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Jeez Louise

I am not a Christian. I was raised as a Christian. I love a lot of Christians though. I even love the idea of Christ, the person and how he supposedly lived, not any other depictions of him. I know it is self-righteous to call other people self-righteous and also hypocritical. I didn't know that for a long time.

I was resentful at my upbringing. Resentful that my mother forced me to go to church and my dad got to stay home and do what he wanted. I knew sometimes they fought about it too. I once asked my dad "how come you don't have to go to church?" His reply..."Baby, sometimes you can't find God in a church." No further explanation. I knew what he meant, a little at least. I was about 12 and I really was deeply identifying with my rebellious father more than my goodly mother more and more.

I don't today, wholeheartedly agree with him, but I have my own version of why I don't go. And basically its because I got sober on a God that was a general god, not a specific one and it has worked for me for over 13 years and doesn't exclude any spiritual possibilities or even religious possibilities. When I got sober, I prayed in a fairly traditional way (for a child maybe). I talked to God like he was a counselor from school, "hey, Big G, I know you are busy but I really need some confidence today. I'm having trouble making friends and I'm really lonely. I know you want me to be sober and of service and I am trying, but it is so hard some days. I've also been feeling like a failure and comparing myself to people from high school who don't suffer from addiction and I get so jealous! I don't know why you chose this path for me. Recovering Addict/Alcoholic, really?! Sorry, I know you know what's best and I want to trust you. I know we haven't always been close, but I'm so happy you are in my life now. I've really missed you and I didn't even know it. I know I took it wrong in Vacation Bible School when they said I wasn't worthy of God's love. I mean who tells a third grader that, really! I know I get to pick whatever kind of God I want and need, so I'm going to make you super unconditional and forgiving and warm and kind and I know you have a good sense of humor, I mean, just look at how awkward I am with everyone. Yesterday I told a crowd of people at a meeting that I have no friends, and the horrified/welcoming looks on their cocked faces at that level of honesty was priceless, one for the books. Anywho, yeah, I really really need you today. I know I can do what needs to be done if you are with me. And thank you again for keeping me sober and giving me a new life. Okay, talk to you later."

So I once googled "are you a Christian if you believe Jesus was real but is not the son of God." The short answer is No. The long answer is, of course you can. Now I changed my mind and stopped letting the bad Christian apples ruin the bunch when I was about 3 years sober and in Undergraduate for Social Work. There were a couple of Christians and one minister in our class. I didn't know he was a priest for a long time. He was just my friend and classmate, and via Social Work we were going to save the world. We were also the class know-it-alls. Whenever a professor would ask what to do in certain ethical situations, we were often the first to raise our hands. Now I'd like to tell you its because I studied like the dickens (coulda used hell there), it's not. It's because the principles of the 12-step program dictate very clearly how a sober person conducts themselves in the world and it turns out these principles are in direct alignment with Social Work and Christianity. So you see, he and I were already Social Workers, but we needed the title to make it Facebook official. I once talked to him at length about his ordination, and another student, a young woman (maybe 20), joined in and talked about the things they were doing in the name of God. And y'all, I cried. I recognized these two beautiful souls were doing amazing things in the name of God. And they also were Social Workers, sworn to protect any marginalized group, be they gay, incarcerated, a minority, low socioeconomic status, ill mental health or otherwise. They were bad-asses. And I love them so fully. I cried because my self-righteousness needed to be laid to rest. I had only found altruism through my own selfish self-destruction. I HAD to be good in order to literally survive an alcoholic death. They were called, and gave their wills back to The Creator as their employer without "incomprehensible demoralization" bringing them to it. I wanted so badly to stop judging and gossiping really, about "so called Christians" who say one thing and act another way, as if I were any better. I had never experienced their brand of religiousness. I love it. I cannot ascribe to it as of yet, but I respect it just as I respect all religious people who give their all and find their path through the vessel of their respective religion. I know there will always be bad apples in every group. Even (or especially) in 12-step recovery, which has been called a cult many times. But I will never look at the teachings of my former religion with disdain again.

If Jesus was real, he sounds like he woke up. He realized that heaven was here, on earth, within. He realized that in giving, heaven could be found. He understood that material goods were not all they were cracked up to be and that by creating true community we could all thrive with our God-given gifts and contribute in our unique ways to the whole. He loved diversity and creation in all its forms. He saw the spirit of the person in whatever body they had been bestowed, but knew the spirit was timeless and the body was just our earth-ship. So when I meet people with a Christ-consciousness or doing their darnedest to be the most loving, contributing, amazing version of themselves I cannot help but want to be near them. I see him as one of many enlightened people who have graced this planet. I have had the privilege of bumping up against some enlightened people along my path and they are just like that, magnetic. This is part of the reason I love the theory of us having lived many lives, and potentially having more ahead of us, each one selected to help us toward the path to enlightenment. In this lifetime, I think I'm getting closer, but I know I still have a lot of neuroses to still work on and my judgement (ego) and gossip trigger (more ego) still needs some work. But I guess that's some of the fun of it all. Perfectly imperfect. Learning and growing along side of my friends and family. Or Unlearning perhaps. Becoming more and more each day the wild, loving, human animal I was born to be.

So yeah, I'm down with J.C. And all the rest of it. I know from experience that when I sit down and talk (and listen) to whatever I think God might be, I get full of emotion. All kinds. A mix of shame, love, intensity, vastness, the unknown, fear, pain, beauty...Its all so much. A tornado of feelings that flow down my face and drop down to my chest and there in that place, is an ache that expands and trembles and is infinite. And I surrender again to the flow of life and what is. At one point in my sobriety I told my sponsor "I don't even care if I'm wrong about God anymore. I used to think people who believed in a Higher Power were simple or stupid (i.e. uncool). But I'm happier with this fake or real God in my life. I'm just a better person, so its working." And that was the truth for me and still is. I just enjoy the magic of life more when I rely on this other (inner) thing to be with me, and go before me for all the hard stuff (and fun stuff too). So thank you. Thank you Higher Power/God/Creation/Love for all the stuff, the experience, and for loaning me this time to be with you.

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