Why I left the church. Again.

grisserI was recently had to write down my spiritual journey for an application to a “Wilderness Within Camp” out in the mountains that I wanted to attend.  In a quick paragraph I went through the story pretty quick, the jest of it being the following:

I was born in Mexico city, grew up catholic(sort of) my mom got into scientology when I was 8 yrs old—So my Catholic Dad freaked out and moved the family to the Tijuana/San Diego border.  Once in Tijuana we continued to go to mass every Sunday but I always thought it was pretty lame.  I went to school in San Diego, my best friend was Jewish and we had amazing conversations about religion, faith and humans in general but I always thought of myself as an existentialist.  At 16 yrs old I tried some mind altering substances and was sort of addicted until 24 yrs old.  My Conscious Spiritual Journey begins with 12 step meetings, meditation and recovery retreats. (I say conscious because I didn’t have the language then to realize the spirit is always alive).  Anyway, I then choose Buddhism as a source to meditate.  After 4 years it was too hard for me because I craved certainty and I was going through a pretty hard time.  I prayed and prayed that my ‘higher power’ would reveal to me who or what it was.   As if somehow knowing this would remove all hardship and suffering.

I then get invited to a bible study, reluctantly attend, I argue with the preacher about the exclusivity of Christianity but in the middle of the argument I have this crazy supernatural experience and I figure it must be Jesus.  A few weeks later I end up in a cool and modern American non-denominational church in Chula Vista.  The music was cool , the pastor had ‘recovery’ experience and just plain made sense.  The people were super nice and we found community but I always knew deep down there was still some BS happening.   Especially when they would ask me when had I been saved? What? Like 2000 years ago or something?   I then dive like crazy to study the bible and church history, meanwhile my catholic family thinks I am doomed.  They tell me that I am in the incorrect denomination and going in a cult.  I press on because it felt right, we make good friends but…. I keep getting in a bit trouble for critical thinking and asking hard questions.  I am told to believe blindly.  And I try…but.  Then we move to a different neighborhood, different church and I continue to host meetings at my house and walk many through the steps of recovery.   My husband and I decided to always host some type of meeting  at our house because it keeps us healthy.    There comes a time where I deeply yearn and know there is more to this than just showing up at church and waving hi to everyone.  I decide to go to Haiti to help out kids in an orphanage and my husband tells me that maybe I should just go right across the border to Tijuana and help there. He asked “Why all the way to Haiti?”   At this time some friends move to the neighborhood to start a church in a sort of low income neighborhood and instead of heading to Haiti we decide to join them.  It was well intended work, lots of new fun and awesome friends and I was busy again.  I somehow end up as an elder and leading groups.   I really thought this was great, until I realized it was back to square one.  Nice people, but fundamentalists.  A bit of the same as the catholic story, but worse.  There was no space for critical thinking, no space for free doubt, no space for any different opinion than the literal vs literary view of the bible.   Turns out it’s the same BS. Exclusive or Inclusive depending on your thoughts or behavior.   And the fundamentalism was drowning me. I couldn’t stand it.  How could anyone make Christ so small? So rigid? So exclusive?  I always knew God was love.  How can exclusivity be love?

I wished it would work, just believing like they did.  But it is hard to see transformation happening just because of a specific thought or belief.  It is much more complicated than that.   People need therapy.  Contemplative practices.  Freedom to think out loud and not be condemned.   And at the level of consciousness there in lies the frustration, ” Why don’t people just get it already?”  “Just believe and get well.”

It got worse for me every day.  I felt like I was betraying my friends, but I also felt like a bit of a fake by not speaking up.   The interesting thing is that this had really been happening since I was like 7 years old and went to mass to take communion one day.  I had not officially done my “first communion” sacrament but I went for it anyway because I figured I was gonna get me some of that God goodness.    I got in a bit of trouble then as well but I figured it was a cool thing that I got away with.   I got to God despite of the rules.  The government of the church was just so messed up.  The turmoil of doubt and fear had sent me on a search for more knowledge, more DEPTH.   Love led me to some beautiful people that were waaaayy   ahead of me in this journey of an evolving faith.  A contemplative practice spiritual director who helped me discover what I already knew, friends that listened, understood and allowed the space for me to develop and grow in my journey to becoming.  Back at the evangelical church I finally spoke my thoughts and was asked to resign from the board.  Best. Decision. Ever.  I grieved the relationships obviously, but I once again feel FREE and FULL of love.  Like I escaped from a prison or woke up from a bad dream.   Also, my kids are thrilled.  🙂    My teenager called BS since the beginning.  I guess some kids just KNOW and don’t have the need to pretend.

