Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We're getting deep here

Disclaimer: I’m going to be honest here, because, you know what? This is my blog, my little piece of the interwebs, and if I can’t be honest here, then what’s the point?
Here's the thing, there are certain topics I very rarely ever blog about, because I know they can open the door to some strong feelings, and since this blog is my "safe place", I like to keep it peaceful. But, looking at it from another perspective, this is my safe place, so I can and should be able to talk about whatever it is that matters to me. And this...matters to me.

What is this I speak of? Well, we're getting into the deep waters of some amazing things that have happened in my life recently.

Most of these things you all already know about, I lost my job, switched careers completely, have re-connected with some old friends, and built some strong foundations with new ones. But the biggest change I’ve only alluded to in passing, and the thing is? It deserves more than just a passing reference.

So here it is.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I consider myself to be an extremely spiritual person, but that it pretty much stopped there, because I was very conflicted when it came to an actual “organized” religion. The reality is that in general I tend to have issues with most “conventional” things in society, because I always land square outside of that line of “normal”. So, it should come as no surprise that I would have my disagreements with religion.

That has not necessarily changed.

I’m a single woman in my 30’s, strong, independent, and confident in my status. I am a feminist. Not in the sense of the word that brings up thoughts of man hating and bra burning (trust me, nobody, but nobody wants to see me leave my house without a bra on); but in the “a woman has as much right as a man to: fill-in-the-blank” sense. I am a liberal for the most part, with very few conservative beliefs. I believe very strongly in the value of family, but also believe that conventional family values are outdated and traditional families are now few and far between, therefore I have no issue with loving families that don’t fit the “mold”. I support a woman’s right to have a right to choose…whether or not I agree with her choice making it none of my business. I also believe a lot of other things that may not entirely mesh with what everyone expects from someone who is about to say the following four words: I am a Christian.

Now, I’ll tell you what, it has taken me a long time to be able to say those words and not flinch. For whatever reason, we are conditioned to be proud to speak out about all the things we are and are not, except when it comes to our faith. On that topic, we know to be silent. Especially if we are Christian, and even more so if we happen to be “gasp” Catholic. And the truth is that until recently, I wasn’t particularly comfortable with my own faith to “own up” to it.

I knew what I believed, and that was simply good enough for me.

So what changed? Well…everything…and… nothing. It was a chain of events, kicked off by Candid Brother attending a retreat and finding his own way with faith, and then pushed along by my uncle, the “Spiritual Director”, inviting me to participate in a class of sorts, and fortified by the renewal of friendships, and the making of new friends, whose faith and love opened my eyes and heart to something I didn’t even really know I was missing. Then I volunteered to help out on a youth retreat, which spurred the youth outreach program my friends and I have taken charge of, and well…it all took on a life of its own.

The thing is, in terms of my feelings about organized religion, not too much has changed. I still have my issues, my doubts, my inability to just blindly accept. But the change that took place is this…I realized that just because I don’t believe in organized religion, that does not mean I don’t believe in the basic principles of the religion. My method of prayer for years has been at best abstract, at worst confused. I knew I believed in something, but because I was constantly battling within myself about how I disagreed with the man-made rules of the church and the outdated dictates and screwed up politics within the “organization”, I couldn’t allow myself to be specific about what it was that I believed in.

Thanks to a combination of things, including my incredible new friend The Disciple, in the last several months I’ve been able to take a step back from all those internal arguments and just be. When I stopped letting my brain do all my talking, thinking, rationalizing for me, I realized something huge. I have really strong beliefs, and they needed to be tended to.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing. By simply just being, I’ve had the most amazing year. Everything has changed.

I’ve changed. I’m so much more at peace with myself, with everything around me. I’m also a lot more emotional, but I think that is because I see things so much more clearly now, that sometimes the emotional impact blows me away. When I was laid off from my job, instead of completely freaking out and falling into a deep depression (as I think many suspected would have happened to me), I simply took a breath and said “It’ll work out, I’m putting it in God’s hands”. And then I landed this amazing job, which has changed everything else in my life in such a positive way.

My friendships have changed, I’ve reconnected with some amazing folks from my past, and because of how at peace I am, I’ve strengthened my existing friendships, and even made new amazing friends. There has been one friendship that hasn’t fared as well, but I still have hopes of turning that one around. My constant positive state doesn’t seem to be sitting too well with a friend who is constantly negative recently, but hopefully we can get past it and come out all the better for it.

My priorities have changed. Volunteering with the teens has taken up just about all my free time this summer, I’m constantly exhausted, and don’t seem to have a whole lot of “me” time. I haven’t even gone shopping all that much lately (gasp). But you know what? I’m ridiculously happy. I love these kids, and spending time with them makes me feel younger and more energized. And they are such fantastic kids that they are giving me hope for this messed up world we live in. If the world is in their hands, then I know it’ll be okay. And this group has also given me an opportunity to re-connect with Lil’ K, which has been an amazing blessing, because due to her age, we were beginning to drift apart a little bit.

