The latest: A Time to Keep and a Time to Throw Away

 

 

 

I’m looking over my early notes for “Turn, Turn, Turn” – pages of thoughts, phrases, ideas, scriptures and references I hoped to turn into something of value. Some of my posts stayed true to the early scripts; others found a new voice and direction, and departed from the originals. Now I’m wondering what to do with the sections left undone, and how to wrap the whole thing up in a big bow and consider it finished. I think it’s time to skim the cream and toss the whey.

I have a section on Trust Issues – “A time to refrain from embracing” – yet to be written. The notes centre on trusting God in the face of unemployment, looming debt, and having no vision for the future. There’s a happy drawing of a little heart and “incredible lightness of being” next to the word “Kelowna’. I thought all our troubles would melt away with a fresh start in a new city – but other worries and troubles have rushed in to fill the worry pools. Of course, Jesus tells us to expect problems: “In this world you will have troubles”; yet we should “be of good cheer, for {He} has overcome the world”.

Yet still I worry. Will He see me through an impending bereavement, my spouse’s declining health, my child’s uncertain future, our lack of retirement funds? I’m still working on keeping up my part of the deal: being of good cheer in the face of daily anxiety and ongoing troubles. Once I get there, it’s another leap to ‘consider it pure joy’, as James describes our ideal response to trials and tribulations. *

There’s a bevy of reasons for me to worry about oh-so-many things – real and imagined — but I know that trusting God should supersede all. My motto, mantra, and life raft for this year is “God Will Provide”: Abraham’s words of faith as he prepared to obey God’s command to sacrifice his child of promise, Isaac, in utter contradiction to Abraham’s every instinct and desire. What a response, and what a sublime answer to any and every challenge that comes our way!

Of course, as soon as I chose those words to be my stronghold, all my challenges seemed to snowball. If the worst wasn’t already happening, it was surely coming my way! How could I NOT be troubled? I repeat my mantra – God will provide — over and over, but ‘practical’ Marilyn wants to know in advance how God is planning to come through. And whether, maybe, He needs my help. I know that wanting to know the details is not pure faith, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I understand that. But I can’t seem to get it, once and for all.

So maybe I’m under-qualified to write about trust – though I could write reams about ‘trust issues’… if anyone cares.

Today, with a smidgeon of confidence (a mustard seed = enough), I affirm that God will ultimately get me through these riptides of trouble and looming grief. Yet I want to ask, “How much will it hurt?” “How long will it last?” and, “Any chance of a rewrite or a dial-down on some of these?”

Another section I have yet to write is subtitled “Losing My Religion”. It’s all about how I stopped going to church for a while, visited other churches for insight and inspiration, and tried to wipe the slate clean after twenty+ years in the same church culture. I believe it was a necessary part of my journey, and I’d recommend it for others who need a similar reboot. If nothing else, such a break yields a fresh perspective you’ll not get by never venturing outside the lines. I can already sense the hackles rising on some readers; it’s a dangerous, some might say, unthinkable concept for those who’ve been taught there’s only one place to be on Sunday morning. But for some, it might be the right next step. Consider it a trial separation. If your heart and your intellect lead you back to where you started, you know that’s where you’re meant to be. You’ll value what you have, and what you’ve learned by stepping away. And you’ll clearly see the good, the bad, the odd, the essential, and the questionable – in the old and the new. I think that’s a good thing, and not something to be feared. But it should be taken as a step of faith, not defiance.

Also, it was good for my soul to see new faces, hear fresh voices, listen to different kinds of sermons, and be moved by presentations on meaningful benevolence work taking place locally and overseas. This good news encouraged me and brightened my world view. It made me happy to hear how lives were being changed and enhanced in the name of Jesus. As Paul wrote, “Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.” Bring on the good news! Most Sundays, I walked away with something new to think about – which I consider a good thing.

Maybe that’s all I need to say about ‘losing my religion”. Except this: coming back to my ‘roots’ after a significant time away and hearing the same songs, sung in the same way, without variation or fresh inspiration, was like being stuck in a terrifying time warp that made me want to run screaming from the building. So there’s that, if anyone in a position to benefit from this personal observation wants a hot tip. There’s a lot to be said for freshness and innovation, even as our core values remain constant. We rail against ‘tradition’, and yet have become so tradition-bound over the years. Guess what? There’s a plethora of spiritual music, old, new, and in-between, waiting to be sampled and sung, to refresh our spirits and deepen our worship of God. Cognitively speaking, we need to keep adding new things to our lives to ward off depression and dementia. I think the same is true spiritually; the truth is eternal, but how we express it should never get stale.

