I’ve mentioned before that I was brought up in a pretty alternative area; although my parents were not actual hippies, we were very much in the middle of an alternative lifestyle, arty, left wing and free thinking community. I loved where I grew up; I have a half formed plan to retire to a little house in the bush up there.

Anyway, I found this you-tube clip the other day which took me straight back to my childhood. This was the gallery where my mother worked, and Gary Greenwood taught my Dad how to use leather to create art. I haven’t stepped foot in this place for 30 years, yet I can still smell the studio, and the sea grass matting on the floors, and remember the echoing sound of walking up those huge stairs. I still occasionally see some of the artists that my family were friends with in those days. My family life is so different from that of my parents in the 70s. I think I miss it, in a lot of ways.

Anyway, maybe I’m imagining things but looking at some of those sculptures I think I know why I wasn’t particularly thrown when we finally got around to studying human biology at school..

 

 

Bowerbank Mill, 1979

The Debrief.

A debrief? Well,  I’m not exactly going to rehash this weeks palaver. We were all there. It was tedious enough for those involved; it must have been bemusing for those following along at home, to say the least. The post that launched 1000 comments, and who knows how many spin off posts.

You know, I’m sure, that I was accused of deceit and lying and other unpleasant things. And posts were made on the basis of that, even though several of these bloggers had never read my blog before. Drive by commenters, they are called. All the opinions, none of the context.

And then we had other claims; that I’d never been an atheist (oh my god at least once a month for the first two years of blogging I talked about the fact that I was!) that people were only supporting me because of the fact that I have (admittedly fabulous) breasts, that I was trying to evangelise to the Monty Python demographic (don’t even know), that I must have suffered a psychological trauma that pushed me into the arms of faith. That the fact that I was writing from beside my child’s hospital bed was the obvious key to my conversion. That I was purely a made up persona (I can’t even…).

But what threw me the most was the fact that the little group of biting, acerbic, pseudo intellectuals that spoke so dismissively of me and my life in other comment sections…used to be me.

See, when I was a committee member of the Australian Skeptics in my state (those of you who know my sir name are welcome to google that. Because, lies and everything…), we used to meet for monthly dinners and discuss just how ridiculous people of faith (and of course other topics) were. We would roll our eyes and decry anything that we couldn’t prove with the scientific method. Of course we never plumbed the depths of nastiness that the internet supplies (I’m a mod at Reddit; I know how it goes), but we were scathing and dismissive. Because we were right, and they were wrong. Because we had knowledge, and they had superstition.

So being in the scathing and dismissive and ‘right’ group is familiar to me. But this time, I wasn’t in it. In fact, I was the subject.

It made me take a step back, believe me.

And all the fears that I’d had about how people would perceive me if I became a Christian, came true. Right in front of my eyes over a period of two days.

I was being mocked.

I was being laughed at.

People said I had a psychological problem.

People posited that I was suffering from a trauma

People decided I was delusional.

People decided that I was desperately trying to belong.

All the things that I’d been so scared of when I first felt the pull of Christianity. People were actually saying them. About me.

I haven’t used the tag ‘atheism’ in my blog posts for years, because I wanted to keep a low profile (which may be why my detractors have done such a spectacularly bad job at actually finding the 40 or so posts where I’ve mentioned my own atheism). I was nervous about being made fun of, you see. But here it was, in spades.

And of course the stereotypes were all there. The ones I used to promulgate. Christians want to make everyone else a Christian. Christians are prudes. Christians are all evangelical. The stereotypes flew thick and fast. Almost amusingly. Considering I was being lambasted for promulgating the myth of the ‘angry atheist’, this group of 4 or 5 commenters were not doing a great job of proving the assertion wrong.

But you know what? In all of this, I never once thought ‘Fuck I’ve made a mistake’.

It would be easier to join the acerbic eye-rolling group. On the internet and in society. Much easier. As I said, most people I know are non-believers, from the ‘don’t care’ variety, to the ‘sharing atheist memes on FB every day’ ilk. It would be no issue at all to rejoin. I have, at heart, a biting and acerbic sense of humour.  It’s my default.

