Thinks on Things

A gathering of ponderings…

My Freedom Paradox

Who (or what) am I? I don’t want to be an “-istic” or part of an “-ism” or worse, an “-isticism”? Maybe I am but I don’t know what that just might be. I don’t know much about all the various terms, phrases, or labels I’ve heard through the years. Frankly I don’t really care that much. Just knowing a label name doesn’t really change much. Being “unrealistic” all your life and then finding out that that is what you are doesn’t make you “realistic”, does it?

Naturalism, realism, worldly, post-modernistic, legalistic, relativistic, monasticism, theism, atheism, polytheism, Polynesianism, bolognaism, whateveristicism… I don’t know or really care what these mean or what the difference is but I am finding out what I am and how I react to things. Tangible and realistic results from what I see and feel and know. This is my best guess as of right now.

I have a problem trusting. That leads me to lie a lot. This keeps me from experiencing true life-affirming love that I desperately need. I am so insecure in myself that I don’t want people to know who I truly am inside. So I become what I think they want to see. I let them suggest good things and then I easily manipulate that into becoming their perception of my reality. I block out most vices and I exploit some virtues. This leaves everyone thinking that I am a good obedient Christian kid who knows right and avoids wrong. “Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God,” and “fear the Lord and shun evil.” Masks can easily be formed for whatever the situation calls for. This is what I’ve learned to become in my life. Religion and church have played a large role in this formation of my soul.

So I found it mildly ironic or amazing that I actually kept reading part of the book The Ragamuffin Gospel when it started talking about honesty. My initial response to this sort of thing is to view it as an attack. But reading on, Manning states that when we “seek to shed defense mechanisms and subterfuges, honesty becomes both more difficult and more important.” I have found this to be true. I’ve built up blockades and stiffness against truly hearing some advices that strike deep at my inner being. I never imagined that it would really be that hard to want to not appear weak. To family, friends, church acquaintances, and even to God Himself.

Love has never been such a good topic. I guess I know a lot about it. But to actually feel it or explain it or pass it on is completely different. As Manning says, “when it comes to God’s love, …we get antsy and start to talk about theology, divine justice, God’s wrath, and the heresy of universalism.” I don’t even know what universalism is, much less what the heresy reference might be, but I’m sure I would choose to discuss it over God’s love in my life if I had to choose. I can tell you all about how God loves us and died for us so we could be forgiven. But to really get dirty and explain what I need to be forgiven for is hard. And of course there is a lot.

Manning, “Getting honest with ourselves does not make us unacceptable to God.” Yeah, but it does make us unacceptable to other people, and they are the ones I have to live with. I’m not a hermit but that would have certain advantages… Admitting things to people makes them look at you differently. They talk differently, maybe avoiding some topics or maybe only talking about those topics, quite frankly just plain making things uncomfortable. I feel like I’m simply perpetuating a fake sincerity by admitting some typical faults and omitting other more devastating sins. Sometimes I will admit something if I think there’s a good chance the other person struggles with it as well. That way I can be a good Christian and confess but I don’t really have to worry about condescension from the “prayer partner”. They can’t judge me for something that they themselves are guilty of.

Manning, “To be alive is to be broken; to be broken is to stand in need of grace.” To accept grace requires trusting in love. Trusting in love leads to a life of freedom. That freedom means being able to admit weaknesses and be broken. Somewhere in my life this vital cycle was broken leading me to build walls to protect myself. These walls block out condemnation and pain and shame. They also block out love and acceptance. I am becoming numb. It is not what I want but I feel like it is the only way for me to survive.

Romans 8 tells me that “nothing can separate me from the love of God.” Yeah I know. In my head. Nothing means NOTHING. And that means nothing… I see the list of non-separators and it sounds great! Nothing can separate me from it, but when will I see it really make a difference in my life? In my heart? I don’t see it, I don’t feel it, and therefore it is hard to pass on. Using my new chart, I am not comforted or accepted. I am not confident or satisfied. I am certainly not overjoyed! My inability to accept or perceive God’s love (or anyone else’s really) leaves me perplexed and self-conscious. Embarrassed and ashamed. Lonely and defeated.

This distresses me and makes me afraid because I am more irritated and bitter than ever in my life. This isn’t even a cycle. Cycles edify and get stronger with repetition. This is a spiral downward into darkness. This ugly spiral needs to break before the freedom cycle can replace it. But I am trapped, how can a bitter person truly accept love? I can’t. In order to become non-bitter I need to challenge this paradox and accept love. In order to accept love I need to become non-bitter… somehow.

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February 8, 2007 - Posted by | All My Thinks

2 Comments »

  1. I stumbled across your page by page hopping.

    You sound incredibly like me a while back, and now. So much so I felt inclined to comment.

    With regard to your lying, I know the feeling. Especially the circle it continually goes in so you feel there´s no out.

    You are always welcome to email me to talk about your life, your past, or jsut for pointless conversation. If you tell me everything from the beginning, my view of you can´t change to better or worse. I don´t often classify things as good or bad anyhow.

    All you need in this case is the strength to tell someone you don´t know at all, who doesn´t know you, whatever you want.

    And if I don´t hear from you, goodluck with everything.

    Comment by You can call me Charlie | February 13, 2007

  2. Charlie,

    Thanks for the comments. Advice is always more than welcome. Feel free to comment further on previous or future posts. Honestly, I’m surprised anyone actually read the entire post. It turned out being longer than I had first anticipated and I don’t know that I would have read it all myself if it hadn’t been my own…

    In other areas, do you have a blog or site for yourself?

    laj

    Comment by postalhoot | February 14, 2007


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