I’ve been itching to write my own gospel. A little bastion of ideas and thoughts so deeply held that they’re woven into the fabric of my life. Kind of like The Gospel According to Shug Avery–something real and true. Something I’ve had to create and live into to dispel all the hurt and ache my Christian upbringing left in its wake.
The past few months, I’ve felt the Universe nudging me toward releasing the grief over my lost religion and moving into something brighter, more whole and full of joy. I didn’t see it as grief at first, but of course there is grief in losing something I once held dear, that used to underpin the way I saw the entire world.
I’ve made a dizzying amount of attempts to reconcile with Chrisitianty in my adulthood. I just kept circling around, looking for that thing I’d lost. What I’d lost was a childlike certainty. And it’s seductive to chase childhood loves. To want simplicity and certitude. Besides, I really did believe (on a level that runs much deeper than conscious thought) that I might be banished to hell for leaving Chrisitianty behind. So, there was the desire not to burn as well. Feels reasonable.
But by the time I reached this final leaving, I knew that I was done. I’d completed a cycle. I wasn’t searching for my place in the church any more. And it felt like a relief to admit that my relationship with Christianity was over. We were never, ever getting back together.
What I did not expect was the white hot rage I felt.
I suppose when I gave up on trying to reconcile, when I was no longer looking for a way to smooth over my own pain just to make good and get along, then I could get real honest about the depth of that pain.
And so I did.
And holy Mother was I pissed off.
For a long time I embraced tepid acceptance from the church, because it was all I thought I deserved. In fact, it seemed a welcome blessing–when I’d been condemned to hell by the church I was brought up in (and people I thought loved me). But, at some point, I healed enough to look around and think, “what the actual fuck?!”
And then I got angry. Like don’t have anything nice to say so probably shouldn’t say anything at all but damn if I can’t stop telling folx what bullshit I think this is kind of angry.
But then, the Universe sent me Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of the Dissident Daughter, in which she unpacks the patriarchal nature of Christianity and her journey toward an understanding of the Feminine Divine. And I saw so much of my early hurt over the way the church treated women splayed across the page–and I saw her work through it and let it go. She created her own rituals, her own way of understanding the Feminine Divine that was a salve for her wounded spirit. And she emerged being able to trust her own knowing, her own understanding of the Divine. She resurrected herself.
In the days leading up to Easter this year, I kept thinking about resurrection. About what I was taught and what I believe, the places they intersect and the places they diverge wildly. About my own resurrection from the hell of self-hatred and substance abuse I created. About new and abundant life. And about writing gospels.
As children of God(ess) shouldn’t we each write our own gospel, a good word of hope?
So here it is: the latest version of my gospel. It is incomplete, a living breathing document for as long as I have the immense pleasure of living and breathing myself.
You are created whole and with the potential for boundless joy and light.
The Divine is in you, around you, is you. You only need to breathe to access God(ess) in her infinite glory.
You need no intermediary to the Divine. She is yours. And you are hers.
The world is yours to enjoy and to care for. As are the people in it. Treat them well.
You will experience pain. The Divine will walk through it with you, as will kindred souls encountered along the way. Accept their love and help. It will be a balm.
Change is lifeblood. Do not fight it. Meet it with wonder and curiosity about where it will take you.
Love hard but create boundaries. Love should never be all-consuming. Leave space for your soul to exist and breathe.
Failure is inevitable if you are living right. Fail big. Try again.
Listen. God(ess) speaks all the time. Through you, through others. But you have to pay attention to hear her voice.
Nothing you do can separate you from the love of God(ess).
Hell is real. But it is a place of your own creation. You can opt out any time. Simply ask for Divine help to pull yourself from the depths and it will come.
The more you trust the Divine and act according to that trust, the more free your life will become.
You are love. You are Divine. You are magic. You lack nothing. You are.