homecoming this weekend, a soccer game, a cross country race, and a hayride! Not to mention the upcoming drivers test, homecoming decorating and float building my kid is involved in! Whew! That was a lot to type. Juggling everything is so crazy! I am incredibly happy my kids’ lives are so full! They have so many opportunities before them, and I want them to take part in as many as they can. Growing up in the UPC, both my husband and I had very limited extra curricular activities available to participate in, I just want my kids to do it all! (Yes, I am one of those parents.)
With all this chaos going on around me, you wouldn’t think I would have the time to even think about church hurts or anything else! I wish that were the case. The thoughts never seem to leave no matter how busy I get. And today, as I was hanging out with the dog, folding a never-ending pile of laundry, it’s no different.
I read a blog earlier today in which the author was wondering if legalistic people and churches were indeed saved. He made some pretty compelling points, and I suppose that may have been what started the ball rolling in my head about the whole church thing. Galatians 5:4-6 says “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
“Severed from Christ”, “fallen away from grace” those are some pretty strongly worded phrases used by Paul towards the Galatians. He goes on to say in verse 14 of the same chapter, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Wow. The law is already fulfilled, wrapped up in Jesus and His words to His followers! I love how Paul quotes Jesus himself here (Matthew 22:39) as he is trying to tell the Galatians not to make things harder than they have to be.
While the thoughts of God and His amazing gift of grace flow through my brain, they are immediately followed by tears and heartache for the many people I know and the thousands more who instead of finding freedom in Jesus, have found themselves “submitting to a yoke of slavery.” (please read Galatians 5:1) Living by man made laws and regulations is terribly oppressing, and not at all what our Heavenly Father intended for his children. Jesus said to take His yoke because His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
There are some days when I feel the shadow of oppression coming back to haunt me, and the burden is so heavy I can barely breathe. I am taken back to the memory of daily standing in the shower just crying over the heaviness I felt. Not aware of the source. I am ever so grateful I have found my freedom in Jesus. The love in which He bestowed upon me when He died on the cross makes me want to follow Him. Not in embracing any sort of man made religious laws can I ever find such joy and freedom!
I warned you my thoughts were a bit chaotic today! I suppose that is the purpose of writing. To sort through and untangle the randomness.
Someone mentioned to me this week I am unable to change the world. That may be the case, but I don’t want to change the whole world. I want to change me, and in changing me, if I can help someone else on their journey along the way I have accomplished a notable feat.
People write blogs for all sorts of different reasons, some for business, some for fun. This is something, I think, will be more therapeutic for me than anything! I need an outlet, and I have no idea if zero people will ever read this or 100, but either way is okay! I am going to start for me! I may write a lot, or maybe a little. I have no idea where this will take me, I just know, I need some place to vent my thoughts. I have wanted to blog for a long time, it just feels right now. But, oh my goodness, I have so much to learn, and have NO idea what I am doing! So no judging, things may look ugly for a while until I get the hang of it!
Two things have happened to me this week, (and it’s only Tuesday) to make me decide now is a good time to begin. So I suppose I will start my blog by explaining what happened and why it finally pushed me out of my comfort zone.
First one being, I bought a swimsuit. Not just any swimsuit, but a bikini no less! Now to be honest, it is not a skimpy little g-string or anything like that, it covers all the important parts. I also bought it for a vacation my husband and I will be going on without the kids. However, the fact that I even need to mention the amount of skin it covers and the occasion for which it was purchased brings up the issue at hand. I was raised United Pentecostal. There it is. My issue. To be fair, it’s not the only issue I have, but a big one! I didn’t even realize how much I was blowing this purchase decision out of proportion until my “normal” friend said to me, “why are you freaking out about this so much? It’s just a swimsuit?” Boom. It hit me. Wow, I am messed up!
As I explained to her my hesitation, just saying it out loud made me realize I needed to buy that bikini, for my own sake. As a kid in the UPC, I was never allowed to go swimming in a public pool, let alone EVER wear a swimsuit of any kind. When we went on church float trips, we wore t-shirts and long jean skirts with leggings under them. In canoes. On the river. How we swam like that I will never know.
If you know anything about the UPC, you know they have lots of rules and regulations about what you can and cannot wear. Up until I left the organization when I was 33 years old, I had never felt pretty. I always felt like I looked frumpy and older than my age. I had never felt like my husband should be proud of me, it was severely depressing. But once you leave, you can’t just go to the store and buy whatever you want! Those thoughts about being modest and dressing in a way men won’t have perverted thoughts about you stick in your head. Not to mention, you have NO idea how to buy things such as jeans or shorts! Too many fitting room meltdowns to count! Someone once told me, you have to let your head catch up with your conscience. That could not be more true.
Getting back to the bikini, I have bought swimsuits over the years. I was never really a good (adult) United Pentecostal. I always pushed the limits as far as I could without getting kicked off the platform. (That is a punishment they give out for making mistakes) That being said, the swimsuits I have bought up until this point have been shorts and tanks or tees, I have NEVER in my life contemplated buying a bikini! I was going back and forth between the thoughts of: When will I ever wear this again? What if someone happens to see a picture of me? What if some man looks at me and lusts, did I cause him to stumble?
I came to the conclusion, right or wrong, it is not my job to worry about keeping others minds clean. I am going on vacation with my husband, and I am an adult. I should be able to wear something that will make me look good for him and make me feel good in it! Dang, that feels good to get out! So, I bought the doggone thing and can’t wait to wear it on our trip next month! And you know what? I am excited about it and I am going to rock it!
Second thing, Facebook. I need to get off of there, but I really do like to know what is happening in my friends and family’s lives! It’s the posts in between that get to me. If people could just post happy thoughts and pictures of kids and puppies that would be fantastic. But of course, they can’t, they have to go all political and or spiritual and get their tail feathers ruffled when someone has different theologies and ideas. The people who are supposed to be Christians are the worst. It has taken all the Jesus in me not to word vomit all over people this week.
After leaving the United Pentecostal Church organization over two years ago, I have had my eyes opened to so much hypocrisy, judgement and arrogance I am embarrassed to even say I ever attended one of their churches. Let alone, once wholeheartedly agreed with their philosophies. But my past is something about myself I must learn to embrace, and hopefully one of these days I won’t even think about it any more!
I have not spoken up against the church on a public forum, up until now. However, at this point, I can no longer sit by idly and pretend like I am okay with what I experienced and what others have or are currently experiencing in the organization. I realize this may offend some people, and I realize it is a sensitive subject matter, but I feel God is leading me to share my story and experiences. Even if He isn’t, I feel like doing so may help me heal. Growing up in such an environment created scars, and I am learning every day to find my own way. Sharing my thoughts and some of the silly everyday things I face because of my past, (or because I am kind of legitimately crazy) will be a great reminder of my progress along the way.
Just like the bikini, I need this for me. And that’s okay!