(I’m going to start writing this and I’m going to tell the truth. If I choose not to share it or edit the hell out of it to make it shareable, so be it. But starting with the edited version feels like a total disservice to myself. And honestly, it feels like it goes against everything I want to say. I WILL start with this disclaimer though: This is not directed at anyone, not at all. This is putting into words what it is like to untangle yourself from religious beliefs that you no longer follow. It’s the unending process of learning to trust yourself for the first time and that just maybe you aren’t the sinful terrible person you were thought that you were.)
The other evening Drew and I were watching football in the living room and Abbey was laying on the carpet, doing some work. A discussion led to stupid parent comments (from me) and a big ole clap back from Abbey that was clear and true.
“It’s MY life!”
Now before you tell me that parents are supposed to help navigate life for their children and they don’t get to make all the choices, I know, I just know. But what I’m learning more and more is that the older they get the more you have to just shut up and just listen when they make statements like this. They are made for a reason and sometimes we just need to let it sink in. And also, it’s true. She gets to live her own life and whether I want to or not, I gotta let go a little more each day.
So, I’ve been thinking about how as a 44 year old woman I am just now whispering that phrase to the world around me. It’s MY life! All the answers don’t need to be handed to me and it’s ok to bump along, figuring it out as you go. It’s ok to change your mind on things. It’s ok to totally mess up. It’s ok to stay out of other people’s business. It’s ok to not agree with people you love. It’s ok to be wrong.
There’s a lot of freedom in this.
I decided to make a list of all the things I feel free about at this age that I haven’t always felt free about. When I was done and scrolled down the list I thought, this is pretty basic and boring. Not a dramatic list. But guess what? It’s real. It also feels really damn good. And we know that the basics are important, maybe the most important of all.
Here’s what I’m free to do as I’ve untangled myself from beliefs I’ve grown out of.
I am free to love anyone I want.
I am free to let my children love (and be in relationship with) anyone they want. Gender, race, religion- none of it gets to lead the way.
I can read what I want. (What’s up, Stephen King?!)
I can listen to what I want. (Bye, bye, Michael W. Smith! Ok, well that was years ago.)
I can trust my body, it is not my enemy.
I can wear a bikini.
I can trust my daughter decide to wear whatever she wants.
I don’t have to worry about anyone burning in hell if I don’t convert them.
I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s theology.
I am free to let people choose their own religious path.
I can watch what I want.
I can trust myself to make these decisions on my own and navigate what is healthy and good for me.
I can disagree with people I love and we can still respect each other completely.
I don’t have to have all the answers for my kids.
I don’t have to feel guilty every day of my life for not having a quiet time. (This may not make sense to some people but to the others- you know what I mean, right?!)
I get to send my kids to public school without fear.
And even without religion, I still don’t have to fear death.
I don’t have to let fear dictate any of it.
Well, as you can see, I’ve plummeted down the slippery slope.
But guess what? It’s not so bad down here! It’s actually pretty amazing, and it’s freeing, and it’s beautiful and terrible- just like life was before. The same people are here with me and more- like- all the people. We’re figuring out life together. We’re having great conversations with our kids about everything going on around them and in them. I’m still untangling and maybe you are too. Or maybe you aren’t. It’s ok either way.
It’s just not as scary as I always thought it would be
I’m not a different person, I’m just learning more about me.
It’s MY Life!
LOVE TO ALL.