We finally made it to church yesterday. It’s been a while. I don’t usually talk about it either. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written about it, and it’s only in whispers of perceived like minded people that I speak of going to church at all. I don’t like the stigma behind “church” or “religion”. I don’t really like being associated with “Christians” or other church-goers. But I believe in God.
I have doubts. A lot of doubts. And even more questions. But I don’t doubt that there is something greater than me at work. I mean, there is a baby growing inside of me right now. A life, a being that will live and breathe, that has a soul, that will and is already changing the world around him. And it all started from a few cells. Science, you’re so cool, and I love you too! You’ve made it possible for me to know what the process is for this little life growing within me. You’ve made it possible for me to hear my baby’s heart, and see his little body grow. But, you can’t explain everything. You’ve got the method, but there is something working behind the scenes. And it changes everything.
The message yesterday finally helped bring some peace to a problem I’ve had with religion for quite a while. The sermon was centered around this verse:
New International Version (NIV)
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
I’ve been to a few different churches who have used this passage to support a few different messages. Two were particularly frustrating for me. The first was sometime after 9/11, & I heard it being used as a call to arms–to support going to war “against the powers of darkness in this world.” I’m not saying that the attacks of 9/11 were not dark or powerful or from some place so ugly that I don’t understand it. But I hate that the Bible has been used as a means to support violence towards of others of any kind in any way. The second troublesome message had to deal with the daily “battles” that we all face against the sin and destruction all around us. And again, I’ve fought my fair share of battles. Mostly against my own self loathing. But in that same week, I saw “Christian” friends putting on that ARMOR and fighting the BATTLE against other “sinners”. Silent or not silent judgement was passed over and over in their battle, with their armor of TRUTH. They were the chosen, holy ones, after all; they got the message.
But this message wasn’t about either of those things. This message focused on the core message of Jesus’ life. A life meant to show LOVE, and not just any love, transformative love. The love of that changes us and shapes the way we see and interact with our world. The love of God. If you read the passage carefully, our Pastor pointed out, you see that the armor isn’t for the typical kind of battle. It’s a belt of TRUTH, a breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, feet fitted with READINESS for PEACE. Not for battle, not for war. PEACE.
So back to my own battles. I’m sorry if this sounds like –enough about that, here’s more about me! It’s just, I don’t know your “battles” and bruises. I do know we all have them. In case any of you have fought the same battle with self-loathing, maybe this will help? Because I tried to get help for my disordered eating. My parents tried. I sought counseling. I read a library of self-help books. I took SAM-e. I practiced (and still do practice) yoga. I tried meditation. I did energy work and angelic healing. I dabbled with non-attachment meditations. I’ve tried acupuncture. I fell in love. I allowed someone to love me.
Some things helped me to heal more than others. Yoga changed my life. It opened up a chance for me to sit still and be present with my body, when before I spent sooo much time and effort in being disconnected from my body. I learned to better understand its rhythms and love what it could do for me. I learned how to nourish it, how to make it feel strong and alive. I didn’t learn to trust it though. Even in the midst of being present with my body, I was still struggling.
Falling in love with my husband has been a huge spiritual gift & lesson. Allowing him see me completely and trusting that he would love me has changed me. It didn’t happen overnight. It’s still unfolding, still shaping and molding me. It also hasn’t been an easier lesson than previous heartaches. Love isn’t an easy lesson to learn. Or maybe I am a stubborn student.
But now there is new love for this new little life growing within me. There is a realization that there is a much bigger picture. There is a knowing that I am experiencing the biggest miracle I have ever known. And my self-loathing seems silly in the face of something so profoundly beautiful. Something so amazingly raw. The love that I have for this little being is helping me to understand the love that my parents have for me, to trust in the love my husband gives, to trust in a God who has given me this chance. And to let this love transform me enough to take this chance, this moment–and share it with you.
There is not war or battle I have to fight–outside or within me. Let there be peace on Earth, but let it begin with me. And let me remember that the peace I feel now comes from a God who loves me enough to change and shape me through this process of being pregnant, through being a mother. I am so grateful. So lucky. And I can’t wait to see what other lessons are waiting in the wings.
Thanks for reading.
With Love from Colorado,