In 2011, I walked into a church with bright lights and a large stage, inspiring messages, and a community full of well-dressed 20 and 30-somethings, a seeming heaven-sent rebuttal to the San Diego bar and club lifestyle that I had tired of.
The crowd stood during worship, young people with arms outstretched to the sky and tears in their eyes as they sang. I soon became one of them. That space of worship and gratitude for the great mysteries of life warmed and restored my heart.
I let myself be a beginner in this place, free from the knowledge I had acquired through the years and opened myself to consider and even integrate some of the teachings that I once stood firmly against: our brokenness, submission, and the possibility of Jesus as the only way to name a few.
Life had taught me that academics and science have a lot of answers, but not all of the important ones. Perhaps others lay here in church. As the truths in sermons on love, forgiveness, compassion, and relationship washed healing tears down my face, I’d open more and more to what the church had to say.
But mine isn’t a story of redemption. While I chose to be baptized and attended weekly prayer groups and served on multiple teams, when I started dating my husband who is not a Christian, no one said anything. I simply faded out of those groups as easily and quickly as I was welcomed in. To be fair, this experience was familiar to someone who has over time swam in schools of various belief systems.
In January 2016, a year and some change after I left San Diego and that church, I was on my way to the Women’s March in Washington DC with my infant daughter, where I’d meet my husband and parents.
At the same time, I watched bewildered as my church friends, including the pastors of that church, proclaimed their support for Donald Trump. What messages were they getting that I wasn’t? How was the information and influence they were receiving so different from the “grab them by the pussy” and “build the wall” messaging that I was?
Although I felt deeply driven to march on Washington, I could hold onto the fact that women I respected felt equally passionate about esteeming a man who I perceived to greatly disrespect us.
While there was love at the March, there was also hatred and hurt. While church women I knew spoke of the “angry women marching,” I thought, “the angry women marching don’t need examples of what a Godly woman looks like, they need Godly women to be with them – to listen to, understand, and love them.”
Although (as a pregnant mother of a young daughter) I chose to stay mostly out of the news and emotional triggering of the Christine Blasey Ford case, the debate over what happened and not and who to believe still made my heart ache. And the women, the many, many women I knew and heard from and saw re-experiencing their past traumas as they watched this case unfold broke it.
Where was Jesus now? Who was holding all of these women as their hurt came up? I listened to the pain of those I could and wrestled with my own with the Jesus I know, the self-compassion and resources I have built.
I think of our country and who Jesus called the “least of these” in Matthew 25:40 and who really is serving them wholeheartedly. I think of countless examples of love, humility and forgiveness that can’t be attributed to religion.
Because that’s what it’s all about, right? It’s about Love?
It’s about being with the brokenness and choosing to love. It’s about creating space for vulnerability so we can reveal our humanness … much of which isn’t possible amidst an environment of certainty, hierarchy and judgement.
Jesus, Buddha, the Divine Feminine, science, wherever we turn to transcend our humanness reveals the connection we all have – the desire to do good, to belong, to matter, to be of service. While we stand divided, proclaiming one way over another, we’re not on our knees with God or out in the world face-to-face with those who need love most.