Poetry: ..fear is a god..

By Monica C. Voskamp

Fear is a god.
That’s who I have worshiped
My subconscious has known this long,
My inner being has protested, strong.

It stuns me to admit
all this religion has been wrong,
Dead wrong.

Fear is a god
And one I knew well.
It all makes sense,
I didn’t know love
I didn’t know God.
I knew fear.
I knew fear
Not God.

I’m stunned and appalled.

Appalled at myself

Appalled at the church.

We got it catastrophically wrong,

the very fundamentals of who is God,

Was exchanged for a lie, a fraud.

 

I grew up in a cult not church.
I grew up in lies not truth.
I grew up under fear not God.

It relieves me very much that I bear the name of love.
It’s in my name, my DNA,
The reminder of who is God.

I bear a name I’m proud to own
A name that forever hails the truth: Love.
Fear isn’t God,
Love is.
Love is God.

Always believe. Always hope. Always love. 💕

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@littleppl85

Poetry: the answers.

By Monica C. Voskamp

 

the answers

continue to elude me.

time and time again.

I’m a long time searcher.

I’m a weary searcher.

I’m tired of not finding

the answers.

 

I’m tired of trying on ways.

I’m tired of what doesn’t work.

 

Its so empty.

So shallow.

Just doing good things.

Just doing religious things.

It’s disappointed me.

It’s wounded me.

I’m hesitant to ever

try walk that road again.

 

But my spirit keeps wanting to search.

It’s yearning for answers.

Answers that continue

to elude me, again and again.

 

Is there really a heaven and hell?

Is there really a man named Jesus,

And a God whose authority

Governs our souls destiny,

as heaven or hell.

 

Is it this brutal?

I’m damned to hell

if I don’t get it right

here on earth.

 

I already know I’m not perfect.

I already know I’ve tried.

I’ve given up the perfect life.

It doesn’t work.

It does NOT work.

 

I’ve seen people pretend.

I’ve pretended  too.

Again and again.

It is too tiring.

And I can’t understand

why people keep trying

to pretend perfection.

It’s futile.

 

My soul is in a search.

A search of something

I was suppose to receive

from church.

Maybe I misunderstood.

I definitely didn’t get the right message.

I didn’t get the message of life,

Of peace, of eternal good.

 

No. I’m living a message

of lies, fear, shame, guilt,

despair and so much condemning.

Where is the hope in that?

Seriously, there is NO hope in that.

 

I don’t believe the church.

Maybe because I’ve been hurt and lied to.

I’ve been shown life is to be sought after

but never attained.

I’ve tried for 3 decades and more,

to live a good church life.

It didn’t work.

 

I’m unfulfilled.

I’m dissatisfied.

Where is the love?

Where is the good news

I was promised?

I’m looking for this.

And hope to God,

I find it.

 

I’m looking outside of church steeples,

I’m looking beyond the church peoples.

I’m looking in the faces of everyone

on this universe.

I’m seeing if they have the answers

to all this inner madness.

 

I’m tired of the religious game.

I can’t play anymore.

I’ve stepped outside that square,

Yet its left me feeling a little

unsure.

 

How do I navigate life?

Is there an afterlife?

What is the purpose of life?

Where is the meaning?

How does Jesus give hope?

Is there a Jesus?

 

Maybe I’m searching too hard.

Maybe love will come find me.

I can only hope…

 

I’m tired of pursuing, chasing the wind

Chasing Christianity.

I’m sad that it hasn’t held the answers for me.

 

I’m looking for something more.

Something beyond a theology.

I’m looking for what’s real.

I’m looking for what’s been hidden,

Authenticity.

 

I’m looking for the face of love.

Maybe I’ll find my answers of the Divine,

Maybe I’ll find the answers

One puzzle piece at a time.

 

*Featured image credits: Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Always hope. Always believe. Always love will be. ❤

Day #5 Love Series: the Ground Beneath.

By Monica C. Voskamp
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Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Goals. Nothing wrong with them specifically. Achievements. Relationships. Jobs.  Families. Faith. Those are part of our lives, and a good part.

What is the wrong in them, then? When we place our value, our defining and our grounding in the things & people of life, this is the error.

How does this tie in with love? Boasting. I know, that sounds odd, but hear me as I spell this out.

I realized I find a satisfaction in subconsciously boasting to myself and to others. It’s this smug feeling and false grounding. If I have a nice house, a job, good  health, if I look half decent,  etc. If I have certain things and people in my life THEN I feel good about myself.

These are all things I find security in. Everyone has their own list. Yours might look more impressive than mine, or you may think my list is pretty amazing.

There is a fine line between being happy opposed to finding your happiness in those things. But there is something greater.

When you are so contented in your life you have no need for outside feel goods, this is when you are rooted in something great: love.

