Sunday, May 20, 2018

So, "what do you believe Stacie?" PART 2

I began this blog series to express my beliefs, not for those who are asking—for need of seeing if I am worthy, or if I fit into their boxes and expectations. But instead, I want to explain pieces of my faith for those who are in places of seeking a journey beyond what they have been told to believe. I want to speak to those who are questioning everything and perhaps just need to know that someone else is out there and can hear them—that someone else has had the same questions and thoughts and walked the same stones along the path.

Today, I want to share a bit about my past, and how I have chosen a new translation of that language to my future.

One of the biggest regrets I have in my life, are not only some of my previous beliefs, but the actions that I followed through on with those beliefs. Specifically, the judgement I cast on others in all sorts of ways because of the theologies I was being taught and was acting out.

I grew up in an evangelical tradition with very fundamentalist views. A byproduct of that culture, is an "us and them" mentality. A belief that you are somehow better than others, and you have a right to judge the actions and beliefs of others based on your specific theology and "priority" in God's world. There were great big lines of "right and wrong" that were drawn throughout all that I believed.

Though I know my friends still in that world may disagree, I can say these things confidently as someone who lived those beliefs for many, many years. I say it with humility and repentance to those whom I had wounded time and time again—I say these things in wide open examination in hope of change and movement towards greater love and inclusion.

To be fair, that judgement isn't just in church culture, it is in the world as a whole; absolutely. However, the world outside of western evangelicalism in many ways, tends to me much more accepting and tolerant, and a hell of a lot less judgemental when it comes to how they see and treat others who are indifferent to them. Something the western church could learn from the world around them.

You will find on my social media, and in conversations with me, that I have a wide variety of hearts in my life, who in turn, have a wide variety of belief systems. I associate with many different kinds of people and am willing to engage in conversations about what they believe and how it translates to who they are. I have learned much from those who follow the teachings of Buddha, those who use stones to calm their anxieties, and from those who walk without an attachment to a divine being at all.

One of the greatest things I have learned as I deconstruct my beliefs, is how to see more of the beautiful people on this earth as simply that; beautiful. To not tell them they are wrong according to what I believe, but to instead listen and learn a new way to see the world, and perhaps even apply some goodness and truth to my own life; things that I had not previously seen.

This open door, this lack of lines to be drawn in my life . . . it gets me in hot water all the time with certain groups. Some people need for me to affirm specific things to them in order for them to find me acceptable to be "friends" with. They want me to identify as "their" group or "their belief" before they will agree to listen, speak, or have relationship with me. For all of my open doors—there are countless closed and slammed doors I also receive. Being open comes with consequences.

That quick judgement we apply to people, it has a ragged way of dividing and killing. Every time I am judged because I choose to celebrate love and accept ALL in this world, it is a ragged line tearing in-between the relationship of myself and the one who is casting their opinions over me. Every time I share the wisdom of Lao Tzu, Buddha, Rumi, and others, certain people assume I must be "following" those belief systems and have abandoned a particular "truth." If I share a photo that has images other than those deemed "sacred" by some, I am unfollowed and become branded with labels instantly—I become umbrellaed with assumptions . . . and I hate that.

My core belief and truth, that which I use as a guiding light in terms of how I live life, how I treat others and myself; how I look at situations and problem solve—it is love. Four letters with huge implications. I live with a constant mantra that LOVE WINS. Everything is filtered through divine love, and NOT the kind that is pawned off as "justice" or "holiness." There is no wrath, anger, or rejection in the love of the Papa that I have come to know.

I am able to see "God", whom as you can see, I affectionately call Papa, in ALL things; even other belief systems. I believe that He/She can be found in ALL peoples, despite what their situation, their beliefs, their hope and dreams, or even their sexual orientation is. I believe that in ALL religions, Love Himself can and will find us, that His love is big enough to cross all boundaries and all conceptions of who God is—the conceptions that we as man have created and evolved.

Who am I to judge not only WHERE someone is on the path of life, but also HOW Papa can find them? We are all so unique!! We are born into different cultures with different traditions. We have upbringings that include unique histories and stories that shape our minds and spiritual beliefs. The Papa that I have come to know; He is big enough to be seen REGARDLESS of what that looks like.

I have friends in all walks of life, with all kinds of pasts and presents; with beauty in the uniqueness of their beliefs. Diverse faiths, diverse races, diverse identifications of sexuality. I have people near my heart who have opposing beliefs to me, and yet they are beautiful and we find wisdom in each other and can see Love in each of our lives. That diversity is what makes Papa even more appealing to me; because He made that person, and He is with that person in their unique places.

So when I speak of Papa, I speak of a God with no religious boundaries or denominations. I speak of a divine being who has carefully and thoughtfully crafted each of us, and walks with us on our unique path; even those that we as humans do not personally understand. I speak of a God who has no division of groups—those who belong and those who are cast aside. When I speak of Love Himself, I speak of a Universal being who created each who has ever and will ever live; not to judge us, but to hold us and embrace our indifference and our unique way of thinking and living life.

