No More Excuses – Conversations with Jesus
I’ve been struggling with a blog the last few days about some stuff that I’ve been going through spiritually.
I have always believed that there is one universal creative power. I call this power Netjer; others call this power God; others call it spirit. Whatever this power is called, it is infinite and good and loving. All the names that we give to this power don’t matter. They all go back up to this one power.
How we interact with this power is extremely personal, and it changes over time. This power will reach out to us and connect to us in different ways.
When I was younger, Bastet reached out to me in a time of need. I had an experience where I felt her physically there in the form of a giant black cat. I was laying on my bed, petting her as she purred. I felt her silky fur on my hand, the muscles under her skin. It was an extremely vivid and real experience to me. That’s how I knew I was chosen by her. It wasn’t the thoughts I had, it was the physical experience I had with her. She provided me with protection and love and guidance from a divine source in a way that I had never experienced. As I grew, so did my Kemetic faith. I became strong in my belief as a Kemetic.
I still am.
One of the things I’ve really struggled with over the last few years is to reconcile my Christian background with my present self. I was deeply, deeply hurt by a faith that condemned me to eternal torture. I couldn’t understand why these people would profess a God of love but spew such hatred… or why a God would create a child so inherently wrong that He would basically allow a child to be born so that it could die.
I met a lot of Christians who had different beliefs than the gays are going to hell bit, but they all believed in this “Savior or Die” dogma that I couldn’t get on board with. The pain I felt at the betrayal I’d experienced wasn’t something that was easily going to go away with some nice words and a band-aid.
I think all of this really, honestly, started three years ago when I had a very specific conversation with a coworker. I’ve kept going back to this conversation in my mind the last month…
We were standing in the hall. I think we were both had planning at that point. She mentioned how she didn’t plan on teaching for her entire life, but wanted to stay until her kids were out of high school. I told her I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach forever either and how I had thought about attending seminary.
“There’s a Pagan seminary in Columbia.”
“There’s a… a what? What??”
“A Pagan seminary? I thought you knew… When M*** always jokes about my broom or calls me witchy-poo… I thought…”
“I thought he was just kidding! I didn’t realize that was true! I mean… what in the world? Is that how you were raised?”
“No, I was raised Presbyterian, but they turned out to be really mean when I turned out to be gay.”
“Kel, you know that’s not what Christianity is about. People get it wrong all the time.”
“Yeah, I realize…”
“I’m going to pray for you.”
I’m pretty sure she added in some other stuff about praying that I find my way back, but I don’t remember that for sure. I started to stop listening because at the time, this conversation really hurt. I felt unsupported, which is how I originally felt when my church became no longer my home, so the conversation originally just perpetuated how I felt about Christianity and Christians. It was really upsetting. I don’t think we talked for the rest of the day.
Then, jump ahead to last year, the adoption happened, and Erin and I wanted to find a spiritual home that we could raise our future son in. We’d been attending the Unitarian Universalist church in the area, but it wasn’t spiritual enough for us. We wanted to pray to our Gods… we wanted to feel connected to that divine energy… and we definitely weren’t getting it there.
So I set out to find us a new home, which is how we came across Unity. They called themselves a progressive, practical Christian church, but their beliefs mirrored our own, so I e-mailed the minister and asked him if we would be welcomed openly as Pagans. He wrote us back and said we weren’t the first pagans in the church.
We started attending, and we haven’t stopped going since. They were there for us when the adoption fell through and rocked us to our core. They were there for us when we got engaged and celebrating. They were there for us when we wanted to get involved and welcomed me to teach a class on the Kemetic faith. And now they embrace me as the Youth Education Coordinator.
The Youth Education Coordinator. It’s my job to write all the lesson plans for the different classes. We’re working on the preschool program and starting up a middle school classroom. It’s a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it. As the YEC, I’ve had to really start doing something I hadn’t ever done before: study the Bible.
I’ve been given permission to teach the kids whatever I want to teach them. I can teach them about different religions, not just Christianity, which is my plan, but I’m starting with the Bible since it’s what the church mainly teaches from, even if it isn’t really used a whole, whole lot.
My first month taking over just happened to be Easter. And it was all about Jesus and his crucifixion and how he became spiritually whole through his death, so I’ve been studying this now for an entire month, and on Easter… I had a huge revelation, and I posted the following status on Facebook:
“As much as I grew up in the church, I never knew much about the death of Jesus and his resurrection other than his death happened so that we would be saved from eternal damnation. He was the savior of mankind, sent here by the God of the Bible to make sure all of humanity had a chance or opportunity to live forever in the kingdom of heaven. I grew up learning that to be a Christian, I had to believe that Jesus died for my sins and accept him as my savior.
And I did. For awhile. Until I realized a part of myself that didn’t sit well with the majority. I came out, preaching love and acceptance of all people to a world that saw my words and actions as deviant and would have me condemned for it. So I turned away from that faith and that belief that I grew up in and suddenly realized was filled with so many people who got it all wrong, and found my new spiritual home where I was welcomed and celebrated and loved like I thought and believed I deserved to be.
