Thursday, May 2, 2013

Embracing My Inner Choirgirl



A very good percentage of the music on my iPod is music covered by the Glee Cast.  Even if I already own the song by the original artist, I am a going to buy the Glee cover...because Glee music makes my feel joyful.  Even when the song is dealing with sadness, despair, or brokenness, my listening experience still brings me joy, because I feel more alive and in touch with my life force when I let my inner choirgirl come out.  I am not alone in this experience.  When I had to do the horribly wonderful and wonderfully horrible high school thing, I chose a path that was conformist and I was well rewarded for that path.  I never would have joined choir at school, even though I sung in my church choir for something like 7 years during junior high and high school.  For me it felt like social suicide then. May be if I had let my inner choirgirl breathe during those years of identity formation, I would not have contemplated actual suicide in that time of my life...but then I cannot live my life in reverse.

I did not have the control to stop the exposure of people and situations that were toxic to my soul back then.  Now I do have that control and embrace it firmly.  I did not have the resources to learn how to nurture my inner choirgirl and help her heal during those years.  In adulthood I found those necessary resources and I worked things through,  even as it is an ongoing process.  I believe this is an experience many adults can bond over and I even believe it is a purpose of the Glee creators to bring this phenomenon to the surface.  I believe that this is the reason the show has had such popularity.  

High School is the preview to what skills will be necessary to navigate the "real world".  How a person navigates those tumultuous years say a lot about who we are and who we are going to become.  It is for that reason the issues can trigger so much inside of us regardless of whether we block our experiences out because it was a bazillion years ago, or if we relive it over and over again just like it was yesterday. Living in community is really hard sometimes.  Being an individual within a community is even more difficult.  

Here is the point where I'm going to take a sharp turn... I've been speaking about something cultural and I'm turning on a dime to give some commentary on an issue that I don't feel is being addressed in the church right now...so hold on tight...

I believe the current emergent church movement is mostly failing to reach new believers in North America in this time because we have confused a few important details.  I have witnessed some leaders in charge across the country and across faith traditions being led by the idea of community...or at least some form of it.  I have felt my inner choirgirl pressured to conform to the ideal of what a cool Christian is supposed to be like in this age and then judged when I don't conform.  I have been a part of teams with people who have clearly not worked through their issues from childhood and so are bleeding them out around the conference table while ministry programming is being developed.  I have bled out on the table trying to create the magic elixir to reach new people with the love of God and realizing that truth sent me on a different path.  I am doing my work to resolve my childhood issues, so now I stay outside the cool group but will not stay silent anymore about what I see becoming a huge issue.  

1.  The church is not supposed to be a place where leaders get to work out the problems they carry with them from childhood, nor is it a space to allow group think to reign supreme under the guise of creating community.  Our generation of leaders is from an era of great brokenness.  Society brokenness, familial brokenness, personal brokenness.  Therapy is the space to address the effects of that brokenness.  Church should be the space to be free to be as created and redeemed...and not just for the leaders who get to form the inside clique.

 2.  Jesus was not a conformist.  What angered him the most was when people manipulated God’s love to meet their individual needs.  God’s love is free and has no limit.  Social justice is an important facet of following the example of Jesus, but it should not be the cornerstone.  Relationship needs to be the cornerstone.  Having the right *beliefs* isn’t nearly as important as loving people and their inner choir girl/boy.  

I go to church to meet God and become more like God...not to fit in.  I’ve noticed it’s sometimes a liability and a threat if I don’t want to dive into some form of forced community.  I was one of the cool kids in high school, it didn’t work out for me then and I refuse to try that out again in adulthood.  Who I am and how I live is way more important than sitting at the cool kid's table.  God is concerned with transformation and reconciliation.  Community is a great place for that work to take place, but only if the point of community is celebrating uniqueness, not requiring conformity.   God creates community and in my experience it happens organically, it cannot be programmed into existence by people that desire it.

...ah my inner choirgirl feels a bit better...I’ve needed to say this for years now...

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