I dunno. I don’t really think that they are all that holy. I mean, I didn’t get any super-spiritual encounters, or even spiritual feels for that matter, over these holidays. Not that, that is the measure of holiness – Lord knows I wouldn’t know the first place to even try to describe, let alone measure, holiness.
Well, I take that back – I do remember one definition of holiness from my early teenage days when I was inundated in the church: “to be set apart.”
Something is highly, highly ironic about this definition. I mean, I don’t know about you, but the very definition, if we take that one seriously, seems to be implying some arrogant, more powerful status. And in the sense that the traditional church sees God, I am assuming they nod their head in agreement – yes, yes, he’s the most powerful being and in that sense, can arrogance really apply? But I am going to set that one aside. Arguing about God is like arguing about love (which, in turn, maybe they are the same thing in the end – who knows, really?). I think I get a handle of what love is and then it changes. For some it’s commitment. For others its passion. For more, it’s being heard, or fed, or obeyed. And then there are those where it’s a little bit of some, or all, of these things. For some yet still, it doesn’t really exist. And despite all of these – it’s subject to change as you progress in life. Yep – I’m not even going to touch the God one. It’s like a conflict incubator for many people – too many emotional attachments convolute the conversation. Talking about God can be like talking politics – And I just don’t do that, holmes.
But let’s look at this definition of holiness that was described to me in my very protestant, traditional western church upbringing: To be set apart.
Perhaps my initial disgust is that this definition doesn’t seem inclusive. I mean, if we are striving to be holy, it doesn’t leave much room for “the other.” And the whole idea of Christ on the Cross kind of conflicts that – you know, him dying for the sins of the entire world, or loving your enemy, or recognizing that every person who breathes, breathes the gift of god. So then, can we really be “set apart” if everyone is supposed to be included? I mean… ehhh, I can already hear the theological semantic arguments stating it’s a conditional transaction somehow without stating it’s a conditional transaction – you believe and therefore it then applies! But again, I can’t bring myself to get lost in the details of theology anymore. I used to (but am by no means an expert), but realized that, for me, not only is it like a time suck similar to social media, but the vast majority of theology now ends up leaving me personally exhausted and less able to fully enjoy and engage with life and people. Therefore, it is not a healthy avenue for me to explore at this juncture. Maybe another time. Another place.
But let’s get back, shall we? So, being “set apart” based on these precepts and concepts as delivered to me by those church doctrines, don’t quite seem to gel. I don’t want to be set apart if that is the case. I don’t want to be better or higher or even in a different place than my brothers and sisters who share this air with me. I want inclusion in this sense. I want us all to share it. Call me an equality whore. I want connection and for us all to be holy. Fuck holiness in this sense.
However, early this morning in the wee hours of 6 am (gimme a break – it’s Saturday and still dark outside) there was another thought that got my mind a-reeling – what if it did mean to be set apart? Well, I wasn’t particularly thinking about holiness at 6 am, but rather the holidays. And the hustle and bustle, travel and family and being around all those we love (for those of us who celebrate it in this manner). More specifically, I was thinking about why da FUCK am I now experiencing depression and anxiety?
And why have I been feeling it ever since the holidays have kind of settled down?
At first, I thought it’s having to go back to work – that’s why. And while yes, this is not a fun factor, I just couldn’t quite nail it to that (Jesus pun drop for those of you who didn’t catch it).
But I also had this concept running through my head that I picked up from an Abraham Hicks YouTube video I recently heard where they were discussing selfishness.
Abraham explains what is selfishness and how the very concept of selfishness kind of breeds more selfishness, but on the other side. We tend to be blind to that part as we are often riddled with guilt before we recognize it. For example, If you want me to wash the car, but I want to read a book instead, and actually do that, you could perceive me as selfish, because I am not doing what you want me to do – for you? To meet YOUR expectations and not mine? How is THAT not selfish? The idea of being selfLESS has a potential of being harmful because then you may easily become a concoction of “selfless” actions – doing everything that everyone else wants you to do – and somehow you lose yourself in that process.
Enter the mid-life crisis.
This idea percolated in my head the way my coffee should have been at this ungodly Saturday hour. But I think that is what is getting to me. Too much selflessness. (pat, pat – just in case you couldn’t hear that happening to myself, by myself, on my own back.)
Over the holidays, I did a lot of what everyone else wanted to do without even thinking about it. On their schedules, on their time. And I think when you visit your family and are enjoying their traditions, there is nothing at all wrong with this. I mean, I absolutely agreed to this and had a wonderful, joyful time, making phenomenal memories in the process. However, there was a lack of checking in with myself to see what, even if it was tiny, I may have needed over these past 2 weeks. Did I want to stay in bed a little longer and meditate so that I could enjoy some clarity and calm? Should I go to bed a little earlier so I can enjoy the morning with a quiet run or time with my puppy? This then translated into a slow new routine I unconsciously made. Get up, go do whatever everyone else wants to do, mindlessly. So much that coming back to our home, I just kept doing it with my guy. Watching TV shows that he preferred, sitting with him watching him play video games because he wanted to do that. When he was ready to go out, I got myself ready to go out. From just a weeks’ time, I had somehow created this dead, lifeless land. And anything I wanted to do, was more of my daily routine that didn’t leave much room for expression of freedom – cook, clean, laundry, etc. And now I am suffering the consequences of not taking responsibility for my very own needs, my very own life.
Enter Anxiety and his cousin Depression – hey there, old friends.
I could go into how I recognized this through some offended and sad feelings I experienced with my guy, but honestly, the details don’t really matter. I basically had the overall realization that doing things that he wanted to do didn’t make him like me more. And this made me sad and then angry, which is my tell-tale sign I have some investigation internally to do. Cue the 6 am non-alarm wake up this Saturday morning. And realizing that I have basically forgotten about me and my joys.
Which brings me to the holiness and being set apart thing. We all have our own wiring. What lights me up, energizes and refreshes me differs greatly from that of my family or my guy. It varies greatly for everyone. And here I was, lost in the momentum of just going with everyone else’s flow, that I forgot my own in the process. I am not saying I would have done anything different this holiday season as far as the activities – I loved those. I am saying, I AM set apart from everyone else and do require certain specific additions in my life that make my life seem full, enjoyable, and, for lack of a better term, MINE. Additions like staying in bed a few more minutes to meditate. Like, holding my puppy and connecting with him on this visceral soul level a little every day. Or on a Saturday, choosing when I workout, or ride my motorcycle. Or saying no thank you to going out or watching that or doing this. Maybe I am “set apart” in this manner, and with those quirks and that variety, my difference is exactly what is so amazing. So unique. Even beautiful. Maybe being holy isn’t about adhering to all these self-induced “obligations” mindlessly. Maybe it’s about really knowing and identifying who you are at the deepest level, what truly lights you up, and makes you “set apart” from other beautiful, holy beings. Maybe it’s recognizing what sets others apart from you that brings about love and appreciation, gratitude and joy. Maybe it’s that we are are all set apart so uniquely and the beauty of identifying each other’s holiness is a gift, a joy. Maybe it’s tending to this holiness that really livens up the joint here on earth.
So, it seems Holiness is both. It’s difference and inclusion at the same time.
Be unique. Just like everyone else. For in this, you are holy.