Thursday, March 5, 2015

Oh what a wonderful and whacked out world

I had a crazy, painful, dangerous manic break in September 2014.  Adjusted meds, went up on Risperdal to 3 mg.  That helped for a month and then I went into a four month depression.  As always happens with me around Lent, I started to pull out of it a bit and quickly got manic.  Adjusted meds again after emergency trip to my psychiatrist in Little Rock with Nathan.  Did a hard scary thing to bring balance to my life and it has worked out.  Things are getting better.  

My spiritual journey continues along the winding, at times lazy, at times forced, at times joyous, at times scary path.  God or No God?  

Reading Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber has helped immensely.  I think there really might be a place for me.  I'm not tied to atheism or organized religion, one or the other.  I can bridge them, and I am starting to figure that out.  I don't have to be a manic second coming of Jesus, of all the prophets, though many times it has felt that way.  I can just keep working away at my life and lead with Love and the heart revolution will happen with or without me.  Some quotes from Pastrix:

"God was not sitting in heaven looking down at Jesus' life and death and cruelly allowing his son to suffer. God was not looking down on the cross. God was hanging FROM the cross. God had entered our pain and loss and death so deeply and took all of it into God's own self so that we might know who He really is. Maybe the Good Friday story is about how God would rather die than be in our sin-accounting business anymore." 

I hate, absolutely hate, the concept of Sin as has been taught to us.  That we are born broken and only God can save us.  The Methodist Church here in town has really helped with that.  Jim Polk, the pastor, says it's never about how much we love God or whether we meet the mark or fail or if we doubt or can't feel love.  We just can know that God's overwhelming abundant love is always there.  The magnitude of His matters, not ours.  And that magnitude is unimaginable.  God-Love.  I'm not saying there isn't a place for secularists or atheists....I love them, they are my people too.  I get them, I really do.  I have spewed their anger.  I have been wholly satisfied that God is a fairy tale.  I have sought Him at times and only heard echoes.  I get it.  

"I'd assumed that God was nowhere to be found back then. But that's kind of an insult to God. It's like saying 'You only exist when I recognize you.' The kingdom of heaven, which Jesus talked about all the time, is, as he said, here. At hand. It's now. Wherever you are. In ways you'd never expect." 

Remarkably this seems a way to bridge my 'All God, No God, One God, We God' statement with my 'Heaven is on earth right now in present day' statement. That's the heaven I have seen, and that's the God I am experiencing right now, in ways I'd never expected.  Heaven is now and we all see glimpses of it here and there, but you know those times when the peace and perfection is so full you are swimming in it?  It might last an hour.  Well, for me that can last for days, or weeks.  For all of us it's coming, the kind that lasts forever and makes us all new and lovely.  Soon.  I promise.  

Bipolar is ugly.  Menacing.  And worst of all, it lasts forever.  There have been days I am so tired I can't eat a bowl of cereal start to finish but then cannot fall asleep at night.  Times when I think longingly of turning up a bottle of pills just to spare my loved ones from my misery and to finally sleep forever.  Something won't ever let me take my life I know, but Bipolar can be hell on earth.  Thank God for the mania, though that only lasts 2 weeks a year.  It's a long way to get from Norfolk Psyciatric in 2000 to where I am today....a wife, mother, Social Security Disability Attorney, mental health advocate, public speaker, and author:

"Somehow I have a home and a husband, two beautiful and smart children, and a meaningful job I love."

But while Bolz-Weber can't explain her fortune, I can.  I was born with a strength and hope that will move mountains.  Maybe God put it there, maybe not.  I know today His hand is guiding me.  I'm 39 right now and life is all about work.  Not just going to hearings for clients, no.  I mean relationship work.  Financial planning work.  Mothering work.  Therapy work.  Philosophical work.  But as of Sunday, I am starting to feel less like Sisyphus and more like I have a light, quiet breeze at my back.  It will all work out.  And I'll have to follow up my first book, Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney Talks Mania, Recovery, and Heaven on Earth, with a second.  I am calling it Into the Light.

May you all have a peaceful day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A 180ยบ turnaround...I believe in God

It started simply enough.  An end of season softball party at the Presbyterian Church, a place I had not visited in over two years.  For I didn't believe in God.  That's what my first book was about, in part.  My two boys had a blast at the party, making their own sundaes and playing in the nursery.  "Mommy, can we come back?"  I thought, what's the harm?  "Sure, we can come back on Sunday."  But just this once, just for the kids, just to see old friends.  We went that Sunday and the songs sounded familiar and warmed me.  The so great, but the love from family friends was palpable.  And I felt good enough about it to post a church picture of me and the boys on Facebook.

