against the grain

Very often the way I’m wired, the decisions I/We (as a family) make feel like they go against the grain. Most of the time I feel like enough, and don’t get caught up in comparisons with the way other people do things. But other times I find myself in a place  where I feel like I/we don’t measure up, fit in, etc.

As a family we choose to be less involved, to leave wide margins in our lives. “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.” Tim Kreider in a NY Times commentary.

Being an INFJ. As an individual I have spent some introspective time learning and knowing about myself. This seems self-indulgent, but the truth is no one but you is going to take the time to really understand yourself. The benefits are that, as you figure yourself out, you become more aware of the why behind the things you do. You are able to treat yourself with more compassion, understanding and acceptance. By doing the work you develop a finer tuned ability to listen to that inner voice. One interesting aspect of this self discovery is that I am a personality type that is complex, intense, rare…so the aha moment was understanding why I feel like the odd ball quite often, and why I often feel like I’m going against the grain. But as you investigate you discover, hooray, there are other people like you.  Your case is not as oddball, unique or solitary as you once suspected. Really – Do the hard work. It gives you the courage to take responsibility for yourself and to let go of the things that are not yours to own.

I live in the belt buckle of the Bible belt, and I recently quit church, after being involved in a church for 20+ years. So, yeah definitely going against the grain. I was completely burned out on the constant meetings, and doubt and performance-based faith modeled there. I felt like no matter how much I did, contributed, volunteered for, etc. it was never enough. In this model of faith I felt like I had to deny my self.  This kind of Christianity required me to work, and work, and work to try and transform myself  into a “good” God lover. Curiously, I’ve been out of church now for a couple of months and only 2 people have even asked about where I’ve been. Hmmmmmm, I’m thinking that my particular church is playing a very dangerous and superficial game of playing church.

I have experienced something entirely different in my relationship with God that I never expereienced in the church setting. He loves me, he is especially fond of me (as The Shack describes it). He knows everything about me, even knows where I will fall short on the road ahead, but loves me and cares for me even in that. It is a relationship not a religion. It is a relationship that is completely safe, without expectations or if/then scenarios. If you manipulate 10 people into going to church I will love you. If you hand over 10% of your money,  only then will I love you. If you sing those boring hymns with more gusto, then I will love you. Instead I’m experiencing a journey, an adventure, and most importantly a relationship that in the process absolutely needs the real me to show up. Not the hokey, fakey, “good” God lover. I don’t have to lose my self-ness in this relationship, and it’s this authenticity (not my constant striving) that makes real transformation happen. I know not all of you share this journey with me, or  you have different expressions for your spirituality, but if you are curious this is a short list of explorations that have guided my journey. Some of this stuff hits the list for controversial *spoken in a whisper voice*. But I don’t know of anyone more controversial than Jesus in his time on earth.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. A very quick read, that left me with a better understanding (even if there were a few points I disagreed with) was Dinner with a Perfect Stranger. What I basically took from it was that your spot in heaven isn’t something that you ‘earn’ by going to church etc. – Jesus died for our sins, He’s already earned our spot for us. Ok, that’s layman’s terms and something I’ve heard over and over my life through, but this book gave me a clearer understanding of that. Along the lines of God’s love being like a parent’s unconditional love, in that I don’t think that there’s anything that my kids could do that would ever make me stop loving them. Anyway, it’s a quick read.

    I rarely go to church over here. There is a different atmosphere and attitude to faith here in the few churches I tried, that didn’t quite fit with me. I wouldn’t consider that I’m being less religious, even so. Still, my understanding is that I live a ‘good’ life as I feel that is the one that gives me greatest happiness, not because I have to earn His love. Any of that make sense?

  2. Lori DeMoss says:

    I’m not quite where you are at (as we have previously discussed) but I’m not too far off. Considering how involved you have been in the church I’m surprised that more people haven’t contacted you to find out why you haven’t been there. I can’t remember for sure but I think a few people may have called when we left. What really floored me was when I ran into some people and they seemed to act as if I had somehow offended them by leaving the church! I guess my relationships with fellow church goers was much more superficial than I had thought.

  3. love reading about your journey, i always leave your blog thinking about how to get unstuck from where i am. thank you for sharing. xo

  4. You’re amazing, Pebble! I love the leaf you have turned….from spastic crafter trying to decide which color paper, what stamps, etc. (which I still LOVED!) to full on cosmically deep introspection with a rebellious “stick it if you don’t like it” sort of vibe! That’s my girl! 🙂

  5. amyks says:

    You are so awesome!!!

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