my godless manifesto

“I’m in a field

A war zone

Catastrophe of the soul

A spiritual apocalypse

Bodies everywhere

Strewn mercilessly

Devastation as far as the eye can see

A wasteland of religion

But I’m alive

I run back and forth between bodies

Is there anyone still pulsing with life?

Will I find him here?

I turn bodies over one by one

Frantic gaze cutting across their lifeless expressions

I know some of these lines, these eyes, mouths and noses.

Air knocked viciously from my chest as though I fled unknowingly into an invisible wall

How can this all be?

How did it all come to be?

How did I get here?

How did it come to this?

It’s too much to take in

I steel my will and steady my breathing

I squeeze my eyes to keep the tears at bay

There is no time to grieve now

I must keep looking from one body to the next

None of the faces are the one I’m looking for

Where has he gone?

Where does he lay dying?

So much has died around me

So many good things

Helpful things

Comforting things

Double-edged things

Masqueraded things

Hidden things

Ugly yet seemingly beautiful things

Death envelopes me on every side”

{written by yours truly in 2014}

::

I didn’t lose my religion, I didn’t misplace God, I didn’t walk away, I didn’t even run away. This is not where I wanted to end up, nor where I tried to end up. I was hurled here not of my own volition. Like a warzone where a bomb went off and I wake up in the aftermath, unsure of where I am and how in the heck I ever got here in the first place. But truth was chosen. I have always been a truth seeker, always unsatiated with trite and neatly packaged hollow answers. Coming to grips with the reality that there was no higher being coming to rescue me. The salvation I had been taught all my life and clung to, built my life around, none of it was coming true. Because it wasn’t truth to begin with. No one was waiting for me, no one was coming for me, no one was going to make it all right in the end. No one but me. Me.

People seem to think people always choose unbelief. I don’t believe this about unbelief. I certainly didn’t choose it, it came for me. Unbelief is what was waiting for me. Unbelief took my hand, lifted my head, and said there is another way underneath all the lies, all the manipulated comfort, all the age old traditions we bury ourselves in because we are afraid, just afraid down to the bone; and we see no other alternative to be and feel okay in a very confusing world other than to blindly accept and never question below the surface. Speaking of bones, it is in mine to question. I ask what others don’t want to ask. I say what others don’t want to give voice to. I lose friends, I don’t sugarcoat my truth as I see it.

No longer having God has been devastating. Peace is coming slowly. Having my faith completely fall apart has been a shattering not dissimilar to a war torn country. The fallout, it is still falling, still settling, pieces still yet to hit the ground. I am not out, as they say. I feel like an imposter around most of the people in my world. Most probably view me as a disenfranchised christian who got sick of church or who is blaming all her problems on God and imperfect people in the church. Not true, absolutely not true. People often think I just haven’t wrestled with the truth enough, that I have settled for easy answers to assuage my pain. In fact, the complete opposite is true. I am where I am today because I didn’t stop wrestling, I didn’t accept settling, I pushed through the pain because to not do so would have been more painful in the long run, and I knew that instinctively.

Many in the atheist or agnostic communities at large may think the peace ought to be instantaneous. Those who never claimed Christianity as their lifeblood can’t possibly know what it is to learn to breathe something else when the source is yanked away from them, the oxygen gone. The sky fell. The floor underneath my feet gave way. The scaffolding collapsed. I went under. To say it has been heartbreaking is an understatement on a massive scale. Brutal. Beyond brutal. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the torment, and felt at numerous times it may just simply be best to take my own life and forget it all, because the air in my lungs was almost completely and entirely gone. I was suffocating on the christian faith, it was literally killing me on the inside, yet as it was taken from me I also had to come to a place of releasing and accepting, then I felt as though I wouldn’t survive the deconstruction of it all. Having faith almost killed me, and coming to terms with no longer having faith almost killed me. Multiple experiences with clergy and their churches exacerbated the deconversion, as well as personal trauma and the church’s response, or lack thereof, but what it all really came down to was the absolute silence of God when the metaphorical room had been emptied of all but he and I. He wasn’t answering me or responding to me because ultimately he was never really there in the first place. It hinged on relationship for me, and then all the holes in the doctrine I had been explaining away all my life simply became accessories to the loss.

