Why I’m no longer Catholic.

Why I'm No longer

A friend of mine wrote a post about doing yoga while Catholic, and I of course had to scour every word because I’m a true blue Christ follower who happens to practice yoga. My comment on her post led her to ask me why I stopped going to Mass, but before I get into that lengthy and layered explanation, let me give you a little insight into how I replied to her post:

Cristina, are we the same person?? Seriously, if I don’t meet you in this lifetime, I’m gonna get cranky. I am a Catholic (although I go to a non-denominational church now) and an incredibly strong Christian and took a hiatus from yoga for the following reasons:

1. Before I committed my life to Christ, I was battling depression, sleep paralysis, night terrors and astral projection (I was going through some serious shiznit) that I feel were all related to demonic activity due to my pushing God out of my life. I was also heavily into yoga and doing it for the spiritual benefits, not just the physical. After committing my life to Christ, I immediately stopped suffering from the above craziness and stopped practicing yoga so I wouldn’t accidentally venture down that path again.
2. Everything I read that was in any way Christian-related told me yoga was a no-no.

So why did I start practicing again? Because, much like you, I enjoyed the physical benefits of yoga and had grown so strong in my faith in Jesus, I knew there was no way I’d be persuaded to leave God’s side again. It wasn’t until we were reviewing 1 Corinthians that I realized yoga was a lot like the “sacrificial meat” issue that the early Christians were dealing with. Followers in the early church were wondering if it was sinful for Christians to eat meat that was sacrificed to the gods. Here is what Paul says:

1. No, it’s not sinful as long as the Christian has a truly strong faith in Christ and is merely filling his belly. To insinuate eating the meat is sinful is to insinuate that we believe those gods exist which would therefore mean the meat is a no-no. And obviously, we don’t believe that.
2. Should we promote eating sacrificial meat to non-Christians or those not as strong in their faith yet? Nope! We can eat the meat all we want but shouldn’t advise others to do the same because they may start venturing down the road of worshipping the gods, not having the same relationship with God we do. Ultimately, we live to love others, and if we mislead them, even unintentionally, we aren’t loving them and doing all we can to bring them closer to God.

I find yoga to be our “sacrificial meat.” We don’t believe in the Hindu gods, so for us, yoga is a fun stretching exercise and nothing more. But if we’re constantly vocal about it and teaching novice Christians that it’s all good in the hood, then we run the risk of changing a person’s heart.

Make sense? Or do I sound like a crazy person? Hashtag wouldn’t be the first time.

So Cristina respectfully asked me what made me stop going to Mass and of course my brain and heart started whirling away into what I hope is a coherent blog post:

Like I mentioned in my reply to Cristina’s post, I used to suffer from depression, night terrors, sleep paralysis and eventually my good friend, astral projection (insert sarcasm here).

I started having panic attacks and depressive episodes once I turned sixteen. I used to go to an incredibly challenging private high school (it was an academy actually and blazers were definitely involved), and our way of life consisted of doing whatever we could to have the highest GPA while all the other girls around town were focused on landing a boyfriend.

Snort. Silly girls.

What I didn’t realize is that I’m not as smart as I thought I was, until of course, I actually started to realize it. All that stress, all that concentrated criticism that started like a soft whisper in my ear had me running miles in the Houston heat and knocking on anorexia’s door before the summer to my junior year had ended. I used to try reading Cold Mountain, the book assigned as our summer reading, only to slam the cover shut each time I started to read a line just so I could cry in my closet.

Loathing grew and never really took a breather. But let’s fast forward a little bit, shall we?

I’ve seen some strange things. Ghosts, I guess, although I don’t believe in ghosts anymore. I believe that evil exists, and I believe he can work our minds like a fine piece of glass. Mine stretched to its limits and there was a deep-seated fear that even that psychic could sniff out when I visited her on my twenty-fifth birthday.

The “Oh, girl!” look on her face was priceless. She could practically taste the possession.

I don’t know what made me so weak to the evil, although deep down, I truly do. I had denied God for so long that the denial set like concrete and broke me apart, inside then out.

