Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday - Fasting From Shame

I haven't fasted in years.  Fasting has been a dirty word, one filled with disgust, shame, and guilt.  Disgust because all that I've seen of it has been from the place of worshipping a vending machine god.  Insert proper spiritual practice, make your selection and down falls your chosen blessing.  Like all vending machines, occasionally the blessing gets stuck and you have to insert more spiritual practices.

I feel deep shame around fasting.  Maybe because it was used as a punishment as a child.  Maybe because only the "holiest" of Christians fasted.  Maybe because it was required.  I don't know where all the shame comes from - but the idea of fasting, of intentionally putting something down to make time and space for God to whisper.  That idea stirs my desire to run, to hide, to cower.  My view of God is still so warped, especially when it attaches to any kind of spiritual discipline that I grew up with.  Too quickly it spirals into feeling guilted for not reading enough Scripture, for not attending enough services, for not serving in children's ministry.

It feels like just about everything connected to my faith it tinged with shame and guilt.  It's not how I want it to be.  When I get away from religious behaviours, I find freedom and connection with the Divine.  In churches, in Bible studies, in public prayer, in Scripture reading I find terror.  It would be easier in so many ways to walk away, to throw my hands up in the air and give up.  It's exhausting, painful work to keep facing the fear and sharing the shame.

For today I'm choosing to be honest.  I'm choosing to not heap judgement and condemnation on myself for where I am at in this journey.  Today I choose to honour my journey, to honour my pain and the raw places by lifting off the veils.  Today I sit in the ashes of my faith, surrounded by flickering embers and weep for my little girl self.  The one who believes she is evil because she is a woman.  It was a woman who caused a man to stumble and people have been tripping over her ever since.

I weep for the scars, the white lines that continue to stand witness to my pain and the damage inflicted on my soul.  I weep for an identity that was shattered before it was formed, and for the years I've spent scrambling to find, to hold all the pieces together.  It wasn't fair, it isn't fair and my heart screams at the injustice of it all.

Here is my shame, it is threaded through so much of my heart.  How do I fast from it, when I feel shame that I exist?  I don't know.  There's less shame than there used to be and maybe for today, for this time that is enough.  For today I hold my head up, tears streaming down my face and declare that I am enough.


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