Growing Pains

This post has been simmering in my mind for several weeks now. Once I finally stopped giving myself excuses, this is what I ended with. Hopefully it makes sense to other people. I’m feeling a little rusty.

I mostly write about spiritual things, leaning more towards Christian topics than anything else because that is how I identify, when pushed to label my beliefs. I don’t mind sharing what I believe on the Internet because I truly believe in it, and I try to be as open about my doubts and questions as humanly possible. Of course, I am human, and humans inherently hate being wrong and uncertain, so I don’t always do the best job.

Side story, and I’ll loop back to that point.

If you followed any of my blogs before, you know that I used the really cool, user-friendly platform Tumblr. I made my Tumblr as a freshman in college, more in an attempt to keep up with my dorm-mates than as a reflection of my hipness. So when I first started blogging, it felt more natural to use Tumblr than to create a website on a new platform, and so that was that. I looooved blogging. I loved writing about my passions and beliefs, and I loved the conversation that often sparked from things I shared. And I was young (about 19), so I really knew what I believed, and believed what I knew. I felt the call to boldly share my beliefs, and I found that writing suited my sharing style more than anything else.

Fast forward a few years, and I have an amazing boyfriend who created a website for me that I can use for my blogs that is slightly more professional than Tumblr (although arguably not as hip). He made a favorite quotes section, linked my Instagram, and even went through all the trouble to transfer all my old blogs onto the new website (all of this was a huge surprise, by the way- I had no idea he was doing this). The only unfortunate thing for me was that he went through all the trouble to transfer all my old blogs onto the new website.

As I said earlier, I began blogging when I was around 19. I might have been 20. Either way, I was bold and sure of everything I wrote. And I never took into account that my beliefs might change or evolve over the course of having a blog published on the Internet for everyone to find and read. What I’m beating around the bush to say is that I wrote many things that no longer quite align with my understanding of God, Jesus, and the universe. And it sucks because I so badly want to remove them from this new website and leave that part of me behind. But doing that would be untrue to myself and to my journey.

I firmly believe that a spiritual and/or religious life is not static, but extremely dynamic, exciting, painful, confusing, and hopeful. In some of my old posts, I quote the Bible a lot, which I probably won’t do as much because I’m still seeking to understand the role of the Bible in this new version of my faith. It’s possible that you as a reader may not even notice some of the things that I find glaringly obvious- over-quoting of the Bible taken out of context to apply to my life; descriptions of God that make him (or her, or it) much smaller than I believe now; even the use of a gendered pronoun (“he”) to describe a God I now believe to be so far above gender, English doesn’t have a proper pronoun to describe God’s entity.

I’ve spent several years trying to understand my faith, understand God, and understand what being a Christian means in a society that gives a lot of baggage to the term “Christian.” I’m afraid of being tied down too severely to my past understanding and descriptions of the spiritual realm that people won’t hear what I am thinking now. But I also believe in the merit of seeing someone else’s journey, growth, and change. Hearing others’ stories of changed perspectives is part of what inspires me to not remove this part of my story.

I should note that I don’t think anything I’ve written previously is inherently wrong or heretical, just…small. Too small for how I see the world now. That is what feels wrong to me on a personal level- all my words and thoughts have described a God that, while still all-powerful, was enclosed in a box in my mind.

So now to where I said I would loop back. I’m repeating and amending my previous Lenten commitment, attempting to write once a week for the season (I know I’m already behind- see paragraph 1 about my tendency to make excuses), asking you to join me if you feel so called, while begging you to not take everything I say (or have said) as the end-all of my beliefs. Everything about that sentence makes me cringe.

It would be so easy now for someone to say, “Well in this post, you write about God being [fill in the blank], but now you’re saying [fill in this blank with something contrary to the first blank]. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. Why should I listen to anything you have to say?”

My response is, you’re right. I have no idea what I’m talking about. I just write as things come to me, and then polish them after. This means I leave a LOT of room for error. My follow-up response is, there are very few things I know about God. There are many things that I think about God, however, and these are what I think about, write about, and (hope) to talk about with other people interested in the same journey I am- a journey towards higher understanding, deeper empathy, and a truer sense of self. If you follow my future writings, you will likely disagree with things I say, and I hope if you do, you will not get angry with me, but tell me your own point of view. You have no way of knowing I’m being authentic when I say this, but I do cherish the discussion borne from different beliefs. I’m not here to preach, I’m here to learn.

Yesterday, I read a piece from NPR about the passing of Billy Graham, a prominent evangelist. I won’t pretend that I know a lot about him and his theology, because I don’t, but I do know he influenced hundreds (thousands?) of people during his lifetime. In the article, they mentioned a few instances where Graham was forced to face mistakes or hypocrisy in his life, and how he owned them fully and allowed the world to see his growing pains. Reading that was the kick in the pants I needed to finally release this blog, messy and sporadic as it may be, from my computer. I can’t honestly say that I wish more people would admit to growth and change if I am not willing to step forward myself.

Philosophical tones aside- welcome to my new blog! I’m happy you found me here and I’m excited for the things to come.