Faith Reconstructed (or, I think I’m ready to write again…)

black and red typewriter
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By: Jana Greene

Hi, my name is Jana and I’m a writer.

Sometimes, I forget that.

I used to write quite prolifically, and about everything.

As a matter of fact, this is the 475th blog post on The Beggar’s Bakery.

Sometime in the past few years, I’ve misplaced my writing mojo, which is to say that I’ve slipped into committing the cardinal sin of true creativity, which is to worry more about what people might think of me than to have confidence in what I have to say.

I think I started writing less when a series of unfortunate events took place, namely the catalyst for me to question, test, and try the faith that I’d inherited from my ancestors and never outwardly doubted.

It started when I got sick, and stayed sick. It started when well-meaning churchy people attempted to cast demons out of me (no, really) that weren’t really demons, but infirmary. The thing about sickness is that it is actually more threatening than demons to religious people, of whom I was chief amongst. After endless rounds of being prayed for, having “deliverance” ministries, and demon casting, well… it turns out that my illness is genetic, and while God CAN and DOES heal instantly, that was not the case for me, which led me to one of two conclusions:

1. I was doing something wrong and was a fundamentally flawed Christian. Or

2. God isn’t real. Healing isn’t real. My life is based on lies.

Now, I’m all about that –  laying on hands and praying in Jesus name. That is GOOD STUFF. We should always aspire to heal one another. We should always ask for our own healing and petition God to heal others. It’s just that when it doesn’t happen the way our religious leaders aspire it to, it leaves us in a spiritual lurch.

A few funny things happened on my way to figuring out that neither of those conclusions are true. It’s kind of a long story, and I’ve taken to the blog to tell it piecemeal, as best I can, whether anyone reads it or not. For a long time, this blog was my sanctuary, where I came to be raw and real. Then I underwent this huge physical and spiritual metamorphosis, and I wasn’t the chipper writer with a fast answer and scripture reference to throw out there anymore.

And I stopped writing here because that little Southern baptist girl inside told me that I had NO right to pen a blog that claims to be “one beggar telling another where she found bread,” because I am not a conventional evangelical anymore. Sickness changed me, yes. But the spiritual angle changed for me in ways I can scarcely count. What if So-and-So thinks I’m a big, fat heathen because I ascribe to this hippy-dippy, love one another craziness that has taken the place of my rigid, religious persona?

I guess that’s what they’ll think, then.

God and I are square, more than ever.

There was a time that I was sure my calling was to be a mom. And then my kids grew up; they still need me, but in a different way. I was sure I was called to be an artist, and poet, and for a season, I was. For many years, I thought my calling was to minister to recovering alcoholics, and that is still true. Those things will always be parts of my mission.

But here’s what nobody warns you about: Our “callings” change. They morph. We are always called to something new because Papa LOVES opening our eyes to the NEW!

So I guess for the foreseeable future, The Beggar’s Bakery will again be sanctuary for my words. Because I badly need to get these feelings out, and why not bring along 1,940 of my closest friends with me?

It isn’t a pretty journey.

It isn’t even a COMPLETE journey.

Just a leg of the trip, replete with all the joy, angst, confusion, acceptance, and hope I can muster and share with my readers.

This revival is for the doubters. It’s for the broken-hearted, and the disenchanted. It’s for those who always feel that they fall short of the glory of God, and the expectations of men. It’s for the marginalized and the giver-upper. It’s for the real people, the ones trying to figure out and complicate what is really, really simple – that God is Love itself and YOU are an expression of that love to the entire universe.

I’m still struggling with a lot, so don’t look to me to feed you in whole – to hand you the Bread of Life – the truths, mysteries, and answers. But I CAN tell you where to find that bread still. The Bakery is open – loaves and fishes for all.

It’s all love.

Til’ tomorrow….

 

The Case for “Kind-ing”

By: Jana Greene

It’s a fine line, if you have anxiety.

You want to keep up in world events and current news, but everything you watch or read pulls you into a spiral of panic. When you’re sensitive, it’s hard to know how much of a boundary needs to go up, because you care deeply about what’s going on and the suffering of others. But you are also learning to monitor your own suffering, and you sometimes have to avoid the subject matter, because it’s plain old self-care not to obsess over what you cannot control.

I don’t know what’s more upsetting – having anxiety over the state of the world, or having anxiety over the nastiness that comes in response to a Facebook thread.

Because people are not very nice sometimes. I mean … they go out of their way to be ugly.

Add to this state our world today, where social media enables every single person in your sphere to be an “expert,” and every other person who doesn’t agree with you wrong, wrong, wrong.

The stakes are high – peace, equality, protecting the innocent, keeping our rights under the Constitution- and because they are so high, passions run high.

We are doing too much fighting.

And not enough KIND-ing.

We ALL think we know what’s best for our nation, our world. Once more than one person reads any geopolitical or controversial post, fingers start flying. We forget that we are first and foremost human beings.

And then R.I.P. civil discourse at that point. If I feel strongly enough that you’re wrong about it, all Whatever “it” is. It reduces us to graceless, angry, self-righteous (dare I say) trolls.

So much contention, and I get sucked into it in the regular. As a person straddling being “woke” enough to know what’s happening and prone to panic attacks and generalized anxiety, it’s a slippery slope.

So much division. It is getting us NOWHERE, and we are hurting each other. That’s a problem because we NEED each other, ya’ll.

A compassionate governance would be such a blessing about now. And honestly, it’s not gonna happen. It will never be compassionate. That’s why WE have to so the kind-ing.

I’m talking to myself here, too.

You guys, when I am tangry (“typing while angry,”) I become a maven of the poison pen. I don’t like myself when my anger seeps up from God-knows-where, and I don’t like the “courage” that being online affords me to say whatever the hell I want to that little person in a round icon on a computer screen.

The world is on fire – literally. It’s a mess. But can we please try to be gentler in our online communities? I’m really going to try.

The world has never needed it more.