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Dashboard Jesus

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She couldn't handle another season
Another ocean of fiction blue
Said a prayer to a dashboard Jesus
Death Valley and worn out shoes

- “Canyon Moon” by Andrew McMahon

In an ongoing journey of spiritual deconstruction and reconstruction, I’ve been discovering that there are many musicians and singers in “secular/mainstream” music culture that talk about spirituality in ways that seem much more vulnerable and authentic than its “contemporary Christian” counterpart of tired cliches and worn out platitudes.

One such song I’ve discovered is “Canyon Moon” by Andrew McMahon. Set to a lovely, almost wanderlust arrangement; the song talks about a woman going through the transition of life, the loss of social prominence and the need to rediscover who she is.

Listening to this song dovetailed into a recent book I finished reading called “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Priest and spiritual teacher, who wrote about the “two halves of life” and how if we seek to find the wisdom in the second half, we must first be willing to shed the first half of life.

I feel that I am just beginning this transition into the “second half” of life earlier than I expected. Yet, in finding that I have shed much of my identity that I developed in the “first half”, I’ve gone from the crisis phase to an embracing phase which is much more comforting.

When I first began to deconstruct I was in a years long mode of crisis, and that constant crisis developed into prolonged anxiety and depression, but not in the classical sense. I think when anyone goes through developmental stages there is always uncertainty, which I was not prepared for with a “black/white, binary” approach to life and faith. When I realized that life is done in the gray areas, the non-binary areas of thinking and identity; I began to see God open up to me in ways completely unexpected. My understating of faith and spirituality began to flourish into something beautiful and complex. But in order to allow the flourishing, there first needed to be the pruning.

The crisis phase was difficult and it came with it many changes in all areas in my life: my identity as a human being; my understanding of faith, God, spirituality; my beliefs about the world, society, culture; my relationships (those that continued and those that ended); my career and sense of calling; and many other things I cannot explain.

The embracing phase is a new reality for me in which I am learning to breathe and flourish after years of feeling torn apart. This phase for me is to reconstruct what it is that I believe and how to live. This is a beautiful thing I’m learning to not be afraid of but to be encouraged by.

When people deconstruct on a spiritual level, as I have, there is really one of two options: you can either just deconstruct to nothing, or you can deconstruct to then later reconstruct. I felt the allure of just leaving it all behind: my faith, values and beliefs. I thought at one time it would be easier to just have nothing of my past remain than to sort through what it is I truly want/desire from what is harmful/unhelpful. Yet, it was in the period of transition from crisis to embracing that I discovered that I can keep that which is good and discard that which is evil.

That’s what I’m doing now. Because of this I have angered or disappointed many people, but one thing I discovered in my 30s is that I really just don’t give a crap anymore. This time is about me and my own self-care. Caring for my soul, Spirit, and body is priority. Living for others approval or satisfaction or applause is no more. Cultivating important relationships and pouring energy into what matters now is key. Yet holding tension that life is short and that eternity matters is a constant meditation.

So the work in my life continues. I’ve shared a lot of myself on here and sometimes I don’t know why. It has cost me a good bit but also it’s has given me a gift of owning everything, and to stop placing ownership on external things/people/situations that don’t deserve it.

I am me. I love myself. I own my stuff. I owe no one any explanation. I will do good. I will exhibit kindness. I will give wisdom and seize knowledge. I will live fully each day. I will be present in the now, be grateful for the past, and embrace the future.

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