Ex-Mystic Mama: A Story of Deconstruction
“We are wandering, yet we are loved.” As a mystic, I clung to these words by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I called her book, “Women Who Run With the Wolves,” my new bible, poring over all 600+ pages with tears, a yellow highlighter, and a pen.
I am an ex-mystic and it’s taken years to write and publish the following words.
Mostly because I haven’t been able to find them, or to articulate the intricate forest trails of my wandering. Also because I’ve needed the spacious (and gracious) distance of time for things to come into view. Also because there is much pain involved, and grief, even within the grace that God poured upon me. “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” (Rom. 6:21) Yet with the grief also comes an unwavering love for the living God who is kind, forgiving, and merciful beyond anything our minds can comprehend.
This article has taken shape over the course of several years. I don't think it will ever be complete. I've published a few paragraphs here and there, but having it all in one place feels both heavy and joyful, because I am reminded over and over of the gracious love of God, whose mercy is beyond all I can articulate or grasp.
Before I go on, I want you to have a visual witness of me as a "mystic" versus me after "the revelation of God's grace and truth." This is important, because while the heart is where transformations of truth take place, and while the external is not always a reliable point of reality, this visual guide reveals so much to me. It was a season marked with darkness and grief. At the time, I maintained an earnest insistence that I was not rejecting Christianity but holding faith at arm’s length to ask questions, re-evaluate lifelong beliefs, and make peace with mystery. Looking back, I will always wonder if my moment of salvation came after this, if all the prior years of my living were, indeed, bereft of the Holy Spirit.
It's the first question I'll ask when I meet Jesus face to face.
“I want to be the female Richard Rohr.”
This is what I told people when we talked about faith. We’d be elbows deep in french press with cream, up to our eyelashes in philosophy and deconstruction of belief. Richard Rohr and his mystical approach to Christianity brought me to life, or so I thought. As a writer with a complex history with faith, I hung upon his words and eagerly embraced my identity as a mystic, then a wild mystic, then a Christian mystic. And then nothing, because labels couldn’t contain every nuance I wanted and seemed to upset people.
When the Lord plunged His holy arm into the swirling darkness that I thought was the “mystery” I loved and drew me shivering and oh so close, in every sense of the word I became born again. I am not who I once was. If you knew me then, I am a stranger now. With certainty I know this: God delivered me from the shadow of death and upon me, light has dawned.
“Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” (Mark 5:19b)
These days, I am no longer a mystic and no longer a follower of Richard Rohr. I am sickened by so many of my former words that I wanted to be so moving, so mysterious, and so poetic but actually say nothing at all—or worse, say things against God’s word. As time goes on and I realize the depths of deception I found myself in, grief overtakes me sometimes. But grace does, too. I grieve over so much and yet my eyes are wet with tears of gratitude over the mercy and grace of God who said “Enough. Come home.”
Path of deconstruction
I’m not sure when a series of single wandering steps make up a whole journey leading away from truth. Or perhaps, depending on your perspective, towards it, as my foundational beliefs about salvation and God were themselves fraught with error. But as I recall my darkest years, and as I try to retrace my steps, there are a few guiding influences that stand out. I’m going to share some of them. I have a lot of grief reading my old words, and heaviness, while also utter humility and awe at the mercy and forgiveness of God who rescued me from darkness. Please read with discernment. I am illustrating my own personal experience with how deception crept in. 👉 (I've changed the size of the text and put it in italics to distinguish past writing from today.) 👈 I'm sharing many ideas and beliefs I held at the time, and I have not paused to refute them here.
After you read this article, I recommend that you continue with two others to learn how the Lord delivered me:
Daylight of the Soul—a raw and tender post written a few weeks after the Lord saved me in early 2017
Gracestory—a longer account written over a year later, to which I continued to edit and add details for about another year
First, here are excerpts from a personal message I wrote to a friend in 2012, with small edits for punctuation and clarity—
👉 NOTE: THIS IS PAST WRITING, NOT MY CURRENT POSITION.
