The Sound and The Feeling - Broken



I stumbled upon this gem during the closing scene of one of my regular TV shows. I snatched up my phone and opened up SoundHound to figure out just what I was hearing. Snagged it, added to playlist. Cut to today, Saturday. Amid all the miscellaneous chores and working from home, I decided it was far to glorious outside to spend it all inside.

Shortly thereafter I find myself soaking in the hot tub under a vibrant blue sky, the budding green leaves of Spring swaying in the cool breeze that washes over me as I sip a Fresca and relax away a busy week. I sit back and soak, clearing my mind as my “SoundHound History” playlist rolls along in the background and the water bubbles around me. And there in that quiet personal moment I find myself in contemplation. A lot has been going on, but it’s the old wounds that are bubbling to the surface today. And then, as cosmically ordained as anything could be, Broken by Patrick Watson begins to play, and I’m taken by its softly spoken melancholy. Words in melody that raise so many questions in my deepest parts, with some lovely piano and strings. Patrick sings to me, asking:

Tell me where we go now
Home is better than wandering in our heads
We tried everything to save our love
The best was always waiting to come

Did we dig too deep
For fifty-one reasons not to lose our sleep?
And it's not that you're not the one
And it's not that you're not the one
We all need a little peace

Do you feel a little broken?
Do you feel a little broken?

Do you feel a little broken?
Do you feel a little broken?

Tell me why we're going so fast
Never used to run when we were young
And I'm running out of words
Just to love you like the very first time

Pack your bags with all the lives you've been before
And leave behind what you don't want no more
Sometimes, sometimes you wanna, wanna go back
But it don't work like that

Do you feel a little broken?
Do you feel a little broken?

Do you feel a little broken?
Do you feel a little broken?

Memories come, let me go
You just learn to fake it
Sometimes, sometimes you wanna, wanna go back
But it don't work like that

Do you feel a little broken?
Do you feel a little broken?

Do you feel a little broken?
Do you feel a little broken?

Yes, Patrick. I feel a little broken. When have I not? Grow up gay in The South going to church and how could you not feel at least a little broken on the inside? Me and the Church, we’ve got history. My great scorned love that was lost.

Quick backstory: I was in ministry for ten years trying to pray the gay away. It did not end well.

I suppose all of this is especially poignant to me today because, you see, tomorrow is Easter Sunday. The last Easter I spent in a church I was still in ministry, and I was the great composer of “The Show.” And what a show it was. The lights. The music. The words. Words projected onto the walls all around you. It was all so perfectly orchestrated. It was my great and final opus in the Church. July would come, and I would painfully leave behind ministry and the entire life I had fought to live in the way they taught me to live it.

We tried everything to save our love
The best was always waiting to come

I had to rip apart everything I held to be dear and true. It was a hard reset. A leave town, new number, shut down Facebook kind of reset. You see, by that time, I felt more than just a little broken. I felt despair. I tried. I tried so hard to be what they wanted me to be. The good Christian. The moral minister. The straight, white, image of Jesus that was concocted by men and forced down my throat into my poor, starved soul. I tore it all down. I smashed the idols of Church. I broke apart the bonds of conditional friendships. I burned that house down and didn’t turn back. And I did all of this so that I could become me.

Pack your bags with all the lives you've been before
And leave behind what you don't want no more

2013. All that happened in 2013. And here I am, five years later, staring down the barrel of another Easter Sunday. Mom called, on her way to battle through the Walmart to prepare the family Easter dinner. She wishes Matthew (my husband) and I could be there. So do I. I miss them, my family. They’ve been the one constant these last years of finding my way in the world, making it my own, rebuilding self. But as far as I’ve come, with those painful memories in the rearview, I still find myself feeling a little broken.

Memories come, let me go
You just learn to fake it

Faking it. I know all about it. Faking it through those Christmases when I’d visit home, begrudgingly walk through the doors of the local megachurch, try to smile through it and secretly pick apart every programmed manipulation of the great performance. Christ has come! Now light a candle, sing this song, raise your hand, give us money. Now that’s broken. But I digress.

Sometimes, sometimes you wanna, wanna go back
But it don't work like that

My experience of rebuilding my life from an ash heap has taught me a new orthodoxy. You see, that ash heap was not financial ruin, losing a home or loved one. It wasn’t the typical “I’m at the bottom” kind of experience in American life. My experience was that I had to strip away all of this falseness. All of the dysfunctional and damning “truths” that I had built my life around and then found could not be true. If Jesus was light and joy and hope, I shouldn’t want to kill myself following him. And I’m right to say that there’s something very wrong with your worldview - and self image - if your version of Jesus and “church” drives you to suicide.

Did we dig too deep
For fifty-one reasons not to lose our sleep?

So it’s Easter and I’m feeling, still so many years later, a little broken inside. The other night I decided to listen to a podcast that my Aunt Sandra sent me. It was with Rob Bell and Richard Rohr talking about an alternative orthodoxy. Lots of religious types, my old friends, would call these guys heretics. Already I’m in good company. But the discussion they laid out mirrored so much of the conversations I had with my mom, aunt, and husband this last Christmas, where I deconstructed so much of the manmade bullshit that the church has tied around the necks of their parishioners and got down to just Jesus.

And I'm running out of words
Just to love you like the very first time

Just Jesus. Two words that hold the weight of damn world and they keys to being not a little broken anymore. I find that I’m still stripping off the past. Stripping off the dogma of bad theology and a thousand rules that no one can ever follow. Easter has come full circle for me today. You see, the church and all of its well-intentioned do-gooding, celebrates the Resurrection as an event. One day out of 365 in a year. The other 364 days we flagellate ourselves constantly for failing to live up to a certain set of rules that we decide to apply to ourselves, while judging others based on a totally different set of rules that are usually the ones we’re not so bad at keeping our noses clean of. This is not what Jesus had in mind, and completely misses the point of the Resurrection. The Resurrection is not an event, it is a state of being, and it encompasses everything. The whole world, all of nature, and everyone in it, are in a state of Resurrection. Being made whole and being made one with the very essence of God. I’ve been holding onto that feeling of being a little broken. That lingering grit of sand in the eye that reminds me, “you’re not good and never will be.”

But it don't work like that

The whole point of Jesus wasn’t to say the destructive things that the church teaches us about ourselves. Richard Rohr said, “If Jesus is the face of God, then we live in a benevolent universe.” We are good. We are whole. We are, in all of our diverse incarnations of being, the image of God. And we are a part of a universe that is in a state of Resurrection. I’m tired of feeling a little, and sometimes a lot, broken. And Jesus says that’s good, because I’m not. I’m his, and I’m loved. Just as I am.

Comments

  1. This is so well written, and we'll said. I have a different journey, but I feel just as broken at times. Keep making yourself whole, as only you can do.

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