And this is the first time my decision has really been challenged, in my own mind. Shit, people really don’t like Christians. Right in front of me. Evidence. These commenters were not even zoning on one or two main problems, as the original complainant had done. They were having a go at everything.

But you know what? I realised that I am utterly happy with my decision to become a Christian. It has been an astounding, eye opening and incredible experience. And I’m thrilled that it’s happened.

My fears about what might happen if I became a Christian came true, but I now realise that they never mattered at all. They can think I’m stupid. They can think I’m having a crisis. It’s OK. I don’t love it, of course. I’d rather people didn’t criticise me. But it means so much less to me than I ever thought it would. I’m positively zen about the whole thing.

I’m not trying to convince people here. I’m telling my own story. From my perspective, with my own prejudices and limitations and faults.

And I could be utterly and entirely wrong.

I’ve never claimed to have all of the answers.

I’m a Christian. I’m also a Universalist, a left winger, a gay-marriage advocate, a Monty Python fan, I swear, drink, am a feminist and like Wicca and Buddhism. I have a sharp tongue that I’m not always proud of and I’m pushed every day to be a better person. By my kids, by my self, by God.

It’s my story. I can be what I want. As can you. I have found my place, and I hope that everyone else can do the same.

As I’ve said before,

that’s good enough for me now.

 

A little song, to counter the absurdity of the last few days.

Some people seem to think it’s highly improbable that an 8 year old would watch this movie. But from my point of view, I can’t imagine a well rounded childhood that didn’t involve The Life of Brian. Oh well, each to their own.

Sing along; you know you want to.

 

 

 

Let’s see the funny side, shall we?

Hopefully this will be the last time I talk about being an atheist.

Because I think that I need to move on from that.

About two weeks ago, I decided that I need to stop defining myself as ‘someone who used to be an atheist’. I felt that, in some way, it stopped me fully identifying with Christianity, and gave me an escape clause to avoid fully investing myself. Using my history, or thought patterns, or whatever, as an excuse for not necessarily embracing everything about the faith. And being known as ‘the one who used to be an atheist’ is also a handy way to keep myself a little apart from other people too and maybe it does alter the way people perceive me, and how seriously they take me as a Christian? I decided that I would separate myself from that part of my life and not use it, as I have done here mainly but also in other areas, as a way to define myself.

So obviously three days after I made that decision, I was asked to tell my conversion story at church. So essentially anyone who didn’t know I was an atheist at church now does. Ha.  I’m assuming that there is some sort of divine timing link between these two things but hey, it could be an absolute coincidence.

Here is my little talk. It’s very different writing something to be spoken as opposed to something to be read. I have put off actually writing a concise version of my story because it just seemed too hard, but being given a two day lead time and a 5 minute limit meant that I couldn’t be too particular or finicky; I just had to get something down on paper eventually. Anyway, I’m not unhappy with it; anything it lacks in nuance was made up for by laughs so lets call that a win.

Occasionally I’ll see someone that I haven’t seen for 5 or 10 years, and, during the catch up, I might mention that I’m a Christian now. After the person has laughed nervously and assumed that I’m joking, they will inevitably say ‘oh my God’ (and then they will apologise for saying oh my god) How did that happen?? And I don’t really know what to say except ‘God happened’.

The story of how I became a Christian doesn’t involve a sudden Road to Damascus revelation. And it doesn’t involve getting saved from a life of debauchery or anything interesting like that. It just involves a small quiet persistent voice that wouldn’t leave me alone or give up on me.

See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband. I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get. This started early; in Grade 3 my best friend and I staged a revolt and refused to attend Scripture, where a nice elderly volunteer woman got us to colour in pictures of Jesus every week. We sat outside and felt superior and enlightened. And I’m sorry to say that that is a pattern that continued for the next 30 or so years.

I can’t exactly remember how things started to change, but I do know that, over time, something began to happen. Everything in my life was going along nicely, but something certainly shifted. I started to wonder ‘what if?’  What if there is something more than what we see around us. What if we are more than just our body? Could all the beliefs that I have built my life on, been wrong? Probably not, but what if?

