My mom is a strong Christian woman who embodies the fruits of the Spirit in ways I can only dream of. She’s amazing. So I know, when she became pregnant with me (probably even before) she was praying for me. And I know she prayed long and hard over my multiplying cells and lengthening limbs, even as I rolled and kicked and made her miserable from the inside.
As she prayed, threads were woven all around me. The more she prayed, the thicker the yarn that spooled from Heaven and wrapped me in protection. I arrived in this world cocooned in my mother’s faith.
Church, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Bible… these were the words of my life from the very beginning. So thick was this knitted blanket of faith that the atheist/agnosticism of my father could not penetrate it. I balanced the intellectual curiosity he instilled within me only on the outside of my faith cocoon.
And then, one day, I pulled a loose string.
One. Loose. String.
I don’t regret pulling that string. As the buffer between my world and myself lessened, I became more connected to the Divine in nature, in others, in everything. I gained a new sense of compassion and passion for those who did not have mothers who prayed them into this world, for those who are lacking so many things that always seemed a given to me.
Eventually, however, I ran out of loose string to pull. All I have left now are threads spooling away from me. They are pretty, their rainbow colors flying behind me like ribbons.
But my skin is now exposed. I have never felt this much of the world on my soul at one time.
I question everything.
Nothing is sacred anymore. All is up for discussion and confusion and wondering.
I am making this all sound very beautiful, and most days, it is very beautiful. I am learning a new way of walking in faith, walking in faith without using it as a wall to separate me from other people, people not bundled in the same blanket as me.
However, my old beliefs have turned on me. The things I used to say and sing and believe unquestioningly are like small daggers. They are like sandpaper on my newly exposed skin.
And I live in the South. I live in the Bible Belt. My husband is a pastor and I work in a church preschool. But every scripture verse is dagger-ended and every child’s Bible story is a landmine.
Too many people around me wrap themselves up tight in a blanket that is covered in thorns. The thorns are on the outside though. They can’t feel them, but when they walk near me, speaking Christianese, assuming things about me based on my husband’s career, using their faith blanket to justify the oppression of those they are supposed to love and sacrifice all for… The thorns stab my flesh and I come home bloody.
I cried on the closet floor, last week. I told my husband, “I am just so tired. Everything hurts. I feel like I am walking around with my skin peeled off.”
But it isn’t my skin I peeled away. It is the thickness of blind faith. And I need to learn to live this way, because I think Jesus lived this way.
He never truly turned people away. He drew them to him, prayed for and healed them, taught them and sought them… He did not bundle up in faith like a buffer between Him and the world.
I do believe we have a Comforter, but I don’t think it’s a blanket. I think it is the piece of God that lives in us, that guides and keeps us, that helps us funnel all the hurt into compassion.
It is the peace of God that lives in us.
But living with peace inside my soul is different from blocking everything from outside of my soul.
So, it seems, I am learning to live again.
I am learning and hurting and sometimes the result is not pretty. Sometimes I lash out, because I can’t take another pin prick, cannot hug another cacti-argument. Instead, I need to hideout in a blanket-fort with a book and my crayons, be a child again…
It hurts, but I do believe, deep down, the hurt is worth it.
You are worth it… being connected to all of you is worth leaving my blanket behind.