My own spiritual journey has evolved more slowly than yours, it sounds; even though I left home in '99, I stayed very compliant and solid in my traditional Christian faith. Even though (according to my parents) I was "worldly," I truly was a "good girl" and was allowed home for visits and interaction with my brothers and sisters. Things began to change after I got married at age 22 and tried establishing some small boundaries with my parents. I wanted privacy and autonomy as a married woman, and this didn't go very well with them, but we still maintained a relationship.
Over time, however, I began to question and dig deeper into some of the philosophies and practices I was raised with, and how they affected me physically, mentally, emotionally—not to mention spiritually. Oddly enough, a book my sisters and mom began to recommend to every newlywed they knew at the time was called "Created to be his Helpmeet" by Michael and Debi Pearl. Out of curiosity I picked it up, and it made me physically ill. This experience made me start remembering certain things I was taught and so I began to link everything together...I'm trying to condense this as much as possible...I went through my childhood journals and was astonished at things I'd forgotten. This deep searching process went on for several years, including my healing.
Still, I remained a solid western evangelical, and went so far as to answer God's calling to write a very religious, biblically-based book for women who were raised similar to me, detailing through scripture and other things ways to heal from abuses perpetuated in God's name. I published my book in June 2010 and then went through several months of repercussion. It was very controversial within the patriarchal Christian homeschooling movement, and five leaders within the movement set up a website to refute me directly and my "teachings"....which, keep in mind, were solidly 'biblical' and 'sound' from a Christian perspective, even endorsed by a pastor known within certain evangelical circles. I also received hundreds of messages and emails from people who poured out their hearts and thanked me and were so glad that the book had been written, so I knew that it brought good.
Some noteworthy critical responses following this book were that I'm deceived, a liar, of the antichrist, that my writings (again, my Christian-based writing) are being used to wipe out the True Church, that I'm persecuting the body of Christ, and that I'm not "saved." There were also many deeper personal hurts, and much rejection.
In the aftermath of ALL of that, over the past two years things have changed dramatically for me. Brief highlights:
In 2011, still a faithful evangelical, as I studied scripture and different things I came to stop believing in the doctrine of eternal torment (hell as we know it). Here is a review I wrote on a book I read at the time that will explain a little more about that part of my journey:
"If I filled your room with pure light you would be blind, and I filled your room with pure darkness you would again be blind. In order to see, you must have a balance between light and darkness..." from Raising Hell—Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire, by Julie Ferwerda
A few years ago, I stopped worshiping the bible.
Shortly after, I stopped believing in total free will, something I rigorously defended most of my life. (Did you choose the color of your eyes? Your gender? Or even to be born?)
Then I began to seriously question the doctrine of eternal torment. (If we didn't choose to be born in the first place, why is our second birth—to be born again to eternal life, arguably the most important decision we'll ever make—our choice?)
Somewhere between the tender and scholarly Hope Beyond Hell by Gerard Beauchemin (Malista Press, 2006, CreateSpace 2011) and the pop-culture friendly Love Wins by Rob Bell (HarperOne, 2011) I began to embrace my doubts rather than reject them. This meant sitting with my questions, instead of batting them away with bible verses. I began to make room for inconsistencies rather than squash them out of consciousness, which meant working out my own salvation with fear and trembling: fear, because what if this proves I'm a heretic? What if I lead others astray? And trembling, because my own doubts—what if I'm wrong? What if I'm deceived?—remained alive and kicking. Because, while I have the Spirit of God, I realize I'm fully human with the propensity for error. Discerning who to listen to and what messages to accept as true can tear us apart emotionally, if not psychologically and spiritually. Not the least of which is the fact that, even in modern America, reading or endorsing such books becomes an open invitation for evangelical slaughter.
