Born Again: A Journey From Daughter of the Kingdom to Sacred Feminine Goddess, Part 1
It was a mild October evening four years ago. The Church was hosting a Halloween trunk-or-treat, if memory serves me correctly. The kids were adorned in the cutest costumes and the adults were exercising the inner child with their tailgate and trunk decorations.
A week had passed since my debut as a women’s retreat speaker. I had always pushed the legalistic edges of my faith heritage through carefully worded questions and responses in Bible class, but that women’s retreat had seen me blow a few holes through the walls that marked the ultimate line in the sand for those with whom I had worshiped since a toddler.
The presentation had been well received, or so it seemed. Women I had long held in high esteem stood at the conclusion of my words and thanked me for having the courage to speak boldly and thoroughly about aspects of Christianity for which they had not had the courage to speak. Cards of encouragement arrived during the week thanking me and acknowledging my contribution to the event. Even my parents received cards of congratulations and appreciation for having done a good job of raising me.
I knew the words spoken weren’t really mine. They had come from somewhere both within and beyond me. They had risen up from the depths of a place or an energy that wanted–no, needed–them spoken. I knew without a moment’s doubt I had truly spoken God’s message. It was a good feeling to be used by God, and the acknowledgment of others was a little bit of an ego trip. It was after all, my debut as a “preacher”.
But that night, the reality of why those women had never had the courage to speak as I had spoken walked right up to me in the shadowy, late evening air that hung over the church parking lot. He was an elder, not just older, but an officially-dubbed, ceremonially-installed elder of The Church. This man had watched me grow from a small child into a married woman who had birthed four children. I graduated from high school with his youngest son. He had been co-teacher in the Bible class my husband and I attended for several years. He had witnessed years of my sarcastic questions challenging church “law” and its abundance of contradictions.
Even though he had not been a witness to my women’s retreat presentation, word had gotten back to him of its message. Apparently all the negative feedback that didn’t find its way to my mailbox had instead found its way to his ear. He pulled me aside, looked me squarely in the eye, and said, “You really need to be careful what you say to others, particularly when there are those present whose faith isn’t as strong as yours.”
I’m sure there were some other words, but those are the words that have stuck with me, literally, as though a knife had been thrust straight into my heart. Didn’t he understand that it wasn’t really me? Could he not see that I had been a messenger speaking exactly what God wanted me to speak? God was awakening things inside of me that needed to be shared, and this message was of great importance. After all, I had been struggling with a nasty cough during the retreat, complete with the most inopportune of coughing fits, yet during the entire time I spoke to those ladies, I never so much as cleared my throat. By late afternoon I had complete and total laryngitis. It was as if God said, “You spoke what I asked of you, now shut up so you don’t screw it up.”
Adding insult to injury, the elder handed me a book with chapters marked explaining exactly what the Holy Spirit, my women’s retreat topic, is and how members of The Church are supposed to experience “him”. He indicated he wanted me to read the marked chapters and then he’d like to meet with me to discuss things.
I curtly accepted his “challenge” taking his book into my possession, yet the entire time feeling an incredible urge to vomit in hopes of somehow untying the knots that had taken up residence throughout my body between my throat and my womb. The ego trip of the previous week had suddenly experienced the ultimate smack down.
I could hardly wait to read his little book, for I had always been told The Church had no book of doctrine except the Bible. Yet there in my hands that night, I held what appeared to be the rights and wrongs of how a good Christian should conduct themselves in worship and beyond. I held the previously believed non-existent doctrine of The Church.