I try ... really.
Not sure that I managed to accomplish any of that ... but I prepared, I showed up, I opened my mouth ... and then it's like I rode something that came through me ... or out of me, or both (hard to tell).
When all was said and done, I'm not sure I stayed on topic (unless the topic is "life"), and I sure 'nuff went over my time. By twenty minutes.
Ok, at least no one was looking at their watch, or catapulting rotten produce in my direction. From my vantage point, people were engaged, we were connecting, and something bigger than all of us happened. I call it good. And it's not that I'm so special (well, I am, but so is everyone else!) ... it's just that I'm willing to blurt. Even to be foolish. I highly recommend losing one's reputation -- very liberating!
So, I thought I'd try to relate what I said ... or at least what my notes indicate what I was *supposed* to say ... and what I vaguely remember saying ... and then I'll have to watch/listen to the recording, once the link becomes available (which, of course I shall foist - I mean *share*).
I started out with a couple of my most favorite, and most life-impacting, quotes (neither of which originated with me, both of which are, appropriately enough, anonymous):
"We turn to God when our foundations are shaking, only to discover that it's God who's shaking them.
"The unanswered questions aren't nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers."
I then said, "I stand before you, a woman in transition. If you've ever given birth, or attended a birth, you know that transition is the most uncomfortable, and even most frightening, part of the birthing process. It's where the woman says, "Kill me now - just get this over with!" Yes, fear is strong ... and yet, I have experienced that the most intense fear and pain occur right before new life emerges, making it all worthwhile! I notice that perfect loves casts out all fear, including, I believe, the fear of God -- which is merely the beginning of all wisdom -- not where we're meant to remain. We're meant to mature into perfect love.
"Take whatever the Spirit illumines to YOU in what I have to say here today. Never take another's word for your own. The Word of God, which was with God in the beginning, is not a black leather-bound collection of books ('twern't no Bibles with God in the beginning!). The Word of God is the Logos, the Dabhar, which is the essence of God, the nature of God, the activating Wisdom of God, that which spoke all into existence ... that which is the Still, Small Voice within you. Heed THAT."
I then shared a bit of my history ... well, it was supposed to be just a *bit*. Turned out being much more ... how my father came to know Christ ... how I became a follower of Jesus ... how I was the perfect child (cough-cough!) ... how I rebelled at age 18 (becoming bulimic, started drinking/drugging, became promiscuous) ... how I struggled for 21 years with that addiction... how I went from licentious to frigid within marriage ... how our marriage suffered ... how the children came (despite being medically impossible for me to conceive) ... how I endured the "seminary/ordination" years in our former church ... how I did my best to both recover from bulimia, AND conform to all the shoulds/oughts that were imposed on me from our church leadership ... and how I failed miserably all around, how my husband learned to love me withOUT expecting me to change -- and how I found true and permanent healing. I went into a lot more about my bulimic and sexual dysfunction than I had intended ... but it turned out to be something that others said they needed to hear (confirmed later). LOL, part of my brain was yammering, "Do you REALLY want to go into all of this?!? You've got a lot to unpack here!" I just kept on surfing ...
I dwelled a bit on the "Great Church Kick-Out" of 6 years ago ... and of the devastation/liberation I felt ... how I had the spiritual wind knocked out of me, and how I prayed my most desperate and most sincere prayer up to that point, "God, START ME OVER! I don't know what I believe anymore! Show me what's of man, and what's of God -- I want Truth at all cost!" When you pray that prayer, you're pretty much signing up for a wiiiiiild roller coaster ride. Buckle up, and hang on!
I then spoke of the succession of paradigm shifts that catapulted me from Fear to Love:
~ From Legalism to Grace (from the system of "measure-up" to trust).
~ From Self-despising to Self-LIKE (how astonishing to discover that God not only loves me, because He *has* to, but He LIKES me and made me as I am on *purpose*!).
~ From Hierarchy to Equality (in my marriage, with my children, with all others).
~ From the Institution to House Church (and we then thought "This is IT!" LOL! Silly us! You can get the person out of the institution, but it's a whole 'nother thing to get the institution out of the person!).
~ From only reading the Bible, to reading all manner of things ... enter: "The Shack". The experience of reading all of my own subversive thoughts on paper! Bless Paul Young! And bless his visit to our home in August of '07, when he said things that rocked my world, and launched me into the "beautiful heresy" (to coin a phrase from my friend Brian Smith - his blog link is to the left, hint-hint!).
~ From a traditional "hell" to ultimate reconciliation (i.e., "all saved"). This was a wrenchingly painful transition, in which I hugely feared being deceived, and prayed not to be, daily! I lost much sleep, half my hair, and nearly all my friends over this one! Whew!
~ From a futurist perspective ("Jesus will come back one day"), to an "all fulfilled" perspective. It was in being frustrated to discover that Preterists and Universalists despised each other (c'mon, dudes!), that I stumbled upon Presence, International (my peeps!). Their perspective of life is a catalyst to me feeling more alive than ever before!
[Note: during this time, I continuously asked for a "sign" that God was leading me ... and God kept graciously giving 'em to me! Some of them are uncanny ... I shared two of them with the group ...]
~ From "Satan" as personal being, to "satan" as the adversarial nature of our own ego (both individual ego and collective ego).
~ From the Bible as "the inerrant and infallible Word-a-God", to The Bible as the unfolding/progressive/evolutionary story of mankind (as it played out through the consciousness of Israel). I now see that the Bible is the "three steps forward - two steps backward" story of a people coming to know who God is. With experience trumping comprehension (though we've had a rude and stubborn penchant for doctrinalizing and dogmatizing some of those backward steps!). I see much of the Bible as written from the perspective of the ego -- with humans projecting their own insanity upon God, "God hath said." Oh really? Is that true? I've learned to go with the God I'm experiencing, rather than the god others have told me about.
~ From the sense of separation-from-God-and-all-others, to a sense of Oneness with all that IS. PanENtheism ... God in all, in everything, permeating all of creation (really, what did we think was sustaining us?). I don't see separation anymore ... thought I see that it's a normal perception of the spirit-man who is having a human experience. It's even a necessary stage of growth, of evolution if you will (let's redeem that word!). Thus, I no longer believe in the theory (theory!) of "original sin". Much of the Christian world never did buy into that concept...
~ From the perspective of living the "Christian Life" (which Jesus never mentioned), to the awareness of the "Abundant Life" (which Jesus said He came to bring). I actually believe that insisting on the former will keep one from experiencing the latter. I had to shed the former, in order to have the latter. Christ led me right out of Christianity ... it's my history/heritage (& I do not despise having been there, any more than a 6 yo should despise having been 5) ... but as I grew, it became too small, too tight, and it pinched. Had to shed it.
And throughout it all, it's been about moving from negativity/fear, into positivity/Love. Who knows what's next?!?
Well, what's next for blogging, is that I'll share how all of this affects my perspective/understanding of Jesus Christ. Stay tuned...!