Not holy enough.
Not righteous enough.
Not worthy enough.
I stood, my head lowered, my eyes cast down in confusion, my shoulders slumped . All around me, several people were speaking in tongues. Some would fall to the floor, crashing chairs, restrained by ushers and usherettes.They had been “touched by the Holy Spirit”.
I tried again
Hmm,it just didn’t sound right. When would I finally receive this anointing that I always heard about? When would finally attain spiritual stardom and show off my expertise in glossolalia?One time, in my Grandma’s prayer group meeting, I simply just fell down dramatically,as the pastor placed two fingers on my belly to “remove unclean spirits”. I hadn’t felt any sudden ecstatic possession by the Holy Spirit,but I was scared. If I didn’t “fall under the anointing”, others might think I was demon-possessed,or much worse,infested with spirit snakes or mammi wata spirits. So I had to fall down, pretend I was under some kind of spiritual influence, to save myself from stigma, and further tiresome all night prayer sessions.
As a slightly awkward and stringy teenager, I strove to be appreciated and loved. I decided to become “born again” when I was around 14 years old,so I could feel a sense of spirituality and belonging to a group that preached love-the Pentecostal church. Nevertheless, I had to profess things such as I wasn’t worthy enough to receive the goodness and love and mercy of God.I didn’t understand , I worked so hard to become a good person. I accepted the hardships of life because they were supposed to be God’s way of showing his love. I could not question or complain, because “who knows the ways of the Lord”. And I had so many questions.
For a long time, I felt like I didn’t really have spiritual autonomy. Well, no one is born a Christian, you are conditioned to become a Christian. I wondered why this religion of love required me to certain things-like go through Confirmation-which no matter how many times my mother, Bless her, tries to explain the significance and necessity of why I had to wear all white, veil, tights, shoes, and kneel in front of a morally questionable man who was the Bishop at the time, and receive a white bible, I still don’t get. To me, it was pure torture to go to confirmation classes and sit under the lecture of an extremely cross lay reader who always looked like he would rather be somewhere else than with us sinners in transition. When the day of the confirmation ceremony finally came, I was more relieved than excited about my assumed spiritual graduation.
I also questioned the unsettling feeling I carried around me-Fear. I worried that I would burn in hell for my sinful misdemeanors, like taking beef from the soup pot when no one was looking, fantasizing about a guy, or -horror of horrors-not praying at night before bedtime.
I am happy to say that now more than ever, I feel liberated in my spirituality and I am a firm believer in God. I believe He exists and that He is very real and manifests in different ways. The only difference is that I have learned to search for His truth myself.It is so essential to do soul searching for yourself and find that personal connection with God. It brings a sense of freedom and peace and I think it makes me strive to love Him even more.
I do believe that there is more space in the Church for pro women teachings, and more space to tackle salient issues like Child abuse, rape, and mental illness in the church. However, I need to take a break from the flock. Ceaseless judgment based on the teachings of the Bible, dictating how I as a young woman who wants to strive and thrive and seek some joy and independence in life, should “conduct herself”, and the last straw was of course mentioning that a childhood experience which caused me severe trauma, was all part of “God’s plan for my life”.
So I have decided to let go of the churchy channels and find God on my own.