Admitting doubts and eventual abandonment of a belief in traditional hell places me squarely in the midst of religious fury. It places humble, fumbling, and weak little me at odds with some of the greatest and most influential theologians in history. I echo David's cry: who am I? I'm also a woman, which for some early church fathers, means I'm practically the devil incarnate. But I've come to peace with the fact some consider me an "evil libbrul", a feminist, or "deceived", and take courage through passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. The truth is, I am an ardent follower of Jesus who promised to send the Helper and Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to lead me into truth. And in the grave matter of heaven, hell, eternity and all mankind, taking Him up on His promise is, for me, an act of faith.
So, I marinated over my doubts. I prayed. Hard. I studied the bible. Talked with other believers. Tried to give up, but God gently led me on. I read books and articles both for and against traditional teachings of hell. Tossed and turned, sleepless, for many nights. Quoted Scripture to myself. Looked up Greek passages, lurked on message boards, networked on facebook. I watched the farewell, Rob Bell hoopla which included many current conservative leaders offering grave rejoinders along with fearful expectations of fiery torment. Internally quaking, I begged God to show me directly, rather than straining to see through centuries of other filters.
And He did! The last few months I've felt joyously frustrated, unable to coherently articulate everything He's revealed, everything I've come to understand and believe regarding this incendiary topic. When you have much to say and no language to use, it's like being a wiggly, determined, intense baby, arms and legs all pumping, who tries so hard to talk and yet everything comes out without words.
But today I received a gift.
I just completed Raising Hell—Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire by Julie Ferwerda. I was given this book to review and now, as I write, the only prose taking shape is sharing what this eye-opening work means to me and where it fits in my spiritual journey. I bow in awestruck thanksgiving to God for leading me along this path and preparing me, filling me, opening my eyes to truth, and providing such astounding confirmation through these pages.
On a personal level, I feel like I'm coming out of a theological closet where abandonment of traditional hell doctrine places me in a marked minority, evangelically speaking. I no longer believe in the myth of hell. I reject the teaching of eternal torment and eternal damnation, which, in my opinion, is the biggest deception to enter the church. But I do believe the words of Christ: the kingdom of heaven is at hand and His Gospel truly is good news for all mankind!
I realize that, academically speaking, this isn't a "real" review. But I hope that showcasing Raising Hell in the context of my walk with the Lord will encourage others to keep asking questions, to come boldly to the throne of grace, and to trust God, who has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. Regardless of your own conclusions, this book is an indispensable addition to any theological library. One beauty of Raising Hell is that Ferwerda writes in layman language. She laminates her own vigorous research and knowledge of the Bible, Hebrew, Greek, and God into a brilliantly readable, superbly organized, serenely reverent volume that can't go ignored. You don't need a degree to absorb this work or to use it as a catalyst for personal study. It is grace-based, thoughtful, fresh, thoroughly researched, and Scripturally solid.
Let me emphasize that the premise of Raising Hell is not new revelation. The truth about the gospel and God's plan for His creation is true from the foundations of the world. I believe that in His love and mercy, God has endured centuries of deception regarding His character and it is with weeping that I lay at His feet knowing how I have perpetuated this. On the cross Jesus cried Father, forgive them, they know not what they do! I believe He includes those use His name to facilitate blindness to the Truth. May He forgive me for all I've done to promote lies about His heart!
I thank God for the gift of this book and for Julie Ferwerda.
About this time, I also began to see just how much that the bible is a collection put together by man (the council of Nicea) including letters written to specific churches that don't apply to us today, at least as we are taught them. I noticed that, since I had stopped requiring myself to read it, and actually lifted my head out of it and looked around, that life was so different and real and alive and that there was SO MUCH MORE to living and being and truth and that God is outside the bible itself, anyway.
So these things rolled around in my head and I studied SO hard and in my faithfulness really, really poured myself into this journey and this new to me, not-quite-traditional side of christianity.
However it's been THIS year , literally beginning in January, that things got crazy. I had chosen my word of the year to be "unafraid" because I no longer wanted to live according to fear—fear of the hell doctrine, which I realized was all about fear (obey God or spend eternity in hell) and didn't line up with the mercy and love of God that I'd come to know; and the fear-based responses to my book.
