Worship Epiphany: Separation

About this time last year, I had another one of those worship epiphanies that I talk about from time to time. It’s something that I haven’t forgotten and something that, despite what I wanted, has come to fruition. I’m beginning to learn that maybe no seasons of life is meant to be easy and that most seasons of life have their own struggles, unique to that season. But last year, I started to suspect that the one thing I wanted to hold on to more than anything else was the thing I was going to lose. I had thought that leaving fundamentalism was the hardest thing I had ever done and I guess up until that point it was, but I had no idea that I was going to go through much harder things.

Anyhow, on that particular Sunday, we sang a Chris Tomlin song which I believe is titled “I Will Follow”. I was totally consumed in the worship that particular day, and so I sang the song as a commitment:

“where you go I’ll go,
where you stay I’ll stay,
where you move I’ll move,
I will follow”.

And so that was the commitment I sang. But there was more to it than that, and God lead me to sing words that weren’t words to the song but were personalized for me. He asked me to sing them and I almost refused, because I knew that I was making a commitment. It’s a commitment I’ve had trouble keeping, it’s one I’m struggling to keep, but it’s something I vividly remember and so that helps some. There is a line of the song that goes: “if my life I lose, I will follow”. Well, God lead me to sing “if my husband I lose, I will follow.” God had started preparing my heart for the fact that I may lose my husband, even though I lived as if I wasn’t. When I sang it I had tears running down my face because that was the first time, after all the years of praying and trying and hoping, that I truly gave my marriage to the Lord.

Until then I had been angry about the fact that my marriage was falling apart, because I had prayed, I had tried, and furthermore I had tried all those fundamentalism formulas even though I hated it. My heart was for my marriage. But that day, after six years of marriage, was the first when I truly surrendered and I gave it to him. I felt release, and since then I felt him preparing me for what was going to happen.

I just had my 7th wedding anniversary in November, and by that time I’d already been separated for a month. It’s the last wedding anniversary with him that I am going to have. Even though I have left fundamentalism, I was scared because divorce is one of the greatest sins you can commit in the eyes of a fundamentalist. My pride wanted to keep my  marriage at all costs just so I didn’t look like a failure in the eyes of many that I know. That pride really isn’t a good reason to stay married, and God showed me that that day.

As I go down a road of separation and divorce, a road I never wanted to travel, I am trying to learn to trust God to be my provider, my companion, my identity. But it’s not easy and I daily face struggles that seem overwhelming and impossible to get through. God has blessed me with some amazing people in my life, people older than me who have more wisdom, to support me. But my heart is shattered and as amazing as those people are, as supportive as they are, it isn’t enough. I have to trust God, and God alone, and he has given me some great people to point me towards him, to help me make wise choices when there is just so much going on that I can’t see, yet my friends can see what I can’t see. Trusting God is a daily battle, sometimes a minute by minute battle that sometimes I win and sometimes I don’t, as my text messages to friends show. I need God to lead and guide me but a lot of times these days I just feel lost in the sea of everything changing. I have friends loving and supporting me, and yet I still feel lonely.

I know that God has got to fill the void, but actually living that out is harder than it seems.

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House of Night: My New Literary Obsession

My latest literary obsession happened the same way that a lot of mine do. I found a book in the thrift store, bought it, and read it. The treasure that I found this time was “Betrayed” the second book in the House of Night Series by P.C Cast and Kristin Cast. The setting for the series is the House of Night, a vampyre (yes that is how they have chosen to spell it in this book) finishing school in Tulsa, OK. A young woman named Zoey is marked as a vampyre and has to leave her old life and go live at the House of Night. Zoey, however, has special powers, she has an affinity for all five elements – earth, air, water, fire and spirit.

Zoey doesn’t change into a vampyre right away, in fact, they call the teenagers that are marked to be vampyre’s fledglings. Fledglings go to classes and live at the House of Night. For fledglings, there are only two options…either their bodies will accept the process of changing into a vampyre over the few years they are at the school, or their bodies will reject the change and they will die. Nyx is the Goddess of the vampyres, and Nyx gives them free will, just like God gives to us. In fact, one of the reasons I love this series so much is all the parallels to the Christian life. Zoey is not perfect and she messes up, but her heart is for Nyx, her Goddess. She wants to follow the ways of Nyx and give her life to the service of Nyx.

As the series progresses, Zoey gets more powerful and she also learns new ways of listening to and following Nyx. Her heart is set on doing Nyx’s will. Although Nyx is a Goddess, she’s a pretty good picture of God through the series, at least for me. The Cast’s may not have meant it that way. Zoey and her friends seek to live in Nyx’s ways and the House of Night books chronicles that journey.

