To quote a particularly well known television personality named RuPaul, We come into this world naked, and the rest is drag.
You know? Truth is truth, and that drag queen spoke a little piece of truth, and what else can one say? I’ve been trying on a few different outfits since heading for the hills a few years ago, ducking out of the scene of the Who’s Who in the Charismatic Zoo.
I haven’t really questioned why until recently, but I came into the 20-teens being what I call, 90s illiterate and have kind of been playing catch-up. That, of course, was a conscious choice I made for the time period – probably because that’s when the world started taking the craziest imaginable turn, and I had no clue how to deal with it. I found Jesus then went on a mad search to find “my flavor” of the Christian gathering scene. And, in staying true to the trend of being me, I went for the most intense possible thing I could find.
Part of it was survival, trying to figure out what to do with the mother I became upon giving birth, and finding something to help me make sense of something I finally came to realize, there is no making sense of what I chose to do with that. I have always been fairly open about having a child and having made the decision while pregnant of giving that child up for adoption and going through with it. What a minefield I chose to live out that part of my survival, evangelical Christianism…hoo, Lord!!!
A few years ago, when I’d had all I could stand of walking through that minefield, I took an unexpected turn and began walking through yet anther unfamiliar minefield. And, it seems thus far that the mines I’ve stepped on here don’t pack nearly as much punch in terms of sheer ability to inflict major damage. The very act of giving up my child and, subsequently, my motherhood, created an interesting dynamic of losing the luxury of further discovery of who I was supposed to be. I guess that, looking back, it’s not surprising I turned to the most intense possible brand of evangelicalism. It offered a lot of things and a lot of ways to direct my focus so that I could stay alive to keep my main focus, which has always been to see my child again since the day he walked out of my life in the arms of his adoptive mother. I’ve been seeing him in pictures since he was 4 months old. I am doing the best I can to continue to stay alive so that I can see that sweet face I kissed dozens of times a day during the 5 days he was with me. I came back here, back to the place of his birth and upbringing in high hopes of seeing that happen. I have since been very busy about the task of finding what to do with my life since that face-to-face I’ve been living for isn’t happening, and I’ve no idea if it is anywhere near or far off in the future. But even if it had already happened, I would still have to be here in this place of having to figure out what to do with myself and what my part to play is in this particular chapter of the journey that is my life. I don’t know how I could have avoided having every waking minute be about seeing my child again, but that’s what happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it – any of it. I tried putting my focus in other places, I tried as hard as I suppose it is possible for one to try. I mean, if you’ve ever been to a Charismatic church service, then you have to know that is the epitome of places where it is possible to put all of one’s focus. If you can’t focus there, then it’s quite possible you can’t focus anywhere…I mean…how in your face can a thing get?
In evangelicalism, there’s all these things that one is supposed to do and not supposed to do if one is to be “successful” in that scene. It’s not like I hadn’t tried little samples of a little bit of everything going in, so I don’t feel I “missed out” on much of anything. It’s not that. There just came a point where certain questions could not be ignored, such as, Well, who is really saying we can’t do this and we can’t do that, and we have to do this, and do it this way, and why? Some things became painfully obvious immediately. It was clear enough that I could not drink and do drugs and hope to be a “successful” Christian, first off, because I wouldn’t survive long enough to become successful at that or anything if I continued down that road. And there was the revolving door relationships trend I had going, and yeah, that wasn’t working out too well, so that wasn’t a very hard thing to walk away from either. I’d tried on a lot of different religious and spiritual paths, and this one seemed to hold the most promise, so that’s the one I stayed with the longest.
But there is no perfect thing, because all things are made manifest in an imperfect world. Do I still want to be a good Christian? Meh. Perhaps. What I am more interested in is tapping into the true essence of what makes all things possible. I’ve no compulsion to look the part anymore, so I’m trying on a few different outfits, if you will. One of those outfits is being a member of a band. It is the band that my husband and brother-in-law formed years ago when they started writing songs together.
Success in the evangelical world meant turning away from secular music – which always presented a particularly awkward problem because, to be very honest, there is very little Christian music that interests me, and I really didn’t have much of an interest in doing Christian music. I can count on one hand the number of people whose focus of their music is directed toward their faith who have substance enough to hold my interest. Other than that, most of it, including and especially “worship” music just sounds like a bunch of whining to me.