Anyway, the interesting thing that happened is that I became Reiki 1 certified in January. Literally the next day I read something online about how anyone who opened themselves up to reiki invited demons inside and that God's spirit had left them. It was terrible stuff....lots of it too, and I became gripped with the worst fear I'd had in years. Fear that I was all wrong and hell DID exist and I was to be eternally separated from God forever, etc. It was horrific, but this experience with fear prompted the most insanely huge spiritual journey because it forced me to face my fear straight on, plunge in, dig deep. And this has changed my life.
About the same time, I'd begun to stop seeing God as masculine/patriarchal. I began referring to God as Her, Amma; if anything, a reflection of both masculine / feminine. I wanted to discover the feminine side of God because all my life the masculine side had been shown, and with such pain and fear attached.
I also began studying what is really meant by everything we were taught within evangelicalism, including 'satan', Jesus, etc. I read tons of hebraic and messianic literature, digging into greek, etc... and what I found rocked my world. About this time also I discovered Gregg Braden, a scientist with a passion for spirituality and quantum physics. Oh my god, I LOVE quantum physics. It's hard to sum everything up in one email but one thing led to another, and between plunging myself into "new age" and native american spirituality, and quantum physics and healing and all kinds of things, let me fast forward to now.
Now, I don't know what I could be called. Things have changed so much over the last nine months, the space of a pregnancy in human terms. I feel like I've given / am giving birth to something I can't identify. I don't have language to articulate my own journey, and I've said that a hundred times on my blog. What am I? I don't know. I know that I don't bear any resemblance to a shred of westernized christianity. I don't even call myself a christian anymore, because of what it means in our language. But I also still respect and love Yeshua. But the doctrines that we were taught about salvation and eternity and sin and self...oh my god, I don't even hold to the same. I am still working out a lot of what I believe, but I know that I totally believe in quantum physics and the feminine side of God and that love really is the most important thing. My philosophy could be summed up by Rumi: "Beyond our ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." I was raised in a dogmatic, black and white world and now my world has exploded in color. I respect and honor all journeys. I think I will always have some kind of "christian" root, but there is nothing in me that remotely resembles what we know of it as christianity today. I draw from many traditions, but my journey is so free, too. If anything, I say that I am free. Others have called me a witch and most call me new age. I don't know...I hate labels. I'm not a witch. I'm in this awkward place of growing and becoming and I'm not as sweet as I used to be, either. I'm very zen, but I'm also raging. It's so strange. It's a wild kind of spirituality that rises from the river beneath the river. But at every turn, I've found God / Source / Creator. To be honest, I'm surprised by this. I think I subconsciously thought I would (personally) flirt with at the very least, some kind of agnosticism. But I feel closer and more alive and real with Who I've come to understand God to be now. Does that even make sense?
Next, in 2013, I wrote the following article describing an intense need for words to reflect myself and my journey and all I was thinking, experiencing, and feeling—
Wild Language, 2013
👉 NOTE: THIS IS PAST WRITING, NOT MY CURRENT POSITION.
“All saying must be balanced by unsaying, and knowing must be humbled by unknowing,” writes Richard Rohr. I'm folded into the corner of the World Religion section at my local Half Price Bookstore reading his book The Naked Now. Shelves marked Islam, Hindu, Buddhism tower above me, overflowing with teaching and philosophy. But it’s the three humble rows called "mystic" I’m most interested to see. I’ve gathered an armload of promising texts and Rohr is on top of my pile. “Without this balance, religion invariably becomes arrogant, exclusionary, and even violent. All light must be informed by darkness, and all success by suffering.”
The words press to my heart. I scan through the pages ahead and my spirit sighs yes. This book is coming home with me.
I’ve spent the last few weeks working through an ebook called Spiritual Wanderings. I didn't expect all it stirred within me but I come to this moment wearing entirely new skin than I had before. With permission to thrash freely, thrash about I did. And I am. Because what Rohr says about imbalanced religion which can become arrogant, exclusionary, even violent? Those words resonate. They were true for me.
