Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where Is Your Heart?

This post is part of the November synchroblog.

Hmm...haven't posted for a long time, but I am still here....

As the title & header of my blog may suggest, I have a prophetic bent, so this month's topic definitely grabbed me. The past few months have been full of a lot of challenges - from having to go to church food banks to get through tight places (and that is a horror story unto itself) to becoming involved with a small fellowship of believers burned out on religion but passionate about the felt presence of God.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know these last 4 years have been full of doubt, pain, healing, frustration, and a passion for finding truth. I think these elements will be with me for a long time to come - I think they are, perhaps, just part of life on this planet - at least mine. So....

Hmm....as I have become involved with this little fellowship, I have been challenged to remember that just as I have tendrils of religious bs still clinging to me in places, so does everyone else who has fled the IC. We probably will always have bits and pieces that trail along - like that annoying bit of toilet paper that gets stuck to our shoe but we don't see...but everyone else does. I am learning to make allowances for that in others and in myself....

I have also been challenged to return to the core of my relationship with Jesus. It is a relationship that goes back as far as I can remember (probably even farther). It is so easy to get to a place where you don't want to offend people by talking about Jesus. But if he is my best friend, someone who has been there for me through every hurt and every victory....

To give perspective, I think about my dear friend that got thrown out of church because she wouldn't lie about what the pastor did to her. I left with her, have stuck with her. She is an awesome friend. And I don't care what people think about me because of my friendship with her. I have been mocked, pitied, condemned, and who knows what else. But it doesn't matter. I know the truth and I am honored to be her friend. And the friendship I have with her is worth every bit of it....

So....if I am willing to take abuse and slander and ridicule for being her friend, why should it be any different with Jesus? The relationship I have with him is more valuable than anything anyone might choose to say or think or do. Truly, I would rather die than live without him in my life. That may seem dramatic, but it is absolute truth. I have never known what it is like to be without him right there, constant, strong, a presence that does not fade. A friend. And honestly, I hope I never do. So I have been challenged to return to that faithfulness to the friendship - a faithfulness that any true friendship deserves.

I have also been challenged, through involvement with this little fellowship, to not let go of the hard won freedoms I have gained in the years since I left the IC. I have become acutely aware of how much condemnation was a part of my daily life. Instilled through abuse from family, from the IC, from twisted doctrine and legalism, from rigid demands of conformity to a specific interpretation of what being a Christian must be. Just last week, I was startled at how easily I fell back into the pressure to 'conform' to old standards of religious correctness - triggered by the religious phrases still used by some in this fellowship (though I also have seen that was not their intent). But as my friend reminded me, I only fell into it for a couple of days before i smelled the bs and dropped it. It has served to remind me that my freedom is mine to keep or relinquish, but it takes a willingness to offend in order to keep it. One of the things Jesus told me very clearly in the last few weeks is that I need to let go of the fear of men (gender neutral). Truly, no matter what someone else may think about it, no one - and I mean NO ONE - has the ability or authority to, in ANY way, affect my standing or relationship with Jesus. Period. That relationship is personal and one on one. To really, finally start to understand that really no one can do that.... is a whole new level of freedom for me. I'm not sure I have words to convey the freedom - the power - this simple truth has for me. I am recognizing that choosing to pursue Jesus outside of the religious boundaries of the IC is beautiful, freeing, scary, challenging... The religious doctrines of the IC offer security - do what we say, how we say, and we guarantee your place in eternity. Breaking away from that is not as easy as I would like. But really, it is an illusory security. That is one of the most damnable aspects of the IC, to me - that false sense of security. I think, for me, the pursuit of truth demands risking that alluring promise of security for a far more real and beautiful place... I have told God I want truth, even if it annihilates me. And I think that is actually a far safer position than the one religion offers.

I am also realizing, through my involvement with this fellowship, that there are still wounds that are sore. My healing is not complete. But it probably won't be this side of death. I am seeing that all of us in this group are wounded in various different ways. We are all being challenged to give each other the space to heal with dignity. And learning to trust is slow, but I am seeing glimmers of hope in this. For the first time in my life, my voice matters to the others in the group. That is, oddly, a bit confusing - overwhelming, even. But it is also healing - new friendships being formed with trust reaching out cautiously, hopefully.

What is the result? I am finally starting to make steps in the direction of actually walking out the visions I have seen. It is exciting and a little scary. But really, there is no other thing to do. I cannot go backward without giving up my integrity - to go back would be to lie about what I have seen and experienced.

On the practical level, the challenges continue. I have been on unemployment for 13 months - so many job applications - so few interviews..... and things are getting pretty tight. But above all, I am learning that the fundamental element of faith is to simply keep moving and not give up.


Other synchroblog participants...

Joy Wilson at Solacetree: The Blessing Of Losing Your Faith
Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes: I Have A Dream
Glenn Hager at Breathe: Uncomfortably Numb
Linda at Kingdom Grace: On Earth As It Is In Heaven
Sally at Eternal Echoes: Where Are The True Prophets?
Tammy Carter at Blessing the Beloved: No Compromise
Alan Knox at The Assembling of Church: My Word of Prophecy: Quit Listening to Prophetic Voices
Liz at Grace Rules: Listen
Christine Sine at Godspace: Surrounded by Prophetic Voices - Clouds of Witnesses that Call Us Out of Numbness
Amy Martin: The Window of Suffering, the Beginning of Hope
Kathy Escobar at The Carnival in My Head: Rising Up From Below
K. W. Leslie at More Christ: What Is God Challenging You To Do?