So I decided to buy a Bible. The only familiarity I had with the Bible was from the bits that are quoted in the Life of Brian and I didn’t even know where to find one. I finally did, in Ellison Hawker. It was pink fake snakeskin, which would not have been my first choice, but I smuggled it home in a brown paper bag.

Now I’d love to say that I opened it to some significant passage and the heavens opened and it all became clear to me, but that didn’t happen. I think I read a bit of it, was quite bored by what I found, then put it on the shelf. I remember thinking ‘Well that’s the end of that then. That’s not for me. I tried though.

But that wasn’t the end of it, of course. I know now that God spent the next few years slowly working on me, breaking down my judgements and preconceptions and stereotypes. I found myself moving from atheism to a kind of hopeful agnosticism; I didn’t know if there was a God or not but I was doing my best to find out. What I needed, in order to believe, I told God, was a divine revelation. Some kind of vision or Jesus moment that would leave me in no doubt. Then I’d become a Christian. I tried to boss God around a fair bit at that stage. It didn’t work, surprisingly enough.

5 years ago I decided to step things up a bit. I would go to church. Now those of you who have grown up in the church may find that being stressed about buying a Bible or attending a church a bit silly, but you need to understand that I knew no Christians. My family were and are all solid atheists and I didn’t have any Christian friends. I had absolutely no idea where to go. I knew that the Uniting Church had female ministers and was big on social justice and didn’t think they spoke in tongues, so here I came.

My conversion experience was long and convoluted; it went forwards and it went back ward and involved much more swearing and throwing things that is probably appropriate to talk about here. I fought God really hard. I continued to put all sorts of demands and expectations on the way things should be, and the way God should help me to believe. I made it very difficult and for a long time I refused to believe things unless I understood them and could explain them neatly with a flow chart. But God waited patiently for me; every time I packed my bible and my books away in a box and swore that this was all ridiculous and just wasn’t going to work, I’d sulkily get them out again a week later, grumbling about how I didn’t know why I was bothering, and how it was a complete waste of time, God would smile at me and said ‘but you’re doing it, aren’t you?’

It was when I realised that I needed to move beyond knowing about God, and concentrate instead on actually knowing God that things really began to change. I still don’t know how prayer works. And I still don’t understand why there is so much suffering in the world. And I still probably don’t agree with the perspectives that most well-known Christian apologists have on these topics. But while these were once reasons to keep me away from belief, I now know that not having all the answers is completely alright. It’s not a weapon to disprove faith. I’m fairly sure that I’m not going to have much clarity on those issues during this life time. I don’t really need to. What I do need to do is read the words of Jesus and love unconditionally and sit with the knowledge that mystery and unknowing are just part of the fact that, at the moment, we see through a glass, darkly.

And that’s good enough for me now.

The Kindness Conundrum

For me, becoming a Christian has been a lesson in humility. Or 8000 lessons. The continual realignment of my preconceptions, and the breaking down of stereotypes, and the realisation that I hold strongly onto this ridiculous intellectual superiority which has been proven time and time again to be based on nothing but my own ego. (This week’s lesson; I’ve always ignored Eugene Peterson because ‘Ugh, The Message, I don’t need to read that Bible for Dummies version*. And then in the last week I’ve had to read some of his books and they are amazing. Absolutely in sync with where I am right now and totally relevant. Because of course that would be the case).

So, Random Acts of Kindness. A ‘selfless act, performed by a person…to be kind’. There are some pointers here (if you’re a curmudgeonly bastard who can’t think of any nice things to do for others). I’ve tended to think that an act done on purpose, an intentional decision to go out and do nice things for people, is somehow inherently worth less than a natural and intuitive act that just stems from the fact that you are a giving person who spreads kindness because it’s in your heart. As if making the conscious decision to Be A Nice Person today somehow trivializes your actions.

Never mind the fact that massive amounts of evidence point to the fact that, if you want to make changes in  your life, you need to be intentional about them. The more you act intentionally, the more the act will flow naturally until it seamlessly becomes part of the pattern of your life. I know all this. But in my ridiculous brain, acts that were kind and premeditated were somehow less worthy that those that were kind and natural.