Once I healed, I finally found it in myself to actually go back and read and research and understand. And I found it in myself to forgive those that spoke against me because they didn’t know what they were doing. They were just doing and saying what they thought was right because that’s the way it had always been.
And in doing so, I feel new. I feel joy. It’s a deep joy, like an ocean of clouds and comfort that I could wrap myself in forever and never feel alone or sad or depressed or hurt ever again.
At one point, Jesus was talking to those who believed as the majority believed at the time. He said, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one” (John 8:15, ESV). He healed those no one would touch. Forgave those no one wanted anything to do with. He fed those that were hungry. He preached in the sermon on the mount that those that were persecuted for righteousness’ sake were blessed (Matthew 5:10).
And the people hated him so much that they called for his arrest and death. For no other reason than he believed differently than they did and they didn’t like it… Because that was the way it had always been.
He preached love, and acceptance, and understanding, and healing. He took care of those no one else wanted to take care of…
…And they killed him for it…
But just before his death, he asked for the forgiveness of all those that spoke against him because “they know not what they do.” And he was reborn into a fully healed spiritual being.
I find myself as a gay pagan woman living in the South relating more to Jesus now than I ever did when I was a Christian.”
And it was the next day that I noticed it…
There was a physical presence standing behind my right shoulder. Occasionally, this presence would reach out and touch my shoulder. It felt taller than me.. maybe 5-foot-9. It was male. And it wasn’t scary. I didn’t pay it much attention because I had a lot of things going on. It didn’t really seem upset or anything that I was ignoring it, but it definitely didn’t go away either.
Finally, I reached out to this energy with my own, “Hello? Can I help you?”
“Yes. Thank you. I don’t really have anything that I need help with, but I just wanted you to know that I’m here. I don’t want you to think that my presence here is in any way threatening. I don’t expect or want you to forsake the Gods that have loved and protected you for many years, but I want you to know that they’re not the only ones out here anymore.”
“Who are you?”
“I think you know who I am. I think you’ve known since I first showed up. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t understand me, and they say a lot of things about me that aren’t true. But I know that you understand me. I know you understand the purpose of my life, and why I died.”
At that point, I felt my breath get caught in my throat. Ever seen a movie or a TV show where someone is so super cocky about their life and then that one person shows up that they didn’t see or expect to see and that reaction that they always seem to have? That’s how I felt right then.
I think he felt my panic. “It’s okay. I’m not coming to you to take over. You don’t have to convert as people would say. I’m not the savior everyone makes me out to be. You don’t have to believe in me to get to heaven, you know that. I never wanted to be worshiped like the savior so many have made me out to be. Even when I was arrested, they questioned me about being King and I kept telling them that was what they said about me, not the other way around.
I want people to be connected to God, as you and I understand that power, and that’s what I taught. Or tried to, but everything’s gotten really mixed up. That’s why I’m here right now. Because you get it. The people you surround yourself with get it. That church you’re a part of gets it. And I want to protect that, protect you. I’m not going to ask you to start worshiping me, that’s not what I’m about… but I am here… and I am watching over you… Just as the others are as well.”
“Okay… you know this is really weird, right? Like… I’m the exact opposite of the person I’d expect to hear from you.”
“Not really. You and I are a lot a like if you think about it. We’re both teachers, we’re both pretty hated by the mainstream people out there… I have been for a lot more years than you have though.”
“I guess that’s true.”
“It is true.”
I told Erin about this conversation that I had. It felt really weird and funny for me to say, “I think Jesus talked to me.” I don’t understand why I would think that weird when I don’t have an qualms about saying that I’ve experienced the physical presence of Bastet, but it did. I guess it’s the nature of the deity.
I fully expected Erin to be like, “So you’re… what? A Christian now? Is that what you’re saying?” I guess because that’s what’s been running through my mind. I definitely don’t feel like a Christian, and I don’t claim that identity in any way, so I feel like having that question thrown at me was going to make me go into defensive mode.
Instead she said, “You haven’t had an experience like this since Bastet, have you?”
Gods, I love her. “No,” I replied after thinking a moment, “I really haven’t.”
That’s how I know it’s real. That’s how I know that I’ve been unexpectedly chosen by another deity. I still feel Bastet and Ma’at around me. Their energy guiding me and supporting me, but now I feel this new energy as well. Bastet is still the strongest with Ma’at a close runner up, but this new presence… this new energy… is also there and strong. I think Bastet is unsure of this current situation, but she’s not fighting him. She’s just not really talking to him all that much yet either.
There’s a weird feeling in my chest any time I stop to think about what’s happened… It’s like an anxiety almost… A slight distrust that is to be expected due to my past.. but no matter the anxiousness, that energy isn’t going away. It’s been there, and it understands why I’m nervous and not completely okay with this idea… This new reality… this understanding that I’ve been chosen… by Jesus.
And not the Jesus that so many people have gotten wrong out there.. not the “savior” archetype that will keep me out of hell.. no, this is the one that loves those that no one else loves… and helps those that no one else would help… and taught that through his example, were we then “saved.”
I guess that conversation with my coworker, in a way, came true… But I didn’t really “find my way back to Jesus” like she was hoping. He sorta found his way back to me.