Friday, January 23, 2015

Response To "Smalls"

I am responding here to a long comment "smalls" made in my "Many Mansions...." post.  See his comment below for context.
Btw, thanks Smalls for checking back in.  I well recall you and am glad to hear from you.  Also thanks for the honest recitation of your spiritual situation and . . . I would say challenge of sorts.  I wish I got more questions and/or challenges or semi-querying expressions of doubt and dubiousness re Christian faith.

There is a lot in there I am eager to address.  For one thing, I can relate to most of it.  For instance, the "binge-purge" cycle.  Boy oh boy do I remember that one.  My binges and purges were often in the extreme.  I've always had an affinity towards asceticism--austerities and the "self-denying" monk life . . . and was quite serious in my practices.  I use to meditate for hours, fasted, prayed . . . and at one point "renounced the world", became a "sannyasin" (a "renunciate") giving away virtually all my worldly belongings and totally dedicated myself only to the path of "seeking God."  And not just for a week or so or for an especially inspired day here and there.  No, I did it for months, years at a time.  Then I would be spiritually exhausted . . . discouraged at my lack of progress for so much "work" and would turn myself over with abandon to immersion into worldly pleasures, little to no self control, anything goes libertinism. . . .

And I began these dedicated cycles quite young, beginning about age 13-14. The sentiment I had, which I think I see as similar to yours . . . was something like this:  I sincerely wanted God, wanted to know The Truth, having deduced and assumed that there must BE a Truth and purpose to life . . . (although I did spend a good deal of time also in the Zen and related paths of "purposeless purpose", transcendental existentialism etc.) and I expected that through my efforts and sincerity God should certainly eventually make it all clear to me . . . but that, when He didn't to my satisfaction, I got frustrated, angry even, and thus plunged the other way, figuring, "oh well, if You are not going to answer me then I might as well give in to other side--at least HE DOES want to take me places) . . . but then after a spell of debauchery self-seeking a faint recall would come back in and draw me back to searching, and I would try something else . . . and on and on it would go.  There were indeed times where I seriously threw up my hands and just said, "I give up.  What will be will be," and I just drifted, not bothering at all to seek or work at "finding the Truth" anymore. 

One thing I never did though, was doubt the existence of God.  I just at times figured maybe I was just not good enough to please Him long enough so that He would come get me . . . or, I figured that perhaps He was just too beyond all comprehension and systemizing into any form of religion or "path".  I never doubted He or It or "The One" or "The Tao" or Whatever/Whoever existed; and I never completely stopped communicating to Him, whether I felt or heard and answer or not.  Long periods of time might go by where I didn't think of Him or seeking spiritual truths . . . but I never doubted He was omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, and that He could here me when I addressed Him, whether He deigned to respond or not.

[And ARGH my eslipses/period button on my computer is dying! which...which is horrible because I use it so much in my blog writing . .   . . . . . .! I might have to start using comma's , , , lol, , , , ]

Anyway, that's just a beginning of my response... gotta run but will back to continue asap and thanks again Smalls for writing me, whatever the reason or not, and as I respond if my thought bring up any other objections, questions, I would enjoy the engagement if it so happens.  I know your sentiment expressed is something that a lot of seeker types can relate to.   . . .  ,,,,,,,,,,:)

smalls said...
Hi. I used to read this blog regularly but stopped a couple of years ago. The faith I thought I had was beginning to crumble, and the cynicism I harbored toward the world started to go increasingly in the direction of Christianity.

I never thought I had much faith, though I wanted so much to be secure in the knowledge and love of God. As a child I believed, simply. Couldn't really bring myself to 'accept Christ' until the end of high school, partly because of the crap I'd been taught about not sinning anymore after you're saved else you're eternally screwed. I finally said 'the prayer' one day. It was unexpectedly emotional, and afterwards I felt like I was getting a handle on things. I read the Bible, prayed, sinned, 'repented'... all the while I never felt like I had a relationship with Jesus, with God. There were synchronicities, the Bible seemed like a living book sometimes, and I convinced myself that I was getting sustenance in times of unbelief. For a long time I was stuck in the endless cycle of 'binge and purge', giving in to my natural urges and then begging forgiveness, over and over and.. it was this blog, along with Zeph Daniel's audios and other stuff from like-minded, that really encouraged me and gave me what I thought was a solid understanding of the Gospel. I read this quote here on your blog, I believe, from F. Fenelon:

"Thus it is not by incessant care that we become faithful and exact in the smallest things, but simply by a love which is free from the reflections and fears of restless and scrupulous souls."

That really stuck with me, and I felt I finally was able to let go of trying so hard to be a Christian and rest in the simple knowledge of God's love and sovereignty. I still love that quote, but no longer in a Christian context.

There were many things that led to the death of my faith. I dunnno, maybe I still have a tiny spark somewhere, and that's why I'm writing this. I used to fancy, when I experienced almost none of the awesome things that I'd been assured would happen after I got saved, that I was just being tested, that perhaps I would be one of the "blessed, who have not seen and yet have believed". That thought helped for a while.

About a year ago I kind of decided to take a break from the whole Jesus thing. I've been trying to simply live life, without the constant Christianese chatter in my head. Obviously, I haven't been able to turn it off completely. If I'm honest, probably one of the biggest reasons I keep looking back is fear of the future. I should know better, having seen so many dire predictions end up being dust in the wind. At least I no longer have a nauseating fear of hell. That part of my faith I don't miss. What I do miss is the surety (even in doubt) that I have the Truth and that God's got me. But I'm okay being in limbo, as it were. No pressure to 'measure up', to read the Word and pray, to listen to 'good preachin''. I realize that much of what I am leaving is nothing more than a perversion of Jesus' teachings, promulgated by men who are either ignorant of the meaning of grace or simply out to make a buck using tried-and-true methods of emotional manipulation. I don't know if I'm ready to sift through the b.s. to try to find something worth keeping. So for now, I'm letting go.

Thanks for reading. I would appreciate your thoughts on my sitch, either here in the comments or on the blog if you'd like.


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