At 17 years old, one of my good friends, told me in a fit of rage that he was NOT going to hell. And I simply agreed with him – unaware of why he was telling me this or what business I had with his eternal resting place. He then reminded me of a time when we were just 6 or 7 years old and I, being his only connection to anything “God” and ultimately the authority on religion in his eyes, told him that he was going to hell! We didn’t even know why, just that I had said it and he believed it for years. If I remember correctly, though he was clearly upset with tears in his eyes, I laughed at him. Because I knew I had said it. And because I was a cruel teenage girl.
From that story alone, you can see religion undoubtedly created a monster of me. It gave me a false sense of superiority that separated me and my sinless-ness from “them” and their filth. But it wasn’t a satisfactory lifestyle, having such pseudo-preeminence. I was in complete bondage to my desire to please God by doing what I thought a good Christian girl should do. And my peers didn’t make it easier. At any non-good-girl action, “But aren’t you supposed to be a Christian?” reeled me back to a place of religious enslavement. As a kid, every moment and thing was result of consequences and actions. To me, God’s job was to deal out blessings and punishments. I was a young girl trying to understand God on my terms. I read the bible without supervision and refused to go to Sunday school opting to stay in the adult services trying to make their large understanding fit my tiny world. I’ve always had a desire to know and understand things which often led down a path of endless worrying and confusion. Religion was never meant for children however, of this I am convinced.
So I was a judgmental child, grew into a cruel hearted teen, then an argumentative young adult, and mostly just chaotic all around.
However, the lack was real. And all of my reading, praying, gospel partying didn’t replace what was actually hurting deeper within me. As early as 12, I looked 21 which made keeping my innocence a fight. Without a stable father figure, every boy or man was either drawn to me or I was drawn to them. The moments where my religion didn’t sustain me, I was unleashed like a prowling lioness muddled by what I thought was right vs. what felt real. Coupled with teenage years and an overall misperception for who I was and what life was all about. (Big thoughts for such a young girl.)
In my early 20’s, I discovered my cities underground art scene. I was a poet with no outlet other than church youth events or revisiting my high schools poetry club so open mics and poetry events felt like church on steroids. The different people and stories all trying to find something to shift the paradigm they existed in; I slowly discovered there were places in my own city to express myself with people who resembled myself. But I was a wack poet! So I had to learn, study just as much as I had when I desired to understand my religion. And in that learning, I started to wake up from the hell-hole I was living in. It wasn’t because of the discrepancies between the bible and history or my religion contradicting the life I was now enthralled in. It was because I didn’t feel good about myself or how I interacted with people. I wasn’t happy so I was angry and mean. The religion I was trying to live up to felt unachievable. Like most people do, I eventually dropped God and the church. During that time, I was able to express myself in a more honest and real way. Areas of my life seemed to be awakened without the blinders I had on. I took the time to learn myself and the world around me delving into social injustices, human rights issues, racism, sexism, and all the isms. The dogmatic way about me that I approached religion with, I approached social injustices with. Then I realized, It was me! I was uncompromising, opinionated, insistent, controlling, and downright authoritarian. I approached everything with such vigor that even religion, designed to create moral boundaries became a moral prison.
The paradox between my religion and the way I was supposed to think, act, and be fought with my woke-ness and the same. I couldn’t understand why my religion directly opposed what my woke-ness had discovered. The issue… my religion. The answer… my God. (Hear me out!)
There’s a difference that often gets missed when we use our logical minds to try to understand God. It’s the same reason why most people come to know God in the moments when they need him, not the moments when he makes sense. Religion desires to be pleased where God desires to please. It’s why 2nd Corinthians 3:6 warns us that “the letter alone killeth” meaning having religion without the spirit of a loving God to support you can only lead to confusion and eventually, turning away from God. What I had done in my youth, was follow the rules outlined in the Bible hoping to earn God’s love but it’s impossible. That was never God’s intention; to make robotic beings of us; to be perfect specimens. In simple terms, like a parent to his child, God’s motive is love and love wants us to be the best we can be which is expressed differently and perfectly in each person.
(Furthermore, the bible is full of non-perfect people who did great things for God. Noah the drunk, Jacob the liar, Joseph the abused child, Moses the murderer, Rehab the prostitute, Elijah was suicidal… and my favorite Paul who was too religious.)
Because I know God for real now and not just in a religious dogmatic way, I understand where my woke-ness fits in. God loves. Simple. And it’s impossible to have a genuine connection to God and not express love in everything you do. It’s impossible to love God and not love people or not care about the issues concerning people. I’m not religious anymore even though I try to run a tight ship with my life and heart. I’m also a dope poet in my opinion who could never have learned to write had I not learned to love people. And I credit my ability to love people to a God who first loved me enough to show me the errors of my ways by remin ding me of a 17yr old boy who is not going to he’ll because I said it. I’m far from perfect and I have no problem telling people about that either. In letting go of my religion, I got to see God so much clearer. I see God’s love expressed in who I am now and I see it expressed in those whom he loves. He did say the greatest command was love and as long as I keep my eyes open and my heart full of love for people, it’s impossible for me to fall back asleep.
#woke #jesusgirl #blacklivesmatter