I was smarter than everyone else. A feminist. Brilliant. Talented. Better. There was no room for your silly God in my life.

And yet? And yet I was miserable.

I was Catholic but I wore it more like an ethnicity than a transformation of spirit. I think a lot of us who grow up in a church, regardless of denomination, do that very thing. We become used to “a” plus “b” equaling “c,” never stopping to take a good look at “x” in the corner. We check off boxes, consider ourselves a good little religious girl or boy, but sometimes the world wants more than your Sunday morning attendance.

Sometimes the world needs every inch of you, every moment of your life.

So let’s slow down a bit now, focus on “the moment” as I like to call it.

My brother’s sister wanted us to go to their church. We had stopped going to Mass for awhile now and even though this was the case, I would never ever ever ever go to a church that wasn’t a Catholic church because I was a good little religious girl deep down, right? I would never break the rules.

But eventually we went if only to say we did, get this whole shebang over with.  And then the best worst thing possible happened. My heart changed.

I wanted to go again, thirsty for more words, the Word, and during this time the worst of everything was happening:

Night terrors where I could feel the stench of evil on me, my soul ripping out of my body and spinning on the ceiling, paralytic attacks where my body couldn’t move and no sound would leave my lips.

Fear of sleep.

But one night in November, after a rough year of battling my personal hell, I gave my life to Jesus before I closed my eyes to go to bed that night.

And ever since, that hell has been a thing of the past.

I was blind and now I see. I’ve been transformed, born again, made anew. I never in a million years believed in that kind of talk. As a Catholic, I believed in doing good works and holding my breath, holding out hope that one day that would be good enough to get me close to God in Heaven.

As a follower of Christ, I know I’m already accepted and that absolute love and grace is what drives me to share that kind of hope with others. I’ve gone beyond the rules and focus instead on life’s every day moments and the ways I can deliver God’s message through my actions, not my empty words.

What it all boils down to: The way I feel now, the way I feel about Christ and his love doesn’t perfectly align wtih the Catholic philosophy I used to hold onto, and that’s why I no longer go to Mass. I’d be denying the truth I know now, and that wouldn’t be fair to anybody.

Things I’d like to address:

  • I am in no way insinuating or implying that a Catholic can’t be transformed by Christ.
  • I am insinuating and implying, however, that the Catholic faith for me was a series of rules I forced myself to follow and then felt guilty if I faltered. I think we can all agree that this is no way to live. Not everyone encounters the Catholic faith the way I did, and that is a very good thing.
  • I currently go to a non-denominational Christian church.
  • My beliefs do not align with Protestantism either.
  • My beliefs align only with Christ and his message, and I do what I can to live that message every day.
  • A lot of times I fail.
  • A lot of times I get back up.
  • I don’t believe one religion is better than another. In fact, like Jesus, I’m not a huge fan of religion altogether.
  • I am a fan of people. Of meeting with church friends on Sundays to pray and meditate for about an hour. To check in and see how everyone’s doing.
  • I am a fan of hanging out with non-Christians, getting to know them and their lives. Their stories.
  • You never know who you’re going to meet or why God wants you to meet them. Always, keep an open mind like Jesus.
  • This is all a journey and each one of us is at a different point on the path. Knowing this tends to soften a heart.
  • Keep that heart soft, y’all.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I just published a new book of poetry online. Click here to read for free.

Nice to Meet You

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Let’s start out Friday with an #introduction shall we?

My name is Ericka Clay, and I’m a traditionally published author (contemporary fiction) and long time poet (since like 6th grade, y’all). I oversee a department where I work (no getting specific since this is the interwebs) and love working with people (something I couldn’t say a year ago). What changed? Well, after years of anxiety, depression and night terrors I asked Christ to take the fracking wheel and now I sleep like a baby.

Thank you Jesus!! I was the last person on earth who thought she would ever be a Christian but after this experience, I fully understand that Christianity isn’t combing your hair and pretending your perfect on Sundays. It’s continually being a sinner but knowing God has granted you grace and forgiveness and all you want to do is pour that love out onto others.

