Friday, April 3, 2015

Pretty Words 2: The Reverse Testimony

I would like to apologize in advance for what will be the Easter post this year.

I grew up in church.  I can't tell you the first time I prayed a sinner's prayer.  My parents were not and are not exactly legalistic, but strict.  I wasn't allowed to read Harry Potter.  We didn't celebrate Halloween in any shape or form.  No parades.  My earliest years of church, I was not allowed to wear pants.  I always had to wear a dress or skirt.

I grew up attending church off and on.  Sometimes we never missed.  Sometimes we didn't attend for weeks.

I liked to read fantasy--still do, but when I first started reading, it was always fantasy books, dragon books, books with magic and daring.

In the Christian vernacular, dragons and magic = Satan, therefore not good, and this caused many arguments between me and my mom.

Although, I will say as an aside, Skin Game sent me back to my Bible when many of Christian books did not.  Just sayin'.

I grew up.  Sort of.  I still feel 17 sometimes.  And then I remember I'm graduating with a bachelor's in May and moving out shortly after, and then I feel like the slow-developing young lady I am.  Because I do everything late.  Better late than never, though.

I liked to write about the Ragamuffins, about Rich Mullins, and Brennan Manning, and all that stuff.  Y'all know.  Many of those posts are here.

And then I began reading The Signature of Jesus by none other than Brennan Manning.  I didn't get very far, because it made me cry because what little I had read, was nothing I had ever experienced.  I'd heard of such things, but it had never been a personal experience.

Nothing had ever been personal.  I never felt led.  I never felt the all encompassing love of God.  At least, I couldn't recall a time.

It was a lot of "This was simply not my experience."

That was when it started.  It made me question a lot of things I'd heard.

It simply wasn't my experience.  It was just a lot of pretty words.  Pretty words, pretty words, pretty words.

I tended to stay away from "Christian-y" things after that.  I wasn't a Christian.  I wasn't good enough or wasn't far enough, or just simply wasn't enough.  Those were not my religion or spirituality.  Eventually, I wrote "Pretty Words."  I had a good day and I wrote "Holy Rollin'."

I can't believe that last one was four months ago.

It's difficult to sit in church and listen, when you're not sure you believe that God loves you.  On an intellectual level, I guess He does.  On an emotional level, on a spiritual level, I don't know if I believe it.  I probably don't.  This God hasn't bothered with me for a long time.

I was raised on Revelation sermons.  "If those bother you, it means you're not ready."

Dang right I'm not ready.  I wanted to grow up and get married and have kids and all that.  That kind of stuff doesn't happen in heaven, paradise it may be.  I wanted--still want--romantic love.  It almost felt as if we were taught we wouldn't see adulthood, or not much of it.

And here I am pushing 23, still afraid to have kids because I don't want to be one of those people, pity nursing mothers and those with young children...

That is no way to live.

Do I believe I'll see Revelation?

The more important question is, do I still even believe in Revelation?

Because let's face it, the things foretold is basically the history of the world events.  The world has always been imperfect since the Fall.

Because let's face it, the Bible isn't special in its teaching.  Most religions say some form of love your neighbor.  Most religions teach a flood.  Most religions say do good deeds.  I don't even think Christianity is special via, not your works but Jesus' work.  You are not saved based on your merits.  You are saved because of a savior, or for trying, or some such.  It's the heart.  Yes, actions help, faith without works is dead, but you're not saved based on your deeds.  You're saved because your heart belongs to Insert Savior Here.

And here I am, wanting to pray to a God I feel is very distant, and what am I supposed to believe?

Someone might say the Bible contradicts itself.  It might say one thing here, and another here.

And the Christian dutifully answers, Well, the Bible was written to different people, in different times.

So, if you admit different people wrote the Bible, and imperfect people wrote that Bible, how is it infallible?  And if it is all supposed to be Holy Spirit inspired, why were books taken out in the late 1800s?  Barely 200 years ago?  Who decided that?  How can you tell is something was Holy Spirit inspired?

One of the few things I am absolutely certain in regards to the Bible is that God is bigger than the Bible.

So, I have to sit in church feeling dead and hollow inside, because I don't think God cares about me, and He's not doing anything here, and I'm just sitting here because I'm forced...

So, I have to listen to others talk about what God is doing in their lives and maybe it would be nice to have that, but I can't say anything because then I would just get preached at, and that secondhand faith, secondhand religion is what I'm trying to get away from.

Your miracles strengthen your faith.  They don't do much for me.  Maybe I'm a bit of an empiricist and want to see things for myself.  Maybe I need to feel the wounds in His hands for myself.

Or maybe I should just thank God that the miracles required in my life were far and few between.

And then, I haven't touched my Bible lately, unless it was for church, or if I just was moving it from one place to another.

In one of my last written prayers, "I don't think I love You.  Well, I won't lie to You or to myself.  I don't. ....I don't have faith.  I have fear."  Whatever it is, it's not love.

I was raised to fear God, not adore Him for His mercy or grace.  Be saved or be thrown into hell.

That is no way to live.  Perfect love never cast out my fear.

This is nothing new.  I've expressed such concerns before over the years.  This isn't my first bout of what I term spiritual depression.  But it was never this bad.

I've been suffering in silence.  No more.

So there you have it.  How I went from growing up in church off and on, to rebelling because I like dragons, to questioning because I've noticed the similarities in Christianity and other religions are more striking than the differences, questioning the faith, questioning the Church, questioning the Bible. I do still believe in God, I just don't know if I believe in the Bible, or the God of the Bible.  A Creator, Great I Don't Know, yes.  Loving Jehovah, I don't know.

It hasn't been my experience.  And it breaks my heart to verbalize this.  But I can't keep doing this.  Eventually, this will all out.

It could end in tragedy or triumph.  Stay posted.

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