~~~~~~~~A poem about where I’m at as a newly-turned 35 year old!!~~~~~~~~
THE TEMPLE OF ME
Looking across my body, a mosaic of sea glass tops my skin, And I ask you now to sit with me and Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
My eyes are still that vibrant green, holding sparkling light within. No, those aren’t crows feet, that’s where Sophia left Her print. Can you handle who I am now and Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
There’s this thinking crease across my forehead, and it makes me share a grin, Cause once I thought I knew it all and you loved the woman in me then, but can you make more room to love the woman I’m becomin’? Won’t you come and sit with me and Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
My smile still lights the blazes, of your direct attention, and those laugh lines now make their way up, to my dancing eyes within. And I ask you to always make me laugh and Drink me in, Drink me in Drink me in
Have you noticed my shoulders and arms are stronger, then they’ve ever been? Because I learned to carry the wounds of my sisters, of my fellow women. Can you spare a minute to listen and Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
When You see my my bare breasts fireside, do you breathe praise for the flow they’ve given, how my very own body was the tree of life for our youngest children- take a moment and honor the sacred and Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
Now I have a softened tummy, rounded hips, and marked up skin, Call me your Goddess Persephone, I nourished your seed and brought about its blossomin’, Can you sit and worship me for me and Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
And I’ve always had those legs you loved, they are strong but not thick or thin, and now they’ve carried 5 human lives, can you grasp the magnitude of my body’s benevolence? Can you come and help me carry on and Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me
And I’ve manifested this rounded ass in my womanhood transfiguration, yes-she is bouncier now, than my teenage version. And you just cannot help but touch, you say she demands your concentration. Will you always speak with adoration and Drink me in Drink me in Drink me in
And when we’re in the shadows and you gaze upon my 35 year old skin, your eyes light up like candles and I think that’s my personal heaven. I am a divine being, made of earth-water-fire-and wind, and I deserve to be on your altar as you Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
Most of all, more than anything—-you’ve watched my mind and heart expand, and you listen attentively about my evolution that was completely unplanned. But you don’t run off fearfully, you pour your cup, listen, and grin, and as you sip your coffee, you Drink me in, Drink me in, Drink me in
By: Stacy Johnson, June 6-8, 2019 (Mother, cycle day 12-14)
I was placed into your grasp as a little girl. I ate the crumbs from your gnarled and mangled hands. I watched you work the system and create a breed of subservient little female beings. You chewed us up and spit us out and told us our purpose was to simply be present to help You. You needed our fertility, open our legs for your pleasure and your cum. Carry your babies so you don’t fade away into oblivion. We sit here now foaming at the mouth ready to rip your fucking throats out, and you tell us to smile, keep quiet, be a lady. Meanwhile, you’re lusting for the blossoms in the church pew, with your pious and godly wife sitting right there beside you. But she doesn’t know how to be the Slut you need. The Sacred Whore within, she’s never unleashed. You did that to her. You, Patriarchy! You told her to be good, but with everything you are, you like em bad. So so bad. You told us to be honest, but you’ve got your secrets. You snicker, and you smile, and you keep things under the table. Your army, your squad, your “good ol boys”—- they uphold you as the Man among men, and while your wife may be fooled cause she’s a product of her raising, just know-your daughter won’t bow down to ANY SYSTEM that’s degrading, she’s not just the winds of change-she’s a fucking tornado. She is tearing this shit down and you don’t know what to do. You hang on to your faith cause it ALWAYS WORKS FOR YOU. Cling to your traditions, the empire built by men for men, but your daughter yells, “No!” She’s watched and she’s listened to every command made on her mother and her sisters, she’s thirsty for the blood of every person whose ever said, “A woman’s place is in the kitchen.” She is harsh and bold and she is ready to hurt your feelings. She yells, “Fuck you and fuck your religion! You pieces of shit-stealing the minds of the innocent, and they can’t even think critically enough to harbor resentment.” Your daughters are coming for you, Patriarchy, are you shaking in your work boots? We are coming for you, right after we untie your shoes.
Thoughts, how dangerous, how absolutely dangerous.
How beautiful they once were.
I recall a time in the not so distant past where things were different in my head, before leaving faith, before realizing that “submitting” was actually me agreeing to be silenced, before waking up to the abusive tactics patriarchy implores-and calls this God.