Anyhoo, I’ve been the recipient of a few lovely acts recently. Not huge, life changing things, but enough to touch me. Yesterday, for instance, I needed to leave work early to take Jasper to a doctor’s appointment (I haven’t mentioned Jasper recently, but he is confined to a wheelchair now and I’m teaching him at home because his pain levels are too high. He will be having surgery in Melbourne on April 12th).  I needed someone to take a Grade 9 History class, and one of my colleagues volunteered. He and I get on fine; he’s fairly taciturn and I’m going to use ‘curmudgeonly’  twice in one post but we have a good working relationship. (He’s the ‘You really don’t seem like a Christian’ guy and he find my support of the Greens laughable). So, he offered to take my class from 10.15, which I thought was just lovely. I sent out a general email asking all the staff so there was no pressure on him at all, he just wanted to help. And then, at about 10.05, he came down to where I was teaching and told me to head off early, because it was raining and the road conditions were bad. Which I just find amazingly thoughtful. Isn’t that a lovely thing to do for someone?

And I realised that it doesn’t matter if he deliberately thought last week, ‘Eva is having a really tough time right now; I’ll find some way to help her if I can’, or if he just saw my email and though ‘Meh, I’m free when she needs help, why not’. It doesn’t matter if it was intentional or incidental  or if he had any ulterior motives for doing it.The impact that it had on my heart is what is important and I’ve realised that the context within which a kind act occurs means little to me. It’s the act itself that has meaning, and the fact that it’s a little glimmer of kindness that didn’t have to happen, but it did.

Scott Adams said, “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”  No matter the motivation behind an act of kindness, it creates ripples. And it may not be our destiny to know where they are going to go, or what they become. We can only start those ripples when ever the opportunity arises.

 

 

*Even though we know I do, right?

Plans and such.

(I’m calling it; that is the worst post name I’ve ever come up with. By miles)

This week, I began my second year of studying to become an aged-care chaplain. It will take a while; I can only fit in a certain amount of study between work and the boys, and although I am not type-A in any way shape or form, I am a mature aged student, and you know how we like to do all the reading and ask all the questions and get the best mark that we possibly can.

All of the volunteer work that I’ve done in the last 15 years or so has been in aged-care facilities , so when I decided that I wanted my next career to be ‘something church-y’, it made sense to look towards chaplaincy. Who knows, I may be simply dreadful at it and fail miserably, but I intend to find out either way.

(On the topic of aged-care, my Grandmother turns 95 today. Her father was at the Gallipoli landing and my children get to spend time with her regularly. That’s an amazing connection with history right there)

There’s one unit that I’m studying that I’m really excited about. It’s called ‘Introduction to Formation for Ministry’ and it looks to me like The Perfect Subject. From what I can tell, it’s concerned with how different people have grown in their Christian identity (by studying biographies, etc) and then connecting this to an understanding of how we ourselves can grow in our own faith, life and in serving others. The lecturer specifically said ‘This isn’t going to be about navel-gazing; it’s about growing in Christ’, but I’m pretty certain I can make it all about me without anyone noticing *.

My excitement about this subject contrasts nicely with another one that I enrolled in. On reading that the major assignment would be (to paraphrase) ‘a case study of a specific congregation or organisation, focussing particularly on understandings of leadership, the way the leadership team(s) function, decision-making processes and the model of governance’, and would rely on interviews, discussions and recommendations for change, I withdrew in about 3 seconds flat. I’ll concentrate on my nice little spiritual formation unit for now, thank you very much; one that avoids talking to actual people too much.

Yes, I realise that there might be a slight disconnect between an avoidance of that, and wanting to become a chaplain. But I’m fairly sure that this is something I’m being called to do, so we will see. My sister has asked me if I can sit down with her and answer lots of questions that she has about Christianity and faith in general. She is worried though that she might ask ‘really stupid, or just offensive questions’. I pointed out to her that that was pretty much the position I was ten years ago and I can’t really imagine anything that she could say that would offend me, but hey, she can be quite direct, so who knows?

I’ll report back on how I go. Maybe I’ll be able to get my first WON A SOUL FOR JESUS bumper sticker. It’s on my bucket list, after all.

 

 

 

*I’m joking, seriously.

