how are things going?
I read your post a few weeks back and had a couple of things I wanted to say – but it's taken me longer than I anticipated to get there. So… my apologies first up!
I agree with so much of what the others have shared with you – and Jordan – nothing you have said is offensive. It's an honour and a blessing to share in your story – struggles, doubts and all. You are in excellent company I am sure in the struggles and doubts department!
You reflected on labelling yourself as a "Christian" as doing yourself and Christian faith a disservice – and were giving yourself a pretty hard time for not living up to the standards Christ modelled. Hmmm – my understanding of "Christian" is to be a follower of Christ. Christ who was compassionate, merciful, loving, kind… and yes – we all have a lot to live up to in that regard – but you're not alone there. If we all expected that to be a "Christian" was to live exactly as Christ lived – then I don't reckon there would be many "Christians" around! As for someone who models compassion, mercy, love and kindness – I've seen plenty of that from you in your responses to others on this forum. I also read somewhere that God expects less of us than we expect of ourselves… hmmm. that reminds me of God's great love for us.
I too, have been through a great period of questioning and doubts. Someone put it to me like this: "It's like everything you've ever believed has been tossed up in the air – and you have decide which bits to catch and hold on to… and which bits to let go of…" Does that ring true for you? (A bit like what Mother Hen said about everything being tipped onto the floor…)
I think the doubts and questions you express are healthy and normal. Particularly when one has experienced rejection or opposition from the church as many of us here have. I take comfort in the fact that God is bigger and more loving than many of the people who profess to follow him/her.
Forgive me if I jump all over the place in my response to your post – it's a bit of a stream of consciousness thing going on here!
I wanted to share with you a DVD series I have found very helpful. It's called "Living the Questions" I was pretty lucky to be able to borrow the series from the moderator of the uniting church in nsw – who comes to our church… it's expensive to buy but maybe with your internet savvy you may be able to track it down – maybe you could borrow it from a uniting church nearby? It goes through a whole lot of questions – and looks at them through the lens of progressive Christianity – a complete head spin for this little (ex) evangelical duck – but has begun to redefine the way I think about faith, Jesus, God… the whole box and dice… here's a link which may tell you what I'm on about… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZVNVwcuPm8
You said you had been looking into some sort of meditative practice… I have just started a meditation course – it talks of mindfulness and meditative practice. The evangelicals from my past would have a conniption (hee hee 🙂 ) but I decided that learning to be present, in the moment and learning some healing positive meditations could only be a good thing. I say – go for it Jordan!
I really loved what forestgrey had to say about "not burning the bridges behind you". I have done this in my past – vehemently turning my back on faith, the church etc – only to feel a bit adrift and unhinged. Now – I take a gentler approach – dipping my toe into other perspectves – gently, quietly. I am actually learning to "live with the questions" to "live with uncertainty"… really scary – but full of possibility. It actually allows God to be bigger, more dynamic, inventive, creative, just "more" if we let go of our own contained definitions of who/what God might be and instead sit with the tension of not knowing… the tension of uncertainty. Does that make sense?
I also really agree with shadow boxer about finding some different groups to join. I initially on coming out to myself was going to GLBT things left right and centre. But… a lot of the women were not into the things I'm into. being gay is one part of me… there's a lot more to me than that. I have joined a few "meet up groups" in recent months. There are groups for any interests – I have been along to a musical afternoon for example. Google "meetup" and you might find something in your area.
I see from what you have shared that you describe yourself as a "social virgin" – so I fully appreciate it's not so easy to "just" rock up to a group or similar. And this brings me to something else I wanted to share with you…
I believe that the "story" we tell about ourselves or the decsriptions we use about ourselves hold a lot of power. "Disorganised" "introvert" "shy" "social virgin" "boring" " a burden"… whatever label we choose – it can begin to define and shape us, without us really realising it. My encouragement to you is to try to reframe things – try to "wear the (metaphoric) clothes" of someone who is a joiner, a seeker, engaged and interested. Ditch the "social virgin" tag and try to use another tag… even if it's "learning to be braver" . I really don't mean to make that sound flippant or less hard than I know it to be.
Finally – you spoke about your fear in relation to going to the group. I can very much relate to that. I have been to some lesbian groups and the first few times was almost shaking as I went in. So much is wrapped up in this step… a coming out step… a meeting new people step… an unknown situation step… and yet – everyone else in the group is probably feeling the same thing. Jordan I have seen your humour, your compassion, your interest in ideas, your interest in justice, in activism, in the world around you… in music… all reflected in your posts on this forum. So – you have a lot to offer to other people. You have alot to offer to any group you might join. maybe there's someone in one of these groups who needs a Jordan to come along.
Let us know how you go in your current journey.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.