Back then, in the “before” period of my life, for every negative self-talk, there was a dozen scriptures-racing to take the place of the daggers inflicted by that of the “devil.”
I needed the devil. I could blame him for putting such awful images in my brain about myself.
But I needed God even more. I needed a savior outside myself to come in and “make me new.” I needed God to swoop down, ya know, cause that’s what the God of the Christians says He’ll do, He’ll swoop down and meet you where you are—He is, the only God who does this——
I needed that God to rescue me from myself.
I had after all, been taught that my own thoughts, my own will, my own nature was inherently and irrevocably dangerous, not to be trusted. Not even to do the work of asking questions…
From the earliest of days, being told that hell awaits those who reject God, was terrifying, everything was a rejection of God. Eating too much, reading for pleasure when I should be reading the Bible, secular music was a gateway to humanism, television watching would corrupt your purity, spending money was an idol, high-lighting my hair-vanity… it never ended, until I eventually took everything about myself away. I lived this out for years in an attempt to bring God all the glory.
Every fucking thing I could do, could be a way to reject God, and I couldn’t chance it.
So, I denied myself every possible avenue of joy in my life minus mothering.
Then……Silence. Disappearing into nothingness.
When I first realized this way of life had led me into a severe depression, Friends would ask, “well, what’s your favorite music?”
Me: I do not know.
“What shows do you enjoy?”
Me: I don’t.
“What is your hobby?”
Me: I don’t have any.
Folks, I kid you not, religion stole Me from Me.
The Dark Night of the Soul led me to the blatant realization that not “being of the world,” means you are VERY LONELY within. Cutting myself out of the culture of our time, left me in a state of adolescent adulthood.
Denying myself time and time again. Over and over, in every circumstance because Jesus was self-sacrificing, did baaaaaad things to me. I had no identity beyond wife and mother.
Typing that, my stomach turns, because that is supposed to be enough—-I should be filled with praise, and here I sit, alone with these thoughts, telling me that because it is not enough, I am bad-so bad.
But isn’t that the pattern of what religion does to us. It tells you to do something/be something, something you can’t, you realize you can’t and you ask for a savior, when that isn’t enough, there you sit—- “I’m naturally bad.” The only difference is, for the believer, they think God cleanses the bad away. But for those of us who don’t believe, WE must do the work to remove the “I am bad,” sense of self, and this is not easy.
I don’t know how to do that.
Instead I sit with the pattern of self-defeat regularly. How badly, I want MY TWO HANDS, My brain, to figure out how to LOVE MYSELF. But being told you’re a sinner from childhood on, well-its damaged me. There are other relationships that have damaged me along the way, but because I struggle to love myself, I allow them.
I HOPE to find a way to mend the pieces of me. If you are a recovering former believer, what have you done to help you LOVE YOURSELF? Or, if depression is a battle you’ve faced, what helps you most?
I recall it like it was yesterday… not six years ago. It was a beautiful time. I was a bible believing, god seeking, holy-spirit led, Child of God. I had quit my job as a public school teacher so I could pursue a career as a full time homeschool momma. My faith was the driving force in EVERYTHING I SET MY HANDS TO. Making breakfast-sing some praise, folding laundry- gratitude prayer, exercise- self-sacrifice is honorable, someone is sick- the devil is attacking, teaching my daughters- God is SO Good. Every situation had a scripture to call on and I did!
The Bible was the LITERAL Word of God, every word written was inspired by God…
I’d been raised Church of Christ, the fundamentalist Bible Belt version, not the progressive version. I was a literalist, inerrantist, the “Bible says it so I believe it” kind of girl.
The C of C believed that the gifts of the spirit had ceased, that women should never teach men, that one must be baptized by submission into water, that the Lord’s Supper was a weekly part of service, absolutely NO instruments, salvation can be lost with any sin not repented from, and that everyone who was not a part of their belief system was headed for hell. Talk about a scary childhood….I might go to hell for a sin I hadn’t been forgiven of, all of my peers who attended other churches were going to Hell…. even my grandparents. And what about all of humanity before the C of C was started? I mean, the “denomination” was only a couple hundred years old???
For a long time, I wrestled with C of C beliefs and could not reconcile many of them with Scripture. If other believers were receiving healing by the laying on of hands—- why not me? If others could speak in a tongue between them and God, why not me? If others’ children only needed to confess that Jesus is Lord and would then be forever saved, why not mine?