“Maybe there are more Rohr books here?” My voice is hopeful. I'm with my friend and we eye the shelves. I've gathered a few more books for my keep pile. She disappears, returns a bit later.
“Now you know I love you,” she says laughing. But I hear a barely discernible edge. More feel it than hear it, really. I run my finger along the salience of her words. “I even looked through the Christian section for you.”
I understand and smile. Then I sigh. I feel the significance of this simple thing. In former years, you'd always find us there. In the Christian sections, neatly cloistered between shoulds and shame. (Perhaps you know them, too.) We were the ones you'd see at Barnes and Noble, bibles and notebooks spread over the table, talking boldly about doctrine and theology. We inhaled purpose and passion. We knew the language and used it well.
Now the words stick in my throat, just sitting there. I can't swallow them. They feel superglued to my lungs. I want to scrape them off, breathe fresh air. It's why I sound guttural, hoarse. It's the words and the thrashing and the scraping.
It is holy work.
I try to explain what it's like, my experience within arrogant and exclusionary and violent religion. “We're not all like that,” western evangelicalism pleads. I know this is true, just as I know it's true that I go running when I find myself smack dab in the middle of shoulds and shame wherever they are found. More often now, though, I'm found pressed between the earnest desire to offer grace and compassion to the same world I run from and the aching inability to be in that world very long. Invariably my heart begins to pound, my head spins, and that lurching in my tummy promises a bigger mess than I've bargained for. Some might say this means I've not healed enough. I shrug. Perhaps. I think it's the language of western religion most of all. It's not religion, it's relationship … once again with the words! They feel tired and drab and old.
Why do you look for the living among the dead? A tender whisper melts my heart. Why indeed? There is no life in this language for me. So for now, I refuse to speak it anymore.
There's a saying that goes something like, “People fear most what they don't understand.” If my journey doesn't fit into a neatly-ordered box according to the perceptions of others, then my life becomes demonized, villainized. I become reduced to a label, something sticky and small and dismissive.
I've been thinking about labels lately. Labels are boxes of their own. They stop the discovery process. “Oh, he's Baptist,” we might say of someone, and instantly have visions of cushy pews and hymnbooks and choir-robes. We already know what he believes and don't need to bother hearing his heart. Perhaps we stiffen a little if we don't agree with Baptist theology. But not to worry; we've slapped a warning label on. He is invisible now.
“She's rebellious,” we might say of someone else. Depending on our view the label might be a warning sign. “She's backslidden. A witch. Pray for her. Don't let her come around. She's a deceiver. She leads people astray.” Loaded words.
The first time I am called a witch and a wiccan, if I recall correctly, I burst into tears. The second time I grow frantic. According to the rules, if this is the perception of me (never mind what the truth might be), I'm not being a good witness. What am I doing wrong? Not going to church? Is it my clothes? I wear mostly black. I burn incense. I have tattoos and a gypsy soul and believe in the feminine nature of God and the presence of Spirit in the earth. Naturally I panic. Grow depressed. Embark on an evangelical frenzy to prove I am, in fact, not a witch, despite my unconventional ways.
The third and fourth times I get angry.
The last time it happens, it sets me free. It's not true, but people will think what they think. People fear most what they can't understand. Label and condemn. I wonder if people hate most what they can't control? Even the Christ divine was called a devil by religious folk. I suppose I'm in good company.
I wonder how often I dehumanize others in the vulnerable midst of their own thrashing. Maybe I toss around a label as easily as tossing back my hair. Maybe that lost / angry / confused / irritating / inauthentic / trying-too-hard / judgmental / graceless soul simply longs to be seen. Needs a tender kiss from life. A breath of fresh air. A gentle squeeze, a whispered reminder: "you are loved." To know that even at their most vulnerable—I won't say ‘worst’—they are somehow also the most worthy, because love covers a multitude of sins, or so I'm told.
Hurt happens when we forget we are loved.
