hello dear readers!
i have diligently posted something here every day lately, not that i have a goal or challenge to do that, but i just like to check in, provide a tidbit of inspiration, and leave a few thoughts. i truly, truly enjoy it. but i don’t feel like i’ve really written something meaningful (or long-winded, as some of you may say. hehe) in a while. or i feel like i have been super busy. and i have. and i haven’t had time. my desire to blog & write has been strong. but my motivation has not. now that i’m all cozy at home this sunday evening, and have had the perfect few hours to do nothing but write, all i feel is exhaustion. like i need and want to be a vegetable. and yet, thoughts swirl around in my head. but, when i write a sermon (which i did yesterday) and deliver it aloud (which i did today), it sucks the life out of me. it is amazing, but it drains me.
so, here’s what i’ve done instead. i have had a few glasses of wine. munched on nachos. listened to a beyonce documentary that my love watched. snuggled with the cat. talked with my parents – multiple times. had some tea. read a little. but, writing? i have done none.
as i have been sitting here like a lump on a log, i’ve been able to process today a little. and i have to say that today at work was pretty cool. there were 6 women who were leading the service at the church, so it was definitely a girl power kinda day. and out of the 6 of us, we represented 5-6 generations. super rad, i think. i was inspired by the women leading through reading & prayers. they took their time, read with passion and emotion, so we could sit back & soak up the words. and then there were the 2 ladies who played the piano & organ… so talented & dedicated to what they do. and finally, my love. yes, my love was part of the service today. she sang 3 songs, which were so touching for me & for others, bringing some people to tears. her voice, the way she sings – with such confidence, emotion, and strength – i felt safer, more inspired, just listening to her.
and then there was me. the preacher girl.
i always wonder how people will take it when i preach and talk. the standing up in front of people part is easy, even for this introvert. it’s because it’s like talking about something i have written here, so it’s just natural. but, i always worry… do i make sense in what i say? am i saying it too much? is it relevant to life? can people relate? how does it help the one person who may be sitting there who is facing the death of a loved one? and let’s not even get into all the swedish screw-ups i fear that i make. it’s a really humbling job. i feel as if i am bearing my soul. and i am. and i hope that whatever message i am sending is one that is faithful to the truth of love – because that’s what all my sermons boil down to. that we are all loved, just as we are. that life is all about love. relationships. and hope.
today’s theme was especially challenging though. it wasn’t all fluffy & lovey-dovey. it was an in your face kind of theme. a “suck it up because life sucks sometimes” kinda theme. a message of of suffering, tests, and trials.
for those of who you are not christian, the season of lent began last wednesday, so today was the first sunday in lent. lent is a strange, dark, penitential, contemplative period of 40 days before easter (the highlight of christianity). it is a remembrance of the 40 days that jesus spent alone in the desert, faced with temptations. suffering. cold. alone. hot. in pain. hungry. and oh so tempted to leave his faith behind.
for those of us today who “celebrate” lent, it is an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the world’s mystics, gurus, & spiritual leaders by turning inward. a time to reflect on who we are and who we want to be.
today’s focus was on the fact that life is tough. really tough sometimes. and those tough times are inevitable. but, we learn who we are because of the tough times. we have a decision… are we gonna keep the faith & fight on, or are we gonna let the darkness swallow us up.
speaking of tough times, it was tough to stand today and be the one who verbally stated all the things that i am certain all, or most, of us think. like… why? why is life so tough? and can we really believe in a god that is loving and good when there is so much violence, war, injustice, poverty, hunger, and hopelessness in the world?
yes, i stood in front of all of these people today and said, “does God even really exist?”. as those words came out of my mouth and bounced off the tall, cream-colored walls of the church, it was as if my words echoed in my head for about 5 minutes. i wondered if the walls would crumble. or if lightening would strike (not that i believe in that kind of stuff, but still). what minister questions the existence of god? and what minister does it out loud, in church? well, this one does, apparently.
the walls did not crumble, no body walked out, and lightening did not strike. but, that is perhaps because i tried to explain myself. i admitted that i don’t have the answers to the tough questions… i just have more questions. but, i have hope. i see it in the stories handed down through the years about people who have been on their own, long, difficult journeys in life. people who have faced their demons and their fears, suffered through so much, and come out the other side more secure in who they are. stronger. the suffering and pain transformed them and made them more secure in themselves.
i myself have experienced how suffering & pain are transformative. just read my posts in my memoir that i am (slowly) writing on the blog, from death to peace. every bit of my story is about living through difficult times, so difficult that, as i examined myself and went through those dark periods, i had to let something inside me die. but, because of that death, a new life… a life where i was more me, more sure, more aware, more alive, was waiting on the other side.
we see this hope and transformation in nature too.
a butterfly is transformed from an ugly, little caterpillar to something beautiful & delicate. but that doesn’t happen without a period of going within its cocoon. and the trees of the earth. the turn brown, die, and fall to the ground. the trees are left naked, twisted, and bare. and yet, one day, we see tiny little buds appear. and hope returns. and then, the leaves appear. those beautiful bright green leaves that dance in the wind.
from suffering & death comes life. from our struggles & our pain, we become new people.
so, yes, all the crap exists. yes, i still question where god is when the shit hits the fan. yes, i feel alone. abandoned. and scared. and no, thank you. i do not want to willingly go through difficult times. i do not always want to look inward & see the dingy reflection of myself staring back at me, warts & all.
but, i will.
and i will focus on it for the next 40 days. i will endure these days of introspection. i will honestly try to see where i have been, where i am, and where i hope to go. and i will be faithful. faithful to myself. to being who i am made to be. to chasing my dreams and to living life to the fullest. keeping hope alive, even when i feel as if i am left out in the desert. all alone.
well, i guess i needed to get all that out. how’s that for getting some writing done? hehe.
Thank you for taking the time to write all of this out – it is very encouraging.
thank you for saying that! it truly means alot to me. 🙂
Great words, Liz. I’m glad you managed to get one of the “long-winded” posts out, because they’re often my favorites. 🙂
I think it’s awesome that you stood in the pulpit and admitted your doubts. It’s unrealistic for Christians to think that they’re somehow deficient if they have doubt sometimes, and the fact that pastors so rarely acknowledge the reality of doubt makes people think they don’t ever deal with it. Getting it out there in the open is a really important thing, not only for you in terms of self-knowledge but also for the people in the congregation so that they can start finding out how to deal with their doubts rather than trying to suppress them.
thanks carissa!!! i am so thankful for your comments of support. 🙂
thanks for reading!!! hope everything is going well for you!
You’re right. It all comes down to hope – through the sucky bits! I’m lately trying to learn to sit with it, instead of fighting it… Like you say. Process.