Spiritual

How to Cook Up a Batch Religious Deconstruction (recipe for re-construction included)

Just like Grandma Used to Make (I’m kidding)

BY: JANA GREENE

Recipe for Spiritual Reconstruction:

Take one lifetime of Old Time Religion. Stir in two cups of Fear-Based Theology. Sprinkle in 2 tbsp of unintentional judginess, three tbsp of Obviously I’m Right, work through dough. Add additional The Bible CLEARLY Says! to taste.

While religious “dough” is trying to rise, but just kind of petering out, prepare in a shofar – I mean BOWL:

Two cups each of Chronic Pain and Debilitating Illness powder that has been sifted through a “name it and claim it” sieve for 40 years, but it’s still lumpy.

Add 4 tbsp frustration, and a dash of Must Not Be Worthy of Healing. Stir in a packet of What Will My Fundamentalist Friends Think. Cry about this step for approximately three more years.

Check ingredients in first bowl to make sure dough is indeed rising. But nope. It’s just sitting there in a big glop.

In yet another bowl, add one adult child who has come out as bisexual, which was NOT in the original recipe, so sayeth the Expectations Set Forth by the Church. Add a smidge of What Will My Fundamentalist Friends Think (if you have any left, which is doubtful. We go through it like gangbusters around here!)

Decide to add many dollups of Mother Love anyway (heck, dump in however much you have,) and set the kitchen timer to two more years on the “acceptance” setting. This is a wet ingredient, so thinning it out will just make it easier to spread. Use liberally.

Open up the pantry and see what else you have that might somehow make it more palatable.

Aww, shucks. All you have is a Costco-sized box a bag of Everything Else Life Can Throw At You. That stuff is SPICY. Always check the label…let’s see…it contains Mental Health Challenges, Losing Mobility, Family Estrangements, Crippling Anxiety, Bouts of Financial Struggle, Alcoholism, Codependency, Childhood Trauma, and 1000 grams of pure Shame Concentrate.

Going back to the bowl, taste the batter. See that it is bad. Mix all ingredients. See that it is WORSE.

While waiting for the timer, it’s important to assume that the Master Chef is angry and frustrated with you. Kind of like an astral Gordon Ramsey or something.

Assure yourself the whole Universe is against you, as is everyone you know and love who is following directions from a 2,000 year old book of recipes that several hundred fallible human people contributed to. Kind of like Gramma’s recipe box that had a hundred food-stained index recipe cards from her friends shoved into between the pages. Make sure to take everything out of context for best results.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and when timer sounds, decide on how much savory Self-Doubt to use. Seasonings come in “I’m a Worthless Sinner,” and “Searing Disappointment” flavors.

Ask yourself WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Am I just a shitty cook, or so I just have so few ingredients to work with, I’m having a hard time accepting the result?

And what if I’ve been forgetting the Main Ingredient all along?

Next (scary) step:

Decide you’re tired of fear-based faith, dust off your hands, open your heart, ask the Universe to help you see what is Truth, battle-weary, heavy-hearted, and feeling raw inside like dough that won’t rise.

Decide to put all judgement and Christian-ese down the garbage disposal. The Expectations of Other People went bad a long time ago and is really stinking up the place.

Decide to fold Unconditional Love into every single recipe. Never run out! Keep it on the top of every list so you always have enough.

Follow the example set by Jesus always…He is always cooking up something GOOD.

Next, march all three containers used previously out your back door. Gently set down all three, and leave them outside to think about what they’ve done.

Now – this is important – turn off the oven. Nobody is burning on my new watch!

You are not alone, Chef Self.

So join a “cooking” club – one that is comprised of other Seekers with open hearts who want to get at the meat of the Truth, and offer you endless sugar.

Flip the script. Read the instructions anew.

Take one bowl – the most chipped and beat up one you got, and butter it with kindness.

Then invite all your friends over to help you create a masterpiece.

All you will need is:

8 cups HOPE – brimming.
Five tbsp of self-forgiveness.
A heaping scoop of Studying what the Cookbook Really Calls For – reading between the lines.
A tbsp of of Learning to Love Yourself Too will hold it all together when you want to throw in the towel.

And last, but MOST importantly, add All the Jesus You Have, all day every day. All of it. Tip it over and smack the bottom of the box for every molecule of Jesus it’s got. Really pile it in on. Study his ways in the context given, and leave room for Holy Spirit in every dish.

Oh, and tell your friends that All the Jesus is just another measurement of LOVE. Get to know HIS way around the kitchen together.

These few ingredients are all you need, Junior Chef, to mix up a reconstruction of faith for the ages. And keep in mind:

If you feel like you have to keep Fear on hand “just in case,” know that God is not the store where you purchased Fear. That stuff is very in-organic.

