Breathe in Life and Grace

It's such a gift to feel like after speaking with your Reverend, you've breathed in fresh air. I feel really lucky to be building that relationship, as it's a balm to my soul both from past experiences that were unhealthy and from the pain this world inflicts on me day to day. One of the things we talked about today was how we connect with God. I've struggled with my relationship with the Bible these last few years. As soon as I open that cover, it's like I'm pressing play on all my Church of Christ tapes and I can't seem to press stop until I close it again. I've studied the Bible A LOT. And when you read the same version and hear the same lessons, they make an imprint. Many of us pursued that relentlessly. This was not something put upon me. This was something I chose. And yet now, I can't seem to un-choose it. And so I wonder, how can I connect with God without listening to tapes that reinforce shame and cause me to set aside my humility and compassion? 
I was raised to believe that the Bible was a critical piece to faith. That I must submit to the Bible's authority in order to be close to God. And while I believe through my writing and various other activities and relationships I am pursuing God, I haven't felt close to Him since I put down the Bible, like I had confidence in what I knew He was doing. I'm a lot less likely to attribute events to Him, motives to Him, politics to Him, disasters or blessings to Him. I hesitate to put His name on stuff. I admit that I'm not totally sure what He is or isn't actively doing in the world right now. But I feel more in tune that when I see Him, I feel love, grace, mercy, forgiveness. I see Him in neighbors and friends standing up for each other. I see Him in children. I see Him in activism. But I don't "know" as much. I am less likely to "know" and a lot more likely to "hope." I believe this has made me a better person and has taught me to tune into and use my voice. Yet, sometimes I wonder, am I close to God? Is that even really possible? Or is my western idea of God interacting with us personally all the time, just that, a western, modern idea?
I've had to sift through all my faith experiences and just like when you move and sort into piles, I'm figuring out what goes in the "church pile", "God pile", and "human error pile." It's not easy and it's wildly subjective (pretty major factor in the "not easy" part). 
My Reverend and I discussed many ways to connect with God. She suggested I tune in to how I feel close to Him already (in nature, through self-expression, art, music) and to implement those practices into my regular life. She talked about how spiritual practice is just that, practice. There's a balance where we're never quite settled. It's something we pursue and practice all our lives, should we choose to lean in to our spiritual selves. I realized that one of the main ways I commune with God is through human conversation. In her quiet grace, I was reminded by God of so many things that are hard for me to remember. I actually took a few notes after we got off the phone so I could remind myself of these important, life-giving things. She reminded me, "You don't have to do everything." HA! That is one of those things I could nail to my forehead and forget. And this is why we need reminders. And this is why I write this today. Other people need reminders. 
You are enough. 
You deserve rest. 
You can't fix everything. 
Exhale, inhale. 
Just breathe.
We talked about how one of the things I struggle with is self-care in Facebook conversations. I really care about social causes and I've developed a skill set for moderating difficult online conversations. And I love it so, so much. It gives me energy and purpose. But sometimes, because I choose to stay soft, I need to pace myself because it can be very difficult. After Orlando and the modern day lynching of Ronnie Shumpert, I am overwhelmed with sadness for our world. And I know there's more that I just can't even sit in. Turkey immediately comes to mind. It's important to me to hold space for grief. And yet, sometimes it's okay to say, I need to hibernate in my grief. Or I need to step away for a minute from my grief. Or I need to distract myself with some fun because my grief is killing me. I wanted to say today that that is okay. Self-care and holding grief have to work in tandem. My Reverand said, "Do what you do best and use the influence you have. Release the rest to God. The rest is not yours to fix." May I never get to a point where my heart is hard. And in order stay soft, I must occasionally step back and rest.