So that’s what I’m doing, one word at a time.

Shout out to my amazingly creative daughter and my BFF husband and his super strong faith that builds up my own.

And shout out to you peeps. I know some of us are having a rough week, but have heart, my dears. WE are the change the world needs and YOU have the power to show your kind heart off to the world. ❤️🌎 And I can’t wait to see it shine.

Oh and one last shout out to our veterans on #veteransday! It takes incredible courage and strength to lay down your life for another. We appreciate you!!! #tgif #potd #poetsofinstagram #poetsofig #fridayintroductions #fridayintroduction #poet #thankyou #god #christian #lovegod #loveothers #christianpoet #christianpoetry #christianpoems via Instagram http://ift.tt/2eZ8gN0

Let go, let God.

I have a lot planned for 2016, but my main plan is to ask Jesus for help whenever I need it.
Not easy for a Type A gal like myself.

But considering I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and have seen the amazing benefits of relying solely on God for guidance, I have a feeling 2016 is going to shape itself into a powerful year for me and my family.

To keep with the theme of “new year, new you,” I’ve also decided to start documenting the recipes I create and my natural health tips. I’m a huge natural health advocate so be sure to check out #theclaykitchen and #theclayapothecary for some healthy goodness!

Lots of love and light to you all for the new year!

#newyear #newyearseve #newyearseve2015 #healthtips#foodie #food #yum #yummy #healthy #health #recipes #healthyliving #juice #juicing #juicerecipes #naturalhealth #jesus #love #prayer #christianity#qotd #picoftheday #twitter #wp

The thing about stories.

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Not only were we fortunate to find a new church we love that happens to be on the street behind our house but we also an incredible message that’s still thumping against my breastbone: share the stories of how God has worked his wonders in your life.

As a lot of you know, I used to struggle with anxiety and depression and any stories I had to share weren’t of the rated G variety. But that’s what’s amazing about God’s love and mercy. He’s written me a beautiful ending because I got off my “type A/control freak horse” and asked him to.

And now I’m able to write this with so many blessings in my life, it’s almost scary. A beautiful new home, a new job for Matt, a wonderful family and an amazing community outside our door

Don’t forget to ask for help and don’t forget to share your stories with your children. There’s a lot of beauty in you and where you’ve come from. They deserve to know it.

#wp #twitter #sundayfunday #church #god #christian

Confessions of a control freak.

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I used to look too much into the “inner.” What my soul needed to heal. And then I tried something different and absolutely terrifying because I ‘m nothing if not a control freak: I asked God to heal me.

And once he did, it felt like I was given a special pair of glasses to see the outward. People who used to piss me off were now hurt people like I used to be. They have a lot on their shoulders and are trying to navigate their hurt themselves and sometimes this comes in the form of a bitter person or sometimes even the life of the party.

But hurt is hurt and it doesn’t need to be exacerbated by me.

So this verse is an incredible reminder to see God in everyone and to lay my ego to rest.

God’s got all of me so no more restless nights searching my soul. It’s time to use that energy to love others.

#truth #scripture #bibleverse #Christian #Jesus #changetheworld#goodmorning #prayerworks #prayerworkswonders #love #God #twitter #wp

Thank you, Ghandi.

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This quote, attributed to Ghandi, is one of my favorites for its sheer honesty and the heart breaking truth that Ghandi was seriously considering allowing Christ into his life until something happened that many of us have experienced: he came face to face with Christians.

For a very long time, I denied Christ because of Christians and the disparity between Jesus – his gentle, life saving truths – and the concept of sitting in a pew of every Sunday, and being subjected to talk I didn’t understand and didn’t compel me to go outside and help another human being.

I was just waiting for it to be over.

And I started to realize, if a lot of us felt like this, depleted rather than filled up, then how we were to go out like the disciples, and lend our hearts and ears to others in need?