I am coming up for air now, I have found a new oxygen to breathe. I no longer am bleeding out, the pain coming from every pore like being poked with a million needles simultaneously. I have found a new source of life and it is slowly flowing into every part of me, filling me up. Me. Myself. Beauty. Love. Truth. Integrity. Compassion. Relationship. Life. Peace is slowly arriving and the slow death of God is almost complete, thank god, literally, okay maybe not literally, but you get the drift. Peace feels so good. I can breathe deep now. I look forward to the day I can fully be me with everyone in my life. It is heading that direction, regardless of the additional fallout, because I am a truth teller and a truth seeker, it’s in my bones and in my blood, I can be no other way.

{zt}

:: You can hear more of my overall story from last month on the Everyone’s Agnostic Podcast interview ::

I want 

I want you to exist, to be real, not a mirage in the desert for a soul dry and parched, thirsting to death
I want you to not have broken apart, like a mirror I threw my grief at and it shattered into sharp and ugly pieces, jagged and rough
I want to find the ground again, I lost it when you bled and died and faded away
I want you to give me back the years, those decades given in blind allegiance to serve a supposed king of hearts who was leading the way to life upon life
I want to rescue her, to reach back through time and jerk open her eyes, tell her not to swallow the blame and shame, to not go down that straight and narrow path
I want to find the truth that is there, has always been there, underneath all the words, all the rules, in her, at the center of it all
I want the fog to clear, for the world between worlds, the land in the middle, the discomfort of the liminality, that waiting space, I want it to dissipate for life to come alive
I want you back again, or for the first time, to see the light in your eyes, to recognize you again and not know you only as a stranger, the stranger that is me
{Words to a Silent God, c. 2016}

bone named faith

Bone named faith

A bone once thought to never break

That bone was the strongest of strong

A life was built around that bone

A composition of dedication and passion

Of fervor and loyalty

Of knowing and knowing and knowing

 

A broken bone now

A valley of dry and dead ones

Mountain of dedication now dead and buried

Life of single-minded purpose for a higher being

Now a life of shards and sharp points where the breaking made her fall into herself

Cut herself

Bleeding into the collasped canyon of a soul bruised and battered beyond recognition

Of a god whose tongue got cut out

Of a god who hung up the phone

Of a god who pulled the rug out from under her

Of a god who threw the broken pieces like darts on a dart board

Bone after bone after bone

What good are they now

 

That bone named faith

Put back together like needles glued together from her haystack of a life

That bone renamed

Freedom it cries

Freedom is its name

 

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}

::written as part of #diveintopoetry found here::

silent roar

Processed with VSCO with 7 preset

 

“fleeing the self
running from the life i thought i would have
chasing ghosts
drinking tea and wiping tears
throwing angry words to the wind
i don’t know me anymore
and now i will never know you

 

coughing up regrets
and choking on unforgiveness of the self
bitter towards a body that failed me and you
closing my eyes and listening to the sounds of a life stalled in its tracks
knowing the unknown will always haunt me
and the known will chase me in my dreams

 

ignoring the irreverent words offered up on a silver platter
they are meant to bring healing yet they only smash into my wounds
and make me feel even smaller and you even less real

 

i am running away from myself
i am running away from you
i cannot catch up with the life i was meant to live
yet i cannot stop trying to find my way back
i have fallen down the hole and everything is altered
my throat burns and my stomach churns
there is no turning back, no bypass or shortcut”

 

{me}

Here and now I am stuck between darkness and light. What I thought was light has become dark, and the darkness is becoming illuminated as I walk into it. What a place to be in, what a journey it has been. Words cannot carry the weight fully of the truth that weighs them down and curls them around themselves. What is coming up ahead at the next bend in the road, no one can ever know. Who I thought I could count on I cannot. The who-what-where-and why have all changed. Like chicken little the sky fell, it fell more than once.

Silent woman, silent peers, silent parents, silent friends, silent him, silent elders, silent child, another silent child, silent god. Silent me.

My words come in nose-burning, watery-eyed, throat-tightening sobs, in waves. I am dry and then it rains. Do I really even have something to say? Will I be taken seriously? Believed? Does what I have to say even matter? Yes, yes, and yes. Let the tears fall, let my nose burn, let my throat tighten. Here is my roar.

