The Year I Left My Church

One year ago in September, I left my church. I started going to church {The Salvation Army} every Sunday from the time I was one week old, until I was almost 26 years old. Some people take a gap year between high school and university-to find themselves, to adventure; that has never been my personality. I am goal based and goal driven. I enjoy picking a goal and working towards it.

I have very much hesitated sharing this story because it is hard to correctly depict my emotions and growth. My heart rate is quickening as I type. Sharing your faith, and sharing your resolve is a tricky thing. I know it is likely many people won’t agree with me- but I have¬†also learned that that is okay. Stick with me [despite the wandering thoughts] even if you aren’t religious, we all have our ‘spiritual selves’. It is a pillar in our wellness, regardless of what we believe, and I think [and hope] that most people can relate. I hope to hear feedback from many walks of spirituality and belief. Not solely my own. My hope is for a dialogue. I also hope that if you are one of those people who ‘hate christians’, maybe we can seek understanding from one another. ūüôā

Initially I left my church out of frustration, hurt, bitterness, feeling lost. If you have followed my blog, last fall my husband and I also discontinued fertility treatments, grieving the loss of the dream to have biological children. It forced me to assess myself.  If this is it for the rest of my life, is this ENOUGH? [the infamous words tattooed into my wrist] Are my beliefs ENOUGH? Are my morals ENOUGH? Am I living in a world where I am doing ENOUGH? Is this person I am NOW, ENOUGH?

I think when a lot of people hear you are a Christian, they associate it with criticism, guilt, hypocrisy, judgement. I AM a Christian, and have¬†felt these same emotions. I left my church because I was critically assessing my own morals and beliefs, and I felt misrepresented. I didn’t want to live in a world where people felt I was judging their lives. I didn’t want to live in a world where other’s hate depicted how accepted people I love felt by me.

I left my church believing that my spirituality was based on me, and my personal relationship with Christ was between him and I. I left feeling squandered by a human expectation, when my only expectation should have been from Christ.

I still believe this, utmost, but I understand it in a new way now. We are each responsible for how the world sees us. Are you going to accept love, or personal resolve? I believe in a Christ who loves. Widely, and openly. Strongly and fiercely. Unconditionally.

Community was my first huge challenge. Having grown up in the church, I had a huge community within the church. Attending other churches, and ultimately another church which I chose was incredibly hard. How do you make friends as an adult? Do we choose when we make friends? Do we unconsciously choose not to connect in some settings, but connect wildly in others because of ‘cliques’, or because we are ultimately searching?
I dare to say, we choose the connection we need. Ultimately, we are selfish beings. If a group of people isn’t filling a part of our lives we need, why waste the time to get emotionally involved. Vulnerability isn’t easy. I don’t think we pick our communities out of convenience. I think we pick them out of need.

I personally witnessed so much heart ache in my community this year. It really solidified to me that these were ‘my people’. These were the people I chose to be vulnerable with. While for the most part, this community was still in my life, as a christian, to be vulnerable in worship was a huge missing piece. I developed a greater urgency to depend deeply on the people I loved. Our time is fleeting, where was I going to spend mine?

If we aren’t being challenged, we aren’t changing. Change.¬†Don’t we all hate change?
I was challenged to change, and it was at times painful. Other times my soul overflowed with joy. I was challenged to really understand every aspect of why I personally believe what I believe. Why do I practice what I practice? Because I was told to, or because I believe it. #1, I believe in a personal relationship with Christ. It seemed so complicated at the time, and it took me an entire year to realize, it is SO incredibly simple. Humans are great at complicating things. Faith and spirituality is really SO simple. What to you pick to share your soul with? I choose forgiveness, acceptance, unconditional love. If I expect others to believe it to be that simple, I must actively choose forgiveness, acceptance, and unconditional love. Inwardly and outwardly.

