Another of my friends called me at the end of the day Friday while I was still thinking about my conversation earlier in the day. So we got talking about spiritual things and my friend proceeded to tell me more of his personal journey and how he goes to a Christian meditative prayer. Also, how his dad was spiritual but never went to church much. I brought up how most of my “un-churched” friends tend to have a cleaner relationship with God than most of us regular attendee’s, funny how that seems to work.
As the conversation continued we started talking about his sister, a born again Christian, and his recovering drug addict friend, and how they had much different ideas than he did about God. So I started telling him how I don’t see the God a lot of my “religious” brethren see either. I threw out the idea that, “the God you find says more about you than it does about God.” See Last Post.
I proceeded to share with him about a period of time where I hated myself for not being what I thought I was supposed to be, who I wanted to be, who God wanted me to be. I had lost my 27 year old family business, having worshiped at the altar of Capitalism, and lost everything.
I went to church most Sundays, but my heart was elsewhere. I knew a mean and nasty God then who punished me for not being “good enough” at anything, ever.
Guess what else I realized? My temperament matched the God I knew then – I was a nasty bastard and I found a God to match. I thought I was a failure in every sense of the word. I could not feed my family, I could not keep a roof over their heads, nothing, complete failure. I wanted to die, and for those of you who don’t know, that’s different than wanting to killing yourself, but still pretty low place to be.
My friend from earlier in the day was around of some of those years and he told me Friday that he was surprised I pulled out of it. He said something profound, he said I had jammed my life into one small “box of pain.” That’s all I could see and it was the place I started from every day. Days on end, when it hurt just to pull myself out of bed, or when I would cringe when the phone rang at work, I was afraid it was another lawyer or collection call. Day after day for years…
I knew a punishing, mean God that took everything ,or so I thought. I deserved it, just like the people of New Orleans did to deserve Katrina, right? I had a friend that was a nondenominational pastor that told me that one. God was punishing me, and I deserved it.
So fast-forward to Friday afternoon…I told my friend we find the God we going looking for… his sister and friend were at a place where they didn’t like themselves for past “sins” they had committed against God.
The problem is, many of us never get past this stage on our walk with God. The thing is, now I see it so differently. Sin is against us, it’s when we move ourselves out of union with God. How could you hurt God with your sin? God calls us to completeness, to strive to find union with Her, to live in the Grace she so freely gave us, before we were born.
So you know what I learned the hard way? That you must forgive yourself first and foremost, it all starts there. Without self-forgiveness you are building your house on sand. See, without that part of the process, you continue to judge yourself by some standard that doesn’t exist.
So the next logical thing is to judge others in the same light, or actually judge them in the same shadow (lack of Light) you judge yourself from. That’s not God…that is an “idol” you made in your image from pain. From Matthew 7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” I guess the moral of the story is to find the correct door, so keep looking until you find the God that loves you, and learn to love yourself. You will find what you going looking for!
Something else I have learned the hard way is that all of the things in life that cause you “pain,” those experiences are “life’s class room.” That’s were all true growth comes from. I have read that some “lucky” people “get it” without pain, but for most of us, it comes through loss of some kind – death, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.
I have learned to see the “pain” as a process we need to go through on this adventure. I am grateful for my experiences; yes even the difficult ones, more so the difficult ones because that’s where all my growth comes from.
I don’t see things the way others do anymore and I don’t talk the way most of my friends do. I would not trade my “life experiences” for anything. Somehow they are part of a larger plan, my sister told me “we need to lean into the pain,” sit with it.
Instead most of us take “something” to deaden the pain, run from it. I don’t know whether it’s learned or in us, but most of us avoid pain. Maybe it’s a survival technique, but running from a guy with a spear is different than avoiding your mother-in-law. Is all this running from pain keeping us from true growth? Is that why the world is in such terrible shape, we are too stunted emotionally to deal with others on any meaningful level?
Oh and if it can be bought with money it can’t be all that important, fun yes, important no. My friend from my post the other day, he also paid me a huge compliment. In the same sentence that he told me of the small “box of pain” I had made for myself in the past, he said now- “you don’t see a box at all.”