It’s been one year now since I set foot inside the Episcopal Church, and it’s been an amazing year with faith that was once almost dead blossoming back to new life. I’m going to be confirmed soon which means that I’ll be a true blue Episcopalian. If I had a word to describe this year it would probably be reconciliation.
I’m currently working on a book titled “Becoming Episcopalian”. These are my favorite ten posts about becoming Episcopalian this past year.
Beautiful Liturgy – This was the beginning of the journey as far as church is concerned.
Witchcraft to Liturgy – Sometimes our colossal screw-ups lead us to the right path eventually.
Grace in the Sacraments – How consuming Jesus began bringing me back to God.
Cheap Imitations – This was written right after my son came out of the ICU.
Returning to the Lord – My first experience with the sacrament of reconciliation.
Feasting on Jesus – The Holy Communion has changed my life.
The Ugly Crucifix – The crucifixion wasn’t pretty, it was downright ugly but it can turn into something pretty.
Sacrament of Reconciliation – The cool thing is, this man I offended is sponsoring my confirmation for me.
Forgiveness – “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
This is my blood, shed for you – “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains”.
One day, I dared to write something anti-gun on a pro-gun Facebook post. I had complete strangers be rude, hostile and downright nasty. They looked at all my Facebook pictures and commented about how I was stupid and fat and obviously ate too much McDonald’s. There were also death threats and people telling me I should give up my newly acquired US citizenship. But the one comment I got the most was that obviously I ate too much McDonald’s and was “obviously” fat and lazy and therefore far too stupid to be allowed to have an opinion on guns.
I’ve been told by mother’s groups on Facebook that I’m abusing my children because I “refuse” to feed them organic food and that I could do so if I really cared about their health. I’ve been told that I myself caused my child’s autism and that they aren’t autistic they are just allergic to gluten and I should quit feeding such trash to them.
The thing is, people who don’t live paycheck to paycheck might be able to afford organic produce, but I’m on a food-stamp and food-bank budget and I cannot. It’s not that I don’t care enough, it’s that it’s actually impossible. Some women can afford diets and health clubs, I can’t afford either because diet food costs more and I eat what I’m given and I’m grateful for it. I’d love to go on a diet but the fact is that the food for any kind of diet costs far more, and I don’t have that kind of money.
My point is that access to healthy food is class based, we eat what we can afford and others eat what they can afford, they just happen to be able to afford better food than I. I’m not upset with those that can afford better food, but I do get a little upset when I’m judged by those who can afford better food as being a bad or lazy person because I simply cannot buy the food they are privileged to be able to buy. I’m privileged too, I have food to fill my stomach where many in the world do not, and I’ve chosen to be thankful for the food that I have rather than to obsess over food that I cannot afford. It means I can’t have the diet I want to and I can’t lose weight as easily as I want to, but I have food, and I thank God for that food.
“Give us this day our daily bread”, and God does, even when it’s not to other people’s satisfaction.
For the past year I’ve been in the Episcopal Church, I’ve been waiting for the judgmental hammer to fall, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve been burned enough that I still wait in fear for it to happen. Especially right now when I’m seriously discouraged and my relationship with God isn’t as good right now as it has been. But hey at least I’m still talking to God which I wasn’t really doing a year ago in my hurt and disillusionment, so I suppose that is progress.
I’ve had a few things happen this week to discourage me. My car is broken and I don’t understand how I’m supposed to be without a vehicle when I have four kids. I can’t afford a nice used vehicle, I can’t afford to fix this one, and I can’t go anywhere. I haven’t a job because I’ve got no affordable childcare, and the things I’ve done to try to make a living haven’t really worked out for me. I know people who make good money off their blogs but I have been unable to gather more than $5.00 over the course of years I’ve worked on this blog, providing content that it appears at least some people like to read. Nobody is ordering any Avon. My book did make a little bit of money but nobody is buying books anymore. I know other self-published authors making money off theirs. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing wrong that I try the same things that others do but without success. Sometimes I wonder if God wants me living paycheck to paycheck from some weird reason.
Maybe it’s because I need to rely more fully on God, because God is the only reason I’m even getting any kind of money for the kids and I to survive, and maybe I’m ungrateful I don’t know but it make me feel so useless and like I have no value. I don’t know if it’s partly the bipolar that has me discouraged. But I like many others do get discouraged, and it’s those times in the dark where I get a little stronger although I cannot see it at the time and surely can’t see it now. But I know what has happened in other times, and so I keep going, thankful for my beautiful children and the fact that I have a house to live in, although I’m really, really pissed off about the car.
I don’t know that I even have a point to this post apart to paint a picture of what discouragement looks like and to say that for once, people have not been judgmental, they’ve been supportive. I’m not used to that and it makes the discouragement easier when there are people encouraging you rather than berating you. So to those who have been so supportive recently, especially those with whom I disagree with on almost everything, thank-you. The beauty of the Episcopal Church is that we don’t have to agree with each other to fellowship with each other and we all join the same meal at the same table in equality. The rich and the poor, the weak and the strong, the tired and the energetic, the sick and the well. Ultimately, no matter what we believe or what we are going through, we all kneel at the same altar, before the same God, and partake of Jesus.
When I dress goth; I come alive, because it’s who I was designed to be. I’m finally at peace after thirty years about my sexuality realizing that God created me that way because it pleased God to do so and that I was created in God’s own image. It’s a relief to finally know that I’m not an abomination in the sight of God; that rather I was created to be this way because God loved me. So, when people ask me why I feel the need to post about such things; it’s because these are things that I have struggled through, cried many tears over, done much seeking of God about.
I was taught growing up that my sexuality made me an abomination to God and that I wasn’t a Christian if I was bisexual because that was living in unrepentant sin and that unrepentant sinners don’t go to heaven, which in my case meant I was on my way to hell because that was the only other option. I no longer believe in the eternal inferno but I did until just a year or so ago and I was terrified of going there, and terrified of my children going there. I lived my life in constant fear of hell even though I was supposedly “saved” which meant that I had a ticket to heaven. Except that I couldn’t possibly have a ticket to heaven, I was just a fake because I was bisexual and bisexual’s couldn’t enter the kingdom of God.
When I was openly goth as an adult, the church worked hard to get me to tone it down telling me that nothing goth could possibly be right because it was a dark subculture and that dark automatically meant evil. I miserably worked hard to look far more conservative than I was and I kept up conservative appearances for a while but it was hard. I think now that it was far more displeasing to God for me to cover up who I really was in order to try to win favor from others, because that is, in reality, lying.
But anyhow, my point is that these things matter because they have been such huge struggles in my life. These are things about me that are a major part of my spiritual journey and this blog is where I chronicle that spiritual journey and in order for it to be authentic, these are things that I need to write about even if I am the only one who ever reads them. So I’m sorry if you’re one of the people who thinks that you just don’t need to know; the thing is that you are right, you don’t need to know. But I need to write it down for myself in order to be real, because if I can’t be real there’s really no point writing a blog. It’s part of what I appreciate about being Episcopalian (and I’m going to be the real deal soon); the fact that I can be who I was made to be.