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’]

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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.

The Big Bad I.V.F.

Today we received the news we have been dreading for 3 years and two months; we can not achieve pregnancy and our only choice to proceed to IVF or adoption.

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I won’t lie and say we aren’t devastated… but I refuse to wallow in self-pity today. We will pick ourselves up, we will carry on, we will recalculate our dream of a family and what that means to us.

Our plan as of now is to begin saving the 12-20 thousand dollars we will need for IVF- and when the time comes we will then decide if IVF indeed is where be believe our money is best fit for starting our family. We are also planning to take an epic one-month-away adventure some time in the spring to cleanse ourselves of this grief. After our appointment, we went to the batting cages and hit out our anger, IT FELT GOOD. We spent the day together, as we always do, and focused on supporting one another.

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Instead of wallowing in grief and sadness…I want to talk about how infertility has blessed us. YES, blessed. I believe that you are given a choice about everything in life-maybe you can’t control outcomes, but you control the way you handle it. You control the way you treat others, and you control the way you share your story to affect other people’s stories….

  • I know the depth of my God’s love. This has been a huge comfort to me. He is teaching me so many things through this process about my own spirituality and faith.
  • I am 100% with the perfect, most wonderful man for me. My husband has been the biggest source of love and support I could ever have imagined. Through this process, we have been forced to delve deep into growing our relationship- the statistics are real- infertile couples are THREE TIMES more likely to divorce. We refuse to become a statistic and will make every effort to keep our marriage #1 in all of this.
  • I am not alone. Ever. 1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility in Canada; 1 in 4 worldwide.¬†The amount of people in my life who have secretly struggled, and shared their journey’s with me is astounding. Their willingness to share their most intimate emotions, heartbreaks and triumphs has been so inspiring. I have had ZERO bad feedback sharing our journey. Only an outpouring of love and support.
  • We have enough. We may not have every thing we want, but we have food, we have shelter, and we have secure jobs in which can afford us the opportunity to one day try IVF.
  • I am enough. I have learned, and am still learning… I AM ENOUGH. As I am, who I am, where I am, how I am. I AM enough. A life long journey that has peaked in this struggle.

So where do we go from here? We carry on. We find new goals, we persevere. We blast FIGHT SONG and sign LOUD in the car…because we have SO much to live for.

“This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me”

Excuse me as I spend the night with my favourite man, my favourite wine, a bubble bath, and my favourite TV series. Thank you for all of your love, support, and kind words. I am overwhelmed by the love you have all shared.

***On a side note: I am a part of a group of people in Saskatoon making an effort to help a family of 5 come to Canada fleeing violence and poverty. If you feel so inclined, please check out our fundraising page. Any support you can give is very much appreciated.****

Lately

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This week and next I work quite a bit, plus I am taking a two day course so it will be quite hectic. I have been trying to really relish all my free time/husband time and get in a lot of exercise before the chaos begins. [I also got this fun app called ‘Over’ to add text to my pics…]

I started the week by demolishing these INCREDIBLE gluten free + vegan black bean brownies. I promise you can’t taste the beans… And I may or may not have eaten 11/12 all by myself in 4 days….I made up for it by eating relatively healthy the rest of the time. Lots of smoothies, fish, and avocado(salted).

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I made a seriously delicious cajun fish recipe….I could eat it every single day. I actually might-since I bought a bag of 30 fish fillets from costco. =) I also was working at one of the other ER’s in town, which happens to be just blocks away from my favorite coffee shop in Saskatoon. It has so many beautiful details and some hipster charm. They make the World’s Best London Fog…in my opinion. If you are ever in Saskatoon, check out City Perk!

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I used a late start at work one day as an excuse to take my hubbie for the first time to enjoy  gluten free quiche + almond milk latte (for me) and a strawberry parfait + full fat latte (for G). Ready to go into this busy busy week with healthy food in the fridge, tons of hubbie time spent, and sore muscles from multiple gym days. =) Hopefully I can get a few days in at the gym despite work.

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