In my adulthood, I became a Christian Church Gypsy. I needed all the experiences that came with the varieties of denominations, so I set out. Over the course of 10 years, I met with the Methodists, I praised with the Pentecostals, I danced with the non-denominationals, I sat in the Silence with the Quakers, I tithed with the Word of Faithers, I observed the Eucharist with the Catholics, I visited vespers with the Eastern Orthodox, I blessed my pew neighbor with the Christian Alliance, I mingled with the Mormons, I broke bread with the Baptists…. you catch my drift.
I made SO MANY friends.
Meanwhile at home, I was carrying on in my God ordained calling as a homeschool momma and we were reaching the point in our studies where my girls were moving from bible stories, to the history of the Church, including its councils, how the Bible came to be, and Jewish history.
My precious little girls were resting in a peaceful life, I was rising with the sun, Bible in one hand, filled coffee cup in the other, and a front porch rocker overlooking a Pennsylvania country-side. I recall praying daily for God to bless our studies and tear down the walls of indoctrination I’d received in my upbringing. I wanted nothing more than to serve God with my life.
God. Making mercies new every morning…
God. Granting me sweet sleep every night….
They say, “the road to atheism is littered with Bibles that’ve been read cover-to-cover.”
I am a testament to that. For me, it was my INTENSE pursuit and study into Biblical origins and the Christian Church that forced me to HAVE TO LEAVE that faith.
One of my friends tried to banter me back to belief by stating that all deconstruction journeys start with doubt. Effff that noise! I’m calling bullshit.
I’d never been at a more faithful place in my walk with Christ when, “the walls came tumbling down.”
For me, it was sincere curiosity for understanding how modern Christianity relates to Jesus and his roots and praying it through.
It was me trying to understand the parables from the perspective of a Jewish believer and praying it through.
It was me, digging deep into how those ancient beings would’ve interpreted the Torah, then the epistles and gospels and prophets and praying it through.
It was me reading the Church Councils and their decisions and praying them through.
It was me realizing the very questions I’d been told not to ask, had entire councils dedicated to trying to solve them and that sometimes, they didn’t have answers, but politics would win—-even back then. And praying that through.
It was me, coming to grasp the magnitude of the Protestant Reformation and praying it through.
It was the harsh reality that the Church Fathers and earliest believers were pacifists—-even when they were in the military…. and allowing myself to sit with that in the midst of the American Military War Machine era, headed by none other than modern day Bible-Believing Christians…and praying that through.
It was me, pursuing the roots of our modern ideas of Hell versus that of believers long before us and praying it through.
It was realizing that Jesus never believed he was dying for the sins of others and that his goal wasn’t to get others to heaven, but to bring heaven to earth and praying that through.
It was taking scripture and putting it back in the context of the people who wrote it and praying that through.
It was me realizing the ways the church has made room for change- from slavery, to integrating, to interracial relationships, to women leaders, to birth control, to music in worship, to partaking in the Lord’s Supper occasionally—-but its refusal to lean towards change for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and praying that through.
It was me being made fully aware that the Bible was written by men- with a patriarchal lens, and that every story has that spin, even though it was done inherently, from women needing to be virgins-to victims of rape needing to marry their rapists so they could be honorable, to concubines, to Abraham being a complete ass to Hagar and his child-almost killing his kid, deciding that cutting tips of penises off was a good thing, and then being the “father” of this religion I’ve believed in wholeheartedly for my entire existence and praying it through.
It was learning that Jewish rabbis today believe much of Scripture to be metaphorical and not the end all, but instead the starting point for discussion and praying that through.
It was the deep study of which verses were added later and that Mark was the first gospel and the others are based on it. AND, that the resurrection and virgin birth stories were not originally in Mark. That’s kinda a big deal.
All of these studies, flowing forth from the beginning, out of a sincere desire to best know my Savior.
And eventually crying and peeking over my shoulder as I googled, “Today, I lost my faith.” Because I had deconstructed my whole belief system in quiet so as to not lose my community.
I started researching what religion does to a brain, and how humans are conditioned to expect rewards.
I then began to allow my eyes to see the similarities between Christianity and older religions, particularly Zoastrianism.
I was waking up to the fact that people I’d trusted to teach Truth, had only ever studied Christian apologists, and called that a well-rounded education.
