Sometimes my heart is shut off.
Sometimes I find it hard to love. Love me, and as a result, extend love to others.
This confession is difficult because, as a Christian, I am supposed to be all love at all times!!
I talk about loving others as the cornerstone of my faith. I worship Divine Love; I celebrate love as the center of the gospel. Love is my thing!!
But yes, while all of that is true, I find the most challenging part of myself to open is the heart.
Love has been wildly misrepresented for a long time.
We tend to think of love as an extension of charity. Finding justice for those in the margins and fighting for justice in areas where inequality thrives.
We understand Christ and love itself as an outward expression. And for Christians, it is an outward expression of the Divine.
One thing I see progressive Christians missing is this: while yes, love is an outward expression of the Divine, it needs to be an outward expression of the Divine through us!
If we are not experiencing love in our own hearts, finding our bodies and selves worthy of love, we will not extend love outward. No matter how hard we try.
We will end up forming new sets of dogma that appear as justice but result in perpetuating oppression-Oppression of ourselves and others.
Exhausted, we feign loving others with BLM, rainbow flags, and pink pussy hats and see our charity acts as markers of loving expression. But miss the real pain caused by oppression because we are avoiding our own.
The times I find it hard to love are not because I am failing to fight for justice, and they are not a sign I am failing to be Christ on earth fully.
They are because I’m not supposed to.
I don’t want to, and I refuse to. I need to stay closed for a bit.
My heart doesn’t want love and light; it wants darkness. And here is what might sound crazy- THAT IS OKAY.
It’s okay to sit in that place for a while and be broken. You don’t have to go out (or online) and rage against the system.
We associate darkness with evil, and that is not true. (Not to mention it is a patriarchal and colonialist understanding of good and bad)
For St. Teresa in her sixth castle, darkness is a moment of feeling deeply alone, but like the butterfly in the cocoon, the fetus in the womb, or Christ in the tomb, darkness is a time of healing right before rebirth and resurrection.
The darkness is required for us to become one with the Divine. It is necessary if we can ever hope to reflect love outward toward others.
First, we must find love in ourselves, in our loneliness, in our pain. Then, and only then, we can extend love outward to the rest of the world.
While many people associate justice with outward actions, this is not always the case for women.
Patriarchy teaches women to extend themselves first and always. A woman taking care of her wants, needs, and desires is wrong, and this attitude leaves many women sucked dry.
Today I see justice spaces repeating these patterns and insisting on love for others while placing most of the burden of action in women’s hands and bodies (most often non-white women).
And while the image of the woman getting things done is empowering and significant to celebrate, consider this permission not to love.
Or perhaps I should say not love outward until you have fully loved yourself in the darkness of your exhaustion, pain, anger, and loneliness. AND In your not yet perfects, mistakes, errors, and places you have yet to improve.
Don’t extend love to heal others’ pain until you can fully stand in the glory of and sacredness of your own.
You do not have to be the image of Christ all the time; you can simply be a woman laying on her back with a moisturizing mask on, telling the rest of the world to take care of their own problems for a second.
Do you yearn to embrace your own darkness and disrupt patriarchal understandings of love and religion? We are a community of spiritually wild women rebuilding a liberating understanding of God. Join us here! Join us here!