Be forewarned: I’m going to talk for a little bit about myself, probably sound really dysfunctional and…….. well, that’s pretty much it.
I’ve been fighting with myself lately. I see that I’m stuck and yet am unable to move past it. I don’t feel like it’s an issue until it comes up in conversation and then it’s so obvious. I know it’s my own limits because it doesn’t feel like myself; It feels like fear. Mainly the fear of being manipulated by people in the church.
I come from a dysfunctional church setting. It feels like such a tired, old story… I apologize, but it’s my reality and it still affects me in a deep, really irritating way. I come from an environment where you should never question beyond a leaders ability to explain, because those are thoughts which lead to heading down the wrong path- an undoubtedly evil path. So cliche, but sometimes things are cliche for a reason.
When that quote above from Tolkien started making the internet rounds, it connected with me so much. After years of being put in my place, something was stating that it is OKAY to wander. It felt like truth. When did people become so afraid of the JOURNEY? So much of my upbringing consisted of fear-based lessons… I mean, like a freakish amount. It reminds me of that movie The Village. Not the scary intensity of it or the Quaker living or anything but living under someone else’s rules and fears “for your own good”. Everyone agrees this is the way to go. Period.
A lot of churches are set up this way, after all it is gatherings of like-minded people in their faith. That can be a beautiful thing, but it can become a suffocating place – even as people declare their “freedom in Christ” it’s done so with a Stepfordy aire. Honestly, even just saying some of these Christian phrases makes me cringe: “like-minded”, “freedom in Christ”, and oh the horror of being “lukewarm“… if I’m not going to be “on fire for the Lord” he’s going to vomit me out of his mouth! God demands 100% or you repulse him. I don’t even know how many times I got that lesson growing up. Ah, grace. My whole first 20 years of life were lessons like this.
Years ago I feel like God and I worked out our differences… meaning I wanted nothing to do with him, but he showed me no less that a-katrillion times how different he is from what I grew up believing. I couldn’t deny it anymore… God is pretty amazing. He’s the calm in my storm. I love him wholeheartedly. He probably wouldn’t even be offended if I didn’t capitalize “he”! He loves me that much. I guarantee describing God has “he” or “He” (with the honorable capital h) was a heated debate in my church. I have since decided that God’s just not insecure enough to care. He can be he or THE MIGHTY ONE. They all work.
Anyway, where I feel comfort and love with God, I still have so much mistrust when it comes to “the church”. I’ve gotten over past issues enough to be able to attend church as a family, which feels nice even though I may roll my eyes from time-to-time. That in itself is a genuinely a big deal for me.
So my question to myself is How do you get 100% past your past? (or maybe even like 75%)
I’m going to be really honest -and probably regret sounding so bitter and angry later- but one of things I just can’t get past is how a HUGE part of the Christian life is so focused on influencing each other for God, which, in my experience turns into “God is using me to speak to you right now! Why don’t YOU feel it?!” I know it’s not EVERY Christian; I have friends who I connect with, can talk to and do not feel a strange Christian-y pressure from them. But I also have certain friends and family (past and current) that do have their faith sooo strongly tied to how they influence me (and others) that I feel like it keeps me in this spot of back-the-freak-off, people.
Anyway, this all came up because I’ve had a few conversations lately where I can just feel my thinking based on fear/mistrust. I never want to be stuck in a place of fear… and then there was a “spiritual abuse awareness” week on the internets last week…. and then Sarah Markley has a post about emotional healing…. and Don Miller has a post about a wolf’s in sheep clothing…. and I feel like God is going, Alright. It’s time to work this out now, okay?
At first I felt like Ah, crap. Because seriously nobody in their right mind would want to think about this crap.
But as I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve realized I’m SO READY. I guess I want this to be like a marker in my little journey. Years from now I want to look back at this and say, “Oh yeah. Remember when I was totally bound and held back by all of that crap back then? That was soo 2013. Huzzah!” Because we say that in the future like in normal conversation. It’s totally hip to speak Olde Tyme! Yay!
Looking forward to Peace in Community someday… whatever that looks like.