At the same time, I was entering a difficult season in my bipolar year.  Labor Day is hard for some reason.  I get elevated, manic, angry, tired, hopeful and purposeful all at once.  It's hard on everyone.  We faced some big decisions, as well as the interminable sickness of my husband's grandmother.  I felt like I needed some external support and guidance.  The idea of God started to appeal to me.  But I felt guilty.  Like I was betraying my hard fought and still reasonable stance that there was no God.  That we are the Gods.  That we have unlimited potential and knowledge waiting to be tapped.  That heaven is on this earth in shining and stunning moments....not in some promised afterlife.  That the concept of sin has felled us, not sin in and of itself.  How could God exist if all this was true too?  What would my readers think?  Didn't I have some duty to stick to my convictions and my prophecy about the end of religion?

But God pursued me.  Quietly, lovingly, with patience, without pressure.  I prayed, not to Love as I had before, but to God.  And he responded in miraculous ways.  And I began to feel peace.  But still there was a guilt, and a feeling that my path on the journey had gotten confuzzed.  I called my great friend and a non-believer, Tim, and he chuckled and said I didn't need to feel guilty.  He said it's all about the journey and the self-discovery.  He asked if it brought me peace, this new belief in God, and I said "Yes."  He said that's all that matters.  He told me to keep thinking and listening and asking questions.

Then, the miracle happened.  I was cleaning out my car in mid-September, in the midst of my manic strife, and I found a medallion with the Jesus fish on it on River's side of the car.  I thought, "ugh, not you.  We don't believe in you.  We don't need you.  Stop pursuing me."  I threw it away.  Instantly a shiver ran through me.  Should I not have thrown it away?  Was there some deeper meaning behind it?  Worse, was it something special to River?  No matter, I went on with my day.

The next morning, not 24 hours later, I was in Wal-Mart with River.  An older man stopped him and said "Have a lucky day, my son."  He gave River a penny.  I looked at it, and bless my stars, bless my heart, it had a cross carved into it.  God came back after I threw him away.  Literally, figuratively, and metaphorically.  I decided to stop running from him.  And I put that penny in a very safe place.

Then this thought occurred to me:  For ten years I was very angry at organized religion.  I called it a cancer that devoured the nascent love in our hearts.  I thought the followers were simple and hypocritical.  I wrote about it, cussing in my journal, weeping at religion's crimes.  That hate took up a lot of space.  It has slowly mollified in the last few years, and I no longer feel angry.  It is like it was drawn out of me, to heal me.  After the penny miracle, I thought...."God took the hate from me."  He said it's too much for me to bear alone, and he would shoulder that negative energy.  That comforted me.  I marveled at His capacity for healing.

I've been to three funerals this month.  Seeing the relics, the pieta, the bible, and the familiar notes in the hymnals has felt good.  And I've thought a lot about how to resolve my two positions on God.  There can be a God, and we can be Gods too.  As my mom said, "You can believe in both.  You can believe in ALL of it."  The supernatural strength of a higher power can serve to complement the supernatural strength and love in our human bodies.  We can share the Godness that resides in us.  "Then, face to face."  It can still be us in the mirror when we look at God's face.  I can forge a new faith, a dualism that draws on love and knowledge, that reconciles our past theology with the future rapture.  For the revolution is coming...the revelation is near.  I continue my journey to find the truth, and I believe I am getting closer.  My good friend Jess says she sees a light in me, that could turn on a light in others.  She thinks I will find the truth.

Meanwhile, I continue to crave knowledge about our religions.  I watched the IMAX show called "Jerusalem" with River at the Museum of Natural History last week in D.C.  He was rapt, as was I.  The birthplace of so many faiths, an outcropping of rocks in the high desert.  The city in which faith and ancient culture collide, in a holy trinity.  A place I must visit.  At the top of my bucket list also is this:  I will attend 52 different churches in 52 weeks.  The more I learn, the more there is to learn, and it all seems beautiful right now.

So the next book is in the works, and it will not be a betrayal of "Through the Open Door" at all.  I will simply finish the thought.  I will step "Into the Light."  And God will be there for it all.  Peace and Love.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Soccer and Sin

I don't believe we are born sinners, or have a stain, or should be ashamed of ourselves in any way.  We are born perfect, and only when we are taught that we are sinners by religion do we doubt and transgress.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy and could have no more obvious result.  It's so clear when you look at it this way, from a parent-child relationship with God:

If we think of God as a parent, why would he ever tell us we aren't good enough for him?  Every time, every single time, that I go into a Christian church, somewhere in the service we ask God to forgive us because we sin, and we don't know better, and we fail every day to act like we should.  And that somehow this disappoints and dishonors him.