It’s been 23 years since then. 23 years for me to realize what really happened. 23 years to call it what it was, to call it what it is.

23 years since they said this. You can’t come back. Someone has to leave and they’ve been here longer and he is our pastor, so you have to leave. But hey, we are paying for eight counseling sessions for you and we wish you all the best, now leave, please, but let us pray for you before you go, and we really hope you will be okay. We feel so very sorry for you, and you really need help, but we can’t be the ones to help you because we have others who are more important than you to help. Go on now, troubled young woman. Leave. Let us get on with the Lord’s work, we don’t need women like you in our midst. You might rub off on us. And besides, didn’t you know it is really all your fault?

23 years of having the “A” on my forehead.
23 years of silence.
23 years of shame.
23 years of blame.
23 years of taking it all on.

I was 21 when it all hit the proverbial fan. What had been happening had been happening for several years prior. Building up to the watershed moment when it all came crashing down all around me, and the water rushed down a different path for us all, a path I never wanted to go down, but yet I was on a path at that present time I had never really wanted to go down anyway, so surely this couldn’t be worse, right?

The knock on the door. They knew. He had decided to spill the beans. Confess to the sin of his choosing versus what he had really done to me. Severed from a family, from a life, from a man I thought I loved. How would I ever really be okay again? Life felt over. The pills called to me, to take them, take them all and end this. It just needed to be ended because this was a nightmare that there was no waking from.

I believed the well-mannered lies, the shame-filled accusations, the dirty looks, the letters of well-intentioned yet empty advice for a girl gone supposedly bad, one who lost her way and couldn’t get what they thought she apparently wanted, her pastor. Oh please. What I wanted was trust, love, acceptance, attention. What do most high school girls want who are in a new town after her parents divorced and she is tired of an emotionally and verbally abusive boyfriend? Did I fall for it all hook, line, and sinker? Yes, I did. Did I pursue him? No I did not. Abuse of power and position. Clergy sexual abuse. Ugly terms for exponentially uglier truths. These words cannot carry their weight either, just a dim reflected shadow of the inescapable brutal truth. The wasteland of a life stomped down and out, no longer recognizable. Shredded, beat down to the bone.

Yet, life did go on somehow, some way, the way life often does as it flows forward onto everything in its path, determined to create anew. Changed denominations, changed towns. Ruined reputation. Past used against me time after time. The secrets had to stay secret. There was no way to air them out, to get away from them, except to stay quiet and move on. Years passed. Good things, beautiful things, wonderful things. Life felt like life again and not a prison sentence I was serving out.

Then tragedy struck and our second child was not alive anymore. It was as though the shores of my life split in two and crashed up against each other in a thunderous explosion that left everything shredded and in disarray, unrecognizable, broken beyond repair. Years of darkness and grief upon grief followed.

“the white was everywhere, sterile, as if everything was pure, untouchable, clean, crisp, to the point, yet understated, barely any colors, devoid of emotion, shhhh be quiet because noise and white don’t go together, no blood no screams, be quiet, be white, be colorless, be empty, feel empty. so i bled and she was pink and i screamed and color burst onto the scene and the air was electric with emotion and there was no more white anywhere anymore. she is just beyond my reach always, just beyond my voice, just beyond the edges of my days. in between the ordinary and the sacred, between the old and the new, between the past and the future, she is here yet she is not.”

 

{me}

Then tragedy struck again. Another one dead and this time we didn’t even get to hold her.

Then tragedy struck yet again. The slow death of god. He wasn’t who I had always believed him to be. I felt like I was living in a world of trick mirrors, like it was a big fairground of harsh lights, illusions, and exaggerated clown faces mocking me with angry laughter, all waiting to trick me again once I began to get used to things or know my way around a tiny bit. I became someone I didn’t recognize. I died a million tiny little deaths over and over again. will the bleeding ever stop?

“found
revealed
nurtured
loved
trusted
built my life around
dedicated
believed
integrated
but then…
the miracle didn’t happen
faith unraveled
prayers unanswered
screaming silence
born into death
devastated
manipulated
brutality
nothingness
darkness
bleeding revealed truth
stillborn jesus
yet you were never alive to begin with”

 

{me}

So here I am and I am finding my voice, the voice that has been a scream stuck in the back of my throat, in the back of my life, for so many long silent years. A silent roar will become a roar that is heard. I will be heard. I am being heard now. There is such joy in that.