How to Trivialise Jesus

If you listen to some schools of thought, atonement is pretty much the be all and end all of Christianity.  Take  Christian rock music, for instance. It’s about the blood. Here’s an actual line from a song;

“His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him”

But as I’ve said before, I can’t see any way that blood atonement makes sense, and unlike several other issues, this conviction is getting stronger and more clearly formulated the more I think about it.

I know that I might seem like someone who just looks for problems and issues to make a fuss about, but believe it or not I would like to just accept modern mainstream protestant doctrine and happily join the club. I’m absolutely not someone who likes to argue for the sake of it; blending in with a group of like minded people is a lovely idea (in fact the closest I’ve every come to this is probably when I was on the committee for the Tasmanian skeptics and we all pretty much thought all of society was delusional. Ah, good times…) But everyone seems to really love substitutional atonement right now, and it wasn’t until I began to become enmeshed in the faith that I  realised that there were any other options.

It all comes back to whether Jesus really meant what he said, and if he did, what this means to our ordinary every day life. If what Jesus said in the Beatitudes is worthwhile and important and something that we should focus on, then there is a problem. So many of the words of Jesus are deeply contradictory to the idea of blood atonement. If God really needed to resort to violence to achieve his aims then what Jesus said about forfeiting violence is nonsensical. If even God can’t cope without resorting to violence, or chooses violence as the best option, then what hope is there for the rest of the world, and how it deals with its problems?

As Richard Rohr writes (always with the Rohr!), blood atonement basically means that Jesus was plan B; and was only necessary when we screwed up.

Come on. Jesus as plan B? I’ve only been a Christian for about 5 minutes but that disturbs me on some level. Seriously, Jesus isn’t plan B.

“Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God”*

The death of Jesus didn’t change the course of reality, and it wasn’t an ‘ultimate sacrifice’, necessary to gain God’s love. I think that anything that doesn’t directly point to Jesus’ teachings as a fundamental part of his time on earth is misleading; reducing it all down to a tearing of the veil and then a reverberation of guilt and duty that is supposed to stay with us and motivate us. That just trivialises it all.

Substitutional Atonement trivialises Jesus’ life. It sounds counter intuitive, but, to me, it does. It renders his life almost meaningless; he was useful for about three days. Why even bother with all the great speeches and empire-wrecking ideals? He could have done a few miracles the week before Passover and grabbed a donkey and have been done with it. His years long ministry was pointless, if all he was going to be was a blood sacrifice.

From this, though, it doesn’t follow that I have a purely materialistic understanding of the death of Jesus. I don’t believe that he was merely a great teacher. I’m far closer to evangelical when it comes to some things than  you would expect.

If there’s an evangelical left, I’d quite like  although not, of course, the blood bit. And I don’t pray out loud so that would disqualify me, I expect.

(As an aside, I was discussing churches with a friend of mine (who I like to call my ‘spiritual mentor’, although I don’t quite know how he feels about it, but he seems wise and is willing to talk to me so he got the job) , wondering if the church that I had found myself in was ultimately the right one for me. He pointed out that every denomination and every individual church will have different strengths, and given that I had deliberately chosen a church that was strong on social justice and inclusion, then that what was right for me at that time. I hadn’t really thought that different churches cater to different needs, but it does make sense.)

So, anyway, what I’m getting at here is the idea that even though the huge ‘blood of the lamb’ palaver seems very dramatic, it actually cheapens Jesus. It takes away from all the other things that he did, and said, and reduces him to what some call ‘The Ultimate Sacrifice’, but to my mind is ‘Just a Sacrifice’.

I expect others may not agree with this, of course, and there may be a fundamental element that I’m not understanding. That occasionally happens…

 

 

 

*Richard Rohr; “Scripture as Spirituality”

All the opinions, all the time.

People roll their eyes when the ‘Christian voice’ is heard in the media on morality, or family issues, or what ever is dominating the news cycle on that particular day. The media loves to portray certain viewpoints and have no problem making sweeping generalizations; but of course groups like the Australian Christian Lobby don’t do their brothers and sisters any favours by claiming to speak for all of us. But people do love to have their bias confirmed, and I guess that does it for them. Apparently Christians are a homogeneous group and there is little to no dissent about big, or little issues.

