There is something about growing older that has made being a Christian so hard for me, a part of me misses the time when it was so simple and easily believable. At 25, which I know is not much to some but it feels like I have seen enough, experienced enough for my faith to be as simple as it was at 19 years old.
My 19-year-old self always had answers on the tip of my tongue even for complex questions that I had no depth to fully conceptualize at that age. But here I was, having all the answers giving them often unprovoked. I look back at that girl now and I can’t help but laugh at her naivety. I am so different from her and her from me, yet I am still the same person. It is a frustrating process to reconcile these two.
As a person of Faith now, I owe younger me this, but as a person healing from some of the hurt that religious people and communities can bring, I sometimes wish I could delete that part of my life. I have in the ways that I can, exited communities that I felt were no longer contributing to my health as a person, in some ways even hurting it. Yet even having been on this exodus, I still have to deal with the consequences of this younger me that believed and followed everything with my whole heart. Some of it looks like cringing at some of the problematic things I believed, other times it feels like being haunted by your own ghost. I have this new perspective of God, Christianity and Faith that has been freeing and the best thing for me. It has brought me the most freedom I have ever experienced except the days when the ghost is haunting me and making me feel wrong.
The ghost loves voices, it often plays some voices its heard on repeat and of course it chooses the most convenient of times to play them. The ghost has a mixtape featuring hit songs like condemnation, guilt, doubt, self-doubt and of course the most played song; shame. I often have to remind myself that the ghost of the little girl in me is only repeating the things she heard and believed because she was just a little girl. I love age 25, it’s a beautiful reminder that I am a woman.
I am a woman. A grown woman in charge of her own fate and story, in control of her future and taking responsibility for it. I am a woman who is learning to be confident in her voice, a voice I have been told not to trust for a long time. I am a woman who knows when to call out religious
BS and the shame it brings. A woman practising what it means to stand upright and walk in the freedom and truth she has found. I am a woman who has learnt that a faith-based on don’ts can stand the test of time.
For a lot of us, our experience of religion and Christianity can be summed up in the following way “Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!”. Don’t touch, don’t see, don’t try, don’t talk to “them”, don’t be like “them, don’t dress like that, don’t use those words, don’t read those authors, don’t listen to that music, don’t do anything unless “we” approve of it. Don’t be your own person, don’t do what is right for you. Don’t do anything unless “we” say so unless you want to be like “them”. We are overburdened with expectations that are difficult and most times extra add on’s to what Jesus actually commanded. In Matthew 23 Jesus actually calls out the Pharisees for adding heaps of burdens on people. If we truly believe indeed then that Jesus’ burden should be as light as he says it should then how come most of us are exhausted from trying to live up to the standards set for us?
I am willing to bet al the money I do not have that it is most of the times because of what people say a Christian walk should be not what Jesus actually teaches. I am on this learning and unlearning journey, I finally feel that I’m in a healthy enough place to share some of the things I have unlearnt, still unlearning and of course learning. The next series of blogs is going to be centred around this theme. I am interested to hear in the comments section what are some things you are learning and unlearning?