 

Today I am still at a place where I go back and forth between feeling free form religion and not knowing exactly how to move forward and precisely express to others what I am experiencing- without feeling afraid/ or judged.  I feel closer to god than ever. Peaceful and relieved.  The REALITY of love and the Oneness of all humans is carrying me like an overwhelming hope.    I sometimes struggle still, obviously, but I know that I am powerless over the desire for certainty, but I also remember each day that certainty is not necessary, it is a hindrance.   It sits well with me to accept the Mystery of God.

 

And so I quit the western modern evangelical system.  I quit religion. I leave the church once again.  The government part of it.  The part that makes the Christ small and limited.  I want to go discover more.  I want to love more.  Live more.  Sometimes I feel like my mind is a wilderness but I want to head on the fear.  I look forward to learning, to the Adventure of the wilderness with others that might have similar longings as me.  I have been called a rebel- and I love it.  Jesus was a rebel. So we rock on.

Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”   St. Paul really was onto something.  Thank God!

 

#talesofrecovery #lovenerfails #lovewins #freedom #journeyofbecoming #evolve #love

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Present’ thief~

Have you been robbed today? So far.. it is about 12:30 pm on a Monday morning and I’ve witnessed about 3 thefts on instagram, one really bad one on Facecrack and when I was about to head to twitter I remembered that I needed to stop the thief.   

Stop the thief. 

The thief of the Here and NOW.   I mean I love IG, blogs and  twitter, online classes,  tumbler etc.  The thing today is I have figured out why this is SUCH a successful thief.  My theory on smart phone love is the innate knowledge of how important our present moment is.  It is ALL we have.  The here and now.
Just for today,  do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself, be here now, and so on.   All great spiritual truths lead to this statement.  Are we created to KNOW this yet fall far  behind in the awareness lesson?  Could this misguided innate  knowledge  be the reason why we feel the need to be in OTHERS’ present so often?   I could be breathing in my NOW moment but first….. let me go check yours?  

Then your neighbors, then the link below, then click on that other selfie and next thing you know my Present is ran over by someone else’s.    This could also be the reason why we feel the need to post everything we do, eat or read.  Information and wisdom sharing is a gift and I absolutely love it.  But just being aware of the why… WHY? Why do you want to post everything you do or see what everybody else is doing right NOW? 
Because NOW is the BEST AND NOW is all we have. This moment. NOW As I write this, and now and as you read this.  

We have the portal to brain sucking power as well as the portal to amazing and constant information.   Balance is key. Oh how I long for balance..

My teens hear me all the time when I ask them to leave their phones at the door once we get home for the day. Why? Because we now get to rest the brain, talk in person, write a song, read a book, or just stare out the window.  In peace.  Sans the thief.   It’s a struggle, but worth the fight. Worth the awareness.   Enjoy your NOW.  ✌🏽

Second Mother’s Day and Strike follow up~

Well, since I am Mexican, today is May 10th and the second Mother’s Day of the year for me and my fellow Mexican Mommas!!   I have been asked a few questions about the OG US  Mother’s Day that I forgot to add to Sunday’s post.  

Here is part 2 of the Mother’s Day write up with the untold details :

What happened that made this day different  than the time I went on strike?

1) I asked for what I wanted- and  

2) I planned something just for me.  

A few weeks in advance I told my husband and my kids, “I do not want any gifts for Mother’s Day this year,  at all.  I just want to stay at home and celebrate this day ON SATURDAY and fix up the garden,  plant pink bougainvilleas, and work on the house.  Ok- maybe a card I said….kids: you can make me a card. 😜. Now mind you, ever since the strike 2 years ago they do, somewhat, listen attentively.   The Saturday celebration aliviated the pressure for Sunday’s big expectations as well as allowed space for heading to Baja and spending time with grandma. 

It was not perfect.  It rained on Saturday morning so we could not paint. My husband had to work and my son had a baseball game so we got a late start and it was (again) not perfect and I was a bit frustrated …just a bit.   My planned event started at 6:30pm and I think we got to the planting at around 5:00pm. 😳

I kept breathing and looking at my kids, running around at my barking orders with a few moments of laughter and peace here and there.   Once my husband finally got home from work and started planting it was time for me to head out.  

I had booked my planned event three weeks prior and it was an ‘evening for a night of creativity, reflection, and expression designed to enrich and restore your soul’… And it was AWESOME! 

