Friday, August 1, 2008

A Million Shattered Pieces


To say the the last five months have been "hard" in my life is an understatement. I've had to shovel my way through a lot of guilt, anger, bitterness, sadness, and the constant feeling that I am just letting everyone down.

To wake up today and realize that I can't stop smiling is an amazing, beautiful gift.

There is a big window made up of thick square prisms of glass in my shower. If I time it just right in the morning, I hit the shower just as the sun is shining through. Amazingly this casts thousands of tiny, incandescent, little rainbows all over my body and makes me sing praises of joy. It gives me time to meditate and feel grateful for my body, for this life and soul within me, for the beauty of a simple day in a simple town lived by a simple girl.

As many of you know, my religious foundation and I have had a rocky few years, and I finally took this foundation and broke it into a million pieces. I saw my testimony of Christianity as a solid rock for a long time, then after I served an LDS mission I realized it was a delicate glass globe that I needed to treat VERY carefully, as it was on the verge of breaking. Mostly, I packed it away, did what was expected, and tried to ignore what may be wanting to escape the confines of that globe. Finally, in March, I took the step of taking that globe, which really had become more like a HUGE weight around my neck ready to sink me, and I smashed it into a million little pieces.

What has come from that?

A soul that didn't just dissipate into thin air and leave me cold and alone...but a soul that was yearning to get free...to GROW...to FILL space and time unlimited!!! A soul that has surprised even myself.

For the past few months I have kept a lot of what I have been thinking and feeling to myself. I have made lots of apologies to my friends "I'll come back to church." "I know I shouldn't feel this way." "I know I am a doubter." "I am going through a phase." "I need to take a break from things." "Hopefully, I will feel like being in the LDS religion again." "Don't be sad for me."

Let me just say, those were all attempts to smooth things over, to hope that you would still love me, to pray that you wouldn't judge me or condemn me, or feel sorry for me, or look at me with eyes that say "you are on your way to hell." To those of you who may still think this, I am saying now openly that I am making NO more apologies or excuses for the way I am living my life. I am not going to hide things anymore, so if you want to get to know the real me, then I rejoice in that. If you want to pity me and inwardly think that I have made the wrong decisions and that I am ruining my life, then I respectfully say that I don't want you in my life anymore. If you call me to talk and to get me to progress to an idea that you think is truth, I say you better be ready for me to tell you how I really feel. If you pray for me to come back to church and be the good mormon girl I used to be, I respectfully ask you to pray that your heart will be opened to the many different ways people can connect with this amazing God who loves us all. If you can't handle that I drink coffee and wine and do other things that we have been raised to see as sin, then please...don't feel like I need saving. I've come to learn for myself that belief is personal. Faith is personal. There is something within us that seeks faith. Faith is not a religion. Beliefs come from faith and I respect each of you, your path, your beliefs, the humble and happy way in which you live your lives. Whatever works for you, whatever makes you happy, that is my greatest wish for each of you. I am on the path to discovering what works for me.

So, here I am, sitting on a big stone floor with a million little pieces of the testimony of God and Christ and religion all scattered about me. I have tried to pick at a few pieces and put them in different places. I thought this rebuilding would take me a few months and then I would have it all figured out again. I have felt pressure to replace my old solid beliefs with new solid beliefs. I had a friend ask me "So, you don't keep this "commandment" yet you decided to go to church on Sunday, how does that work?" I immediately went into defense mode (a mode I have been in for 5 months and I am so, so, so tired of it...can you tell?) I came up with a great answer and left it at that. But I didn't really believe my answer. I always thought that to just be, to be uncertain, to be scared, to be happy, to realize that you are finding joy where you didn't think you could, to be all these things was scary...I'd rather be "right" and have the "truth".

Not anymore. I am so grateful for this experience in my life. I am grateful for growth. I am grateful that I am sitting here not being weighted down by a big rock, not tiptoeing around life hoping that I won't drop the glass globe, but instead, surrounded by a million little pieces that are casting glorious rainbows of light over my entire being. I am grateful to let these pieces sit here. I am grateful that one day I will feel like moving them and rebuilding something new. I am grateful that I will probably get cut in the process and have scars to tell my children about.

