I am learning some things on my pilgrimage. After resigning as a pastor, I began a cross-continental road trip designed to reset my spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. I am discovering that when you open space for the Spirit to speak, she will teach what she chooses to teach. To that end, here are some things I will not say or do anymore. (They are in no particular order.)
1.) I will not apologize or explain my COVID weight gain. I will not share with anyone how much I gained during the pandemic as an excuse for my culturally-induced shame. I will no longer watch media that is filled with perfect bodies. Instead, I will focus on healthy eating and exercise that is respectful of my spirit and body. This is my divinely created body filled with the breath of the One who animated it. I needed and did what was necessary to survive during the last 2-1/2 years.
2.) I will not explain my hair care routines when complimented. Do you like my orange/red hair? Me, too. Thanks for your kind words. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to color it out of fear of what “church people” would think. I will no longer let others keep me from making choices that reflect my authentic self.
3.) I will not automatically share my age when told, “You don’t look old enough to have grandchildren.” I am the perfect age for grandchildren. I will let them figure out the math themselves if it is important to them. I will gladly regale anyone of the wonderfulness of my four perfect grands.
4.) I will not justify prioritizing my personal needs. It is enough that I choose to care for myself. I do not need to justify that it helps me help others. I am worthy and beloved, period.
5.) I will not self-censor my words for prudish people. I will not censor the choice of words. If “fuck” is the way I am best able to express myself, then fuck it is.
6.) I will not self-censor for closed-minded people who are unwilling to grow. For example, if your actions reflect white supremacy, I will share my thoughts kindly AND firmly but speak I will. White silence has been the death of far too many human beings.
7.) I will no longer allow haters or power manipulators to define my choices. Or life. I will distance myself from toxicity that refuses to respond to my honest attempts at a healthy relationship. I will distance myself whether others act out of fear, ignorance, a need to control, a hard life, or poor mental health if it prevents me from living authentically.
8.) Similarly, I will not allow myself to be subjected to another person’s unhealthy patterns of behavior. I will set clear boundaries and enforce them. If the enforcement of my boundaries requires significant life changes, I will make those changes sooner rather than later.
9.) I will not work myself into an early grave. I will not do it for things capitalism tells me I need. I will not do it for the church or anyone else. I will not even do it for God. Frankly, God and others who love me want what’s best for me.