Ethan's Age

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Applying Myself

I have a huge passion for working with youth.  For the past 15 years, I've worked with them in one way another... volunteering, running programs, supervising programs, working at camps, and now being at home with my son.  If there is one thing I know how to do well, it's having a positive influence on our young people.

Several weeks ago, I contacted my local church leader to see if I could be involved with the youth group.  He was enthusiastic, and willing to get an application from me.  I picked it up the next week.

It is a very thorough application... character references and such (I threatened my friends with TP-ing their house if they spoke ill of me, naturally.)  But for the past 2 weeks my youth group application has sat on the top of my desk, one section unfilled.



The section is: "Please share your Christian Testimony and experience."

When I applied to bible school, there was a similar section asking to talk about how I knew I was full of the Holy Spirit.  I took my Bible School application to my then youth pastor and asked him what it meant.  Weirdly enough, he didn't really have a good answer for me.  So, I filled it out the best I could, trying to explain that I had some spiritual gifts and such, so of course they'd want me to go to their school.  (Side note: I did send that application to bible school in, and got accepted.  Apparently I was holy-spirited enough for them?)

The battle I wage about this application is whether to tell my story.  I can't imagine they'd want to have me on as a volunteer if they knew.  I've heard rumors that they connect being abused to being a future abuser.  Heaven forbid I classify what happened as abuse (Side Note: Which I didn't, when they asked earlier in the application in the midst of the "yes or no" questions.)  I don't consider what happened to be to be abuse, but rather a one time criminal act in which I was the victim.  But, perhaps it will be classified as abuse, and my application, along with my ability to work with youth in a church setting will be thrown out.

I've let this application sit on my desk, taunting me to either fill it out with my full story, or recycle it and forget about it.  I'd hate for my ability to connect with youth to be connected to this act that will forever be a part of who I am.  If I were to turn it in, and be denied the chance to do something I love would be so frustrating.  I'd feel defeated. I'm pretty sure I couldn't take the rejection. 

Plus, I'd be out all the money I spent on Starbucks cards to bribe my character references. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Losing Our Religion

In my old age, I've taken to listening to oldies (which for me includes the wonderful genre of 90's pop girl groups... Hellllllo Spice Girls, I'm talking to you!) but also to listening to NPR.

I tend to forget about NPR unless I'm zipping about in my husband's car.  Typically this only happens on Sundays, on the way to church.  Nothing better than hearing a banter about abortion or collaborative fiscal management on the way to church (or if I get up early enough I can laugh along with Car Talk with Click and Clack.)

Today I discovered an interesting series which actually caused me to be late to my 1 pm service.  Ironically, enough, entitled "Losing Our Religion."  If you happen to be able to spare about 45 minutes, you can listen to the entire 6 part series. 

One of the basic premises that this series is based on is the fact that the amount of people who are unaffiliated with organized religion has grown in the past decade, rising up to 20% in general, and 33% in young adults (people under 30.)

I recently started to attend church again.  I posted a blog post a few days ago, sharing my story... but it felt so raw that I decided to bring it back down.  I'm unsure if my story is ready to be out there in the permanence of the  internet, but suffice it to say... I was strong affected by an act of violence in the church, followed by several acts of spiritual violence and the cutting of familiar ties of a parent. 

Going back to church was facing my demons, literally.  After I left the church (where I was planning to make my career as a pastor of youth) I struggled with my identity as a spiritual person without a safe home to practice. Upon walking into church just a few months ago, I was full of trepidation.  I had (and still have) my guard up.  I can't feel safe  going anywhere alone.  I have major anxiety with anyone sitting right behind me.  I facebook chat with a friend during the entire time just to keep me grounded, every Sunday. 

My former youth pastor is one of the key reasons I struggle so much with religion.  The sad part of belonging to a church is often the pastor becomes the voice of god.  This sets them up to be a failure in anyone's eyes, because who could honestly live up to that sort of stature?  But put them up on a pedestal, we do.. and fail they will. The cycle continues.

I sit in each sermon with a feeling of skepticism.  I miss the days of my early faith when I embraced it all... but since then major life changes occurred.  My innocence was stolen in one act, and my belief in several others.  Three people, including my best friend Chelsea, have died since I left the church.  One from Leukemia, two from CF.  All of them in their mid-twenties, and all way before their time.  Today in church they showed a video of a couple who lost their 8 year old to cancer.  This evening I listened to a friend talk about her loss of her mother and how she couldn't figure out how could god allow this to happen? Hell, honey, me either.

I have no answers.  I don't know.  And I sure as hell don't buy the basic answers of "god's plan" or anything in that vein. 

I battle with my belief.  I battle with the basic tenants of my faith.  I question whether I do, or have believed... and if there is a Scantron belief test at the end, should I just attempt to draw a picture with the dots?  I'm pretty sure I'd be just as accurate at guessing that way. 