Boasting is giving praise to an insecure ego.  To boast is to stand yourself on fractured ground. It is relying on a bridge that will eventually give way. Life’s boards can and will crack.

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Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Boasting is resting in a fake security.

Everything you and I have can be taken away in a breathe. Our jobs, our homes, our relationships, and achievements. Isn’t there a proverb how life is like a vapor? In just one breath, our world can be snuffed out.

Then what? It’s pretty devastating; we experience loss.  The greater destruction happens though when one is anchored solely in those things.

Love does not boast. Why? Love already is enough. Enough being, it is full. Love does not need to be validated. It doesn’t need to be recognized.

Love  knows who and what it is; *that’s* it’s security. Love just breathes day in, day out, its matchless value.

Love doesn’t need anything more than what it is.

We people tend to need and look for more. Hi… I’m a people. 😛 I tend to boast inwardly to myself and to others. My stomach churns at the thought that I, Monica Charity Voskamp, boast. Bleh.

It sickens me, perhaps, because I’m realizing boasting isn’t comprised of love. I’m also  startled. I have thought MANY times, I’ve understood my value; however, when I came to this boasting word, I realized I don’t get it yet.

I don’t live in security of myself, in free flow ease of who I am, not requiring any more to my name.  The realization I have lived my life with this shadowing demon sickens me. This demon, boasting, fights love from entering in.

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Photo by Fernando Rodrigues on Unsplash

 

I’ve allowed my value to hinge on the relationships I do or don’t have, the things I accomplish or don’t, what I possess or don’t. It’s stock market living. The stock market of people and things in my life will fluctuate. When it does, I will crash too.

I loose my sense of worth because I placed my value in the wrong place.

Boasting comes from a lack of self value. Boasting says: Look at me please and tell me I’m great (because I don’t really believe that myself.) Boasting repels love, because boasting says I need more.

Spoiler: Love doesn’t need more.  It believes in itself as is, because it is wholly enough. And God is love. Whoa, there’s an interesting statement.

This is what I’ve read, been told and am seeking to know if it’s true: God is love. What I’ve seen and experienced (in religious teachings) doesn’t add up, hence this love series.

Love doesn’t need to attach tags to its name. It doesn’t need a great marketing scheme or billboards to advertise it as some amazing product. Love is alive and knows it. Advertising love is a joke. If fact, “adding” to love is an insult.

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Photo by Tobias Moore on Unsplash

To the religions, to the church: wake up.  Love is not a product or legalistic system to be sold by manipulation, brainwashing, advertisement or adamant teaching.  People recognize love without a sermon, without a statement of religion. Humans in every walk of life recognize love as they encounter love.  They also experience simultaneously, love does not boast. 

Love doesn’t smear its richness, goodness in one’s face and make a person look insignificant. That isn’t love.

Love knows how much it is but doesn’t need to tell someone how grand it is. People know love is beautiful.  Love doesn’t brag in order to feel good. This is the skewed version of love advertising:  I’m so good, you need me (my love) to be a better person. You’re not good enough without me.

Is this what the church is doing?  Are they selling a product called love, yet really just wanting to feel good about themselves as people? Are religions actually fueled by insecure egos? I’m questioning.

Love doesn’t boast and this is why:  It knows it’s value, exactly as it is. It knows yours too. It’s equal. Love acts accordingly; it says you are valuable.

The outpouring of love is this: Someone sees and happily embraces your own person, not for your assets, your words or your actions, but for you.

Love sees purely you because love gives of itself and is true to it’s name. It sees you wholly complete, not a fractured being needing something more than who you are as you are.

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Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

The thing to ground ourselves in isn’t our achievements, our years of marriage, our financial income, our commitment to religion, or grandiose amount of our faith. No. No. NO.

The real anchor in life is love. Anything else doesn’t hold the *enoughness* of love’s limitless bank. Boasting lacks an understanding of one’s value, boasting doesn’t know love. It discards one’s worth and exchanges true value for stock market living.

What does your ground look like? What are you standing on? Is your value & feel goods based on your relationships, assets, or religion?  Think about it.

It’s worth knowing what you’re standing on.

Always hope. Always believe. Always know love remains. ❤

 

 

 

 

Decoding Religion: my journey of escape.

By Monica C. Voskamp

Self Care. Self care isn’t selfish.  It was the first thing I learned in my first counseling session.  It’s ridiculous to think caring for your one irreplaceable self would be considered selfish…sinful. My religion mindset told me otherwise. I was terrified to be doing something sinful.

In 2006, I knew I needed to see a professional doctor for help. Yet my religion had imprinted into my mind psychologists were bad and would sway you from the faith. I was terrified to go against my faith. When I finally got to the point of going to a more approved religious psychologist, it was too late. My health crashed the week before my appointment. 😦

And in the end, I went against the religion. Am going against the religion. I’m wanting to embrace a life free, healing and authentic…the rightful spirituality, what I believe would be true Christianity.

