The last book I put together took three weeks to self-publish. Three weeks to look through the poetry in my journals, type up the ones that made the cut, design the layout, edit, and send off to print. Three weeks.
After that book, a poetry book about love titled On Love, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about and publish next. I knew I didn’t have enough content yet because the subject is just not something I spend time writing poetry about, but I made the conscious decision to fill page after page with poems that could be considered for my next book. In my head, the timeline was short again. In a month or two, I would have enough content to start typing. In my heart, I was comfortable giving this book more than three weeks, mostly because the last book came with content already having been written. I didn’t get to cheat with this book.
It’s been about a year and a half since that decision. After all that time, I’m not sure I have enough content yet because writing about my relationship with God and the Church has become much more difficult.
Maybe I’m ashamed. Growing up in the church, you’re taught that lukewarm people are spit out and cast aside. They’re going to hell just as much as those who don’t believe. You’re taught that going to church every Sunday is crucial, that the people in the walls of the Church are the most important people in your life, and that giving up the Church meant you were never saved at all, no matter how you feel about God. I was taught that the people on the outside of the Church were going to corrupt you, whether they meant to or not.
As hard as it is for me to feel embarrassed, maybe I can’t write about God because my younger self would have been disappointed that I fell from the grace I was taught.
The shame is strange because I’m not ashamed at having learned a different way. I’m not ashamed that I have issues with the way churches are run, the expensive clothes Church leaders choose to wear, or the way people in the Church choose to treat people outside the Church. Those are all things I’m unashamed to argue through with anyone, but the shame I feel isn’t linear. I don’t feel shame now, I feel shame then.
Way back when I decided to start writing this book, I decided to stop going to church. All I could feel was angry sitting in those pews, no matter what was being said or who was saying it. The peace I used to feel was gone and I couldn’t stand to sit there without it. Without that peace, I was convinced my book would only turn out to be a reflection of that anger and that’s something I couldn’t publish. It wasn’t honest. It was only part of the story.
Most of the poems that have been written in the pages of my journals have been… harsh. I scorn the Church. I’ve cursed the Church once or twice. I pray for the Church to fall because it has made so many fall from the love of the God I know. I’m not so sure those poems should see the light of day, not because the Church doesn’t deserve it but because my deep disdain for what the Church is does not apply to every church in the world. We don’t all deserve to be cursed by an angry young woman trying to find peace with her God.
But maybe I’ll publish them anyway. Maybe I haven’t typed a single word because I’m scared of being honest. Maybe I’m scared God won’t like me because of it. But that’s silly. God’s probably too busy to care.
A year and a half later, I feel ready to type and to come to terms with where I am in the book making process. I’m ready to meditate on my grievances and positive experiences (because there truly are so many), and I’m ready to let the shame wash over me because I know it will pass over easily across my skin, never to be felt again.
Even when I anger the world around me with the words I choose to publish and even if the world rejects me for being honest about what I have seen and felt and heard, I will cling to the words that I was always taught in the walls of the Church aside from every other context that was offered: God will always love you.