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.