And what happened when I began to share what I’d discovered? The same ol fear campaign. The same ol doubt story-where are these questions coming from spill. The same ol, “just gotta have faith.”
And then, when I spoke—“NOOOOO! I will not pretend to believe this ANY LONGER, friends, it does not hold up under the light of sincere open-heart studying. This is not something I wanted-this is not what I set out to discover. This was not a choice, it was simply the facts. The Facts. I’d spent 6 quiet years reading and reading and researching and listening to, and praying over. It wasn’t an overnight choice taken lightly. It was years in the Dark Night of the Soul, with painful discoveries and literal life-altering outcomes.” I begged them to please understand. I guess they could not. It’s scary, I know. Trust me. I know.
It all became so obvious. I let myself recall the fear tactics used by the Church, not only throughout history, but right there in my own history. How can a child ever use logic or think critically when they are told their questions are doubt and doubt isn’t from God. And what about the manipulation of emotions by guilt/shame, and the repeated three chords on the keyboard, causing our brains to rapid fire release dopamine, then calling that a God experience.
From the beginning of its time, this story I built my life upon had been some human somewhere’s best attempt at persuading others to go along with them and calling it God. The same way we do today. This wasn’t the story of God using humans but very much the opposite. Humans using God.
So….. where do I go from here…. how and what do I instill in my children?
Below, my manifesto:
In our home we believe:
*it is OKAY to say, “If God is real________, “ or, “If there is a God, ___________.”
*we do NOT know for sure that there is an after-life, no one on Earth knows for sure.
*it is OKAY, perhaps even WONDERFUL to say, “I don’t know.”
*If God is real, and he/she/it created us, then God is like the ultimate parent—- there is nothing we can do to ever stop It from loving us. The Love is Unconditional and just like a good parent does, that love will never cease— we did not ask to be here.
*the Bible was written by humans to humans of a SPECIFIC TIME. To not use the context of the culture it was written is a blatant misrepresentation of the text. This takes lotsa planning to implement a single Bible-lesson, but better than a skewed surface reading.
*Humans HAVE ALWAYS used their version of God to justify going after what they wanted by saying in no uncertain terms, “We are God’s chosen and he told us to do this.” That doesn’t mean the humans are/were right.
*our descriptions are only as good as our vocabulary, therefore EDUCATION MATTERS. The Bible CANNOT teach on topics the people who wrote it were unfamiliar with.
*people are people, not sinners. There is nothing to save them from. If there is a heaven, it is universal. This includes the LGBTQ Community, heaven is for EVERYONE
*Hell, as most view it today, does not exist. Jews of ancient days weren’t of the belief and Jesus teaches about a literal place called Gehenna, not an eternal torment. The OT doesn’t even mention it.
*Jesus did NOT KNOW he was dying for others’ sins. Once you look at the original language used and cultural implications, there is no proof that Jesus believed he was sacrificing himself for others. Ultimately, penal substitutionary atonement is unnecessary. No One comes to the Father except through me, does not mean what modern ppl think it means.
*Paul’s teachings are not authoritative automatically. Paul was a Pharisee coming out of a fundamentalist approach to Judaism, he teaches from that lens therefore the language and admonitions from his letters must only be used in context of his culture.
*scholars agree Mark is the original gospel and that Matthew and John were copies that had been embellished. There is no virgin birth or resurrection story in the earlier copies of Mark.
*humans chose which books of the Bible should be in the Canon, verses were added at way later dates to the Bible, to this day Catholic and Orthodox churches include far more books than those of Protestant traditions
*all scripture is God-breathed…… the word is actually a Latin-derivative meaning inspired—- just because something is inspired doesn’t mean it’s the only tool by which we can navigate life.
*There are believers who’ve allowed the Bible to become an idol and this can hinder any actual leadings from God to undo indoctrination.
*to create a situation where you play on the emotions of youth and adults alike, is to “fake” a saving experience and is a manipulation of their reality.
*it is emotionally abusive and manipulative to raise children with a constant fear that hell awaits them, should they turn out to be anything but what you deem acceptable.
*indoctrinating children from birth to believe that Your ideas about God are *the only correct ideas is not only arrogant, but also irresponsible. This gives kids a false superiority complex. Ultimately you’re teaching your kids to give ultimatums— befriend and conform -succumb to our attempt to save, or disassociate and be shunned.