Just as judgement tears away at the fabric of relationships here on earth; the evidence of that in EVERY city and on EVERY newscast, so would judgement tear away at the relationship of the divine to the humanity if it was applied. Papa cannot hold judgement in His character and His actions towards us, for it would rip apart our relationship. The teachings that many religions tout sadly, is that exactly! That God has or is going to judge us, and in that, we are brought to a place in the divine/human relationship that is not deep and wide, and instead flat and fearful.

By seeing and knowing Papa as fully embracing to me, that He is not counting anything against me just as the world does; I am able to in turn, see my fellow man in the same light—fully accepting and honouring each, no matter what path they walk.

Judgement against man for simply finding their way in a world that is harsh and cold, for being lost in suffering at times and doing all that we can to find rest; even things that are not good for us, that is not something Papa carries within Him. He desires that we find rest and happiness, daily working for our best interest, that His love would be seen fuller and brighter for each step we take. He walks with us in the dirty stuff we bring upon ourselves and that which is poured over us by others. Yet He does not pick up a stone and cast it along side; He instead draws near and holds us, telling us, "I stand here with you."

If you need to judge, judge only your own thoughts and actions, for those are the only things you are in charge of. And if you need a friend, then here I am. I will embrace you no matter what you believe, I will stand with you when stones are thrown at you. But please know, I expect that you too will embrace me as well, with no labels or boxes that I must fit in. May you see me the same way Papa does; just as I am . . . beautiful and wonderfully made.

Monday, May 14, 2018

So, "what do you believe Stacie" PART 1

I fit no boxes. I can't be slapped with a certain label. I hold fast to no theology in full. I take no stance in one belief. And yet . . . I do have a solid belief and understanding in certain things. How is that for a "position". LOL

But people still ask, "what do you believe Stacie?" And I am forced to somehow explain my thoughts. 99% of the time the people who ask me this are those from within western Christianity. They want a map, an outline; a division of my beliefs. My answers always boil down to one word; Love, but that one word to many, is just not good enough. They want to know the lines and the borders. I don't have a lot of those anymore, I left that way of thinking when I left religion.

I thought perhaps I should write this series to explain my faith not to those who ask the question for need of seeing if I am worthy and if I fit in their boxes, but instead, I want to explain my faith for those who are still in religious boxes and are peeking out, beginning to see that Love Himself is beyond the box. I want to speak to those who are questioning everything and perhaps just need to know someone else out there can hear them and been where they are.

I grew up in evangelical teachings and that had been my whole life. I have a story. One that I share pieces with here and there. You can listen to part one of a podcast called MINDSHIFT where I share some of my thoughts. I wrote a book called, "The Resting Traveller, Into The Forest" where in poetry, allegory, metaphors, and stories, you see some of my beliefs and how I see "God" now. (I will touch on this a bit further down as well.)

But my thoughts are constantly evolving, as our my beliefs, EXCEPT for the largest and CORE belief; the one that I learned when leaving religion:  God is fully love with no exceptions, no loopholes, no divisions or segregations. He embraces ALL, not just some—with no rules of how that happens.

As my book is finding its way into more and more hands and hearts, as I am stepping out into the world of media and being interviewed, there is need for me to dive in further and share more behind the book and the backstory of my faith. There is need to share "what I believe" not for MY benefit, and honestly, not for the benefit of most people who are reading this. It is for the benefit of all those who are thinking of getting wet and leaving religion, KNOWING deep down there is more than what they have been seeing.

I don't need to defend my position because really, I just don't care anymore. :)  But I do need to share so that anyone out there who is where I have been . . . might be brave enough to come along and travel beyond religion into a deep, beautiful relationship that is actually free of yokes; not just in word but in deed.

Those who want the divisions and the boundaries of my beliefs, in order that they can decide if they should "follow me" . . . this that I write isn't for them. Though I am sure it will help them stay clear and tell everyone what a heretic I am. LOL

Some of my beliefs are found in my book. The Resting Traveller is about identity; of ones self and the God of love. It begins outside a forest where the character finds herself in deep suffering facing rejection, abandonment, loss, and loneliness. Great love begins to show Himself to her; allegorical writings that are open to the heart and mind to speak of the wonder of Love Himself.

The character is invited to travel into a mystical forest to discover the truth of her being; by first unveiling the truth of GODS being. It is a healing journey; it is a raw journey. The book ends with chapters that point her towards picking up old dreams and dusting off the treasures she left behind as religion told her they weren't for her. She finds her destiny . . . she is completely unveiled and transformed captured by a new love without the laws of man found in religion.

I have lived in fear for a long time. One of those fears were of the consequences of being my true self in a religion that was so easily judgemental and in rejection of those not found holy and in line with their "truths". My journey Into The Forest was a wandering through my fears to be faced with my beauty. I saw how marvellous the depths of me was, and I am learning to stand in the freedom of just living in the perfection of who we are and in the love that a divine Creator pours over us. I am learning that I need to be more ME, so that more people will see their own beauty.

