As I write this, it is Holy Saturday, and as I reflect on this time that’s traditionally one of gestation and waiting moving toward resurrection, in the midst of spring, a season that celebrates new growth after the dormancy of winter, it’s profoundly helpful to look back on what has gone before. And to grieve the mini-deaths that have been necessary within me as I’ve been traveling away from unhealthy religio-political beliefs, and hopefully toward healthier ones.
I can’t believe it’s been nearly 5 years since I penned this talk I gave (you can find it here) about how something died that day in 2016 I got divorced—specifically, this ugly judgmental part of myself that had been socialized to subtly look down on people who didn’t fit the “family values” mold—and how something new was gradually being born (or, say, resurrected) in its place.
Putting that Personal Apocalypse in Context
What I didn’t talk about in that talk, but have later gestured at here in this space many times since (especially here), was that only a month before that same divorce, on the macro level, a religio-political apocalypse had been set into gear when the 2016 US Presidential Election went down the way it did.
Of course since then there have been various kinds of apocalypses that have followed up on and joined in with those other ones, both on a personal level for me but also macro-level apocalypses like the January 6 Insurrection and the COVID pandemic that have affected us all in big and small ways.
At Least We Were All in It Together???
So yeah, it wasn’t just those family values judgmentalisms that were dying out in me at that time—there was a lot going on. And not only in me. In a lot of people.
Which, honestly, was a bit of (or a lot of) a grace and mercy (as well as a pain for all of us). I can’t imagine having had to do this series of mini-deaths and resurrections alone.
And while I’m not remotely thankful for the extremely unhealthy sides of the religio-political events of the last few years—they have sucked—I am extremely thankful for the helpers and co-marathoners that have come alongside me along the way.
Thankful for All of You Journeying with Me Here at AS
To start, I’m so incredibly thankful for those of you joining me here at this project once I started it in 2018, absolutely. I’ll admit I came into this thinking that dealing with this project might be onerous, and yet many of you have been a joy and helped to lighten my load.
I appreciate all of you greatly.
And the Other Clouds of Witnesses as Well
I’m also thankful also the broader clouds of witnesses that went before and alongside this project. Both more immediately before, in the Women’s Marches and the #metoo movement and the Resistance and in the exvangelical movement, and much longer before, Black and queer people and suffragettes and abolitionists and stress and trauma researchers and epidemiologists and anti-fascists and communication researchers and healthy theologians and so many others, all working independently and collaboratively, whether closer together or in a more separate way, toward a healthier world for us all.
Hoping Toward Good Fruit in Me and Others
As I write this, I wonder, with honestly a bit of fear and trembling, what’s coming next. What’s about to grow, and what’s already there but about to grow higher and deeper and stronger.
Whatever it is, I hope that the fruit is good. I hope that whatever is cleared away is really the unhealthy cells, that stubborn gangrene, and that what remains is stronger and more assertive and wiser.
Committed to Growing Internally as Well as Working toward Better Things Without
I know this much is true: the journey toward a healthier world for us all involves growth and change within ourselves as well as outside ourselves.
Boy do I ever hate that. And not just in an abstract way.
Not the Simplest Process, Engaging in This Project (That’s Quite the Understatement)
See, it’s not been easy writing a lot of the reflections I’ve written here. Not easy at all.
Those unhealthily socialized beliefs inside of me, that had been embedded into my viscera and bones, have often revolted at me along the way. Have sometimes given me physical symptoms as I wrote.
They were NOT giving up without a fight, these inner unhealthy religio-political beliefs.
And that’s not even getting into the external challenges inherent in voicing these things.
In Which I Complain that Healing So Often Involves Pain
And yet voicing these posts, putting them out there for you, and partnering alongside you and others toward a healthier world for us all, has been really and truly necessary for my growth and healing.
As Richard Rohr put it, it’s been a form of necessary suffering that I needed to heal and help both myself and others. And it didn’t only start to heal things from 6 years ago. It’s been healing things that have been needing healing for decades.
In Which I Whine Semi-Blasphemously About Jesus’ Resurrection
Toward my (and hopefully also others’) resurrection. But geez, has this been a long and awkward resurrection. Makes me feel like maybe Jesus had it easy, happening all at once like that.
Must be nice. 😉
A Slow-Assed Resurrection for the Rest of Us…
For the rest of us, though, it often works like this, I think. It feels like this is the long-assed resurrection away from unhealthy beliefs to healthier ones.
Learning to Train Ourselves Viscerally to Be Healthily Assertive
Because it’s one thing to SAY, to KNOW WITH YOUR HEAD, that you should believe differently than you do.
It’s an entirely different one to believe things on a gut level. On the emotional level. In your bones and in your neurobiology.
To shift up your moral disgusts from scapegoating vulnerable populations to actually dealing with the unhealthy systems instead. To working toward healthy change. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s the right thing to do.
The Dawn of Hope That More Will Join the Rest of Us in the Effort
But you know what? I’ve healed and grown a lot in the last few years. And as I’ve said, I’m profoundly thankful to have not been alone in that.
Because of my growth, and of those around me, including you here, I have hope that more resurrections can happen in others, even those we might not expect.
Will all of the things change in good ways? Of course not. Especially if we don’t work together to continue to do our parts at healing and growing within as well as without.
But I do know that change, that growth, is possible. I see it every day, both in myself, in those around me, in stories from the past and from the present.
Reflecting on Nearly Five (!?!?!) Years of Assertive Spirituality
So yeah, while we get rightfully concerned and anxious about ongoing unhealthy attempts out there in the world, I just wanted to take this Easter weekend, so close to the 5-year anniversary of this project, and reflect on the growth and change I’ve experienced the last few years, both in myself and around me.
Would Love to Hear from You as Well!
And I’d love to hear about some of the growth and change you’ve experienced in you and around you as well. Please share in the comments if you’re willing.
How’s the resurrection process from unhealthy beliefs going for you, friends?
Keep Up the Good Fight!
And finally, let us not grow weary of doing good, friends. Let’s keep on keeping on in this relay marathon toward resurrection of our unhealthily socialized sinews and systems. As I said in last week’s post, lives are at stake. We can’t do everything, but if we all do what we can it’s a lot.
A Final Charge
Go team #AssertiveSpirituality! Let’s continue to do what we can where we are with what we’ve got toward a healthier world for us all. We can do this thing.
Want to help keep this work going? I finally, after more than 4 years of this project, have tip jars set up at Venmo and PayPal so you can help keep the lights on and such (THANK YOU for whatever you can do!). Here’s the info:
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