Confronting My Church Wounds 12. Anniversary of Tears

anniversary-of-tears-church-wounds

I wanted to write to you about How Conservative Christian women can still support and vote for a man like Donald Trump even after all the details which have come out about him during the course of his US presidential campaign, but then I woke up this morning to this day an Anniversary of Tears.

A Day of Remembering

Today is Yom Kippur, “also known as the Day of Atonement, [it] is the most solemn and second only to the Sabbath as the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.” (Wikipedia)

During my year of silence and the years to come Yom Kippur became a touching point for me yearly. It became a day of remembrance. Yom Kippur often comes within days on the calendar each year of my own day of “atonement.” I often take the time to be silent before it – the remembering.

I set this day aside to remember who I had been and HOW far I had come away from her.

tear-bottles-masada

Anniversary of Tears

Every single year for the first three years or so I would remember this day of remembrance and call it my “Anniversary of Tears.” I would take to the path and gather stones on the way – remembering. Then I would step back into the woods off the trail, pile a tiny altar by the creek and offer a few silent prayers before the universe.

We often celebrate the memory days of good things – birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. When you got your dog, bought a house, or were hired into that fabulous new job are things we often remember fondly. However rarely do we give ourselves the space to sit down in sorrow and remembrance on our “Anniversary of Tears” days.

These days are annual reminders of our failure, weakness, loss, grief, shame, or guilt. Our culture glorifies success and so we press forward feeling less than if we for one moment take time to remember what has happened to us, what we have done, and how our life has often come undone. But remembering is an essential part of growing.

In the years to follow I would be called “stuck, bitter, unforgiving,” when I expressed my hurt, anger, grief or pain too vocally. When in truth I was slowly and steadily healing from my wounds. I was taking my time. People are not used to us being honest when we stumble and fail. And they do not like it when we take our time healing.

We have our résumé of success, but rarely do we reveal our résumé of failure.

However failure is an option. Loss is inevitable. We would do well to sit down in our grief for one moment to remember how often life comes undone.

Because we are still standing. We are still breathing.

life is beautiful jkmcguire

Sometimes Life Hurts Like Hell

I often remember the moment a blood clot tried to take my lung and my life – almost two years ago. I was ten days postpartum, a mother of five children, and suddenly I could not breathe and the stabbing pain was worse than labor. I remember this moment often because some days out of the blue I get a sharp pain on my side where the lung tissue is still dead. I will take in a breath and the lung will hitch sharp and stabbing, then my heart will start racing and I will have to take a moment to readjust my breathing and position.

But I can’t tell people this – they just want to know “you are better now, right!” They don’t want to hear that LIVING HURTS.

When the pain suddenly hits out of nowhere I sit for a moment and take stock of my body. I assess whether this pain is something new or something old. Am I going to need to lean in and get help? Or do I simply need less moisture in the air, more warmth, less cold, and to ease the anxiety of my racing heart.

Every breath is a miracle

Because life is the miracle. But we lose sight of it. We go about our normal days and forget our bleeding, broken places. Then suddenly when the pain hits us again out of the blue we assume we are being weak or “haven’t dealt with the pain adequately.”

If we ask the wrong people – that’s what they will tell us too. They will super-spiritualize the process of navigating pain and abuse leaving us feeling inadequate and defeated when God doesn’t meet us in our pain the way they claim He should.

When in reality we need to remember for a moment – remembering the painful places re-centers life. We take stock of our current bodies and situations. PAIN reminds us we are ALIVE.

anniversary-of-tears-what-remembering-means

Weakness is not a disease. Having failed is not a deficit in your character although it may have been a moment to build character deeper and wider. If we lean into the pain and remember our anniversary of tears well, these are the places where the greatest lessons on love, resilience, and hope can find us. This is where we uncover and remember what we are made of.

First Anniversaries

That first painful anniversary of tears I gathered up those stones along the way, built an altar down on the edge of the woods and the water and I prayed. The darkness I had fallen headlong into had eased over the course of months. But the phantom pains of remembrance remained. I was still learning the act of seeing.

I had not arrived.

  • What does it mean to arrive anyways – where exactly are we when we “arrive?”
  • How do I know I am going to like it when I get there?
  • Arriving doesn’t sound fun – it sounds stiff and dry and rehearsed.

I know I am never going to be the same. So there was no point in avoiding this day altogether.

I choose to remember.

What do you do with your anniversaries of remembrance?

How do you commemorate them?

One thing I have learned this week is that there is an abundance of men and women who have anniversaries of tears. There are so many of us who have known sexual, emotional, physical, or spiritual abuse. And we have been silent. Or we have been silenced! We have born the guilt and the shame alone. We have allowed the small circles of women and men to make us feel even worse with questions like, “What were you wearing? Were you drinking? What right did you have to be there? He just liked you. You put too much trust in people/church and NOT enough trust in God. (gag)”

Many of us have been given names, labels, and life themes which are not true of us: liar, slut, whore, pussy tease, victim, drama queen, emotional wreck, and more.

One good thing to come out of a Trump candidacy – how many men and women are standing up to share their truth about abuse, family lines of racism/bigotry and turning towards their faith communities and families beginning to ask HARD QUESTIONS.

They are refusing to be silent or silenced.

They are telling their stories.

There is power in your story. This is what I learned on the path and on the page and from the front porch. We started a Facebook group – Conversations From the Front Porch – for people looking to try to find their power and live from their truth. Find us we would love to hear your story.

When you start telling the truth about yourself, about your Anniversaries of Tears, and what has been done or happened to you – that truth pushes the world’s darkness back a little bit further. Every knew truth revealed is another place where the darkness can no longer thrive or stay. Light is breaking in all around us and within us. But it is not easy.

None of this light revealing is without hurt. Faith shifting, revealing truth about our pasts, facing what we have done and who we have been can be an excruciatingly painful process.

It hurts like hell.

But the story you tell about yourself and the Tear Anniversaries you remember – are stories your children, grandchildren, men and women who love you and know you need to hear.

Your story is significant to the world.

And your tears matter too.

Happy Tears Anniversary.

Still Here,

♥J.

Tomorrow I will be discussing “How Conservative Christian Women Can Support a Man Like Donald Trump.”

This is part 11 in a series: Confronting My Church Wounds – a series on shifting faith. You can find the rest of the series below:

  1. Introduction
  2. Coming Undone
  3. Pit of Despair
  4. Healing Takes Time
  5. The Act of Seeing
  6. Mean Church Girls
  7. You are NOT Good Enough
  8. A Year of Silence
  9. Evangelicals and the “Gay Agenda”
  10. I Felt Duped
  11. Critical, Sexist Church Men

We have a Facebook Group for those experiencing their own faith shift, church breakup, unfundie awakening, political crisis, feminist journey… Here at Conversations From the Front Porch

Experiencing your own faith shift? Consider this book from Kathy Escobar (affiliate link) Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe Is Coming Apart

Want to Celebrate?
Join Me ON the Front Porch

Never miss an update! Sign up for a biweekly newsletter of exclusive content and weekly blog updates sent directly to your inbox.
Join me?