I did (figuratively speaking) run screaming from the building. I needed fresh music and fresh preaching. I needed to feel unstuck in as many aspects of my life as possible. So I changed whatever I was capable of changing, and asked God to transform the rest. And then He opened the door for us to move to a new city and a new fellowship….with plenty of ‘change challenges’ to keep me from growing complacent. So here we are, trials and troubles close behind.

On a final note, there’s a page in my old notes where I listed “Things I Did Wrong”, “Things that were Therapeutic”, and “Things that Greatly Complicated my Healing”. (Notice how readily I blame myself for not healing faster? Classic Marilyn. Even my dreams berate me.) I’ll be open and share the lists with you:

Things I Did Wrong, or rather, Things that Weren’t Helpful:
– Isolating myself from old friends (this was partly geographical, but mostly intentional. I didn’t know what to tell people.)
– Shutting down and being slow to make new friends. (Not my true nature, but typical of depressed people.)
– Ceasing to pray and read the Bible over long stretches – since both made me cry—a lot!
– Keeping my past (ICOC life) a secret from my new friends. (Where to even begin??)
– Not acknowledging to myself how badly I was doing and feeling; being numb and in denial.(Maybe the truth was too hard to handle for a while… a long while.)

Things that were Therapeutic:
– Daily walking, running, biking, or hiking in the beautiful coastal mountains and beside a peaceful, salmon-blessed river.
– Writing poetry that expressed what I couldn’t put into words otherwise.
– Blogging and reaching out to others through writing (thanks, dear readers!)
– Attending a different church and being ‘anonymous’ for a change.
– Developing new skills and a new career.
– Reading lots of memoirs and connecting with others through their stories.
– Letting my three lovely pets comfort and calm me when I felt lost and alone.
– Starting a women’s Friday night Bible study/friendship group with the goal of being real, open, and supportive. Then being that way.

And finally, the hardest list to share: Things that Complicated my Healing:
– Family dynamics fused with various mental health issues (including mine).
– On-going money pressures; periods of unemployment and unsteady income.
– Not seeking medical help for my depression much sooner than I did.
– Not having anyone who really ‘knew’ me (from earlier years) to talk with.
-Lack of a support group with others going through similar struggles.

So, there’s the cream worth keeping, and the rest I’ll toss away. I plan to continue blogging, but not necessarily with this series – unless more that needs saying comes to the surface – which could happen. Or upon specific requests from my readers… I always welcome feedback and sharing, and will listen to whatever you want, or need, to say. Thank you all for your comments and encouragement throughout this journey!

Most of all, I want to thank God for seeing me through these many years of troubled waters. He has provided. He will provide. And I know that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of change”.**

Even when it seems like darkness, darkness everywhere, from the inside out.

*James 1: 2
**James 1: 17

12 replies »

  1. This isn’t what I expected…but I think it’s how you really do need to close this chapter. The present needs your attention: there’s so much happening. Besides, creativity needs to flow freely…not with a burden of obligation.

    Warmth is on the way…and the flowers are coming.

    p.s. You have 3 pets? I met one!

    Like

    • It’s not what I expected to write, either, but it’s what came when I sat down to write. Can’t wait for spring — even though I know we shouldn’t complain about the weather, compared to the rest of the country. And yep — I have 2 adorable cats as well as Casper. Maybe you’ll meet them next time you’re here!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Something I struggled with was feeling like I was personally responsible for helping out others I felt were trapped. Nobody helped me out, the Lord led me out, and I went searching for Him elsewhere. He promised, “You will seek me and find me if you seek me with all of your heart.”

    Paul also wrote, “test everything and hold on to what is good.” Its not possible to test anything if you have nothing to test, and I found looking for things to test very rewarding. I went looking for God in places I would never previously have thought to look, I stopped focussing on the differences between different groups and started focussing on what they had in common.