Loved. The only label we need.
I have a voice. We go through natural seasons together. My soul tells me I've been quieter than usual this past year*, and not because I need to be, necessarily. But she's not mean about it. She calls me “Love.” “Love, I think you gave your voice away,” she says gently. “I think you are holding back your words.”
Now, there's such a thing as contemplative stillness. It is deep, intentional, resonant and holy. It is the practice of being, of listening, of prayer. Then there is the silence born of suffering. I am nervous to speak of such silence, for how dare I admit I have suffering? Who am I? But even closer to home is the silence caused by fear. The cold, reeling, hand-over-mouth kind of terror that leaves you wide-eyed and trembling.
“Wouldn't you?” I respond. She knows about All the Things.
She doesn't flinch. She feels warm, like comfort. I take advantage. “Well, if I use my words, I want my own language.”
Right now I am in a strange kind of trembling hush that, for all my talk of words, find me running low on them. I find myself immersed in songs like this one by Sigur Ros. I cry every single time, for I am the boy with the drum. I am the girl who tears off her mask. I am all the gypsy children running to freedom. I am the little dreamer who dares to wake up and find life. This is what the thrashing journey is for me: waking up, finding life, and living it full to the end.
“When you come to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.” — Edward Teller
*2012 / 2013
And finally, in a response to an-often repeated inquiry, I went into depth about what being a mystic meant to me:
The Gypsy Mystic, 2014
👉 NOTE: THIS IS PAST WRITING, NOT MY CURRENT POSITION.
I'm often asked, what do you mean by mystic?
I mean this:
Spirit and bone.
Dark and light.
Known + unknown.
Mystery and revelation.
Death and birth.
In the beginning was the word, and the word became flesh.
Human and divine.
The luminous dark.
“Spiritual teachers teach in the language of paradox and mystery and what seems like contradiction, but then they show us that it is not contradiction at all,” writes Fr. Richard Rohr, founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation. “I know paradox is not a word that we use much in our everyday life. Let me define a paradox very simply: A paradox is seeming contradiction which is not really contradictory at all if looked at from another angle or through a larger frame. A paradox always demands a change on the side of the observer. If we look at almost all things honestly we see everything has a character of paradox to it. Everything, including ourselves, and most especially God, has some seeming contradictions, some mysterious parts that we cannot understand or explain.”
I found his book, The Naked Now—Learning to See as the Mystics See at the end of a long and wordless season marked by frustration and surrendered sighs. “There is no language for this,” I said again and again. “There is no language for anything anymore.” For so long I felt mired on foreign soil with no comprehension of the native tongue. No way to describe the upheaval of awakening or the whiplash caused by root after root being yanked out of my soul without mercy.
Oh, but it was the sweetest mercy. The breaking whole.
My sojourn as a mystic began in childhood with a tender love for God and sensing the Sacred in everything. I grew up with a rigid approach to spirituality rooted in patriarchal religion, an austere brand of Christianity guided by either-or-ness which held doctrine over person and created impenetrable walls of separation between us and those who were not us. But the secret about an inclusive life is that it can turn on its own, and this is the particular sacred wound which thrust me into a form of exile I call wild grace.
Awakening from the deadly lands of polarity thinking is the sun rising over the trees with shimmery rays, brilliant and dazzling, enough to temporarily blind you. And when this happens you learn to see in other ways: to see in the dark, trust your intuition, to follow your heart. You learn new languages transcendent of words. Words coexist with being, suspended like iridescent drops of light along transparent lines. You honor all senses. You become present. Aware. You are. I am.
If I did not know the ache and starvation of an either-or life I would not know the mystery and enchantment of this wakened wild. I've come to see my past as a gift above all gifts. I am brought low, humbled to receive. Who am I to drink the lush waters of this strange and wild mercy? Like the pearl of moon cradled in a black sky, who am I to have such rich, velvety contrast—made from my own blood and tears and bone—for the luminous joy I have now?
