Step 1. Deep breath in. Slowly let it out. I admit I am powerless over and against evangelical religion (Really, all religion. ) and that my life has become unmanageable. That seems messy and unclear. I am powerless over the system that programmed me to believe certain things were possible or that certain things weren’t real.
As one who likes to have a plan and some semblance of control, this step was…is really tough. But after comprising what felt like a very long list of 21 areas where I am in fact powerless, it is also incredibly freeing. The list of that which I actually have power over is incredibly short. And here in lay the two things with which I wrestle: myself and the self I was programmed to become. And they are so intertwined, it is like looking into my stash of leftover yarn. Who the hell knows where one leaves off and another begins?
What I have since come to understand is that the only person I have power over is me. And actually I will rephrase that: What I have come to understand is that I only have power to myself. There is a vast difference between ‘power over’ and ‘power to;’ and, according to Brené Brown, the most simplified difference is this: one places more importance on being right than getting it right while the other is the reverse.
And there is the power struggle: what religion tells me is x, y, and z. But I am q, p, and a. As much as I like being right, I want to get me right. My faith. My person. My mind. My relationships. And this system was/is more interested in being right… and I no longer am.
In doing the work of the these beginning pages, I have come to realize that I don’t want power over, to, or with evangelical Christianity. I appreciate what it was to and for me in my youth, but now having stepped back and walked circumspectly around it, it isn’t what I believed it to be.
So how do I continue with this first step, what does that even mean? And the answer? I am not entirely sure. I do know I am laying to rest an old identity that served me for a time. I know I have a long road a head of me as I wrestle with shame, fear, and decades worth of yarn stash style mental wiring.
As I spent time reflecting over what I have learned this past month, this is what I began to visualize: There are two metal folding chairs with one seat filled and the other offered to me. I can walk away, sit or stand.
A great companion read to Step 1 has been the book “The Gift of Being Yourself,” by David G. Benner.