Think of your child being on a soccer team at 6 years old.  You are his loving father.  You start off the season by saying,

"Son, you are not very good at soccer.  You may try your best but everyday you fail to be the kind of soccer player I would like you to be.  It's not your fault; you were just born being a less than stellar soccer player.  You should do everything you can every single day to try to get better because it disappoints me that you are so bad.  I have set a standard for perfection in soccer and you just don't measure up, and that dishonors me.  You should respect me more by being better.  You should worship me for how good I am at soccer (because in fact I am the best soccer player there ever could be!!).

I will always love you but I will always remind you that you are bad.  You will be tired and hungry and frustrated and feel alone during the game and I am there to cheer you on, but you can't ever really see me or touch me.  I am never there to give you a hug or shout "Hurray!  Good job Son!"  You are really not even sure if I exist.  And you won't find that out until the end of the game.  You'll just have to trust me on that one.

You should do everything you can in the game to make others feel better and make them shine because your ego has no place in the game.  You should put yourself behind the others.  Serve them first, because when they score, the glory is yours.  It's better to not be too proud; it's better to revel in their successes than yours.  But you probably won't succeed anyway.  I know you suck and have always sucked but be more like me and you'll get better.  I'm the perfect model.  Oh, and if you disobey me you will burn in hell forever."

How in the name of GOD is that love?  How, in any possible interpretation of that monologue, is that love?  What parent would ever in his right mind tell his child that?  Not one.  What parent who acts like that would ever deserve to have that child?  None.

But that's exactly what religion wants us to believe.  It is child abuse, plain and simple.

There's another way.  There is a way filled with light and love.  And that way leads us all to Heaven on Earth.  Read more about the new way on my past posts.  I also invite you to read more in my book, Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney talks Mania, Recovery, and Heaven on Earth."  Available here:   Amazon.

Hope springs eternal.  Love to all.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Step into the sun, step into the light: The Wizard of Oz

Lots of great songs from the Wizard of Oz but this might be my favorite, which is possibly the shortest:

"You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open

You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
March up to the gate and bid it open, open"

The "glorious place" is the most hopeful, happy, peaceful place I have ever been: Heaven on Earth.  I may have been there through manic episodes, but I know it's real, and I truly believe I can share it with all of you.  People like the neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven, have been there too, and the chorus of people with evidence of Heaven is growing louder.  We're all trying to explain how we got there and how you can get there too.

The Wizard of Oz is a metaphor, I believe.  Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow are all of us on our personal quests to find the light and the truth.  The Witch is our doubts and fears, everything that makes us feel small and scared.  The Witch is organized religion.  She rules with an iron grip.

The Great and Powerful Oz is the God we have become acquainted with in the Monotheistic Age.  He leads us to believe he is omniscient and omnipotent, and he scares us with his power.  Our quest is to find him, be with him, learn from him.  We feel that we need him to rule over us.  We feel we need him to be real.  But he is not.

He is the man behind the curtain.  When Dorothy pleads with him to have some compassion after he terrifies and tortures the Cowardly Lion, he just bellows commands and sends them on another quest, to kill the witch and bring back her broom stick.  "Killing in the name of God..."  Their long journey through the land of Oz was not enough for God.  That's the problem with God, you can try your whole life to find him and be close to him and still not find him.  And he keeps raising the bar: never forget you are a sinful human....stay scared and in the dark and small in his shadow....but search a little harder and try a little harder to be a better person each day.  And you just might see the "real God" in the end.

So Dorothy figures out he is really a human, just like us.  He becomes more like a dear friend when he is humanized.  Oz becomes the answer to her prayers when she unveils him, because she sees her humanness in him.  She finds out that she is really as Godly and full of potential and hope as any "God" there is.  We are the Gods, we are the masters of our fate and the ones who tend the flame of hope in our hearts.  All of the citizens of Oz practiced obedience to a myth, and as long as they feared him, they stayed in their place.  But when the myth was revealed, the four sojourners fulfilled their wildest dreams.