Understanding. Absolutely no person is with without fault. So why are we so harsh on each other? Why are we so quick to tell others what they are doing wrong? Why is it so difficult to encourage, and seek understanding?
To me, this is the problem with guilt-based faith. I believe if you seek out good, and justice, the bad in the world falls away in the fight. In my personal faith, I believe in repentance, which is essentially acknowledging ¬†you are wrong, and that you can’t do it by yourself. Seeking goodness through Christ. Even if you don’t believe in Christ, are you seeking goodness somewhere? Or are you seeking hostility?
We all believe differently, and isn’t that such a beautiful, glorious thing!!!! Can you imagine this world if all the questions were answered, and we answered them all the same? While choosing to leave bitterness behind, and to seek understanding of others [even the ones that drive me UP THE WALL] I am finding peace. I am finding self assurance. None of us ‘have it all together’. No faith or belief system ‘has all the answers’. It is part of being human. It’s the joy in being human-we get to SEEK answers.

Finally, I learned the importance of resolving to be extraordinary.

Of being the friend you long for….

Of loving as passionately as you long to be loved….

Of accepting as freely as you hope to be accepted….

Of perpetuating JUSTICE in an unjust world…

This world is a messy place. We are all so privilege to have the hours, days, months, years left that we have. So many are denied the privilege of growing, learning, doubting, leaping, changing.

So whether you are a christian, an atheist, or another faith; I think my prevailing thought is to make sure you are living with authenticity. Every walk of life has hypocrisy, but I really think hypocrisy comes from expectations. What expectations do we have for ourselves, and do we have them because we think we should live a certain way, or do we have them because we are living our true authentic selves?

Live the YOU you want to be now. Don’t wait. I waited 26 years, and the freedom that comes¬†from questioning the things you have always believed to be true is insane.

[Special thanks to S.R. Thank you for continuing to befriend me, challenge me, help me grow, and most importantly listen to be ramble on about my life mustering all year, as I have been trying to ‘figure it all out’]

Gratitude

Here I am. Awake at 0700 on a Sunday morning, having worked some of the most difficult shifts of my career thus far in the last seven days; and yet…img_1537

The world is beautiful.

The leaves are freshly fallen, colours of burnt auburn, pumpkin and yellow canary.

Sunshine glistens through the trees; a new day, a fresh start.

Tea billowing, flowing with steam.

Flannel pyjamas against my skin; soft, warm, seasonal.

Acoustic covers play list catching the melodies of my soul.

There is so much beauty in this world.

Hold whom you love tight, take risks, love recklessly, dance like no one is watching.

Live passionately.

As the song says;

This is your life, what are you waiting for?

Today I am grateful for:

Incredibly supportive, hard-working, kick-butt, passionate friend-workers [co-worker friends].

I have everything I NEED.

The gateway music opens in my soul.

 

 

Perspective

Per-spec-tive
Noun
1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

It is incredible how as humans, we have such ability to change our perspectives based on experiences.
I find it so interesting when you actually look at the definitions of perspective, you find at first a description which does not seem to fit with emoting. Two dimensional surfaces, ¬†drawn in a way to so you can see them differently. How mechanical…but isn’t that really all the second definition is too? Our attitudes are so two dimensional, until we add our experiences and emotions giving them a three dimensional meaning.
Have I lost you?
Where are you getting with this Sarah?

My perspective has once again shifted. Having blurred my outlook, and lived in my own grief for a little while, I have had new experiences to shift my attitude, and give me a new perspective.

I find myself so INSPIRED.
I am LUCKY. I have been surrounded in a tribe of STRONG WOMEN. In my saddest, most selfish moments I have never been far from someone who is ready to pick me up, ask how I am feeling, share their story, allow me to open my mind and heart to the world and let beautiful things in again.

In so many ways my infertility has blessed me. I have become rooted in deep friendships and bonds which I doubt I would have found without a little struggle….

You see, we are all a little bit broken. Thats what makes this life journey so beautiful. That is what BONDS us. Our ability to change our PERSPECTIVES and see; the world is beautiful. The brokenness allows for such beautiful GROWTH, LOVE, SUPPORT, PERSEVERANCE. 

People die, hearts get broken, trust gets destroyed, dreams get shattered.
But isn’t this¬†why¬†we¬†DREAM? Isn’t this¬†why¬†we¬†HOPE? So we can take one step further away from the things that slay us, and into the light and beauty of this world.

I have a little saying that I now ¬†find myself uttering ¬†as my mantra. When I want to complain about how tired or broken I am, how my legs can’t run a step further, my heart can’t break again, how I want to GIVE UP; I find myself saying :

Everything worth having is HARD. The best things require HARD WORK. PUSH HARDER.