Another reason I find it hard to fit into a church, is that I'm not a typical churchy person.  Here are just a few reasons:
  • I am pro-choice, and have made that choice.
  • I am pro-gay marriage, and by gosh I will argue that point.
  • I am democratic.
  • I swear and I'm generally argumentative and contrary.
  • I'm married happily.... to a non-believer (GASP)
  • I'm married happily to a non-believer whom I will never attempt to convert ( DOUBLE GASP!)
  • I'm mother to a child whom I will also not convert.  In fact, I'll take him to any religious service he'd like to try. (Barring groups that are blatantly not helping the general good of humanity.)
  • I sit and critique every sermon I hear and pick apart the catch phrases and keep the gold nuggets of love and acceptance.
  • I HATE "Love the sinner, hate the sin," "Tolerance," and any other line that causes social strata.  
 I think that I have a long way to go.  But, I also think that I'm the typical non-church goer. 

I leave you with this quote, from the NPR series:

"If the church was known more for our efforts to welcome the stranger than keep them out, I think the church would have greater credibility with rising generations," says Baughman. "For example, on immigration policies, we've taken the wrong stance on that, and they know. The thing is they're smart enough. A lot of them have grown up in the church and then rejected it. They've read the scriptures that talk about the importance of welcoming the stranger, they've read the scriptures about the importance of caring for the poor, and when they see that no longer on the lips of those who are in religious authority, they see that the God we present is bankrupt, and that we're theologically thin in our ability to even speak our own story."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jon Quote

Julia: Did you watch the link I sent you? I found it just for you!
Jon: ....Uh. No...

*Blink*

Jon: I mean, not YET. I will though.
Julia: Only because I reminded you!
Jon: It's like the Bible says.. He who remembers is good. He who is reminded is holy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Refocusing

Over the past few months, I've been not posting as much.  I think it is because originally my blogging was focusing on infertility, and my strong desire to be a mom. 

I've been SO blessed to have achieved the greatest accomplishment of my life, the most amazing, beautiful and perfect little boy. So many people helped along the way, Dr. Awesome, my husband, and all of you.  Many of you are now working on baby #2, and this is not in our plan. 


So, I've been wondering what this blog will become.  Before infertility, I blogged a bunch about a variety of things... but now I'm going to refocus back to one of my passions, my relationship with religion, family, the church and youth.  I will continue to post adorable self-serving photos of my son, to be sure... But, I'm now going to take the chance to focus on myself and my faith journey.  I feel strongly that this is where I'm supposed to go from here. 

As a result, I will be sharing my story in the near future, about why this journey continues to be an uphill battle.  It involves things that are not pleasant, and things that are rarely talked about... like sexual assault, violence, spiritual abuse, parenting a spiritually open child, the exploration of basic human rights within the spiritual community and misguided people who mean well, but hurt none-the-less.

This new focus and passion will bring new life to my blog for me, and hopefully for you as well.  I would love to have any comments on what you'd like to see me blog about most, on any of these topics.  Regardless, I will move forward.  I am also changing comments to a required log in.  I'm anticipating some comments from people who were once in my life, and still weirdly follow the blog.  I won't delete what they say, but will require a log in to avoid the shield of anonymity that is often so easy to hide behind. 

If these topics trigger you, I'd suggest that you remove my blog from your reader in order to protect yourself.  I will not be hurt by this at all.  If you stay, I promise I'll be writing about a journey that might even get you thinking! 

I do care about all of you.  I must have close to 100 blogs on my reader, so please leave yours below! A fellow blogger actually gave me the inspiration to make this course change for my own blog!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mom Friends, the people who truly understand you.

(J is a mom friend, who's identity I'm protecting.  Mostly because she's too awesome, and I can't reveal her true identity, or everyone will swarm her and want to be her friend... using up her friend credit, leaving none for me.  Or because I don't want her work cred to go away. Pick one.  Or both.)

J: My son has been sleeping a lot in the past 48 hours. Like 13 hours last night and then took 2 naps and is in bed 3 hours before his normal bedtime. When he's awake though, he's perfectly happy and eating fine. He just started running and is burning off so much energy along with cutting four teeth. But I'm worried he's sleeping too much?? 

Me: "I'm J, I hate that my child sleeps. I will complain about how much relaxing time I get when he sleeps a lot."

J: it's more like "I'm J, an anxious mess that worries about every little hair on my child's perfect head. I need therapy but unless I have "depression" as a diagnosis, my insurance won't pay for a therapist. Therefore, I turn to the internet and Facebook mommy groups for advice!" Thanks Julia for confirming my fears: I am indeed a hot mess.

Me: If only you knew a friend who has a psychology degree. COUGH COUGH. (This Girl!)

J(A nurse): I thought we weren't offering support in our areas of expertise? I offered to help you with a PAP months ago but you declined??

Me: Me offering help for your brain is way less weird than you offering help for my vagina.

J: I disagree! You know how many vaginas I've seen at work, they all look the same.

Me: My vagina is way more awesome than the rest. I'm pretty sure if you saw my vagina, you could no longer examine lesser vaginas.

J: Unless you have a special vagina? Like rainbow pubic hair or a porn star arrow shaved in to it?

Me: One word. Vadazzled.

J: Wow Julia, I suppose you are right. If your vagina is as awesome as your personality than I can only imagine what's inside your pants. Jon is a lucky man!!