To different people, Freedom means different things.
For some, it may be the absence of all rules.
I’ve been going through a lot of changes and thinking recently, so that I can say that for me, at the moment, freedom means to be free to think and believe what I believe to be true and just, without being weighed down by fear of guilt and hell, and to accept myself, love myself, embrace myself and to be (become) who I am.
Now that may sound a whole lot selfish – it is all about me. But in the light of what I’ve been through and have experienced, it is a big step.
I spent 7 years in what I’d qualify as an abusive Christian environment with a manipulative and abusive leadership, and today I find a lot of their teachings questionable. When I left there, I was about 19 years old – today I am 41 years old. It took me many years to heal, and I am still digesting certain issues – I mentioned some of it here #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear.
These were the first Christians I met, and I thought that all Christians are like that. Upon finally leaving, I didn’t want to hear anything about Christianity for the next 4 years or so, and explored feminist spirituality. Which in turn led me to feminist theology and that, in turn, back to Christianity. Full circle. By then, I had also met other Christians who showed that those I had encountered before weren’t the only ones.
Looking back, I’d say it really is the grace of God that held me and kept me throughout all this time, and with my permission, has healed my wounds. But it is not cheap grace. It is costly, and wild, and chaotic at times, it goes deep and digs deep – always gentle, yet like a fire at the same time. It reaches inside. God is not afraid of encountering, meeting, seeing even the darkest thing inside one’s soul – the biggest joys and the darkest abysses.
Instead of the controlling, condemning, conquering, smiting Father-King-Judge, I found a God who is just and righteous, yes, but in love. Above all, s/he is LOVE. Not that ooey-wooey dovey sugary love, but a fierce, strong, burning, passionate loving longsuffering healing and accepting love. I have experienced the Gospel not as a cheap message of some small personal salvation where I just worry if my soul goes to heaven (and who goes to hell), but a society and life-transforming Kingdom already beginning here and now, a Kingdom to which all are invited -women, men, queer, straight, all over the board.
I’ve grown tired of the careful sugarcoated language because that’s not the way life is – life is messy, and the gospel goes straight to the heart of all this mess. So if sometimes I swear, so what? Does that make me a worse person? I don’t swear for the sake of swearing, or to make me look cool – but sorry, some things in this world are, for lack of a better word, seriously fucked up and need serious tikkun olam.
And as to how a “good believer” should look like? I already started giving up on that a while ago. First of all, “a good believer”? You believe, or you don’t. And even when you’re a “believer”, there always come times when it’s hard, when you question or doubt, or God seems far away, when answers don’t come easy (or not at all) – but you hang on in there. But good? I like swapping that for ‘sincere’. Isn’t that what has been asked? To be sincere, honest, true to self, with others, with God? So does it matter then that I don’t walk around like the average middle churchgoing mom? (I mean nothing wrong with that, God loves everybody and doesn’t care about what they wear! So why so much fuzz about it?) I’m keeping my hair shaved (anyway, not much leeway with my meds, but I like it that way!), I’ll keep getting all the meaningful tattoos I want, and I just got back out my black shirts, skirts, pants, studded belts and DocMartens.