Oh please.

There are some things that I think I have a particular perspective on, given my move from atheism to Christianity. I don’t think that this perspective is the be all and end all of course, given that certain other qualifiers have to be attached to anything that I claim to have an insight into (introverted, a bit pessimistic, intuitively cynical, a little mocking on occasion).

But I can say that I have noticed a real difference in the way that people treat me regarding my opinions about things these days. And by ‘things’, I mean the ones that they expect ‘Christians’ to have a particularly strong viewpoint on (abortion, euthanasia, pornography, Llama farming practices). There are a few steps involved here.

They assume that I am going to have an opinion, or take a stand. (This is something you would feel strongly about, surely?)

And then they assume (again) that they know what my opinion about that would be. (You would be against that, right?)

NO I DON’T AND NO, I WOULDN’T.

There are a couple of issues here. Firstly, I don’t feel the need to have an opinion about everything. It’s not that I don’t care about, for example, abortion or euthanasia, but I genuinely don’t have an opinion. I can see that they are nuanced and complex areas and it’s not an area I feel equipped to delve into. Do I have feelings about the issue? Sure. But I have feelings on lots of things that are just ridiculous and emotional and are better off left unexplored (I frequently want to pull my kids out of school and teach them at home, for example. This would be a shockingly bad move for many many reasons).

People find that hard to understand. You don’t have to have a dog in every fight, seriously. You don’t have to have an opinions on every single bloody thing and from what I can tell, others find it especially hard to get their head around this when you’re a Christian.

Sometimes, I just don’t care.

Sometimes, it’s so big and complex and I don’t want the responsibility of making a decisions.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel the need to share my thoughts with others.

I think that it is assumed by many that the Bible is a concise little rule book that has a clear and easily referenced solution to every quandary that will crop up during life.

Well, it doesn’t. Except it does, I suppose. There’s ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself ‘. So we have to love God, and others, deeply and passionately. Does this mean dictating what they can do with their life? Does this mean making decisions on behalf of them? What does Loving Others actually involve?

We need to look at the world through a framework of Jesus’ love. But that can go in many different directions. I personally don’t see how, within that framework, there can be a lot of disagreement on how to treat asylum seekers, but that’s because it’s one issue that I do have all the opinions on. And we are all going to be different in which battle we choose to fight.

But we also need to remember that loving others also means treading carefully with our opinions.

The one about Agape and Tattoos, Part Two.

 

So, I had a mystical experience.  And I wanted to always remember it. Given I’m a vegetarian I am not going to cut animals in half and dance around in the middle of them, I decided to get a tattoo instead.

And you know what I found out?

People love their opinions.

I actually wanted to get it 6 months before I actually did. I confided my plan in a work friend, who told me that tattoos (in the place I planned to get it) were ‘trashy and bogan’, and I would look like a skanky whore.

YOU DONT WANT TO LOOK LIKE A SKANKY WHORE, DO YOU???

Well no, I really didn’t, thank you very much. So I decided not to get it. Phew, lucky escape!

(Although whorishness would be quite biblical, now I come to think of it)

So I didnt.

But I really wanted to, you see.

I suppose I hadn’t quite realised how much I worried about what other people think of me. A lot, apparently.

And the irony of being given a manifest example of God’s unconditional love, yet still tying myself in knots about what one person thought of me, will be apparent, of course.

Anyway, after a little chat with my soul, I went ‘Fuck it’. And I’m really glad I did.

I love it so much. LOVE IT.

image

(In your face, Leviticus 19:28)

And when I told my friend about it, she said ‘Well that is very ugly. I was right’, and then she enlisted some other people to laugh about it, and tell her how funny she was, and agree with her that it was the worst decision I’d ever made and omg what is wrong with me, don’t I have any sense of humour at all, just relax jeez.

So after various other machinations that are just too exhausting  and ridiculous to recount, I told her that didn’t really want to spend that much time with her anymore. And that, in turn, caused her to spiral into a fairly unstable mess. Which I do feel bad about, because I never want to be the source of anyone else’s distress

I suppose there are a few things that could be explored here. We could examine the fact that, despite God’s overwhelming love, we all act badly sometimes. We could look at how hard it is for us to believe in ourselves. Or the fact that just listening to someones idea and supporting them is usually the right thing to do and telling people that their tattoo is ugly is always a bad idea, because they are kind of permanent, you know?

