Before I started writing this letter, I was in a foul mood. Just angry at God and everybody and the horses they rode in on. I was shaking with sadness and grief, your description of cortisol and sin coursing through my body like rapids on the Colorado because I complained to a friend that it was difficult seeing my ex-wife, one where loving each other turned out not to be enough, wishing my parents a merry Christmas and not me. I moved to DC shortly after the break-up because I needed a physical boundary, knowing that her parents live here and that even if our paths could not be parallel, at least they could be perpendicular.
But we are not in a space where that is even possible right now, as much as I might want it. A friend told me that indeed, she was in DC, and I told her that I really didn’t want to know that because then I had to deal with the fact that she is two hours away instead of over a thousand miles. My friend did not mean to hurt me, because she thought that I’d at least know my ex was coming.
I did not.
She apologized for putting a kink in my day, but she didn’t need to. If I really want this perpendicular path, things like this are going to happen from time to time and I have to deal with it the best way I know how… going on a walk and listening to you preach.
As I was walking, sin and cortisol melted into the same “fire in the belly” that you carry, the one that needs a king who wipes out ISIS and Al Queda and Boko Haram and the people that canceled Firefly after 14 episodes (I’m a Browncoat as well). Now it is Christmas Day, and the king we need as we fall on our knees is here.
[Just as an aside, the line about being into Sandi Patti as a kid is the gayest thing you’ve ever heard made me snort soda through my nose… hilarious and…. accurate.]
I walked for over 40 minutes, and listened to several sermons that resonated with me. The two men that preached were both excellent, and I am sorry that I do not know their names…. although when one said that seven years ago, he’d been a woman named Mary, I thought, “maybe that’s Asher!”
However, the sermon I needed to hear was the one on Christ the King Sunday, because today I need a savior so desperately… a savior that will comfort me in my distress and distress me out of my comfort. A savior that will take my cortisol and sin and turn it into a forest fire of belief that healing myself is about giving to others… being able to put my life into perspective that this pain is only temporary. That I will move on, letting go and even if I am not happy about it, time will pass, anyway.
Prevenient grace is God’s gift to me and what I do with it is my gift to God, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t dragging me by the ear, kicking and screaming while the violent wind of that Holy Spirit is trying to talk to me, trying to tell me that through the power of Christ, I am bigger than this grief. I am bigger than this anger. I am bigger than this sadness. I am just, well, more than I am right now if I will just listen. If I will just stop with my own rumination on the past to make room for the future because it will be everything I have dreamed if I let it.
Letting it is where I trip. We all get caught in our worthlessness loops and I am no different. My ex-wife told me two things that got my attention. The first was that I would never amount to anything. The second is that she thought I had the capability to lead millions, and she was kind of jealous. In moments of worthlessness, I think that not amounting to anything is quite accurate. When I get out of that loop that says I am incapable and start to see the future, I see myself in that dream of maybe not leading millions, but at least one that leads to two and two that leads to four and so on and so on.
In my hours of need, I know I already have my one. His name is James, and he was the first to say flat out, I will follow you. It was a sincere moment of falling on my knees because I knew that he was not talking about my personality, but my ability to lead with holy authority instead of my own ego, which constantly needs to be knocked down a peg, so I have that friend, too. She said, I don’t do church or organized religion. I said, I don’t need you for that. I need you so that when I start talking to God, I don’t start to believe I AM one. She called me a judgmental dickhead once. She’s doing her job very, very well… and also stunned me into complete silence by saying simply, I don’t believe in God. But I do believe in you.
These are my people, just like you have yours. But since James was the first to throw down and exclaim his belief, I named my religious organization, St. James and All Sinners, after him. It’s not a church… yet… but will be once I am ordained. There is no building. It exists online…. and yet, I know for sure that people are reading my sermons and taking them in. We will have a building one day, and for me, that staircase is starting to take shape.
[Another aside… I hadn’t heard about HFASS when I named it… it just fit because my people in DC are just like your people in Denver. Also, I lovingly call HFASS “hf-ass.” It is anything but, and yet it makes me laugh every time.]
I just wanted to thank you for helping me, as I was walking along in the wind and the rain, to remember WHO I AM. I am a servant to the baby born today, living and growing with him as he turns from infant to petulant tween into a preacher so great we quote him 2,000 years later.
It hasn’t been 2,000 years since you started preaching, but I certainly love quoting you. You are with me in tears of laughter so great that I can’t even get sound out, as well as tears when I realize that what you’ve said is so important to my own growth and development. I have so much gratitude for the gifts that you’ve given me, just by being you.
I will close by saying that because of you, I know for sure that as a tattooed lesbian with punk rock hair I have a place in ministry. Because my vision is not complete, when I noticed that one of my friends always writes with long ellipses, I took it to heart. I am not just praying with words, but on the spaces in between as well……………………………
Thank you for filling one of them.