As we head in to¬†Infertility Awareness Week¬†in Canada, I just want you to know.¬†You are not alone.¬†WE¬†(that 1 in 6 couples…and every single person who didn’t get married and have 2.3 children by 34 like society told them to)¬†are not alone.

Dream. Hope. Want. Work for…. because even if you get a little broken along the way…
There is so much beauty in the broken, and WE have your back.

Choosing Joy

It has been a week of emotional up’s and down’s, but I am happy to say I am finding peace.

While my mind changes every.single.day as to if I want to try IVF or head straight to adoption…I have a lot of time, so I am trying to not let it stress me out.

I think it may seem like I am stuffing down my feelings in an attempt to not really deal with my emotions. That is far from reality. I am very in touch with my emotions, but I am trying to let joy be the prevailing emotion. So do I break down crying at the topic of infertility mid-run on a windy, terrifying bridge…yep? Do I let it take my whole run? Nope. I laugh about the ridiculousness of where I chose to break down, I express why I am sad…and I carry on.

Many people have asked, how are you? My most hated question. I don’t really know how I am. One minute I am sad, one minute I am happy, one minute I am planning my adoptive family. Haha. A short, “I’m Fine.” seems to be the answer lately. I am happy to talk about everything we are going through….but sometimes, at the end of a long HAPPY day, I don’t want to let sad emotions seep in. I want to choose JOY instead of sadness. I AM choosing joy…so if I don’t express my sad feelings to you, I am not trying to hide anything…I am moving on and picking happiness.

..Because? We will have a beautiful life with or without children.

So what are some things I am doing to help me CHOOSE JOY?

  1. Planning. I am a planner. If you ask my husband he will tell you what a bond me and my schedule book have. HAHA!! I am allowing myself to plan for an immediate (2-5 year) future without children. We are planning a trip, and making goals…and I love it.
  2. Eating healthy. I got a little off track in all the infertility treatments, so getting back to eating whole foods, and storing up on nutrients is helping me feel my best.
  3. Exercise. It is amazing how cathartic running is. In many ways I can run away from everything….zone out…dig deep. In many other ways, running helps me to delve deep into myself and my soul and feel my feelings in a healthy way, and then push deep to let them go.
  4. Keeping busy. I find joy in a full schedule. I love being able to look at a week and know exactly what I need to do.
  5. Loving fully. I am trying to not let infertility to cause me to be hardened. I am trying to express my love to my husband and friends without holding back…because that is who I am, and I refuse to let infertility change that. ūüėČ
  6. Simple Pleasures. I am forcing myself to take every day breath by breath. Smell the latte. Experience the flavours. Feel the wind on my face on the patio I am sipping the coffee. I am trying got be present, and ever amazed by the wonderful world we live in.
  7. Budgeting. Getting serious about our budget is helping me see that IVF/Adoption/Home ownership, etc. are not impossible and ARE in our future. It is also much less stressful to have a plan.
  8. Letting myself fall apart. In letting myself take 5 minutes in the moments I am sad to just feel bad for myself….I am able to deal with those emotions, and then consciously choose to move on. I am not dwelling in sadness, but I am acknowledging when it comes, and giving it a time limit.
  9. Giving to others. It is amazing how much joy can be found in helping and supporting others. I don’t mean financially. I mean really listening, caring, lending that helping hand when needed. I am trying to make this more of a part of my daily life.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy, but JOYFUL journey.
***If you find yourself free please join us to raise money for our refugee family. Beer night details if you follow this think….¬†https://www.facebook.com/events/799490583492942/***

Faux-Spring

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This week has been incredible run-wise. The weather has been A-MA-ZING. As in….it is no longer in the -40C’s. As in… today was +4C. Hallelujah. I am not naiive enough to believe this will last, but I am taking full advantage as long as I possibly can!=) I wore capri’s and Tom’s today to suck in the warmth. I even got a frapp at starbucks rather than a hot beverage! Needless to say, I am quite enjoying my mid-winter weather vacation.¬†

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Here is what I have to accomplish this week:

35-45 min. easy run

10 min. warm up + 2 x 1km @ half marathon goal pace with 2 min. jog + 10 min. cool down

45 min. easy run

9 km long slow run

Ps. The sunset today was amazing. We really do live in ‘the land of the living skies