Two great authors lead about 40 ladies in a talk about imperfect mothering, allowing emotions to flow, catching the soul bullies (i.e.:negative thoughts), writing and then making a ‘fearless’  mother necklace. All this while eating brownies , cheese and crackers and drinking sparkling water or wine.   I guess I’m old but for me- this was SO LIFE GIVING!! I loved every minute of it.   And I got a free copy of Leeana Tankerslay’s new book #Brazen!  (Well, it wasn’t really free…it came with the workshop but whatever.) 

I cried and laughed during the workshop. I came home and we had a good family movie night.  By good I mean we picked a good movie and no one fell asleep while watching it.  This is always a good sign.    So on Sunday…..I was just getting ready for church with my new ‘fearless’ tank top that unexpectedly matched what Leeana spoke about the night before…… When my kids walked in to my room with written, DIY cards.   The best. I wish I could take a picture of them and post them here but they might not approve and one of them is inappropiate because that is how we (sometimes) roll at our house.  

Then we went to church and my friend/ pastor just knocked it out of the park talking about the truth on living a fearless life.   Seriously- take a listen if you want http://www.centerchurchsd.com/sermons/kicking-fear-in-the-face/

Ok! There is my story for this weekend.  GRACE for the imperfect moments.  Much grace since they are mostly imperfect.  New eyes to see.  No strike this weekend.  No time for pity parties when I ask for what I need and take care of myself.  Phew!!

Feliz día de las madres carnales!!

*by the way, in case you are wondering, OGUS = Original Gangsters United States 

Un-perfect Christmas. 

The un- perfect Christmas season.  This month, as the Guadalupe – Reyes marathon starts- I’ve made up my mind.   I am embracing the messy and imperfect Christmas season.  Yes.  If I gain a little weight and things don’t go as planned – that is awesome. If I celebrate too much because I am lucky enough to have that many friends …. That is awesome.  The real inspiration here is the HOPE that comes with Christmas.  Extra is the excitement in the air….the lights… theeeee presents…the parties …the fights….the disappointments….the debt….the hangovers.  Whatevs. I will pray, go to yoga, PRACTICE GRATITUDE and party on. I am not going to worry about rushing. I apologize in advance if I don’t get you a gift- I will probably forget. And the stores give me headaches. Here is my gift to you this season: come over to my house and I’ll make you some dinner. We can hang out on the porch and talk and drink some hot tea …While we look at my Charlie Brown Christmas tree that my kids don’t like BUT I LOVE because it is SIMPLE.   I am excited about un-complicating Christmas.  
I want to celebrate s.l.o.w. and just BREATHE it all in. The cold nights at the walkabout, neighbor parties and neighbor arguments. Family parties and family arguments. I’m keeping it REAL and pushing for vulnerable. #nopretending.  

I seriously FREAKING LOVE CHRISTMAS!! And sadly, there have been years that I’ve been more frustrated about the prep and perfection than the actual celebration of God coming down here to hang out with us ~ to show us that simple is good. That simple is enough. That all we need is Love. There is hope in the air.  

I do wish all have a place to go hang out during this special time. Family or friends. If you’re in the hood, come celebrate w us down in Barrio Logan on the 23rd~ for Christmas Eve Eve. We will be singing and celebrating and drinking hot cocoa.  There is a spot reserved for you at centerchurchsd.com ~What a relief to be free of perfection…❤️ .  

Merry Christmas people!! Bring on the marathon!!!! #woot! 

  

 

Happy Bday [for] me~

Today I looked back at what a FULL life I have had up to date. There’s been awesome, great, good, bad and ugly- 

All have shaped me into the person I am today . 

I am alive, loving life and grateful for even having gotten this far. 46. #Boom. 

I have traveled far, met and shared life with many great friends and family.  I’ve  laughed and cried much, worked in theater, played and sang in rock bands and even danced in the circus :).   I’ve been married to the love of my life for 19 years, and we have two super cool, kind and passionate about life kids.   I have fought addictions and crazy thoughts.  I’ve fought for my marriage and continue to fight for my children’s hearts.  The fight against the thoughts is ALWAYS a good fight- and is still ongoing.  I guess that is just a fact of this life pilgrimage we are on. #Thestruggleisreal but the fight is worth every drop of sweat.    My dad always told my siblings and I that we were warriors.  Not in those exact words…but he would tell us that we were in the arms of a warrior and since we are his kids,  we are therefore also warriors.  He fought for his family and I fight for mine.  

