Ntokaze Shange coined:
i found god in myself
and i loved her
i loved her fiercely.
She penned these words in her play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.”
This is becoming my mantra for Lent. A Lent in which I am desiring to hold onto the best of tradition, yet being open up for the new–the parts of myself that need an overhaul, as I pray for my country, which also needs massive overhauls.
Yet, I must start with me. And I must bring my Female-ness into Lent. And one of the biggest ways I have done harm to myself & to others is in the act of conforming. So, I am giving up conforming for Lent.
I have spent a good 3 years since my diagnosis going inward. Healing. Questioning. Becoming more embodied. Recognizing the impact of trauma on my mind, body, & soul. Doing less, in order to realize who I am so I ultimately can “do” more. Not “do” in the traditional sense. Doing in the sense that who I am and what I do are one in the same. That my beliefs and my social practices become more aligned.
What has happened as I’ve gone inward, yet apart of various communities of people in this process? I have found God; the God who has strong feminine qualities, as well as masculine. The God always urging me to lean into who I already am. Because only in healing myself, can I actually help others heal.
Part of who I am is that I have a strong voice. And this has been an aspect that has needed profound healing in my life. I have used my voice again and again in my life and have been silenced, have been told, “it’s all in your head, or “you’re hysterical” or some other version of this. Being told once is painful, but you keep going. And yet, I was told this for about a decade, while I sought healing for myself. This produced in me a self-doubt and self-questioning that began to dominate my life.
From the place I’m at now, I know that while my physical illness has brought immense pain, it hasn’t been worse than feeling like your voice was taken from you. And at the end of that decade, when I finally received a diagnosis, I was sexually assaulted 3 months later. And I used my voice to confront this situation right away, only to be silenced again, told to see a therapist & that I should be glad I received treatment from one of the best physical therapists in Indiana.
That was the last straw for me. I was tired of using my voice and not being heard. I was tired of systems that kept perpetuating violence & evil. I was worn down, confused, and angry.
This fierce God met me with silence, which at first seemed downright wrong & uncaring. Little did I know that I needed the contemplative path to let Mystery sit with me for awhile. To expose my anger & pain and let silence, ritual & friendship slowly heal my worn out soul.
I needed a fierce-motherly God. Not the fierce-judging God, I was exposed to in my childhood. I needed a God that said, “Rest here for awhile, while I fight for you.”
But I also needed a God that said, “While I fight for you, you will re-learn how to fight for yourself. How to use your voice again in a non-violent & powerful way.”
Ever since I was young, seeing pain & suffering broke me open. I am a person who sees injustice & when I see it, I can’t unsee it. I am filled with grief and anger by the injustice I see. I am an intuitive empath and I am a woman with a strong voice. And yet, as of late, I’ve compromised my strong voice, because I became disillusioned. It didn’t seem like my voice mattered. I had reached a place of despair where I thought, “Why speak if no one is listening?”
I am giving up conforming for Lent, because the healing that needs to happen in me, is for me to continue to become more integrated. That my strength is in a dance with my compassion. That my truth is not compromised for the momentary desire to fit in with a certain group. That my unique inward journey is not compromised to fit the dogma of institutionalized religion. That my anger can surface and can transform into forgiveness.
This fierce god in me-I do love her fiercely, even as I learn to love myself fiercely.