However, it is something else to decode a religion, it is a struggle to decode the religion I was raised with. Why?

 

The more I uncover what I believed, I see lies I’ve been taught, heard and believe/d. I’m conflicted with religion and true spirituality. This is the why: I’ve been taught good truths simultaneously with lies. A scary thing.

Sifting through this pile is daunting, but I’m sifting anyways. I did a problem solving practice I heard of recently.

The person told me they’d put the ‘puzzle pieces’ of their situation on the table so they can get an aerial view. And the result? Generally, they found a common theme.

I decided to give it a try-literally.  🙂

First I made a (rough) sketch of my possible puzzle pieces.

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Then I tried to see how they related (with arrows.)

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I found a theme: Spiritual Conflict and Confusion linked with Childhood Teachings and Upbringing.   This has been a strong wrestle the past 5 years especially so I’m not surprised. What I didn’t realize is how deeply this tied into my health and ability to do life well. That is critical!

This puzzle piece exercise allowed me to step aside from my charged emotions and label the different elements. It gave a better clarity to see a bigger picture without the intense emotions.

The conflict I have now stems back to conflict I experienced as a child.  When you’re a child, you can’t possible make sense of the differences. You’re just a kid and in the developing phase of understanding the basics. Your world view on relationships, emotions, conflict, communication etc is all being shaped by what you are being taught and the environment you are exposed to.

I was a child that suppressed my hurt, feelings, and opinion (voice) for fear of punishment and fear of being a sinner. Unfortunately this merged into adulthood.

This can be liken to restraining infection inside a wound and forcing it to stay under the skin or band-aid. Not a great idea.

Years ago  the “infection” of that wound became too much. My health went down the tubes. Holistically. I physically didn’t have the strength to walk more than 15 paces; I was so exhausted. Chronic fatigue put it’s stake down on me for over a year ..and I still have bouts.

 The complexity of having my whole life revolve around a religion was not only  draining but destructive to my whole self. It was the very opposite of what I was told it was meant to be: life and freedom.

It involved: How I thought. What I wore. What I didn’t wear. What I did. What I didn’t do. What was ‘evil’-sinful- to do. What was good to do. Fear of the evil, fear of doing evil…( and in ‘evil’ it could be as simple as wearing make up or listening to the radio.) So we’re talking “basic evils” here. :/ Goodness, this is no joke. Neither is skewing the definition of evil.

I was held under a system of rules and regulations.  It became a mountain load a little bigger each day that dictated my whole being, perspective and way of doing life. My 22 year old shoulders and self could no longer hold up to being that good. I collapsed.

In 2006, finally my ‘wound’ got exposed. In the end, I’m thankful it did. Though it was, has been a hellish and crazy ride to deal with childhood trauma and mixed beliefs; it’s effected every part of me. It’s taken a lot of work to be healthy and pursue what is healthy in all aspects of my life.

Every day I’m more thankful to be who I am and where I am now. I’m grateful for the path I’m now pursuing: a free spirituality, a life-giving faith in Jesus.

Initially, I had a good 2 years of solid counseling and an incredible open minded (non-religious) psychiatrist doctor to help me on the road to dealing with both the physical and inner symptoms. It’s been healing. Don’t be afraid of the (your) healing journey. It becomes what I call a messy beautiful.

Sometimes we don’t know why we are going through: Depression. Anxiety. Insomnia.  Chronic fatigue. Pain. The list goes on. ‘Why’s’ are part of the journey.   Wrestling. They’ve been part of mine.

It’s been wrestling through each of those things and more. It’s been having a lot of medical intervention and support. It’s been the complicated dance of trying medications for coping and healing.  It’s been creating a network of friends, mentors, & family. It’s been the brave of leaving the old religious environment and seeking out new healing and healthy spiritual environments.

It’s been a journey of escape to find a way of safe, truth and healing.

Our childhood pains are relevant. The puzzle pieces are legit. Decoding this religion thing is no fun. Seeing how MUCH my health, self, and relationships have been effected by a religious mindset of rules and regulations, the work and pursuit is worth it. My pursuit is for what gives me the peace, joy and hope I have experienced and know does exist within the creator and giver of love, Jesus.

My decoding journey won’t be perfect or pretty.  Hasn’t been.

But, it has been healing…holistically.

I hope this blog will leave you looking at your own puzzle pieces. I want you to feel unafraid to journey into healthy, healing places.  I want you to be brave and not fear wrestling the whys, the scary of illness, or the pain of childhood trauma. Self-care is love and love is a good thing. It is worth journeying into the self-caring of you.

Know you are meant to love, designed by love and gifted with the ability to receive & share love. So don’t be afraid to love and let love in. ❤

Always believe. Never give up. Forever, love remains. ❤