I just finished a bottle of wine called “Bitch.” Sorry, Sue… I’ll replace it, I promise. It started with sirloin tips — I thawed them & found the perfect recipe on allrecipes.com. Except it called for red wine. And I had drank all of mine. So Bobby found a bottle of “Bitch” & cracked it open in the hopes that Sue wouldn’t be too horribly angry.

Yesterday I got a text from Sue. It read “Check [childhood friend]’s facebook page. Holy shizzzzzzz.”  So during my lunch break, I ran home & did just that. Can’t remember the exact wording, but the friend’s status update was something along the lines of “shaking that ass.” To be clear, this is a The Church friend. In The Church, there is no shaking of the ass. Or anything else, for that matter, except maybe the finger in someone else’s face. In shock, I clicked on her profile. In her profile pic, she was wearing jeans. JEANS. Oh my. In The Church, there is no wearing of the jeans either. EVER. I called Bobby & shared this development with him. He pointed out that only I would react in such a way to a profile pic of a cute girl wearing jeans. Whatever, dude.

During my entire lunch hour, my sisters & I called each other repeatedly to talk excitedly about this new development. You see, we’ve been the heathens for so long, it’s just plumb exciting to have someone join our ranks…. especially someone who we thought was so firmly entrenched in The Church. It occurred to me during that lunch hour that this is odd. Who else in the world calls each other repeatedly to discuss blue jeans, tank tops (sleeveless? *gasp*), fingernail polish, & whether someone’s wearing earrings? Only former The Church girls, that’s who.

Not normal, I tell you.

I had a brief interchange with the friend today. One sentence of her response resounded with me… she wrote, “I just keep waiting for the shit to hit the fan and something horrible to happen to me because I “left.”” Oh, how well I know that feeling. The complete conviction that an angry God is going to strike you down at any moment because you dared to question or disobey His commandments. Commandments that He actually didn’t make at all… commandments that were created by men, for men. The guilt is almost too heavy to bear at times, but the freedom of defection is like I imagine a drug-high would be…. completely exhilarating. The kind of freedom where you’re bouncing wildly like a ping-pong ball, determined to experience everything you might have missed.

It’s been years since I sat in The Church. It’s been years since I’ve felt the heavy stare from the pulpit and the pews around me. I can finally say that I can now sit in church on Sunday morning & sometimes not hear “the voice.” Sometimes I do. But sometimes I don’t. And that’s HUGE progress.

I think my Sunday School class has been pivotal in this process. I feel rather ridiculous calling it “sunday school”… that’s such a juvenile term.  The class that Bobby & I attend has done more for my spiritual development than the last 20 years combined. I exaggerate not. Demographically, Bobby & I are misfits — the average age of our class is at least 20 years older than us. But they’re just so damn smart. We talk in a way that I never imagined would be possible in a “churchy” setting. Nothing is accepted without question, & it comforts my heart that I’m not alone in my cynicism & skepticism, or my yearning for something comforting & inclusive. I’m not a freak.

There’s a commercial on USA network where a woman states that she believes in “all paths to God.” This is interesting to me. Does that mean that we all (meaning those of all religions) unwittingly believe in the same God with different names? It’s appealing. It’s unified, cohesive, harmonized, simple. With time, I’ve come to value that which manages to put “simple” & “spiritual” in the same thought. The Church was not simple. Is not simple. Or harmonious or cohesive or unified. It’s full of judgement & elitism & separatism.

And the most ridiculous thing I’ve written here in a while? Bobby & I are scheduled to LEAD our class in a few weeks. Me. Lead a spiritually-based class. Oh my. How the hell did that happen?

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