And most of all, I am grateful that no matter what anyone else wants to believe or think or say about my life...that I feel close to a God who has only ever believed in me. A God who doesn't doubt me. A God who loves me unconditionally. A God that has seen my potential from the very moment of my creation. A God who continues to shower me with love and happiness and joy. A God who knows how strong I am. A God who is a big, big God...bigger than many of us might realize. A God that isn't confined to the religions of today. A God who is there for ALL of his children. Now, I may not know what religion this God wants me to be. I may not know what heaven this God wants me to go to. I may not know a lot of things. But that's ok. That doesn't scare me anymore.

I used to have everything about my life figured out. To the last detail.

I don't anymore...in fact, I've never been so uncertain of my path than I am now.

But I have also never been happier.


Thank you God.

43 comments:

Kimbie said...

D'Arcy:)

Good luck with this new journey. I am so excited for all that you have lifted off of yourself. Carrying all that is heavy and I am so glad that you are enjoying your relationship with your Father in Heaven.
I love you!


P.S. Whoever said that comment about church is an idiot. lol we all sin and go to church so whatever! hahaha

D'Arcy said...

Kimbie, I love you. We still need a visit. Are you coming out?

The person who made the comment isn't an idiot. I need to defend her because she is a good friend, and I didn't want to paint her in that light.

What I was trying to say is that many people expect new beliefs to take the place of old beliefs. So, when you do contradictory things like say you aren't really sure about the LDS church...and then, I decide to go one Sunday because I like the idea of church...then that seems contradictory, you know.

My point is that I don't need to have it all figured out. I don't need to have a reason for doing everything I am doing. If I wake up one Sunday and go to the Episcopal church with my friend, great. If I wake up one morning and want to go meditate with my Buddhist friend, I can. If I wake up and decide I'd really like to go to the LDS church and hear a great talk on faith...by all means I am going to do it. I am not going to have to have a reason for it, or define it, or justify it, or explain it. I am just letting me be how I am feeling each day.

Does that make sense.

Stina said...

What a great gift God has given you to open your heart and not only question what you had known for so many years, but to accept and explore all that is out there in the world. I've really enjoyed our talks and it is so brave of you to say, "This is who I am." I hope that those who love you will be able to support you through your journey, even if it is difficult for them.

Kimbie said...

It makes complete sense. I guess, in my journey through the guilt of life, my thoughts and etc., I have come to realize that what i believe isn't what everyone else has to believe. You are right its personal and sweet and special. Which is, why its hurtful to hear people say things that come off as pushy church wise. Although, I have been guilty alot of the time as well.

So I am sorry to your friend.

I do want to come visit. I may have a free ticket through my Amer Exp so I will have to double check on that! My photo business has been growing so much and I have been traveling so much with it I haven't had a chance to plan life so far. Right now, I just want to drop it all and move to well, anywhere really.
That and I want to fall in love . Well I just decided that this weekend.
Anyways, I love you . When does school start for you?
If I come it might be around Thanksgiving time- so keeps your eyes out for me:)

Kim

jomama said...

d'arcy,
i love you so much. and i'm so glad that you're happy with your life. thanks for the chat today, and let's get together soon, ok?

Rowena said...

You, brave one, are a true spiritual warrior.

Jessica said...

D'Arcy
You sound so happy. I am really glad.
This is a really wonderful post.
I would love to use it as a guest post for Exponent.
Let me know what you think.
Also, I'm excited for our lunch on Friday.
Enjoy Shakespeare!

D'Arcy said...

Stina!! Thank you, I have enjoyed our talks and our times at the Episcopal church and everything we have shared!

D'Arcy said...

Kimbie,

If you feel ready to fall in love, then you will fall in love. You get to create your world and your reality and that's an amazing thing my friend.

I LOVE that your business is doing SO well. I knew you would be successful. I always say if I could have as much talent as what Kim has in her little finger, I would be a wealthy woman.

I'll be in Paris for Thanksgiving! Can you come before or after, I don't want to miss you!

D'Arcy said...

jo--thanks for being my calm voice of reason today as I was struggling with things. This post wasn't easy to write. I've been trying to placate everyone all year and today finally served me up the courage to just be me, with no apologies. Your friendship is truly a blessing in my life!

D'Arcy said...

Rowena, you teach us all about what it means to be a warrior by who you are every day. Your posts have made me feel more alive. Thank you.

D'Arcy said...

Jessica! I am always honored when you choose me for a guest post...plus it gets some good discussion going and I LOVE that. This would be great!

Yes, Friday...lunch, I will take you some place spectacular! And there is a little gelato place just down the street, we should go there too!

Michelle said...

D'Arcy, that was beautiful. I'm glad you are happy but am still up for church with you anytime :)

Alisa said...

