Last night I had a dream that two people wanted to hire me for a job. They led me through the crowd toward a building, and on the door was “Rob Bell, Spiritual Director.”
“Wouldn’t it be cool?” they asked, as in, wouldn’t it be cool to hear him speak? And it became clear that the job I was about to be interviewed for was within Rob Bell’s organization. And I felt two overwhelming feelings:
- Extreme excitement and being starstruck over the idea of working for someone who has spoken directly to my soul with his words of love and inclusiveness, and every other way he has been a true example of what Jesus’s love is supposed to look like.
- Complete inadequacy because the last two+ years have reshaped my faith into this messy unrecognizable goo that no longer resembles Christianity, that questions the validity of everything I’ve been taught (I can hardly type this without getting teary), including the validity of Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of all humans (or, Christianese, just those who fall under a specific umbrella), all because the Trump years opened my eyes to the extreme hate and exclusivity of the church and I no longer want to be associated with such bigotry, so I’ve thrown all of it out, even the stuff I loved.
I woke up this morning feeling like there was a message here for me. And I’m even more convinced now because there was nothing in my day yesterday that had anything to do with Rob Bell or my spiritual journey. So, even though I am hesitant to “take a step backward” in my escape from church and toxic Christianity, and anything I may have blanket-believed because I couldn’t see outside my box, I felt called to explore what this message is leading me to. I downloaded Rob’s book, Everything is Spiritual*, and then I pulled up his podcast.
The latest podcast was titled “Quote Yourself,” which seemed apropos, since I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that everything around me is influencing me in a way that’s making me hear my own voice less. Like, what do I believe? What do I think? What do I actually want for my life?
I DON’T KNOW!
And Rob started the podcast with a paraphrase of a Jeff Goldblum quote: “Often I’ll go into a store, have a look around and proclaim, ‘Everything in this store validates the decisions I have already made,’ and leave.”
Which, upon seeing the basis of this podcast, I was like, this is just going to affirm everything I already know.
Which, it did. And I think I’ll have to listen to it again just to re-validate everything I already know.
The podcast covered a ton, but here are the things that rose up inside me as I listened:
That I spend too much time on social media.
That social media is leading me down all these extra paths, and I’m distributing my energy and ideas in a million different directions, so that I don’t even know what I want to write…or even have the energy to write.
SmutTok – I don’t write smut, but it’s making me believe I’m failing because my books aren’t a certain heat level.
That I may not even need social media at all, or maybe I just need a break.
That the trends I’m doing on TikTok are not cute or interesting at all, and I hate that I’m doing them, but I’m doing them because I believe I have to so that people will find me and buy my book. But if I were not me, I wouldn’t follow me because what I’m doing is not even interesting.
That people crave connection, including me, but we’re all wasting time on these lame fillers like 7-second videos.
That doing these things are really just a way to get attention but keep people from knowing the real me, because revealing the real me is scary, and letting people in is scary. Because when they reject the 7-second video, it’s not personal. But when they reject me being real, they’re rejecting ME.
That I’ve forgotten what it’s like to write for the joy of writing because I write for publication, and I’m more concerned about how people will perceive my writing than what I’d like to be writing.
That sometimes I wonder if I even want to be a writer anymore, that maybe I’m just doing this because I considered it my lifelong dream, but now it’s become an obligation dream because I’ve invested so much energy into it.
And this doesn’t even touch on the topic of spirituality, because I’ve escaped being a part of a group that includes only like-minded people, but feel like a rudderless ship because I no longer have direction in my faith, and so I’ve compensated by adopting a fairyland approach to spirituality which seems just as make-believe as the fantastical stories of the Bible. Crystals. Moon magic. Rituals. The Garden of Eden. An ark in a flood. A giant man-swallowing whale. Resurrection.
And I can’t even be the authentic me, so I offer a 7-second approach to me, giving people what they want to see or hear, refusing to talk about my lack of faith or all my doubts or how lost I feel because I don’t know what to believe…because if I talk about the stuff that’s truly plaguing me, any argument against it will be a rejection of me.
That’s really the crux of it. I’m doing all these little things to get attention except for being authentic. Focusing on brand (and what the fuck is my brand, even?), trying to be aesthetically pleasing (physically and digitally), doing everything in an attempt to be relevant, but also doing everything to hide the real me and my real feelings and my real truths in an effort to blend in with everyone else.
Is everyone else doing the same thing? Are we all attempting to be like everyone else, but everyone else is just a muted version of the real thing?
Is this real life?
At any rate, this IS the real me – a confused mess that might just be on the verge of discovering who I am, what I want, and what’s supposed to be in my life (and what isn’t). Is this just a midlife thing? A 2020 thing? A Trump-induced thing? Not sure. All I know is that if I’m quiet, if I stop letting the influences think for me, if I can find the courage to be authentic (and unapologetic about it), I might just discover the answers to the question that is me.
End note. This started as a private journal entry in the Google Doc I write in when I need to collect my thoughts, but then I realized I really need connection on this one, to know that I’m not alone. Then I thought I’d add it to the faith blog I abandoned when I abandoned my faith. But that would still be a form of hiding, since no one reads it anymore. So I’m being brave and posting it here, where people who know me (and may judge me) might read this. It’s not book-related (except for my frustration with selling my soul to sell a book), but faith-related, which will always be scary to me.
But here we go. Here I am.
(*any affiliate links in this post provide me a small stipend at no additional cost to you when you purchase)