Flash forward some sixty something years and you have me. I am thirty-five years old. A theme needs to be woven together and a story also needs to be told while jutting out ideas. Strong, settled ideas. I am not a psychologist or a doctor, but I have seen patterns in my life and in the life of my family members that would suggest to me that we are all hiding behind our own religions and none are the same and we all worship different things, but nevertheless, we are all in some way or another hiding behind our idealistic idols. Some of us have used a religious leaning to blend in or gloss over our own painful realities instead of facing them head on.
Some use Jesus and others use their wits or their smarts as their religious front man. I am not totally sure that I was aware fully how much I used my religion as my shield, an insufficient shield against my own realities, especially my own pain. It’s kind of like using a Dixie plate to shield myself in a real battle with real bullets and knives. Laughable, isn’t it? It’s just as laughable to take an emotionally distraught, abused, manipulated or otherwise used person and paint them all over with the color red from aisle nine of the Home Depot and say, you are now well, see, I fixed you. I have painted you red. Red, I have been told, is a very healing color. Trust me and you’ll feel it too and if you don’t, well, then, you just don’t believe hard enough. You’ve failed. Oh, yes, again you have failed. Wow, and the abuse continues on in the lives of the already abused person and the feeling of worthlessness persists like a black void within them. So many do not see the value of confronting and evaluating our own pain, our own journey, our lives. Taking the time to understand what our abusers have done to us and how it has shaped us today and examining it in the light of all things. There are no rules. Just branching out in our minds to make that first step is extremely vital. Not just vital, but I’ll say it again, extremely vital.
A friend face chatted with me today wishing me a happy 35th birthday. So kind of him. Don’t know what was nicer the time he took to check in with me or what he actually said. To him I said I felt like at this age I was standing at the edge of something, hopefully something great. After I said that he told me that 35 was a good year and he wished me well. And then he said, “I could look at 40 (this year for me) and panic because I am that much closer to the grave. But I am actually excited because I put that much more distance between an unauthentic me and a more consistent me.” What a thought. And how emotionally stunted do we remain in finding our authentic selves when we never confront the reality of our pain head on instead of glossing over it. Some have no idea how even to ponder, to be still for more than a second because it’s such a frightening place. Being alone in a place of quiet and uninterrupted time, a moment where all is shut off, and I mean the plasma screen, the ipod, the cell phone, the ipad, the lap top, the kindle and simply be and think.
And then you have to go a step further and shut your religion off. And that is the hardest darn unforgiving contraption to turn off yet. Oh, don’t think bad thoughts, think happy thoughts. You are what you think, you know! Don’t you know Jesus saved me, so now I am happy forevermore despite 18 long years of horrendous abuse. How dare you bring up the past…you are so bitter! Hey, you are supposed to forgive everybody! Oh, he’s in the fold of Jesus, no more psycho therapists for you son, we’ll take care of you! And I am not picking only on Jesus, nor do I intend to pick on the real Jesus, but I do and will pick on His prop. Oh, there are so many props of Him everywhere and peddlers pushing every idea under His sun. He is the Son and I believe that, but He gave me a brain, too. Yes, He did. He gave me a brain so that I would use it and discern that not every thing “his people” say is true, credible and worthy of my time and in fact, it is down right dangerous. It is dangerous to tell an abused person he is fixed when he is not. It is dangerous and even deadly to get the white out and flippantly paint over destruction in the soul of another. No, Jesus or not and I believe it IS better with Him than without, healing is a life long process. It truly is. Healing is a journey. And this journey, this life saving trip of acknowledgement and freely feeling and assessing and reassessing and understanding and yes, and eventually growing, is essential. And there is also a dangerous business of shutting out the voice of dissonance. Oh, geez, there’s dissonance again. Shut him out! But you see the growth is eventual and not instant and then the growth never begins if acknowledgement never starts.
I yi yi.
It never begins.
Growth never begins if acknowledgement never happens. And how many people are living this life? I lived it and I am coming out. I came out. I am out and it’s hard. So many are seeing red for us and they have their cans of paint and sometimes we have our own cans of red paint ready to dump on ourselves. And it is rampant. And this is why I believe abuse, abusers and the abused are so rampant in religious circles and when I mean religious circles I would like to say Christendom, but really it is much broader a problem than even that word can hold and I will say the “churched”. Spiritual, physical, emotional and mental abuse abound, I believe, among the “churched”. It’s a crock pot of manipulation of minds and glossing over really horrible stuff. Oh, Jesus will cover over all this whole mess, don’t worry. We’ll just pray and then we are off the hook and need to do nothing. We lie to ourselves. Others lie to us and then we lie to others when we think this.
So stop and feel the pain. Get mad. Rehash as much as you need to. Go there and know that what comes out of acknowledging pain is the beginning to a life of growth. Growth in God, growth in ourselves.