Part of that, is this blog post and those that will follow. It is time for me to unleash more of my beauty; unleash words that reflect love and ONLY love.

I have this picture of a swimming pool in my head, and I stand on the edge of the diving board. I am scared to dive in, because once I do . . . there is no going back. Diving in, means fully releasing what I see and who I am—diving in means making a big splash that many will feel. Diving in means that I rise from the deep to find faces staring at me; either in applause and gratitude or display and rejection. It means that once I begin to share the depths of my understanding of who God is, I will certainly face harsh criticism and abandonment from certain communities.

Prior to this; I cared a lot about that. Now . . . not so much. It is time to dive in and share the stories of how religion twisted the great message of Love given by Papa God. I can't just write the book and leave it there. I am going to slowly unveil more and more here in the blog.

I now take the leap off the diving board and I choose to dive in speaking my beliefs outright and forthcoming. Not to defend; but to enlighten. To stir the waters; to do a cannon ball into the deep end and know that people are going to get wet.

I am going to show you the core of who I am and what I believe and you as the reader . . . you can take it or leave it. You can stand there as I jump off the board and take the splash with welcome and a desire to get fully wet too, OR . . . you can be disgusted that you got your garments wet with my beliefs and walk away cursing. Either way; I will dive. No matter what; I will rise and breathe in good clean life to my lungs and go under the waters of great Love for all, found in the name of Jesus and Papa. Regardless, I care for you and will not hold ill your decisions in my heart.

So, this is PART 1 of many. Stay tuned, only if you want to get wet.
Stacie Rae

Thursday, May 10, 2018

My Own #metoo

I have my own #metoo story. A small one compared to the tragedy of many other stories yes, but a big consequence in telling it, a large ripple when I dropped my rock into the pool.

People don't always know how to handle it when you tell them that someone growing in the family tree has been inappropriate with you in a sexual manner. It brings feelings of defence, shame, confusion and anger. Natural emotions that unfortunately too often become directed at the victim instead of the abuser—natural emotions that cloud the lines of right and wrong.

An elderly woman I know, recalls her own journey through sexual abuse at the hands of her father. She iterates to me the painful memories of telling her mother about the abuse she was enduring; to find herself punished, shamed, scorned, and left in even more situations with her father . . . and effort to prove that this young girl was making it all up.

When rumours of other children being molested at the hands of her father surfaced, even having an enraged member of the community confront her father, this woman's mother still did not step in to protect and defend. Instead, she ignored the problem further by pretending not to hear her daughter cries when father would grab her in the kitchen as mother folded laundry on the line. Her mother even blaming her daughter for the abuse, it was her looks and young appearance that was an evil temptation.

To this day, this woman finds it difficult to have healthy relationships with men, for the model of a true man who was kind, respectful, and honouring was never something she was witness and participant to in her lifetime. Even in her marriage, she was physically abused and treated as an object. She suffers from identity issues and self worth, no concept of the truth of who she is as a valued, treasured being.

I can totally relate to the shame and the scorning as I came out with my story of being touched inappropriately. A man with place at the family table had repeatedly, and ever so casually, touched me in the backside and on the breasts. Just enough to not cause suspicion and to still be considered innocent—just enough to make the hairs on my entire body stiff as I felt helpless and backed into an awkward corner made of family obligation.

I decided to share of this event with a member of the family tree looking for an ear to hear and also a warning of what was occurring. . . my plea was dismissed, my story and my personhood were vilified. In circles of gossip and underground talks, I became the abuser somehow. My story became the knife to the family and I was cast with all kinds of labels including liar, trouble maker, and untrustworthy. People began to look at ME strangely. People began to hover around this branch on the family tree to protect him from me . . . it was the most upside down behaviour.

"It's simply not possible, he is this in the community and he has done all that for so many!" No one would look at this man in any other light than perfect and holy, it was me who was dirty and in need of reprimand. It was me who was inappropriate, for how dare I say such a thing.

From that moment, I had to stand taller than ever before, because I had to be part of a family tree who were speaking behind my back and ignoring my truths . . . I had to be on guard as one lonely warrior, brave enough to say "No, your hands do not belong there" and still sit at the family table and eat with my oppressors and my abuser.

But then a friend said something I will never forget. She said, "Even though they are ignoring this and refuse to believe you, you can bet your last dollar that they are going to watch their little girls closer, and eye ball his hands when they are near."  It was a small comfort that at least a seed had been planted that could potentially stop any further abuse, however great or small.

And that was the key for me. That was my #metoo right there. The movement is all about encouraging others to stand up and say "NO. You will not do that" because someone dared to say, "#metoo."

So for every little girl and each elderly woman, and all the tender hearts in between, to those who have found themselves in situations where another human has asserted their own sexual desires over the boundaries and barriers of love and decency . . . this is my #metoo.

For my own truth and the trauma of being innocent and yet devised as guilty, to my bravery and my strength to stand amid shadows . . . to me I write this and I say #metoo.