D'Arcy, what a great personal essay this is about faith and making changes. It shows beauty, the sublime, fear, pain, uncertainty, and hope all at once.

I imagine this was a hard post to write. But, like others, I reallly commend you for being so authentic and so brave about who you are.

I pray that you will have peace and joy. I appreciate the respect you have for people who are LDS like me who are on a slightly different path. I believe we all do the right thing by being honest with who we are and what we're going through. I also pray that people in your life can be respectful of these careful choices you're making. I certainly hope you feel that support and love from me.

My husband and I share many ideas in common, but I've realized that when we differ, it is wrong for me to try to force my truth on him to make it his truth. I think part of truly being in tune with God/Christ/Higher Power means fully living our truth, loving others, and letting others find their own unique way of connecting to God. That's been important for me on my own spiritual journy: I have my truth, and they have theirs.

Again, thank you for this beautiful post, your honesty, and your respect and love of others.

bones said...

Hey D'Arcy: Loved this post wholeheartedly. I've missed chatting with you and am grateful that you shared your feelings regarding your current state of faith. I'm so glad to read how happy you are. It must feel amazing to finally stop making excuses! Be who you are and don't apologize for it because you are amazing!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Kia kaha! You are never alone on this Journey. One of my favourite writers, the naturalist and environmental crusader John Muir, a deeply religous man, wrote that his church was The Temple of the Blue Sky. I have slowly come to understand EXACTLY what he meant and as a result have a place I can renew and discover my own relationship with God. Loving God is not confined by walls.
D'Arcy I admire you, and respect you, and I am happy to have expanded my own self through your growing wisdom. Kia ora.
Rangimarie
Arohanui,
Robb

Anonymous said...

May I ask a question? I am not one who knows you, but I know people who do. My question: Is it so wrong for friends who have a true testimony of the church, and feel like you do too, to want you to feel what they feel? To know without a shadow of a doubt that it is true? There are quite a few people who love you quite a bit, and don't think you are going to be TRULY happy this way. They want nothing but to show you that true happiness does not come through the things of the world, but of the spirit. You are very loved, and always will be. I just don't understand how you would want friends out of your life who can't accept your new way of life because they want more for you. They love you so much...they are willing to annoy you. Just curious.

D'Arcy said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading here. First of all, I'd love to know who you are! I don't think there is anything to fear by truly stating how you feel to someone and care to someone with your own name. When two people can truly respect each other's beliefs, then they can have an open and honest dialogue. That being said, what you had to say was probably hard for you and I understand you being a bit shy about it.

Let me ask you a question, have you ever read, "To Kill a Mockingbird"? It's one of my favorite novels of all time. I love it so much because each time I read it, I gain a deeper understanding into human nature. In the novel, Atticus, the father, must raise his young children during a time when the world saw things clearly in black and white. Many people were living under the assumption that because of the color of a person's skin, that person might not be of as much value as others. Atticus, the wise man that he is, decides to teach his children a lesson. He tells that they truly can't know what another person is going through unless they walk a mile in their shoes. I wish it were possible to let you see what it has been to walk in my shoes these last few years, maybe you could understand a bit more. But I don't know how to do that.

However, i think you are capable of putting yourself in a similar position. You are LDS, yes? I am sure that you have had "friends" and others tell you that what you believe is wrong, that you are going to hell, that you are crazy, that you don't know what you really are doing with your life. Are these people you long to surround yourself with? Do you like being with people who think you are stupid and wrong? It's not a great feeling right? Usually we flee from those and seek another form of a friend, a true friend.

Have you had a friend who loves you no matter what? Have you had a friend who trusts your judgment to do what you will with your life, even if they might not think it the best thing. Have you had someone be there for you, love you, and care for you no matter what struggles you go through?

Those types of friends are the kind that I will seek after for my whole life.

I think this life is a time for testing and struggle. I truly believe that at some point every person will have a crisis of faith. I don't know if you have truly had one yet. If you have and you came through and found your faith in the LDS religion, I can completely understand and respect that. If you haven't had one yet, then you will one day. I would hope during times of struggle in your life you would have an amazing foundation of truly careful and soulful friends who love, adore, and accept you no matter what.

Again, thanks for visiting and commenting.

D'Arcy said...

Ok, one more thought, Anonymous, you said:

"Is it so wrong for friends who have a true testimony of the church, and feel like you do too, to want you to feel what they feel?"

You kind of lost me here. How can other people know what I am feeling and know my own truth? That just seems..I don't know....it just doesn't make sense to me.

ophelia rising said...

You are truly brave. I admire you.

You must, must go with your heart and what you feel there. That is your true spirit, and the true path for you. Only you can determine this - like you've said in your comments, no one can ever know why and how you make your own life choices, without walking in your shoes. I think that we all walk in one another's shoes, much more than we imagine. I believe that everyone has to examine his or her life, to understand and get a glimpse of his or her own divine potential. It seems like you are on that path now. How exciting!

Although I don't know you personally, I can only say that you seem to be an incredibly spiritual, self-aware person, and I am honored to be able to read and share your thoughts, and your musing on life experiences, with you. Thank you for your honesty and your wisdom. I learn something from you everytime I visit.

Here's to a spectacular new journey! I hope it's filled with love and enlightenment.

arbee said...

I'm so happy that you have found peace within yourself...no matter where that is! :) I know there are members of the LDS church that automatically will think you are on the way to outer darkness, but I think that we all have our own paths to wander and we only know which way we need to go. I know that my path is not the same as your path, but one is not more or less "wrong" than the other. No matter what path you are on, you know what matters most...God loves you! Nothing else really matters anyway... :)

Chelle said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I feel very much the same way. As someone who has gone through much of this with you, I am of course happy you are in a good place, whatever that is. It's amazing the places life takes us that we never would have guessed, but yet fall into place. I know what has helped me out tremendously is people who are willing to understand and accept me as well. Thanks for being one of those.

D'Arcy said...

Michelle! I will let you know when I am in the mood. But, please come karaoke with us next week. I do a mean Blondie and I am feeling you might do a great Abba!!

D'Arcy said...

Alisa,

Thank you. Thank you. You and I have had many conversations on this topic, in fact, it is what has brought us together as friends. The fact that we hold this amazing mutual respect and admiration for one another only secures the trust I have for you to make your own life decisions and vice versa.

I love when you said, " I think part of truly being in tune with God/Christ/Higher Power means fully living our truth, loving others, and letting others find their own unique way of connecting to God."

Amen to that.

D'Arcy said...

Bones: I have SO missed you! You have had such a busy summer, but I really really want to chat with you and soon.

Thank you for your words. I know you understand. I know you can see where I am coming from. I know you are open to who I am. And yes, to stop apologizing and pretending I have all the answers has been a great first step in this new journey!

D'Arcy said...

Robb, thank you for your comments. I love that idea, and I love Muir, though I haven't read anything of his for a long while. I shall have to do that. I wonder what makes people so afraid to admit that a person can have just as religious experience under the Temple of the Blue Sky as they can with in the walls of a church? I have found so much resistance to this idea, and I have never really understood it.

For me, those quite times in nature are when I feel like my soul is growing and forming and my ideas are transcending space and time to float up heavenward without a ceiling to hold them down. I feel God in nature....more than I have felt him within four walls.

Thank you again.

fromthestecherbush said...

You have a lot of people agreeing with you here in your comments but I imagine there are a lot of friends, people who still want to call you friend who read this and worry about you. I just want to be a voice for a friend who will pray for you I guess in a way you don't necessarily want.
And one more thought that I feel is very important is that while God is a big God and I have no doubt that He loves you forever no matter what and everyone is welcome to attend church, it is not a church of pick and choose. The LDS faith doesn't make sense that way.

Brice said...

D'Arcy,

Sometimes it is the pattern in the pieces that you need to see. Sounds like you have grown and are happy to have done so. May you always have enough.

Brice

Dave said...

I'm not sure why you think most LDS people think you are going to go to Hell. I don't think anyone really thinks that. I think you will end up exactly where you want to be in the end - everyone will.

You just want to end up someplace different than most LDS people do, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Torrey Jayne said...

D'Arcy,
Just wanted to say, I admire what you're doing. I truly look up to you and think you are of great worth.

Love,
Torrey

Gustav said...

Dear D'Arcy

You have amazing courage and one's courage creates the size and scope of the world and the Universe they live in.

Your Universe is amazing, and you remind me of a Super Nova.

You rock girl.

Sugar said...

Beautifully and wonderfully said, my friend. I see now that our God has sent me a wonderful sister...

Arianna said...

Miss Benincosa,
I understand the complications you have been going through. I know that might be hard to understand with being my age, and the "no experience" thing but I truely know Exactly how you feel. Everyone I know is LDS
Religion is hard concept for everyone. It is also something everyone has to find on their own. I learned along time ago that if you dont feel completely confident in your belief's and the way you feel about your religion then your not complete in that spiritual area. I wish you luck on your new journey and I hope you find more peace and happiness in the wake of you path.
I also wanted you to know as a side note - over time - become one of my idols. I look up to you and I love being able to hear what you have to say about the world around you. I also love being able to come away from one of your blogs and have something to think on. Thank you for that.
Ari

Ninny Beth said...

xo

Andrea said...

You are amazing. And not to worry, your real friends will still love you.

I enjoyed reading this, I went through the same thing years ago. I have found a way to balance religion with friends and family, it works for me, and everybody seems to understand and love me for who I am. :)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

D'Arcy my Darling....
I'm proud of you, girl. It took a heck of a lot of courage to stand up to what you'd been raised in and say "I need to step back from this", and not qualify your statement. It's so easy to play the "nice girl" and try to smooth over things and try to keep everyone happy, avoid hurting feelings, etc. I'm glad you're not falling into that trap anymore, and you're being true to yourself, and to YOUR journey.

As the very wise Ralph Waldo Emerson said (and I'll paraphrase, because I know I'll butcher if I try to quote him verbatim)..."God enters each of us through a private door".

The spiritual journey is an intensely personal and intensely intimate matter. You don't owe explanations or apologies to anyone, dear friend. Your relationship with God is between you and God, and that's it.

I'm proud of you for finding your own way, D'Arcy.

Love you, girl! :-)

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

Wow. It's too bad that this religion thing has to be the cause of so much strife in your life. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. Don't let it get you down--ya know we all are on your side, right? Life is hard enough as it is without pointing fingers.

Infact, I am so burned out after reading all these comments, I think I am going to go right to bed. :)

(Sorry, just wanted to interject a little humor to lighten the mood.)

D'Arcy said...

Sorry I missed individual comments on the tail end of these.

I just want to thank you for your support, words of encouragement, and love. I am grateful for each of you.



(Ari, you are amazing, I am excited to see you soon and talk to you!!)

skippylongjacket said...

Frankly, I was getting tired of you apologizing for your opinions and telling me you thought you'd end up back in the church eventually. Kind of like you didn't trust me enough to love you even if you weren't doing what you thought I thought you should be doing. Lol. Don't be offended, I just like it better when you are honest with . . . well, yourself. Be who you are, never hide it. Love you always D'Arcy. And always.

Jaime said...

D'Arcy,

I've been thinking about this post for a few days. I am so glad that you are finding truth. It certainly isn't an easy lesson.

I don't get the wonderful opportunity to see you often (once every 10 years? ;) but please know that I love you as a friend--no matter where you choose to worship, or what you choose to believe.

Good luck with your journey. Lessons that are hard fought for often mean the most.

Hugs,
Jaime

D'Arcy said...

SkippyLongJacket--I am totally surprised to hear this honestly, and it feels good that you said it. I remember after our last dinner together and you dropped me off you said, "I just don't feel like we've made any progress." And I thought, "Oh great, she wants me to think like she does and because I can't well, no progress." It is FREEING to know you don't feel that way....and when we hang out next, well, you might be surprised by the conversation, but it will be good!


Jaime!!

I think we only have seven more years until we get to see each other again, then right? Actually, I will be out in NY in October and I would LOVE to get together with you and talk more about your amazing educational ideas.

Thanks for visiting and reading and loving! It's great that we can connect this way!

april benincosa said...

I have seen so many wonderful changes in you. You have always been my one person to really look up to and i can honestly say that i have never looked up to more. You are brave and kind and have a little bit of a wild side i never thought i would see. It has been so wonderful to live with you and see these changes in you. I look forward to more great experiences to come.

Anonymous said...

My amazing tenderhearted friend, I am glad that you finally cast-off the "shackles" of trying to please everyone else, and have reclaimed the RIGHT to please yourself. While, I do have an opinion about your decisions. I'm not going to make it. For one, you are smart and secondly, you have to live your life as you see fit to do so. Each of us are unique with abilities and our own set of "molds." My "mold" will only work for myself. It has taken me some time to find it. And, then after hurt and turmoil I had to reshape it. It's still not quite perfect, but it fits me. My "mold" will fit only me. It is FINALLY not a one-size fits all fashion catastrophe. Our beliefs while they may have the same basis of truth cannot be ONE-size FITS all catastrophes. We must discover on our own how they shape us. Good luck on your discovery. I love you and always will.