leaving (part 2)

I have stopped trying to be good and right, to fall in line and follow the rules. I have thrown away my former identities and associations in search of myself, my path, and God. Yes, from the outside it might look like leaving. Period. (To some, perhaps without redemption.) But so far in my experience, this kind of leaving is finding. I couldn’t imagine (nor do I want to) having stayed. Because I left, I am free to stop trying, let go, and surrender. I am free to explore other voices and other beliefs or no beliefs at all. Though much of what I believe remains the same, the implications change, and I hold them with open hands, a soft heart. I am free to sift through the past and (re)examine what I’ve taken for granted. No one is looking over my shoulder or judging my actions. By no one I don’t mean God. It’s funny, isn’t it. How that sense of judgment and guilt and shame and fear never was or is actually God, just others, or ourselves. Now that I do not hold myself accountable primarily to others and the systems and structures from which they speak, that sense slowly falls silent. If it resurfaces, it’s only when I revert back to “what if I’m wrong” or “what would he/she/they think or say” or “how would they react” and so on. When it’s merely me and God, there’s an affirmation: “You’re doing okay. Keep going.” I feel free, accepted, loved. I sense love and grace and belonging. It seems too good to be true. It’s as if the more I stop pretending to be who I am not (even if it is “right”), the more I’m connected to and aware of God. Even if I have temporarily distanced myself from many of the “good” things that once made me someone—to others, myself, and God—there is no distance from God. How can it be? It doesn’t add up. I timidly remind God, “Hey there, I’m something of an outsider now, and according to many, you shouldn’t still be here, I shouldn’t still be experiencing you.” But God is, and I am. Before, I didn’t realize how much I linked my performance, actions, behavior, beliefs, and faith with belonging. And now just the belonging remains when I’ve let go of all the rest. It’s as if I subconsciously assumed the reality of belonging would leave when I left the rest. But it hasn’t. If anything, it’s increased. How do I explain this? What am I to make of it? It doesn’t correspond with what I once “knew,” who I once was.

There is at present a rest I hardly ever experienced when I was trying to be “good” or “right.” It doesn’t fit in my old framework. It doesn’t add up in my old context. For every word on how we didn’t deserve or earn this belonging there was another if not more on how we better get it, keep it, maintain it. So much of it was up to us and before realizing it I said “enough of this, I’m done.”

But God wasn’t. And isn’t. To God it meant something entirely different. If I had to guess, he might have chuckled and said, “Ah yes, finally. Here you are. Now that you’re over yourself (and your old self) we can begin something new.” And what if it’s something better?

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