I have grown and look forward  to continue growing in the freedom of God’s love and acceptance for me and others.  I still struggle but am aware of tangible healing .  I am a Progress’ not Perfection’ kind of girl today. 

I’ve lost many beautiful friends to cancer and my sweet  cousin to a tragic accident.  They were all too young to leave us yet… But I got to love them and laugh and cry with them. We will all meet again some day.  

This Thanksgiving  we will have 30 guests over to our house to break bread and give thanks together. Friends and family. And I am bursting with gratitude and awe of where God has brought me.  46. Not bad… Not bad at all.  Who would have thought that at 19 years old I figured if I was lucky I would make it to 30! 🙂 

To my  younger friends I tell you this: keep on keeping on, LOVE even when it hurts. Laugh often and renew your mind often.  To my older friends: I’m right behind you- watching and learning from your wisdom, love and zeal for life. 

All my life I had two big reminders of all of this but was unaware of their power.  The power of words.  My parents had a little wood frame at our house with the words, ” DIOS ES AMOR Y EL QUE VIVE EN EL AMOR, EN DIOS PERMANECE Y DIOS EN EL .”          1 John 4:16.    I would read it everyday .  It mostly went over my head  and I had no idea that they were one of Christ’s best friend’s words.  Then Elisa, my little sister had her own mantra: “I LOVE LIFE”.   She would write it everywhere and she even had a wooden carved letter set with those wise words.  Most of the time I just thought about breaking it, or how tacky those wood letters looked …. (sorry Eli).  But as much as I teased her about it,  I am now aware of their power as well.  You were right Sis,  ‘I Love Life too’~ 

Listening to Pain~

A few months ago I had to stop running and I had to stop crosfit and I almost had a major breakdown because for some reason I have identified part of (or a lot of ) my worth on health and performance (go figure….).   But when you have beat yourself up for so long w high impact sports and you keep running on a bad knee for soooo long,  and you don’t really stretch and you just pop ibuprofen to keep going and keep up and refuse to quit crosfit even though you probably should have slowed it down a looong time ago guess what?  The PAIN will eventually speak out LOUD ENOUGH.   It made me stop ~and paying attention to my pain might not be such a bad thing. It has been a struggle but here is what I’m figuring out:

I was so distraught at the thought of having to trade in my gym membership for the yoga hippies club that I ‘pretended’ I would eventually go back to heavy lifting and this would pass.  What I have found out is that listening to my pain has been a beautiful thing.  And well, yoga is not so bad and boring.  It is actually pretty hard and challenging- but in a different way.
I forgot that our bodies are so tied to our souls and when I try to run from my pain my soul gets left behind, un-cared for.   I realize now that it isn’t just health and performance and the body- but that  I have been running from feeling certain emotions. Mostly pain… and shame, maybe some betrayal, the list can grow.   I think we can all ‘run’ in different ways, some of us run with eating, or drinking, or shopping, or just hatin’ ya feel??  The truth for me is that going to physical therapy and having to sit in a yoga class thinking and thinking  (or trying not to think as the instructors tell me) for an hour about being in the present is catching up on me.  I never liked slowing down before.  These past months I’ve been forced to slow down, and listen, and feel.   Then all of a sudden just like God always does, the signs start coming.  Amazing books that fall on my lap about pain and vulnerability being GOOD (what??!), freedom of the soul movement events, an angel of a counselor, a crash course called Rescue Lab that blew my socks off and all this happening to me in the same month!!   All of these books, teachers, speakers and events have been on this earth for a long time. BUT THEY ALL FELL ON MY LAP ON THE SAME MONTH.  The same month that I began to listen to my pain.    It was as if God was telling me, “Good, you are now ready to listen, to Be Still, and this is a good thing, and I love you and maybe you forgot that you don’t need to DO anything for that love~ well let me remind you.”  No need to keep running, striving, pretending, hiding.  It’s crazy, but it’s good- I consider it growth and growth is good.
So, for the time being…..I’ve stopped running from both physical pain and spiritual pain.  Or emotional pain if you prefer.  It’s not terribly bad you might think, but I do realize it was getting in the way of my freedom and of my joy.  The struggle is real my friends- but I am equipped.  God’s Holy Spirit is available to me for this process and I am very glad about that.  I can’t do it on my own. My physical therapist peeps are helping me with the body aches and my Jesus is helping me tend to my soul~
I am still digging deep and walking in the mud- but I am excited about the hope that healing brings.  #BREATHE~
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