Friday, January 31, 2014

New Life

At the end of December my partner and I confirmed that we were expecting a baby; we were both overjoyed! Now, 11 weeks into the pregnancy, I'm finally emerging from the awful symptoms of the first trimester. I don't feel like I'm in survival mode all the time now, which is wonderful. I've been able to enjoy reading and thinking during the past week or so, so hopefully my creativity is returning and I'll be able to write more. The reading and the thinking has certainly taken a new direction due to the fact that I'm pregnant.

I'm assuming that my parents as well as my partner's parents are hoping that this new addition will magically transform our hearts and we'll come running back to the fold. The thought of getting involved at a local progressive Christian church has briefly crossed my mind, actually. Not because I want to be involved in Christianity, but because of the community and support such a church would bring. We're far away from all family and friends of the past, and our lack of community is scary to me as I imagine life with a new baby. There's a great UU church we've attended a few times... but we haven't been able to attend very frequentlye. We keep missing services due to sickness, morning sickness, weather, my partner's work schedule, etc. I sincerely hope that things will improve as we draw closer to Spring. Speaking of Spring, it's fun to think about how the baby will be growing inside me right along with the growth of Spring, and then be delivered towards the end of the growing season in August.

So yeah... a new baby definitely has me thinking about my community, my home, my family, our spirituality, what the future looks like... so many things. I know this pregnancy will be life changing. One way it is already changing me is by reshaping my spirituality and refueling my desire to learn more and grow. I think I know where I'm headed - to a point - but my IFB background is holding me back. It's so hard to let go, let loose, and simply feel and do things... because of fear. The IFB instilled within me many fears, one of the chiefest being to fear what other people think. My interactions with other Baptist kids (school, camp, and college) taught me to fear how I look and whether or not what I'm doing will seem stupid or silly. Now I still battle with fearing what others think, how they'll see me. I also battle with a fear of not being in control, which is heavily tied in with my fears about how other see me. Early on I did my best to hide all tears, possibly even all emotion, in public because it opened me up to ridicule and pain. I never liked being asked to do things out of my comfort zone because I feared failure, feared how I would look. I missed out on a lot of opportunities thanks to all this; it's only been since I left Christianity that I began finding the freedom to loosen up and have fun. I look forward to being further changed by the experiences of this pregnancy, giving birth, and holding my baby.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Article from Elizabeth Esther and My Experience with Fundamentalist Christian Camp

The false, glittering promise of Christian conferences by Elizabeth Esther

I know exactly what she's talking about, and I've never been to a Christian conference (unless a ladies' retreat counts as a conference). The Christian camp I attended and worked at for several years created the same environment Elizabeth described. Everyone was on some kind of high by the end of a camp week, and as a worker you hit high after high throughout the summer, only to pack up and go back to reality in August. So many people I knew - both campers and staff - went home after their time at camp and crashed. They had made friends, made decisions, felt the rush of spiritual experience... and then when they went home it was gone. They eagerly came back the next year, hoping to regain the spiritual ground they had lost and yet again strengthen their resolve to do better. The term "camp decisions" exists for a reason....

Christian camps seem uniquely geared towards creating this phenomenon: campers/staff are completely bubbled in from the rest of the world, repeated doses of indoctrination through devotions and services, and everyone is tightly bound by strict rules and expectations that further the sense of being in a bubble (like the military, you always have someone to tell you what to do and where you can and can't be, etc.).

Now that I think back, I know a lot of fun was had at camp, and it helped me grow as a person in many ways, but the world of fundie Christian camps is not a healthy one.