I am about halfway through the series, there is one more book to come out in 2014 and it will be the final one. I am looking forward to it but will also be sad that it is the last. There are also several novellas that provide backstory to some of the main characters. Then there are a few other supplementary books to the series such as “The Fledgling Handbook 101” which is written as if the reader were a newly marked fledgling at the House of Night, and is also referenced in the House of Night novels. There is an anthology titled “Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the P.C and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series”. I have this book on my shelf and am anxious to get started. The anthology is a collection of essays about some of the research that was done for the House of Night stories, and it also talks about mythology etc and how the Cast’s weaved it into their stories. Nothing happens by chance in the stories, it is all well researched and well thought out.

I am going to have more to say about this series, it is one that I am collecting every book and novella from. I think the books encourage young people to do right and to think about the repercussions of their actions. If you haven’t yet, dig in to the first House of Night book, “Marked” and once you have you will want to keep going.

Theology

Although I am a Christian and have been for a few years now, I am still a seeker in some aspects of my faith, and I think that it will probably be that way until death takes me out of this world. Sarah Bessey in her book new book “Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women”, says on page 56 that “really, theology is simply what we think about God and then living that truth out in our right-now life.” This definition of theology really resonated with me especially because of several conversations I have had lately about my value and worth in the eyes of God. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, occasionally I come across something that gives me an epiphany but then life happens and I am left believing that I have no value or worth to God, or at the very least that others are more valuable or worthwhile to him that I am. 

So I have some questions, and I’m asking them as a seeker. I had a discussion just yesterday with somebody about my value and worth in the eyes of God. He asked me if I really believed that I had less worth and value to God than other people and I said yes, I really believe that. He then asked me what evidence I had that some people had less value and worth than others, and I cited the Old Testament. I know that the Old Testament isn’t how we live today, and that we are New Testament Christians living in the Kingdom of God. However, when it comes to my thoughts about God, what I see in the Old Testament is a God who seems to hate women. God says that if a man rapes a virgin, he has to marry her. A woman has to marry her rapist and doesn’t have a choice because she is just property? That’s obvious that God values men above women. God designs women to have a period every month and then decides that he hates it and it is unclean and she is unclean for over a week, how is that showing value to a woman? In the Old Testament, women are bought and sold. And while I understand that I am a New Testament Christian, and I can handle Jesus and his views of women, God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are three in one and so God is Jesus too and God appears to hate women. Please know I am not making definitive statements here, this is simply how it feels, this is how my mind has framed the argument that some of us have less value to God, even on the basis of gender alone. It seems like God supports inequality and yet Jesus preaches equality. 
The guy who asked me these questions, I think he is probably right when he says, similar to what Sarah Bessey said which I quoted at the start of this article, he said something along the lines of my view of God shapes my view of myself. I have never really thought about it like that before. 
So here is me asking for help. Asking those of you who believe that we are all valuable and precious to God, despite gender etc, to state what you believe about it and why and give me the relevant Scriptures. Anyone who would like to help out, please do so. 

Value

So this is another poem, a style I haven’t done before but I really enjoyed and I think is important for me.

I
                wish that I were beautiful
                maybe he wouldn’t have rejected me
                if I had been beautiful,
                if I had been skinny,
                if I had been sexy.
Am
                I the only one who feels this way?
                are there others that have also been rejected
                had their lives torn apart
                suddenly thrust into a new life
                that they didn’t order.
Valuable
                is all I want to be, but I feel like
                I have no value to anybody.
                I can feel the love surrounding me
                and I appreciate it, but it still feels like
                I am not worth being loved.
To
                look back fills me with regrets
                of things that could have been different
                Things I could have tried harder to change.
                maybe life could have been different
                Had I just tried harder.
God
                can work this together for good.
                I know that and yet still I doubt.
                in fact it is a promise he has made
                And yet I still doubt him.

                But deep down I want to speak truth to myself.

Maybe

Maybe
I should
get back
to writing more poetry.
It is oddly therapeutic.

Maybe
I should
get back
to writing more poetry.
It helps me sort out my thoughts.

I don’t write
rhyming poetry.
Rhyming poetry
makes things
seem too simplistic,
too organised,
like someone tried too hard.

Life isn’t like
rhyming poetry.
Life
is more complicated
than that.

Maybe
I should
get back
to writing more poetry.

(Or maybe you’d rather me not). :p