And my relationship with God has changed. This one is hard to put into words, but the best way I can describe it is this…for years God has been that elusive, unexplainable force, that I knew I believed in, but didn’t quite understand, and didn’t really have the guts to dig deep enough to try. Now…now he’s everything, the center of my everything. But with this refreshing realization that I don’t need to stop being the person I am for this relationship to be what it is. I can still obsess about shoes, enjoy chocolate martinis, and gossip with my girlfriends about how HOT Donnie Wahlberg is. (Yes he is, shut up). I don’t need to wear a high necked shirts, or stop swearing when I’m angry (not that I'm saying I should be doing it anyway). I don’t need to be “perfect” or “boring” to carry his message, and to believe it with all my heart.

What I’ve loved the most is that this group of misfits I call my friends all come in all shapes in sizes. We come with piercings, tattoos, emotional baggage and moments of road rage. We come with partying hard, drinking too much (definitely not talking about my old self here), not always going to church on Sunday. But WE COME. We show up and we believe.

Knowing that I can still be me, has also made it so much easier to not be ashamed to be honest about my faith. From wearing a t-shirt that has a religious message (yet oh so witty we are in our message), to openly having a conversation with Friendly (who is part of my group of friends) at work, about our activities, I no longer whisper my faith. I’m not shoving it down anyone’s throats…I know how long it took me to get to this point, and I know had anyone tried to force feed me, I would have run in the opposite direction. But I am just not hiding it either.

And then there’s this post. I think it takes an incredible amount of courage to be this open about faith in a public forum. I’m risking a lot. But I didn’t really have a choice…this post has been battling its way onto the page for months now. Just screaming to be let out. And after all, the name of this blog is Candid Karina. I’m being Candid. And I have faith that you’ll be okay with that.


Jill said...

hm, you know, I'm surprised that you think it takes such courage. I'm sorry that for you it does, but I bet you feel a WHOLE lot better now, don't you? How's this, since I'm the first commenter, I'll say, congratulations, and welcome to the flock, we are everywhere the world over. Just like you, going without a bra is a no-no, and I think women should be able to do whatever a man should be able to do, or at least attempt it...I also think that a lot of things are outdated, but I choose to ignore certain things. I have an aunt who is gay, she had a ceremony with her partner of quite a few years, and I saw her 'vows' and the 2 bride dolls from their cake displayed at their house. I was quiet about it, but I told her how neat it was. I think it's great that they have love and share love, and they have raised her partners kids (both had been married previously) to be awesome human beings. Nice as could be. Not weird or anything. My parents dont understand this. My dad (its his sister) doesnt say anything, my mom asks me questions,because i went to the gay community of the midwest university, they were everywhere, out and proud and didnt take a whole lot of flack. so my mom still thinks its wrong, but she has adjusted her thinking I think due to my answers such as 'well, gee do you think it might be biological instead of a choice? who would choose that? being mistreated all the time', etc. needless to say she still had a bit of a problem dealing with visiting them at 'their' house, but she smiled and went along with it and didnt ask to leave or whatever. I just laughed because I dont see a conflict in religion and supporting people who are gay or name your other social issue here. God loves me, I love others. I don't judge others. Simple. Christian. You're in the league of good people. Don't be afraid. And if you ever need anything, hop on by the mousehouse. I'll be there.

Beckie said...

I'm just glad you are so happy and positive about life!

You should be able to share WHATEVER you want on your blog - I think it is wonderful whatever you share!

BTW- I completely understand your view on religion.

PBNJM said...

AMEN SISTER!!! Need I say more? by the way, you almost made me cry, but then again, I'm very tired today and highly emotional.

Anonymous said...

Way to go! I am proud of you, little girl. You touched me, made me laugh, and made me cry.
I've been waiting for this blog for a year now. I am happy for you. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

I hope you're not risking a lot because this post was amazing! Simply amazing!! Enough to pull me out of lurk mode :o) You have words of wisdom and I'm glad you shared them. And I'm especially glad to see things are going so great in your life!!

Anonymous said...

Your post was a celebration of yourself - Yay! our very "Candid" Karina.
Much bloglove,

qualcosa di bello said...

a big hug to you...it is your blog & you can say whatever, but i do know it takes courage to be 'out there' with something that is so close to your heart. i too have faith that those who come here for candidness will appreciate you for your heart-bearing, joy-filled post!

Dory said...

I love this post. Beautifully written and a wonderful testimony to your walk with the Lord.
Thank you for sharing it so candidly.

Pamela said...

I am always hopeful when I hear someone speak up

I'm pleased with and for you.