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}

::::this post was originally a guest post shared HERE at The Roar Sessions::::

beauty is still beauty

image

people think i walked away from my faith.
that somehow i un-chose god.
there is nothing i have tried harder at in my life than chasing god,
than choosing him, over and over, and over again.
his place in my heart underguirded, surrounded, and encompassed everything, there was nothing untouched by what i once deemed as his presence.
the loss of god was not desired or wanted on any level.
it happened in waves,
day after day,
month after month,
silence upon silence
lie upon lie.
first a drop, then trickle, then stream. then waves turned crashing. almost drowned in the absence, the nothingness.
he wasn’t there to breathe anymore, as my lifeblood, my oxygen.
left to my own devices, it wasn’t a lack of faith that got me there.
it was an unwillingness to give up that turned everything inside out.
someday the wreckage will all be gone, the remnants of a drowning silence washed away on the shores of truth. like a picture drained of color, yet still is profoundly beautiful, even moreso. life is still here in me, it is just all different now. beauty is still beauty, even when the colors change. i’m going to be okay, more than okay. beauty can become even more beauty-filled when truth is fully embraced.

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}

stillborn jesus

image

found
revealed
nurtured
loved
trusted
built my life around
dedicated
believed
integrated
but then…
the miracle didn’t happen
faith unraveled
prayers unanswered
screaming silence
born into death
devastated
manipulated
brutality
nothingness
darkness
bleeding revealed truth
stillborn jesus
yet you were never alive to begin with…

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}

drowning

image

grief came too soon

when i noticed they weren’t happy together

no kisses, embraces, affection

the fallout of a marriage bruised and battered and killing itself softly over and over again

the day he gathered us all and asked for the divorce, so quietly and violently

gone were the innocent days

my hero and heroine washed ashore like seaweed and castaways the sea just gave up on and returned to shore, lifeless on the beach of humanity

navigating a crooked chasm ever since

then came the uncharmed love, the great devouring of an unknown and unloved soul who naively opened herself to the mad magic of a lonely soul who belonged to someone else

the giver became the taker, the wise one the senseless, the prophet the pimp, the leader the proverbial bait and switch, the answers for the questions, the goodness for the blame at the cost of her redemption, the truthteller became the liar, she became the lost one, damned to roam in the netherlands of shame because he still had a job to do and she was old news, used and abused and tossed aside

then came marriage and the baby carriage, then came the one born without breath.

the great sadness to unleash all sadnesses was upon me. what was thought to be unconnected was now all mercilessly intertwined. shame had many tethers and many masters now.

hope crashed out of my chest and ran away, wandering, burning into a pile of ashes nowhere to be found.

and so the slow death of god continued, now i knew it was happening, now i could no longer deny the silence, the empty chair, the unanswered cries. In her death all other deaths came to me and i could see them with eyes uncovered and a heart unbound.

the watershed moment when i knew deep down i was in this all by myself, there was no salvation coming for me.

for years i sunk into denial and sadness, i hid in the tears, swimming in the grief and demands of mothering, it wasn’t hard to slip into the shadows unseen, i had help in the bruising and cutting, assistance in the smothering, the drowning had many hands upon it, the pressure building year after year after year

another one came like a thief in the night to prick my heart and then left me bleeding again. this time I was no stranger to the blackness.

now i fight the acceptance, i beat against myself, i don’t want to be where i am, without who i am without, alone in a world not as i thought it was.

what i thought was the greatest has now been trumped, hope continues lost and elusive and i have no idea how to find myself under all the years, all the sizes, all the tightness, all the breaths.

i’m going under. is the answer to keep fighting, stop looking for my ship to come in, to give in and fall under, let the waters cover me and take my breath, what then? what about them, what about me, about us, about him, how will this all play out. will hope meet me at the bottom of the sea?

i’m drowning in a sea of my own tears.

{words to a silent god, c.2015}

>>written as an anthology of grief in response to #inherskin, an online class<<