Tired of the Lie

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Tired of the Lie by Christine Cooley

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending Wild Goose Festival in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. The festival was a delightful blend of socially justice minded people with a bent towards the arts and spiritual/contemplative practice, so needless to say, I was completely and utterly enamored by the whole affair.

While the experience was life changing, cliche as that may sound, the thing that really struck me, and will stick with me for a long time, is how not alone I am in my spiritual practices and Christian walk. And coming from someone who has often felt like a bit of a misfit in many Christian and spiritual circles, this was a big deal for me. For a very long time, I didn’t even want to call myself a Christian as I was so hyper aware of how much pain the church had transmitted throughout the years on others and myself. And while I wanted so desperately to have nothing to do with the church, I could never shake the certainty that Jesus had always been very real to me, and that accessing the energy of who Christ is and was can be one of the most radical and empowering things a person can do. The “problem” was that I got to a point in my Christian faith where the old tropes just weren’t resonating with me anymore: All of life’s answers can be found in one place and one place alone (the Bible). If I pray really hard, and trust God enough, my life will look a certain way (pleasing and safe to other Christians). I mean, at a certain point, it’s just all so basic, controlling, and toxic, no wonder droves of people just end up having nothing to do with the church. They either spend countless hours with a therapist or other friends deconstructing their faith or pretend they’re fine because dealing with the pain and hurt of what institutionalized Christianity has done to them would be too much to even look at or acknowledge. I digress though.

So back to Wild Goose. Here I am with maybe, just maybe, a smidge of baggage relating to my aforementioned rant, and lo and behold there are other beautiful, interesting, brave people, gathered at this festival, who feel the same way. I met people who engage Christ through the healing arts of Reiki, astrology, tarot, people who have various psychic and mystical abilities, and what’s amazing to me is that they weren’t afraid to talk about it. I went to workshops with titles such as “The Christian of the Future Will Be a Mystic (or Will Not Exist),” “The Tantra of Jesus Christ,” and ”Mysticism: The Divine Romance.” I was absolutely blown away that I was finally around other people who were open about accessing Christ and the truth of the gospel through a more esoteric lens than what is normally talked about on Sunday mornings. Coming from someone who has studied meditation and done energy work for almost 8 years now, I could never quite figure out how to communicate that I was a Christian, not just spiritual, but that I was also very drawn to what would be considered New Age practices. I often felt misunderstood by Christians and New Age Healers alike without considering that there were a lot of people who also felt as I did and struggled with their Christian identity.

My experience at Wild Goose helped show me that by being afraid and nervous to be open about my experiences and how I view the Divine, I’m acquiescing and bowing to the system that’s convinced people there are only certain channels to God. Well, I’m tired of the lie. I’m tired of being in bondage to it. I’m tired of being afraid and mad and walking on eggshells. It’s not worth it anymore, and I’m grateful that going to Wild Goose helped facilitate this new found freedom.