Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Camp Lyons, the Church of God, etc.

I drove by my old church camp a few days ago. I spent every summer for 7 years as a camper and 2 - 3 years as a counselor at Camp Lyons. I had supernatural spiritual experiences there. I developed life long friends. I had my heart broken. I prayed with a high school gang member who made a faith commitment. I talked to young girls about self-image. I laughed. I did embarassing things. I put shaving cream in people's hair. I played practical jokes. I bobbed for gummy bears in a tin of ice water. I sang. I cried. I learned about God and felt God and experienced God in all of those things.

Sights, smells, sounds all evoke vivid memories for me. I am transported to the past nearly immediately upon entering certain places and not to my surprise, Camp Lyons is one of those. There is an amphitheater that overlooks a small lake and I wish I could have sat there all day. I walked into the chapel and I nearly fell to my knees. I have prayed so many prayers in that room. For God to heal someone who was sick, for God to forgive me of my sins, for God to bring my father to know him, for God to send me a letter in the mail to tell me what I was supposed to be and who I was supposed to marry and where I was supposed to live and when it would all happen.

My faith has changed drastically since Camp Lyons. When I attended and worked there, I was a girl growing up in the Church of God (based in Anderson, IN) and I followed all the rules. I believed what the church told me to believe and while I always had lots of questions, I bought what they were selling me (for the most part). Somewhere along the way I distinguished myself and in the opinion of the most faithful followers, I might have even "turned my back" on the church, but my experiences in that tradition are the bedrock of my faith. The Church of God tradition is based on the idea that everyone has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that we are all members of "God's church." But it is a "holiness" tradition and places a great deal of emphasis on actions (drinking, smoking, style of dress, etc.) that tend to be moral markers for the "low church" traditions. I have mostly rejected the second half of that description, but I have never given up the first. It's what gives me heartache when I consider becoming a "member" of a church or consider identifying myself with a denomination that has a "doctrine."

It might be shocking to some people that the church and the Christian college I attended that was associated with it are where I learned to think and ask questions. I pushed and tested every boundary and while I am still in progress, and expect to be until I leave this earth, I have a much clearer vision of who I am in relation to God because I was given the space to explore, even if they didn't know they were giving it to me and as a church, probably wouldn't agree with the resolutions I came to. And despite the fact that I am so different in so many ways than the last time I sat at the amphitheater at Camp Lyons, when I sit there now, I remember how I am the same.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm not really doing it

Part of the inspiration for my writing again is this conversation I seem to be having with my friends and colleagues: at least 3 times a week someone says to me, "I don't know how you do it." This is usually in reference to my having two children, a husband, a legal career and what they perceive to be a great deal of charitable/civic activity. I am in awe every time. What makes them think I am "doing it." What is "it" anyway? I am struggling to keep my sanity at work and crossing my fingers and praying that they won't fire me at the end of the billable year when I turn up about 200 hours short, I often wonder if social services would take my children away if they saw the condition of my house, my husband and I rarely find time for a meaningful conversation (and don't even get me started on "intimacy"), we live paycheck to paycheck and make more money than the majority of people in America and I don't get to do as much community and volunteer work as I would like. And I haven't even mentioned that I see my kids for sometimes less than 3 hours a day. What is it that makes people think I have it all together? I really strive for authenticity, sometimes to a fault. How have I created an image of successfulness? I don't feel successful.

So, my response to the comment "I don't know how you do it," is "I don't."


I took a haitus from this for a while - mostly for professional reasons, but I have decided to pick it up again. I created a very uncreative "psuedonym" for myself , but then decided that I am not going through the effort to figure out how to remove all previously identifying information, and that I wanted to put that great picture of me and my boys as my profile picture, so I'll just take that risk.