    While the Rock on which I stand is Jesus, by holding on to good things others believe I was able to include them in my world view of those who could qualify as being my brothers and sisters, and the Rock grew a whole lot bigger, giving me more freedom to explore. I looked past the isms of Universalism and Preterism and Arianism (as examples) and read what they believe to see if I could find anything good there. I did, and I continue to read works of people who were branded as heretics by the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    I am waiting for my copy of Michael Servetus’s book “Restitution of Christianity” to arrive. Michael Servetus was betrayed to be burned at the stake by John Calvin, after attending one of John Calvin’s services. Jesus said “by their fruit you will recognise them”, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. Jesus would not burn anyone at the stake, but He would let us burn Him at the stake, as He let us crucify Him. Anyone who believed something that got him burned at the stake by the Enemy, must have had something right, but I won’t know until I test it, I won’t know until I open my mind to objectively consider his arguments and logic, and decide for myself whether or not what he teaches seems good to me.

    I’ve probably said this before, but I am having the time of my life at the moment, I was just made redundant and I hope to use the time to write a book about my experiences. I have recovered from bipolar 1 disorder, depression and anxiety are no longer issues for me, all praise be to God. I also recovered from believing that God had turned His back on me, and that I could never be restored to Him, which is probably the worst thing anyone could believe. I have been blessed beyond what I could imagine, I never thought that life could be this good, I have seen my psychiatrist 3 times since I stopped taking my medication at the end of January last year, and he is happy for me to continue without medication and only wants me to see him every 6 months.

    I am doing a lot of reading on early church history and what I am discovering is amazing, especially searching down the narrow paths, not those adhered to by orthodoxy. I have a keen interest in Platonism in particular, as the people to whom Jesus spoke were Hellenized (Platonist, Aristotelean) Jews. It was the orthodox Jews that opposed Jesus, the Pharisees, and Jesus did not speak out against anything in the teachings of Plato, but tore apart the Pharisees. I’m discovering a whole new world I did not know existed, my Rock gets bigger every day, I have a lot of room to move around.

    Pythagoras, the man who coined the term “philosophy”, was a Jew. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (who taught Alexander the Great, who made the Jews Hellenic) were also followers of Pythagoras. I am finding the bible making much more sense, simply by reading philosophy and learning more about Greek mythology, in which I find allegories of Christ. The minds of those who heard Jesus were Greek.

    There is so much more to discover…

    God bless you!

    Like

    • Sounds like you are exploring far and wide… I’m glad to hear you are having the time of your life! Hope the journey continues to get better and better for you.

      Like

  3. Dear Dear Marilyn, I love you very much! Thanks for telling us so much, you are amazingly eloquent. Have you read “reimagining Church” by Frank Viola? You might find some jewels there or at least food for thought. Love to Henry.

    Like

    • Thanks again, Mary, for your love and encouraging comments. I’ll keep my eyes open for the book you recommend. Hope all is well with all the Allisons!

      Like

  4. Thanks for this series Marilyn. It has been great to be allowed access to some of your thoughts and struggles and to hear how you have come through them. There is so much you say that resonates with me.
    I am so grateful that we reached a point where we needed to leave South Africa. We moved somewhere too far from ICOC to really belong so we didn’t. It was scary initially but I think it has been the best thing for me. The distance allowed me to see with new eyes and to gain new perspectives without the stifling legalism and fundamental approach that was hard-wired into me.
    I love how M Scott Peck speaks about spiritual development. He says we go through stages where we need the safety of the rules and the group and then we become a bit rebellious and need to find our own way and then settle into maturity. Not sure where I am at the moment – probably still in the rebellious teenage phase!
    I am so enjoying the daily meditations of a man called Richard Rohr who is a Franciscan monk.
    If you are ever in the UK I would so love to meet up. LOTS of love to you and Henry x

    Like

    • Wendy, it’s lovely to hear from you and to catch a glimpse of your journey since we were together in SA. That was SO many lifetimes ago! I would love to see you again; who knows when we might wind up in the UK? Stranger things have happened to the Krietes! Lots of love to you and Darren, too. I’ll see if I can find any of Rohr’s writings.

      Like

  5. Hi Marilyn! It’s mysterious where God leads me…he led me to your blogs. I’m so glad you’re still writing. I can’t put into words, yet, what I’m feeling as I’ve just read so much of your journey. I’m still with the ICOC here in Philadelphia. God has healed me a lot from happenings in the church and childhood as well. But something is stirring within me that led me to you. I’m not sure I ever fully processed everything. Thank you for voicing your process. It reopens a conversation that needs to happen between me and my Father in Heaven.

    Like

    • You are so welcome, Tracy. Please feel free to share more feedback as you continue reading. I’d love to hear what resonates and what He’s teaching you!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: