In the Roar of the Storm

Posted July 7, 2014 by Marg Herder

SandstormSo, I haven’t been writing much. It’s been several months, I know.

I’ve been busy working on our 2014 Gathering, which was awesome. That took a lot of my time. During the last month of planning, there really wasn’t any time to write.

But it’s been longer than that, and there’s another reason I haven’t been writing. I feel some real trepidation telling you about it. But I’ve decided to, because I’m not sure when it will be over, and I miss writing; I miss our connection. Mostly I miss this habit of describing where I find Divinity in my life, describing to you where She is.

I’ve been saying, when asked, that “I am having a rough time.” I’ve been asked if I’m depressed, and I’ve explained that that doesn’t really describe it.

It’s more like I’m standing here watching this person I’ve created over fifty-two years being worn away by a sandstorm. Darkness and stinging, strong winds. A lot of difficulty breathing, grit in my mouth. Forearm over my eyes for protection. Much stumbling.

And though I still can’t be sure about anything except the storm raging around me, I think the layer of me closest to the surface is being sandblasted away.

It hurts as much as you might imagine.

That layer of me closest to the surface? It seems to be what was holding in all kinds of pain and sadness and anger that I’ve stuffed down my whole life.

I stuffed it all because I thought that’s what good Christian girls were supposed to do. Never talk about the pain of having to act like someone I am not (my gender identity is shameful, something that must be hidden). Never be sad (there are people who have it much worse than I do). Never be angry (women are called to express selfless service, kindness, and understanding, never anger).

At first all those repressed feelings seeped out a little at a time, through small openings. Now they are dripping down my face and arms, staining my clothes and getting all over everything.

Lisa is living her life sopping up the mess while I stumble around trying to keep her back a safe distance, to keep her outta this storm. I’ve not been very successful. She refuses to stand back. I’ve never felt so unworthy of someone’s love, yet I continue to be humbled and grateful every day when I wake up and find a new vase of flowers or an encouraging card leaned up against the pitcher of tea she makes me each morning.

I hope it doesn’t upset you if you saw me recently and I didn’t let on. I’ve got a bad habit of obfuscating my internal emotional life. I’ve been making that a priority for many, many years. I understand that acting like I am fine when I am not may seem like lying to you. Which I guess it is. But I don’t mean for it to hurt you. I’ve been doing the best I can do, and sometimes that comes out as acting okay when I’m not.

Often, being honest about how I really feel seems unfair, as if my struggle and my pain is something that can reach beyond my body and hurt you. I have a conviction that it is my duty to protect you from my unhappiness and, in doing so, I am serving God, you, and the greater good. And while it’s getting easier for me to see the dysfunction and the unintended consequences of this conviction, it doesn’t make it any easier to stop.

So, yeah; where is She in all of this?

At first, I was flailing around with my free hand, the other over my eyes to preserve some kind of sight when this is all over, trying to find Her, or find the place where She might be blocking the wind, offering some shelter. Later, I was trying to catch an arm, or just the edge of Her shirt, to know She was still near.

Sometimes I managed to yell, “Where are You?” Sometimes, a lot of the time, I just cried.

But something’s been happening recently; an awareness has been creeping into the distant edges of me. I’m beginning to realize that She is not standing near me in this.

She is this. She is the sandstorm.

She is the ripping, tearing wind. She is the darkness and the roaring sound. She is the grit in my mouth. The tears that just won’t stop are Hers as much as they are mine.

She is scouring layers from me. She is freeing me from this wall I built over all these years. She is ripping all the loneliness, pain, and anger I’ve been hauling around from my grasping fingers.

“You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.” (Job 30:22)

And there is fear and shame and more humility than I ever imagined I could feel.

But the storm continues to rage, and I know there is still more to be lost. Because I have not yet learned to do the one thing I must do.

Surrender.

© 2014 by Marg Herder and Christian Feminism Today

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Marg Herder
Marg Herder is the Director of Public Information for EEWC-CFT, a Christian feminist organization working for gender (and LGBTQIA) justice in Christianity since 1974. She is the content manager and developer of the organization’s website, Christian Feminism Today. Marg identifies as a trans* lesbian writer, musician, and feminist spiritual seeker. She works to draws attention to the ongoing violence directed at women and LGBTQIA people in this “Christian” society, the desperate need for an understanding of God that includes the Divine Feminine, and Christ/Sophia’s desire that each of us move deeper into our own practice of non-violence.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this, Deb. I have had some feelings lately of being on the right track, thinking perhaps I will be able to find the way through. There have been moments I thought that the storm might no longer be escalating, but settling a bit. I have been so grateful for all the amazing people around me, urging me to trust in Her grace to see me through. Your prayers, and kind words, are so much appreciated.

  2. Marg,
    While I sensed that you had a lot on your mind, I wondered if it was just the stress of putting on the Gathering (which was AMAZING by the way.) but this puts the pieces together. Whatever you sense is being blasted away, I think it will only make you more caring and giving. You and Lisa are new, dear friends. Praying that you continue to rest in the Holy’s work.

  3. We are always evolving…sometimes, we evolve when we least expect it and at a pace we aren’t prepared to experience. If we don’t allow ourselves to continue to grow and change, that’s the day we die.

  4. You’ve been so helpful through this whole thing, Kenetha. It’s good to hear that it is in some way helpful to you as well! I always know you can understand what I’m talking about and just that is priceless. Much love to you as well. We’ll just keep figuring it out.

  5. Hi Anne,

    I’m so glad to hear you are okay after your surgery. Minor or not, it’s hard on the body so I hope you are taking it easy.

    I wish I would have had more time and more focus to talk with you at the Gathering. I just couldn’t figure out how to say what it’s been like, or how I’ve felt being led that way. Someday, maybe, I’ll be able to say it.

    I need to wrap my head around that “I can’t remember” in so many different ways. Thank you for that. And thank you for being so kind to me and asking me about REAL things.

  6. For having nothing beautiful or eloquent to write you sure wrote some healing, gentle, and compassionate words. One of the most wonderful things about the gathering was finally connecting with you in person.

    You remind me of someone I knew and was very fond of, her name was Jan, and she was thoughtful and kind and had energy like you as well. But she was off at more of a distance from everything than you are. Maybe that’s why I feel so comfortable with you. Maybe it’s just because you are a comfortable person! You are willing to be right here with your people. I count myself among your people, and I know others do to now that we’ve gotten to sit with you.

    How wonderful it is that we all seem to find each other!

    Thank you for your kind wishes, and your lovely words. I don’t know if there’s going to be any way to “help us though” but when I do get through this I’ll at least be able to try to convince some people it was worth it.

  7. Marg,
    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been struggling to come up with a coherent comment to let you know how deeply this touched me and how well expressed some of my own experience, and I’m not finding the words. But I didn’t want to let your sharing go unacknowledged. Thank you from the depths of my heart for sharing your experience and helping me put new words to my own. I am particularly benefiting from the recognition that She is the storm. I’m thinking of you and holding you close to my heart. I hope you get at least small respites from the storm soon to catch your breath.
    Much love,
    Kenetha

  8. Marg, I am sorry for what you are going through. I came across all this after an afternoon nap following minor surgery this morning (very sore lump removed from my leg; I am fine). In the summer I get a chance to leaf through a lot of different books I keep around and I recently dipped into one called the Ragamuffin Gospel-given to me by someone much more conservative than I am. So the author tells of a woman who said she had visions of Jesus, and her Catholic archbishop thought he should investigate her situation. He asked her next time she had a vision to ask Jesus what sins he (the bishop) had last confessed at confession. She was alarmed but agreed. Soon afterwards she met with the bishop again and he asked her what Jesus had said. She looked him in the eye and said Jesus’ exact words were “I CAN’T REMEMBER.” Hope this is one of those things that helps you adjust to identifying yourself as a Christian and helps you through the nights of sandstorm.

  9. Nothing beautiful or eloquent to write – hey, I’m a math person. Well, except, Marg, to say what it meant to me to finally meet you in person. I know few people with such humility and forgiveness as I have experienced in your writings. I wanted to be just a little close to you, see you, hear what you said and watch you say it in person, to see if some of the Wisdom would rub off. So She can be the storm and the still small voice? I hadn’t thought of that; Elijah may have missed that too. I think She can be you too – in you in some wonderful way, walking through this storm closer than beside you. So it hurts Her too maybe and She cries with you. For the little I know of sharing some real thoughts with you, She is so very close indeed. Godde’s speed through this time. When you get to the other side, turn and help us through. Love, peace and wisdom be yours – and thanks for more than you can imagine.

  10. Carin,

    I’m picturing the scene, about thirty five years ago, sitting in my mom’s car at the very back of the parking lot at Second Pres, a few of us talking into the night.

    We talked about spirituality a lot, trying to figure out what was going on with this whole life thing we were seeing, and how we could become ourselves. We learned so much from each other. You were right there for all of it, sharing that time in our lives.

    It was precious as well as painful. Sometimes lately I feel myself back there, mulling over the same questions about what this all is, and how to move into who I am called to be. I didn’t always make the best decisions back then, and it’s amazing how I’ve carefully carried so many things I regret right into the present.

    But in your kindest of words, which I am intentionally opening myself to hear, I can realize that I made some good decisions as well, and have many more important things I should be carrying than regrets. Sending much love and deep gratitude to you.

  11. Wanda,

    I just love you. This says so much in such a great way. But I especially needed to hear “the concept and practice of surrender is a bitch and sometimes a moment a day is a victory.” Thank you for that.

    In one of my 12 step groups there’s a thing that I’m starting to really like, though in the past I would have taken issue with it. It’s one of the 15 affirmations: “If at first I don’t succeed, I lower my expectations.” To me that’s what your “moment a day” is telling me. Namely to quit thinking I have do get this all perfectly, all right now.

    Or as the amazing Lisa DeWeese keeps telling me, “Marg, healing is not something you are going to be able to check off your list.”

    Thanks, wonderful friend for sharing your truth.

  12. Kari,

    Thank you so much for this. It is very comforting and will have to add that to the visualizations I do. I remember sitting there eating breakfast at GCN in the hotel, and looking over at you and thinking, “She’s a compassionate one, I can just tell.” I was right.

  13. Criselda,

    Whoa. This hit me right in the gut. The pain about the whole Christian thing isn’t the only pain I’ve held too close for way too long.

    “…lose the fear of what happiness might mean…”

    It feels like I’m being forced to surrender everything that is me, that contains me, that fills me, and that’s probably true. Because there’s not much of that which has anything to do with happiness, and unless I give it up, there never will be room.

    Lisa said to me the other day, “It’s worth all this because I know when it’s over you will become happy.”

    Your words, and presence in my life are informing my journey. I am grateful.

  14. Diana,

    Thanks for reminding me that while I may feel like a giant energy sucking device right now, the people who love me don’t think that. You know I love you.

  15. CDK,

    Thank you for those kind words, and all the beauty you have brought into my life. I can’t help but suspect some of this dismantling began in your wonderful Wednesday morning yoga classes when I reluctantly started to realize there was, in fact, a body attached to this brain of mine that thinks it determines my reality. You always make me feel worthy of being cherished.

  16. Leslie,

    I can’t believe my good fortune in getting the chance to be your friend. Your words are always so affirming, it’s like She just pours through you. You are such a gift in my life, and to us all. For those of you who haven’t yet had the good fortune of meeting Leslie, she was one of the participants in the Oriented to Love dialog and she came to share her amazing self with all of us at the 2014 Gathering. Thanks, Leslie, for your affirming words and presence in my life.

  17. More eloquent words could not be spoken. Know that regardless of the internal storm and attempts to conceal it, your spirit has moved and inspired me through decades and miles. You have always understood Truth, and your own heart more than any human being I’ve met – and what a victory that is for you and all who have had the privilege of knowing you.

  18. Peg,

    Thanks for the hug. I want to believe that sharing ourselves authentically brings us closer to what has often been called the “kingdom” but that we like to refer to as the kindom. I’m beginning to think it’s only through our authenticity that we learn the truth of our own beauty. My friend Cathy Holmes put this quote on my Facebook page:

    “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
    ― Cynthia Occelli

    I thought it so appropriate and humbly hope that is what is going on with me.

  19. Lee,

    How interesting it is to know that you and I, two people who have never even met in person, can have such a mutual respect and feeling of connection. Thank you for your gentle wish.

  20. Kady and Patricia,

    I love and appreciate you two so much. Your kind words and thoughtful invitations are so meaningful to Lisa and me. And in case I don’t mention it often, you’ll never know how thankful I am that you are a part of the family.

  21. Marg, thanks for sharing your heart and your vulnerability. I think many of us know a little about acting like we’re fine even when we’re not. It can be a survival technique as much as a repression of what we’re really feeling. In either case, please know you are not alone and many many people care about you. We are walking along side you and giving you hugs when you need it. Blessings, Kari.

  22. We pray that Christ will make us more like Herself, forgetting that the process hurts like hell. Since our bodies, spirits and emotions are intertwined and one doesn’t hurt without the other two hurting, it might be a good idea to take a look at your whole person. Last year when my body was under attack, I felt guilty for not having enough faith for God to heal me. Faith healing was a big part of my Pentecostal background and I came up short. Emotions, not wanting to be left out of this party, went into a deep, sad hole. My onc doc ordered 10mg of celexa. Very small dose. It put my inner drama queen asleep. I still had cancer, but didn’t live in that tunnel of sorrow. I remembered that I don’t believe that claptrap about if you have enough faith you will be healed. I still had to struggle through chemo, but I felt more like me and was able to be with God without railing at Her and asking Her WTF God thought She was doing. I have become a fan of better living through chemistry. Thank you for supporting me in prayer through my mightmare. I am now supporting you on prayer through yours. By the way, I have walked with God for over 50 years, and still find the concept and practice of surrender is a bitch and sometimes a moment a day is a victory.

  23. As I began to read, a comment you said at the Gathering came to mind. I don’t remember the exact words, but it had to do with how unbelievable or amazing it is to refer to yourself as a Christian at this point in your life. You shared above the process of embracing that descriptor after hanging on to the pain for so many years.

    I did the same thing with my depression. It became my ‘crutch’ and my ‘go to’ excuse whenever anything didn’t go my way. Once I learned to let go of that and lose the fear of what happiness might mean, my life changed.

    This is happening to you, especially as you poured your heart and soul into planning the Gathering. Keep experiencing the storm and don’t repress it. The rainbow will shine in due time!

    Hugs…and tissues…to you!

  24. Yep. Love & hugs to you and Lisa … And all the friends who will gladly walk through raging sandstorms with you if needed, surround you in love & light. All the people you have helped have your heart cradled for safekeeping.

  25. Your powerful words are unbelievably, strikingly beautiful, Marg. How brave and strong you are! You are opening up to a whole new dimension of life. She is dismantling you and is putting you together again as your authentic Self. Dammit, know this storm won’t last forever! Breathe, and know you are cherished and are so worthy. I truly love you, Dear Friend.

  26. Wow, I know I do not always feel fine when I say I feel fine, but I have learned that sometimes we must tell our story. You are not the first or the last vessel to be ripped apart, for me this is the life of a Christian. We are not perfect but there is perfection in us. The perfection which will yield completion must be broken, sandblasted and watered. The potter as She works on you and within you is creating an awesome pitcher of living water complete with words of encouragement leaning against it for others to receive refreshment. Thanks for your vulnerability. Have a cup of tea on me! Blessings

  27. Dear Marg, I was thinking about you this morning! I worked in a burn unit and have seen the pain of no skin. May you be held in love as the storm rages through.

  28. Raw, hard to read (because your pain is so evident in the writing) and beautiful at the same time. Birth is not easy or pretty; as you well know!

  29. Beautifully stated. So sorry you (and wonderful Lisa) are going through this, my friend. But I have faith that you will come out the other side of this even more extraordinary than you have been forever. Lifting you up in my heart.

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