Glinda, the Good Witch, put it best to Dorothy:  When Dorothy asks for her help Glinda says "you don't need to be helped any always had the power (to go back to Kansas)."  The Scarecrow asks Glinda why she didn't tell Dorothy that before, and Glinda says "because she wouldn't have believed me; she had to learn it herself."

The power, the light, the love, the untapped is all right there in your heart already.  You don't need a God to show you the way.  When you realize humans are the Gods, you return home to the Eden that existed before we invented him.  It is the ultimate return to the throne.  It took me ten years to realize that God was not a personality, but Love Triumphant and Supreme.

The Wizard says "Remember my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved in return."  The trick is not giving unconditional love, as is prescribed by the Monotheistic God of our modern religions, but to RECEIVE unconditional love from others.  True love is allowing yourself to love you as much as others do.  To RECEIVE and BELIEVE the love others shower on you.  We love each other so much, but we doubt it all the time.  We don't think we are good enough to deserve perfect love.  We have been taught from birth we are stained, we are sinners, so how can we ever love as was intended?  Set aside the God construct, and love becomes a tidal wave, and you can't help loving others as much as they love you.

We can all walk out of the darkness and into the light.  It's right there waiting for us, right in front of our veiled eyes.  The light is breaking over this dark world, and soon.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Girl in the Mirror

I’m on the recovery road from a recent brief manic episode.  Resulted from lack of sleep due to kids waking up a lot, and change of seasons, and a few other things.  Back in business though!

This weekend, though, I had a really great conversation with a good friend.  We talked about my philosophy about us being the Gods, and heaven coming when religion as we know it is over.  She is a Christian but bless her heart, she had the patience and caring to listen to my perspective.  She really asked a lot of questions, which is all I long for.  A chance to be heard. 

So I had too much wine that night and was a little emotional.  I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and found myself tearing up when I looked in the mirror.  I just looked at myself and said plaintively, “Please, please let me know there is a reason for all of this.  Please let me know there is a point for all I have done….the hard work on the book, putting myself and my revolutionary ideas on the line, risking my family’s reputation, risking (and experiencing) rejection, going through the emotions of becoming public with my illness.”  “Please someone or something out there show me a sign that it’s worth it, and my vision will someday come to pass.”  In the old days you I would have prayed to God, but that night I just put my faith and energy directly into my own soul while I looked at myself in the mirror.  We, the Gods.  “Then through a glass darkly, now face to face.”

Well, yesterday, my mother-in-law told me her friend, who is Southern Baptist, had read my book, straight through.  I was worried about what he would say.  She said his quote was “You know, she had some interesting and different ideas.  It made me think about things differently.  The truth may not be what we think.”  She told him she really believed I had seen something special when I walked in Heaven.  They had a good discussion.

Well, hot damn!  That was the answer to my supplication.  My effort is worthwhile.  If 99 Baptists say I am blasphemous but 1 says it made him think differently, I have achieved my goal.  It made my heart sing. 

I’m not in it to make money.  I’m in it to get people to think and question and consider some other answers to life’s questions.  I’m in it to report on just what I saw, as clear as I can.  And when I asked for help in the mirror from a greater power, it responded.  The girl in the mirror: My God, By God.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

12 Monkeys

Great movie.  Bruce Willis as a hero time-traveler with a touch of schizoaffective disorder who can save the world, if he can distinguish what's crazy and what's not.  The best line comes from Madeleine Stowe as a psychiatrist: "I mean, psychiatry: it's the latest religion.  We decide what's right and wrong.  We decide who's crazy or not.  I'm in trouble here.  I'm losing my faith."

How can you say what's crazy and what's inspirational?  The prophets would all be classified as crazy today.  What if someone came to save the world and we stuck them in a straitjacket?  The "mentally ill" have sensitive brain circuitry that seems to open windows that are closed for most people.  In ancient times the mentally ill were shamans, or visionaries.  What was Joseph Smith?  What if we listened to the visions and considered they may offer guideposts in a world which is often times too mired in realism, routine, drudgery and dispassion.  We are automatons without the fireworks of the mentally ill. 

I've walked in Heaven, I've been to the future, I've brought back answers.  Will I be thought crazy for trying to lead us to a better place?  Will I be banished because I dispute organized religion?

"Cassandra, in Greek legend, was condemned to know the future but to be disbelieved when she foretold it.  Hence the agony of foreknowledge combined with the impotence to do anything about it."

That's the problem.  Will I have wasted my life if no one believes me? 

See the visions and the path to heaven in my book, Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney Talks Mania, Recovery, and Heaven on Earth. Amazon

God, to have these guys in a room together again....