But probably, at this moment in my life, the thing that I need to really think about is that, despite the fact that I think I actually experienced God’s manifest and unconditional love, I still worried what people would think of me, and I still didn’t act in a very forgiving manner towards someone.

Seriously though. The ultimate creative energy that formed the entire universe thinks that I am pretty great, and some woman that I didn’t even know that well completely threw me off my game, and as I result I acted in a pretty unloving way, because my ego was hurt.

My ego calls far too many of the shots, I’m afraid. It’s the worst.

Fuck, we are just so very human, aren’t we? Just so incredibly moral, so much of the time. Of course, though. Of course we are. We’re supposed to be. That’s the point, isn’t it.

But is standing up for what is ‘best’ for yourself, but at the same time hurting someone else, exactly the opposite of the love that we are meant to show for other people?  Surely a learning experience that started with my discovering the ultimate source of pure love should not have ended with me wanting to have nothing to do with someone ever again. I don’t want to have to go all Luke 6:29, but I can’t help but think that this was the sort of thing that was being referred to; showing unconditional acceptance, even in the face of exactly the opposite.

Maybe I’ll do better next time?

But, as Richard Rohr says; ‘The ego hates losing – even to God’.

Hmmm, maybe that quote should be my next tattoo…

 

 

 

The Story of a Tattoo ( Or How I learned about Agape, and also, ironically, how to tell people to piss off), Part One.

I want to weave a bit of a story today, about unconditional love and self worth and trusting your own path. But also about tattoos and people calling me a skanky whore and getting the courage to tell people to get stuffed if they treat me badly. So I think that covers all the bases, yes?

There have been a few pivotal things that determined my decision to become a Christian. Some I’ve talked about. Others are a bit too ephemeral and private to share. And some just wouldn’t make sense to other people.

But the Important Moment that I’m referring to today happened in a dream. I know, I know. Ugh. But given that I am 80% sure that I have experienced genuine premonitions in dreams, I chose to trust this experience as legitimate. If you rolled you eyes at the very mention, then you will really really dislike this post. And possibly me, due to the fact that you will find it cringeably awkward . You’ve been warned.

To summarize, I felt the total and complete unconditional love that God has for me.

That old thing, hey?

Trying to capture exactly what it was like is impossible, of course. But I knew that God saw all of me… and loved me despite it. But not even ‘despite it’, because there’s judgement in that, and there was no judgement, there was just utter and complete agape.

So of course I woke up in tears, because how else do you deal with that? It was wonderful and huge and everything but it was also a bit terrible and heartbreaking because there was also the realisation that I had never, and would never feel anything like that on earth.

So, me being me, I couldnt just appreciate something for what it was, I had also to mourn it for what it wasn’t. Luckily this little tantrum on my part was short lived. As I’ve said before, I dream a lot. I’m used to my dreams. This was not a normal dream. Even the dreams that were, in hindsight, premonitions, felt like a normal dream at the time.

But this didn’t. And it wasn’t.

I can still remember the aura of what happened; the memory of it, if you like. But as for recapturing the actual feelings? Nope. I don’t think it’s even possible to do that. All the love that I have to give goes to my children, but even then it is just grey compared to what was lavished on me. Recreating that, or re-remembering it just isn’t possible. Well, not humanly possible.

But I believe that what I felt was real, and also impossible to describe, although I have tried to. And I think that I’ve done such a sub-par job of telling it that I’d really like to just delete it and give up. But I also think that its important to try to describe indescribable things.

Because sometimes words are all we have, even if inadequate, and we are a race of story tellers, after all. So we just have to do our best.

Next up; I decide to create a visible symbol of God’s promise to me, and get called a skanky whore in the process. I’m almost completely sure that I’ll be able to make a lovely deep connection between agape, my friends comments and my not-perfect-but-understandable-given-the-circumstances behavior. If not, then I will have just needlessly talked about myself for two blog posts. Fingers crossed, hey.