Finding a Tribe

A picture hangs in my office of the Guardians of the Galaxy. It was a thoughtful gift from my boss. She bought it because she knows I love the Guardians of the Galaxy but I am not sure she understands why. Many people ask me why I like them when they visit and the easiest answer is because they are Guardians. And this is true. My work team’s name is “Guardian” and we have the shirts and work method that prove it. But, there is a second deeper meaning though that resonates with me.

*Spoilers if you have not watched the first and second Guardians of the Galaxy movies.*

There is a line in the second Guardians movie in which Peter and Gamora are arguing over Peter’s newfound dad Ego. A brief quote follows:

Peter: “I finally found my family, don’t you understand that?”

Gamora: “I thought you already had”

There is so much emotion in those two statements you really need to watch the scene to understand but for the purpose of this blog it is sufficient to read the words.

In the first movie, the group forms a team to have the common goal of getting paid. Saving the galaxy was not their original intent, but it became their primary focus as the movie unfolded. Over the course of the movie, they reached accomplished something they never intended: their disjointed group became a family.

In my vocabulary family also means a tribe or clan.

I have searched all of my life to find my tribe.

I have a great blood family. This is not what I am talking about.

I mean friends that become a tribe. I thought I found it a few times. But it turns out when you don’t go to the same “church”, work at the same place, or don’t believe exactly like you did, you were not that close after all.

I have had many close calls, but nothing yet has lasted.

I do not believe I am the only one searching for my clan. I believe there are others. I will find them.

You can’t manufacture it, and as with the Guardians, I don’t believe we will realize it as it forms. Forming this tribe just happens naturally as we walk out our journeys together.

So the search goes on. And it is a search I will continue until I find my people.

I believe this final quote from Guardians sums it up nicely:

Peter Quill/Star-Lord: I look around at us and you know what I see? Losers… I mean like, folks who have lost stuff. And we have, man, we have, all of us. Homes, and our families, normal lives. And you think life takes more than it gives, but not today. Today it’s giving us something. It is giving us a chance.

Drax the Destroyer: To do what?

Peter Quill/Star-Lord: …To give a shit, for once and not run away

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The Disease of Unforgiveness

My husband posts a great deal of his thoughts and opinions about the state of the institutional church and I agree with almost 100% of them. I do feel there are many fundamental problems with the American “Church” as a whole, but today I want to focus on what I can only describe as a cancer in the institutional church: unforgiveness.  At the end of our tenure at a church we had served at for 10 years I had reached the point where I would honestly say I did not love people. This was unfortunate as my husband was a message series on the book of 1 John  in which a very famous passage stated:

If anyone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he who does not love his brother whom he has not seen cannot love God whom\ he has not seen. 1 John 4:20

I admit  I cried myself to sleep more than one Wednesday night because I felt so condemned by this whole book of scripture. I knew I did not love these people so this meant I did not love God. I had no hope and I felt like just giving up.  Over the course of many heated conversations and much prayer, I came to the realization that if my faith was going to survive I had to get out of the church system.

While this has confused many people and probably has made them fearful for our salvation, it was probably the wisest decision we ever made. I have found this truth, distance is a key component in the process of healing. I had to get away from the system in order to think clearly and begin to work with my core issue: unforgiveness. In the “church” system I was so heavily involved in, I ran across scores of people who carried the baggage of unforgiven hurts and anger toward those who had hurt them. It is a vicious cycle of reliving your pain, valid or not,  becoming angry at those who hurt you , deeply desiring that they suffer, and then feeling guilty that you feel that way, because you know the bible says you have to forgive. I know many can relate to this cycle, even if they cannot readily admit they are likely on this merry-go-round even as I type this. You see I knew that I should love these people but I did not have it in me to do it, not while I saw them at the store, at a family gathering, or at church every week.

I feel that unforgiveness is a cancer because it blocks the flow of love in our lives. I have found over time that it was not a lack of love, but an actual issue of loving them so much. That realization was key in my healing.  I love deeply so I also open myself to be hurt deeply. That was out of balance. So with the clarity that distance makes, I can see that I needed time away from the institution to let go of my anger and begin to forgive myself and others.

I have been taught that there are three things you cannot control: situations, possessions, and personal rights. I find this to be true, but the realization makes us try so hard to try to control what by nature we cannot control. I cannot control what others say or do, and I had to learn how to deal in a healthy way with those who strike out against myself and my family. I cannot control what they do, but I can control how I let it affect me. So I have been learning to forgive and that has allowed me to love again, so now I can more relate to 1 John in a much deeper way.

I am not sure why I am writing this at 3 in the morning and I have to get up at 5, but I can only hope this is for someone who is in this cycle and needs the encouragement that it can be broken. If you ever need to talk, you know where to find me. But even better, you can talk to the Lord.

 

 

 

Not Another Blog!

Why Blog?

For the past several months I have watched my husband expose his inner thoughts for the world to see. I have watched him struggle with revealing what we tend to keep inside, and at times I have envied him. Sometimes, when I felt I would burst if I would not share what was within me, I would hijack his blog and post as a visitor. However it is time I begin to document my story, on my own terms. It is funny I am well known as one who is fearless in asking questions, but when I find the answers to the questions matter most to me I hesitate to ask. The answers to these questions can set us on a path of hurt, realization, or derail what we believed to be a true foundation. I am long past the point of just accepting what people tell me because they are in a position of authority, and it is also time I stopped relying on others to dictate what I should believe as truth.

The past few months have found us without a “church home”. This is an uncomfortable place to be for someone who has spent my entire adult life, and most of my adolescence inside these church walls. I have learned some hard lessons: I am not as loving as I thought, words hurt, and not everyone likes or even loves me.  I am past the point of allowing these lessons control my life, so to heal I removed myself from the hamster wheel of outward proper action and hidden pain.  So here I stood, outside the door of the “safety” I knew and staring at a path that I instinctively knew would be a hard journey. And for a while this is where I have stayed. Refusing to go back inside, but too fearful of how to handle the world I really knew very little about.

There are core things I believe as Truth and that has not changed. However, I have chosen to tear down the house I have built that served both as a shelter and as a prison. Now begins the process of building something new. I plan to document this journey on this blog and it is my hope that it will be healing for me and helpful for others. Feel free to share your thoughts as I look forward to honest dialogue because I know I am not the only one who is in the process of rebuilding with no construction experience!