*teaching children to “save” other children is a blatant misrepresentation of Christianity. “They will know you are Christian by your LOVE.”
*Believers ultimately see what they want to see. All questions are very googleable, to continue to teach ideas that were passed to you via someone else’s indoctrination is a shame. It is scary to do this work, but important.
*to say, “I love you,” means you fully accept and affirm that person. You cannot love someone but not “accept” their “way of life.” That is conditional and we don’t do that here.
*when kids at school call themselves Christians, but they are exclusive instead of inclusive, when they are homophobic- or racist-or misogynistic: call that chit out!
*making a hateful statement or judgmental statement that assumes everyone has the same indoctrination you do-or should adhere to the same view as you is still HATE speech. Wrapping it in “Christian Love” is condescending and simply a justification of that hate-speech. Call it out.
*the Bible is not a weapon. Battling someone with quotes of Scripture is demeaning- they’ve read it before and don’t need it thrown in their face, nor was it intended to be used in such a way.
*Christianity is appealing to many men because it has mistakenly placed them in authority throughout time, Jesus does not model this and is completely egalitarian.
*Research shows meditation and practicing concentrated gratitude is equally as good for you as time spent praying. Studies show we use the same parts of the brain during these things and that prayer actually helps the person praying more than those whom they are praying for.
*cool fact: Research reveals speaking in tongues and mediums channeling the dead-use the same parts of the brain to do those things. Cool. Cool.
*cognitive dissonance is real, it is the first line of defense any person hoping to stay in the comfort of their social constructs uses.
*you are free to pursue ANY belief system you so desire, so long as it is not a cult
*you are free to NOT practice ANY form of religion
*you are free to disagree with me
*ask questions, forsaking NONE, silencing NONE
*continue studying logic, arguments, philosophy, and anthropology
But anyhow, to sum it all up—————
Ultimately, in our home we believe:
*if there is a God, it/He/She/Source is LOVE. It starts with Love, it ends with Love, and to add ANYTHING at all as a stipulation of receiving that Love would make it conditional and that is not Love.
*in the end NO OTHER DOCTRINE matters, but to LOVE LOVE LOVE UNTIL you are dead and literally cannot LOVE anymore.
*its okay to say, we hope there is an afterlife, but we do not know for sure, so we will not pretend we do.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I had a super proud secular homeschool mom moment—— far far removed from the mom who once touted how many scripture her children had memorized… I was studying different BAD arguments with my 11 year old. We moved to “argument based on irrelevant authority” and I had her create her own image to help her remember what this means. When I browsed her page my heart skipped a beat—- it’s that easy to help your child become a critical thinker!
This is a big deal. My hubs wanted me to have drinks with him. Being a former fundamentalist Christian, I still carry guilt over any alcohol consumption….and leaving my children for any length of time, but tonight I said, “Yes! Let’s do it!”
So we went to a lil joint that had live music and food and drinks. I had 3 Blue Hawaiians and while I enjoy a Crown and Coke on football night, this was different. I felt dizzy, light-headed even, giggly too. Thought I might just tumble down the stairs til my husband told me there weren’t any stairs, lol. Needless to say, I had him rolling more than once.
Most of all, I take away from the experience, how very excited I am about aging. I’m in my thirties and still not quite brave enough to dance to the live band. But!!!! There was a group of 50-70 year old ladies getting down. They asked me to join and I could not gather the gumption. It was beautiful to see them letting loose and showing us younger folk what a good time really looks like. From Sweet Home Alabama, to Jessie’s Girl, to Billie Jean, they didn’t care—- they let their hair down and their hips sway. I want to be like them someday soon. I really really wanna be like them.
I’m still learning how to let go of the guilt associated with having a good time that Christianity inherently places inside you. I’m still learning that it’s okay to “shake dat ass-“ even at 70, and that actually the best ass shakers were the 70 year olds. And I’m grateful for a husband and a sister who encourage me to live a little…
When the indoctrination came on in the form of a guilt-inducing whisper, I chose to silence it and just enjoy the moment with my husband, the music, and the drink. And that alone is a huge step in my letting go. Once upon a time I would have called that the Holy Spirit and I would’ve judged others who weren’t hearing that same call. Now I know better. Indoctrination is a tricky tricky liar, and I won’t let it fool me any longer.
Do you have any particular moments you recall, when you realized you were letting go of your indoctrinated belief systems? Share away!