Frank Raj, editor and publisher of The International Indian, has written a brilliant article on this subject and has put it far more eloquently than I ever could. It’s probably one of the most amazing, truth revealing articles I’ve ever read, so I implore you to take the time to absorb it. You won’t be let down.

Following Christ is about accepting his grace and extending it to others, and using the Word to enlighten your life as well as those who need a little light. It’s about church only as far as community, a group of like-minded individuals who want to spread love to others’ and have no judgment in their hearts because they’ve been there, too.

Christians like this DO exist. I’ve found them predominantly in nondenominational circles that are focused on sharing the Word rather than creating rules and regulations for their exclusive club.

There is no exclusiveness when it comes to Christ so there should be no exclusiveness when it comes to being a Christian.

So I wear Ghandi’s words on my heart as a reminder of the constant love I want to share. I never want to be the reason a person can’t find peace.

#ghandi #quote #christianity #christians #truth #bible #love #wp #twitter

Saying goodbye to myself.

 

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I have a board on #pinterest I named “This is me.” It’s a rather dark board that dances between the concepts of being an overly vulnerable writer type to a “I don’t give two piles of human feces” individual who likes her vodka and her potty words and doesn’t need you or your nonsense.

I was going to delete it, but I didn’t.

Instead, I renamed it “This used to be me.” And then I sat back and said a prayer of gratitude.

There’s a lot of bitterness on the Internet. There a lot of people who are mad at the world and feel God has forsaken them. It’s easy to drink the poison, point fingers, live in our shells and block out the nasty, vile world.

It’s hard to find your place in it, realize you are part of the problem and exchange your old heart for a new one.

But it can be done.
I remember a while back I wrote a post about our daughter talking to Jesus even though I had cut God out of my life. I included an old school picture of Jesus knocking on a door and I captioned it “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Jesus!!” Because I thought it would be hilarious. And now I see the truth in it.

He is there. Waiting. Watching as we grow more bitter and sling our “eff you’s” at a world in which we’ve given up hope. He could help if we’re willing to sacrifice our pride for the good of others. It’s just a matter of opening up the door and most importantly, keeping it open even when it’s difficult.

I left the board up as a reminder: a hardened heart is a scared heart. And the next time I see someone else crying out this way, I’ll listen. Because bitter used to be my favorite flavor, too.

#change #love #bitter #christianity #truth #writerslife #writerofinstagram
#writersofig #blogger #ontheblog #blog #twitter #wp

On the mat.

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lt hit me today on my yoga mat, how much faith is like #yoga: it’s only beneficial if you practice it.

And nothing can make that concept more challenging than a pretty rough day.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t sign up for this Christianity thing because I thought it would be a barrel full of Cheetos or anything. More now than ever Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs, so I was pretty well aware that keeping things on the DL about the whole Jesus thing was the smarter move. But faith isn’t about making calculated moves on this board called “life.” It’s about loss of self in order to allow a complete transformation of head and heart.

It’s about closing your eyes and taking that leap.

And leaping, my friends, is a full on verb.
It ain’t easy, but when I open my eyes to this world, it’s more than necessary. Lessons from the good book are a good thing, but putting them into practice is a great thing, even when my day is less than brilliant.

So a quick pick me up on the mat and a conversation with the Lord has gotten me back in tune.

And tomorrow, I’ll be ready to lend the world my heart and my hands.

#christianyogi #christianity #thoughts #breathe #christian #bible #jesus #love #heart #writerslife #writerofinstagram #writersofig #truth #twitter #wp

It’s never too late.

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This year, Ava donated a Christmas box online through @operationchristmaschild. A very deserving little girl will be able to enjoy the goodies Ava chose for her and read the letter she wrote.
We missed the deadline to pack the box ourselves and send it off, but this was a very helpful alternative. If you’re still looking for a way to donate to a very special cause and teach your child the importance of giving, I highly recommend! ❤🎄🎁 #momlife #operationchristmaschild #christmasgift #children #christmas #donate #charity #christmascharity #kidsofinstagram #christiancharity #christian #love #twitter #wp