DE-LIGION

Believe it or not, I once “spoke in tongues”. I did. I swear! I was raised “non-denominational/Pentecostal” from the time I was 11 and boy could I tell you some stories. I was exorcised TWICE. I got a concussion from a “healing” preacher after he laid hands on me, shoving me into the hard concrete floor.  And I was the wife of a Worship Pastor.

Before finding that church, I was a tested and told that I had Telepathy and ESP. I had dreams that would come true. I would see and talk to “spirits” and “angels” and was very intuitive. My parents were excited and proud and I felt that my gifts were normal. That is, until my best friend’s mom, who attended the above referenced church, told my mom that my gifts were “demonic” and I needed help. (This same woman, lived in a VERY abusive relationship (and still does as far as I know) with a man who once literally beat her over the head with a Bible once, in front of me and his children, while yelling, “The Bible says ‘women obey your husbands’”.)

Suddenly, my dreams were bad and I felt like I was cursed with these gifts. I became ashamed of them. I didn’t tell anyone about my continued dreams. I spent a LOT of time walking the woods behind my house and being mad at myself for having these horrible powers. I tried to push them away. I tried to ignore them. I tried everything to shut down all of the things that made me, ME! I would lie awake in my bed, at night, and tell myself how much I hated myself and try to will myself not to have another dream.  I became a deeply depressed and conflicted teenager. I wrote poetry, and now when I look back at it, it is seriously disturbing.

I tried to “fit in”. I went to church regularly, engaged in the youth activities and surrounded myself with good, Christian friends. I dove deep and then deeper, trying anything to hide the real me. The only problem was, that at the end of the day, I wasn’t being me. Not really. I was being a Jesus-covered, fake version of me—resisting my normal talents and trying to hide them with religion. And, I did this for years. For 19 years, to be exact. And it was MISERABLE.

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During my journey of repression, I continually beat myself up anytime I cussed, hated someone or had a dream. I was told those were not of “the Lord”. I judged others, harshly, and stayed in my safety bubble, hoping not to get tainted by non-believers. In this Pentecostal world, there were plenty of psychotic and mentally unstable people. The beauty of “walking in the Spirit” is that you can act however you want and then say “God told me to.” Like the time a jealous wife of a church leader told me how horrible I was because I kissed my husband on the cheek during communion and that because she was a prophet it was her job to tell me how much God was disappointed in me. It is important to note, that this exact woman’s husband left her shortly after for another man and is happily gay in Atlanta now. And FREE. Or how about the time I spent the night at a friend’s house and was groped under a blanket by and older youth leader and told “God wants me to love you and it’s not sexual, it’s just my spiritual way of expressing that love”. Or better yet, a couple that we hung out with that got divorced and he is thankfully behind bars because he said “God gave him sons to molest”. And he did. Regularly.

While in church leadership, I saw many kinds of hypocrisy and ludicrous behaviors. We met weekly with our Pastor who told us that we needed to do songs about “tithing” because he wanted to take his family on vacation. We saw people screwed over continuously for speaking their minds against him. We saw him elevated and transformed into telling people he was no longer a Pastor but an Apostle. And now, he is Atheist, lives in Texas and probably looks back hating who he was.

I am not writing this to bash the church or Christianity. I have zero interest in that. I am simply telling you my story–my background, so that you can better understand me. I can honestly say that I am no longer bitter. I was. For years. But, I am not anymore. I compare my experience in the church as a time not unlike the Wizard of Oz and that once I saw “behind the curtain”, I simply could not go back to believing in the Wizard anymore. Who could?

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But, becoming FREE came at a great cost. I’ve lost friends and disappointed family members. My best friend since second grade, the one who knew me the most, cut me out of her life forever, afraid I would lure her husband away now that I wasn’t “holy” anymore. And, well, that’s OK. Because once you really connect with yourself, deep down, and become secure in your purpose and who you were created to be, you no longer worry about those that don’t understand. You’ve tasted freedom and joy and you never want to go back to the way it was. No matter what.

I am not ashamed of my past in the church. I am not sad that it was part of my life and that it made me who I am today. Today, I am a strong, independent, “spiritual” being with more love in my heart that I ever thought possible. I still have dreams and I note them and watch them unfold in reality. I still hear and see “spirits” and instead of pushing them away or ignoring them, I embrace them. I KNOW that my gifts are not a curse, but a wonderful blessing and tools to help me navigate life. I am fortunate to know beforehand when things might go awry. I can tell when something is off with my kids and dig deep with them to work it out. My husband and I have an amazing telepathic connection and use it regularly, whether intending to or not. All of these gifts have enriched mine and my family’s life. I know who the “spirit” is that has been with me since I was a small child. She is beautiful and strong and I hate that I pushed her away for so long. I am not freaked out when my kids have dreams, see things, or say they “feel energy”. I, instead, use it as a tool to teach them about their gifts, passed down from their parents and that it is nothing to shy away from.

I have made peace with my past. I have made peace with my present. I am excited about my future. I no longer feel restrained. I no longer curse who I was created to be. I am embracing myself, fully now and it is wonderful!

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Whatever your reason for pushing away your true purpose—whether it be religion, fear, control or anxiety—know that the longer you push it away, the more you will become depressed, anxious, sad or discontent. It’s like being born with 20/20 vision and trying to pretend you are blind–hating the colors and patterns that you see on a daily basis. Would you blind yourself just to deny your sight? Would you pluck out your tongue because you enjoyed tasting too much? If you did either of those things, people would say were insane. So why do we do it with our “sixth” senses? WHY?

The time is now to recognize your talents and gifts. Our world needs it, your family and friends need it and, most importantly, YOU need it. You are not weird. You are not possessed. You are perfectly YOU. Do not deny yourself the pleasure of being comfortable in your skin. Do not disconnect from your spirit to satisfy those around you. Anytime you have to “hide” your true self from another, you are silently telling yourself that you are not good or acceptable. Embrace yourself and shine on!

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