Steve Hayes at Khanya: Murder of the Cathedral
Leah Chang at Desert Spirit's Fire: Wall Street, Our Street
Bobby Aunder at Deconstructing Neverland: Shift
Minnow at Minnowspeaks: Day of Dialogue 

10 comments:

Jeremy Myers said...

Katherine,

Thank you for the open and honest post. You did the right thing in following your friend who was kicked out of church. That reveals the heart of Jesus.

Thank you for taking on "Martus" over on my blog. You have some good comments in response to him. But he is commenting and posting anonymously, and so feels free to say whatever hateful thing comes into his mind.

Sue said...

I love the way you write. You are so good at bringing us into a little of your world and its complexion. Thank you.

I just love what you have written here. How beautiful, that freedom from condemnation.

I didn't grow up in the IC, I didn't even become a Christian until I was 22. And even then it wasn't too many years in an IC until I started falling out of it, and I'm so glad, even though at the time I took it for rebellion and because I was a bad person, etc etc etc. And so such a small time in that space and yet I still struggle so much with that whole condemnation thing (after all, that kind of deal is not pertinent only to churches. I grew up under condemnation in my family).

Even now, commenting on blogs of people I know who follow after Jesus I feel the whiff of potential condemnation because I seem to be in a bit of a holding pen for the last couple of years. I'm not even sure what I believe anymore. And I don't want to be here. I want to believe that Jesus was and is and will be because I know for many years I had a connection to ... something. And I miss that connection.

Anyway, sorry for rabbitting on about my own stuff. But I just wanted to say it was really lovely coming to read here :) Thanks for sharing.

Katherine Gunn said...

Ah, Sue. You're welcome. I'm glad you came by and read. This was a hard one for me to post, for some reason. It's not like I haven't let you all see my soul before. I don't know...

This one made me afraid of being attacked, for some odd reason.

Thanks for 'rabbiting on' about you. ;-)
I like to hear how you're doing and what my little bits stir up. As to what you believe...no condemnation from this end. I have no corner on Truth. I only have my own experiences. I do believe that as long as we want and seek truth, we will find it, in unexpected places and surprising shapes....

Love you, my friend. {{hug}}

Sam said...

Katherine - We both comment on Kathy's blog and Jeremy's blog. I've always kind of assumed you are part of Kathy's group. Were you there for the WW conference two weekends ago? (I was - I handled the food.)

As Kathy says in her current post, we can choose to no longer be part of that system. That's exactly what my wife and I have done. We like this so much better - following Jesus instead of being dumb stupid sheep blindly following some religious guys.

Things do get better. Staying away from the IC does help. However, if we're around people who used to be in the IC but no longer are, they do tend to push our buttons with their religious slang and by thinking that things must be done like they saw them done in the IC.

That fellow we've both been interacting with on Jeremy's blog is just the kind of person who makes me want no part of religion. That's why I love Jesus, but hate religion. I believe several of us are refraining from further interacting with him because it just seems to encourage him (in his quest to take over Jeremy's blog?).

Peace for your journey, Katherine. If you're part of Kathy's group, greet her for us.

Katherine Gunn said...

Hay, Sam. Thanks for stopping by.

No, I am not part of Kathy's group, although her and I have become friends. I very much wanted to come the WW - was planning to, but had to cancel at the last minute.

Dealing with people who have just left the IC - yes, they are still clinging some to the security of familiar rituals....I have been reminded of the process I went through as I left, which helps with the compassion and patience part. :-)

As to the guy on Jeremy's blog, I know. I had planned to just start ignoring him. Then he responded to my last comment and I was not able to resist the opportunity to show how his stance was proving the point of Jeremy's series...LOL.

Robert said...

Hi Katherine- you do have a genuine ability to connect by how you share in your writing. I am still involved in the IC and seek to let grace,peace and love be my MO. I enjoy always reading your posts on Kathy's blog. I hope you write a lil more often, because you have a great deal to share. I have just begun posting again on my blog after a long hiatus. Thanks for showing where your heart is at Katherine sweet sister

Katherine Gunn said...

Robert, Thanks. I hope to post a little more often...I was shocked at how long it had been....sometimes it seems hard to corral what's going on into a single, coherent post.....;-)

Tammy Carter said...

Katharine, I love the relationship you describe with your Savior. So, beautiful. Thanks for sharing that...it is encouraging. I am happy you have found your voice and are at a place where you don't care about others opinions of it or offending others. And, it's awesome that you're voice is heard in your new fellowship group. I am praying for that. I have grown tremendously in the last few months and have found my voice is not well received. But, at the same time, I am also at a place of not caring so much of what others think of my voice! :-)

Katherine Gunn said...

Hey, Tammy. Thanks....it has been an interesting journey...and promises to just keep getting more interesting. Sometimes, when we find our voice, it takes the people around us by surprise - takes a bit for them to adjust....;-)

Katherine Gunn said...

Jeremy, sorry this is so late in posting. For some reason, blogger tagged your comment as spam and I just found it.

Thanks. To not follow would have put my soul in danger (not said lightly).

As to "Martus"...he just wants to argue till the other side caves. He doesn't seem interested in actually listening - hearing...only arguing, winning. Not worth the effort. :-)