I can deal with pretty much anything that is honest. If one wants a career in music, then have that, but don’t drag the Lord into it just because you feel some sort of obligation to. If it’s about the Lord for you, and the music is a vehicle, that is beautiful. To be very honest, though, I don’t find that the majority of it is really like that. My assessment at this juncture is this: Christian music is in just as big of an identity crisis as the secular music machine and has been for years – just like most things in this world I’ve experienced as I’ve been passing through.
I wasn’t a successful or “up and coming” something-or-other that was going to take the world by storm (although, there was a small stretch just before rehab when I suffered such delusions of grandeur among the many such delusions that I won’t get into just now…). At times in my life, music meant a great deal to me and helped me navigate through very treacherous waters. At other times, I was barely able to recognize there even was such a thing as music. When I feel myself wanting to just appreciate and enjoy music, I really enjoy it. I enjoy listening to it, singing along with it, dancing to it. I enjoy making music when opportunities to do that come up – which hasn’t happened a lot throughout the entirety of my life.
When my brother-in-law basically decided that he was buying a keyboard for the band and that I was going to play it, I didn’t have any idea if it was something I would find enjoyable or vexing. Pleasantly, thus far, I’ve found it enjoyable. A keyboard player is not something I ever aspired to be, and electric keyboards were something I never had any interest in learning. I took piano lessons from the time I was 6 years old until I was in the 11th grade and took lessons for a couple of brief periods as an adult…I don’t really know why.
So that’s my newest costume, being the keyboard player in a band – and, yes, having to deal with little tinges of guilt pangs, some leftover conditions from being in captivity in the Zoo. Like all things, I’m measuring it by this: does my heart of hearts condemn me in it? No. It’s just another thing in the closet to pull out and try on until I can run free and naked in the Field where there is no awareness of being naked, the green pasture where all is light and all is truth in its purest form. I’m not even really giving myself permission to “indulge” in this. I’m simply doing it and enjoying it and choosing to continue in it for as long as my heart feels free to.
I don’t know these days if I’m being the “right kind” of Christian. It’s not that it doesn’t matter what kind of example I set. I just know this: I don’t want to be in fetters of my own or of anyone else’s making. And that’s what the past few years have been about, determining, wtf: what the fetter, where the fetter, and why the fetter. Of every kind of drag I tried on (and some of it more of a drag than others), I’m taking a good hard look and asking the very hard questions, such as, was the Lord really asking of me to put myself in any or all of the particular fetters I found myself in? I don’t even want the fetter of having to call myself a Christian – which is way more of a fetter than I was able to objectively see while running so frantically in the pen at the Zoo. If I’m going to wear a fetter, I’ve determined that I’m going to at least be as fully conscious and as clear as possible as to why I’m going to choose to allow it, and that’s the bottom line. That’s the truth of where I am in this part of my journey.
Do I still love Jesus? I find quite often that when I really look inward and examine my heart, much to my surprise, based on that which presented itself as Jesus and didn’t quite pan out to be Him, yes. I do still love Jesus, and when that happens, I am surprised by how much. But I really want to know what that means. What does it really mean to love Jesus? The nod-in-mental-assent answer while sitting safely in the pew is to look at how He first loved me and love others accordingly, and I can and do agree wholeheartedly with that, but to really know what that is, I can’t honestly say I ever really knew what that was. I do know that when I looked to Him with such intensity that I had determined I wasn’t moving until I knew one way or the other that He’s either real or He’s not, but I’m gonna know, and I’m gonna know one way or the other TODAY. I felt Him and have felt His presence in my life since that day. At this point I have way more questions than answers – and I used to be the girl with the answer for everything, so that’s kind of a refreshing place to be – now that I’ve been here long enough to acclimate to the sheer terror or being in such a place…I’ve never functioned well in uncertainty, so the fact that I’m not in a straitjacket is a testament to how real and how relevant He is to me. I just don’t quite know what to do with it all at this point. All I can really do is look at what has been made abundantly clear has nothing whatsoever to do with who and what Jesus is in truth, and eliminate it as a possibility of that which I choose to live my life by. The rest is a mystery.