The mystical life is one of paradox, the anchors at each end a long and complex sojourn as unique as the soul who lives it. It is made of both + and, the gentle counter for either-or. This non-dualistic approach to life is the deep grace I embraced upon awakening into light.
“Non-dual thinking is a way of seeing that refuses to eliminate the negative, the problematic, the threatening parts of everything. Non-dual thinking does not divide the field of the naked now, but receives it all. This demands some degree of real detachment from the self. The non-dual/contemplative mind holds truth humbly, knowing that if it is true, it is its own best argument. Non-polarity thinking (if you prefer that phrase) teaches you how to hold creative tensions, how to live with paradox and contradictions, how not to run from mystery, and therefore how to practice what all religions teach as necessary: compassion, mercy, loving kindness, patience, forgiveness, and humility.”— Richard Rohr, The Naked Now
Dwelling in the creative tension of both + and is what defines, for me, the mystical life. It is holding the wound and the one who wounds in each hand, allowing both to Be, loving each equally, letting love heal.
It is compassionate non-judgment and truthful observance—both truth and grace—allowing what Is, not forcing my own perceptions of time or what should be. It is the willingness to allow my eyes to adjust to alternate perceptions, new or unconventional ways of seeing. I used to be an eager defender of my own brand of truth but I've come to understand that instead, truth defends me. The mystical life is no longer me demanding an unchanging truth but becoming surrendered and willing to change myself and allow life to blow through with the heart-opening winds of Spirit.
It is not confining myself to strident ways of thinking but inviting organic growth. It is holding myself in the same compassion I extend to others. It is grace for both the abuser and the abused—and for the one who can accept that, and the one who cannot. It is not rushing in to answer all the questions or satisfy the curious or ease every psychological discomfort. It is not conforming to the expectations of those around me but allowing inner transformation born of wild spirit and holy awakening. It is saying “the more I know the more I don't know,” and letting that be enough. It is both + and—the union, reconciliation, and peace of all.
The gypsy mystic
I am both dark dweller and the incarnation of light.
I am free spirit :: earthbound.
I am wanderer and I am home.
I am broken whole.
And so a mystic sees—and doesn't see. Knows and doesn't know. Embodies the luminous dark which seems to be the hardest comprehension of all, for there are no words for this. And yet, there are all the words—the word made into flesh and flesh made into lovesongs, lovesongs broken into poems and poems scattered like seeds. And seeds turned into dead, fibrous husks and husks cracked open in darkness where light lurks in all the roots and roots hold the secrets of rebirth. And rebirth is a sacred wound which, if one leans into mercy, leads to a tender, glimmering, and resonant life.
Shortly after the Lord awakened me with His healing, forgiveness, and grace, and brought me to Himself, I wrote Daylight of the Soul. Later, I wrote a more-detailed spiritual memoir entitled Gracestory. Both writings illustrate how I went from "there" (my days in deception) to "here." Nowadays, my calling is to fulfill a tender mission Jesus gave two thousand years ago to another soul He set free:
“...Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” —Mark 5:19
That's why I've shared the story of my deconstruction. I was so wrong and deceived about God, about theology, about the Bible and doctrine. For a long season, I replaced God-breathed Scripture with what I called my new Bible, a book I clung to, cried through, marked up with tears and a yellow highlighter. Women Who Run With the Wolves is filled with words that, at the time, brought fire to my eyes, made me revel in my womanhood and stirred my poetic, gypsy spirit with many life-changing, inspiring quotes for artists and mystics.
In it, I read, "We are wandering, yet we are loved."
It was true, but it wasn't the whole truth.
That's how deception begins. That's how deception takes root. With some truth, but not the whole truth. With seductive promises for the healing of deep pain. With soothing whispers for aching, throbbing wounds. With comfort and inspiration for hearts that long for life and meaning and beauty. And with a little taste of the apple, a little awakening of desire, a little relief, some answers, a re-kindled purpose, an inspiring community, and a new language, it's not long before some truth becomes even less truth.
There is only one Truth. Only one. Only one.