I went to church on my own for the first time today in what feels like an eternity.
The last time I went to church regularly, seriously, seems like another life far removed from the one I live now.
The message at the church I went to today was about the double imputation of the cross.
It was strange, so strange to be there with smiling people who shook my hand.
I was fourteen when I first decided to not go to church. I’d put too much of myself into that church, until there was nothing left of me but the same sleepless, haunted nights, whose fingertips still brush my life now.
I felt very distinctly that I asked too many questions. At fourteen, in many ways I was entitled, and I was convinced that I was entitled to some guidance. Just as now, I studied and studied late into the night and then much of the day, trying to find the answers to my questions that my pastors told me were in that one book.
I never found them.
Truthfully, with the little wisdom that’s come with the additional years, I don’t think that the answers are there, in that book. I think that they’re here, inside my heart. I think they were always here, and it makes me sad that the two grown men I looked to for help did not know enough to be able to know how to tell that fourteen-year-old me to meditate on clarity and look within.
There are some things that you can only feel with all your heart.
I thought that I could be saved. I thought that going to church would save me.
But, even before church, I thought that someone would save me. I thought that well until just very recently. However, I knew, from a young age, that I would never be a princess.
And, even when given to chance to be kept, I never could stay that way. I always defaulted to fight, always vastly preferred to feel free.
However, I did talk myself into believing that, while never a princess, I could be a Lois. I wanted to be Lois Lane, a Joss-Whedon-Buffy-esque muse.
And, that was the best-case-scenario-me I could imagine—a sidekick, a man-made statuette.
What movies, and TV shows, and comic books, and love songs don’t tell you is the after. The messages about women that reached me when I was fourteen were the brainchildren of men who could have easily filled the demands of hegemonic masculinity. The images were of staying and leaving, jealousy and secrets, beauty and youth. I thought that was what love was supposed to be.
Four months from today, my significant other and I will have been together for more than seven years. I think back, fondly, on some of those early memories where we were just testing each other, but that’s where it stops.
I know now that I am not in need of saving—that any saving that was done on my behalf was done far before I could even be conscious of it. Part of the beauty of grace is that it needs no faith to show itself.
And, when the nights become unbearably cold—when the permafrost of the day seems too daunting to consider—I know that I’m working towards the thaw, but I’m not alone.
For what is only the second time in my life I don’t wish to be April O’Neil, because I feel like I am the hero of my own life.