If you’re grieving the losses of this hard life, pull up a chair and come sit by me. There is always plenty of room at Christ’s table. And mine. *Pulls out chair and pats the seat in a welcoming invitation.*

If you’re ambling around aimlesssly, your chef hat askew, join me. I’ll be celebrating that I finally understand, “It is for freedom you were set free.”

And if you’re deconstructing your faith, and If you’re being called “deceived,” “fallen” – or (and I’m okay with this one) – “ex-evangelical,” remind yourself that the Word of God is an actual person. As Master Chef, he wants to see you succeed.

And so do I. ❤️

Bon appetit!

Mental Health · Spiritual

The Importance of Having Bootstrap Buddies

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

If you were enticed to read this piece because the title sounds low-key fetishist, move along. I mean, nothing would surprise me anymore. This is no kinky boots I’m talking about…hardy har har.

I’m referring to the oft-quoted, stoic-to-a-fault narrative that when you’re hurting. You know – the old adage: “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps requires you handle it yourself. That’s the whole point of having bootstraps…self-sufficiency. Two little loops are supposed to save you from whatever mayhem you may be facing.

I was thinking about this yesterday because having a pity party is a very lonely experience. It necessitates solitude for proper misery. But as the only attendee, I got pretty sick of myself.

Which is exactly why I texted my dear friend. It was a high-pain day. I had been more or less bed-bound for four days previous. I still am, actually.

My therapist has taught me to consider my “days off” (days when I have no proverbial “spoons” – Google “Spoon Theory…”) as true days of rest. She encourages me to take that time to write, read, even binge watch something to take my mind off of things.

It’s a great idea and it was working great until yesterday. Yesterday was the day I was going to feel better and do better. Except that my body decided NOPE, it wasn’t the day.

The thing about chronic illness is that the world keeps going. You may have the best support circle, and still feel lonely sometimes. I’m losing myself in a days-long pajama binge of watching TikToks and writing mid-grade poetry. Everyone else is out doing All The Things. I’m happy that everyone else is doing All The Things. I just sometimes want to do them too, and resent having this lifestyle “forced” on me.

So rather than sink into a deeper funk, as I said, I finally texted my friend.

I think I said something like, “I’m not doing so well.” And she replied, “Need a hug? I’ll be right over.” This, as it turns out, was the perfect thing to say.

Usually, I rebuff my friends’ offers to come wallow with me. But I was in just the right mood to accept help, I guess.

Usually, I say “No, it’s okay. I’ll be alright.”

Usually, I would honestly rather isolate, because it takes too much mental and emotional energy to engage with another human.

Usually, I don’t reach out at all.

Usually, I pull myself up by my bootstraps (or just kick ’em off and run around barefoot.)

But not yesterday.

I called out to my Bootstrap Buddy and she took time out of doing All The Things in her busy life to come sit with me, hold me, and listen to my blathering about not being able to do All The Things, too.

The origin of the expression “pull yourself up by your bootstratps” is: To improve one’s situation through hard work and self-determination, rather than getting assistance from someone else. But upon researching the beginnings of the term – which seems to have become popular in the turn of the 20th century, it seems it was often made tongue-in-cheek; the idea being that pulling oneself up off the ground by one’s own bootstraps is actually a physical impossibility.

The original verbiage meant to “elevate” oneself. To literally leave the physical ground. It was a smart-ass comment about doing for oneself what is is only possible to do with help.

I don’t always have it in me to put in “hard work” and “self determination.” Sometimes I’m empty. in those times, it cannot be done; although we can fall on our faces trying, blinded by pride.

We all need that one person – or several people – who will get into the muck and mire to help pull our boots up, out of the mud. I’m fortunate to be married to one. But I also have friends willing to hold space for me in that place.

All the self-reliance and pride in the world cannot compete with being held and listened to when we are at a low point. There are times when lifting ourselves is a physical (or mental) impossibility.

Thank you for elevating me, and picking me up off the ground, my precious Buddies.

I’m so very grateful.

Mental Health · Poetry · Spiritual

Eggshells and Elephants

BY: JANA GREENE

I walked on eggshells the other day,

Someone put them there,

People who tend to take offense

Leave them everywhere.

I didn’t want to break their shells,

Though they were in my way,

Gentle footfalls were my intent,

But CRUNCH they went, anyway!

It’s tricky and risky, emotional biz,

To feel like you can’t say a word,

Because someone, somewhere will

Read and misconstrue

Everything they heard.

So keep dropping eggshells,

If you absolutely must,

Let them fall where they may,

If you are still afraid to trust,

But please don’t leave them on the ground,

There’s bigger stomping feet to pound.

The Elephant in the Living Room?

Yeah, he’s still around!

We can’t fix things we won’t talk about,

We can’t deal with what we deny exists,

So sweep those eggshells up off the carpet,

Invite that elephant to sit,

Lets talk about the hard stuff,

And make some headway, Sis.