Bullied Into The Wilderness

30 07 2015

In 2016 I will have been out of high school for 40 years. Yet in spite of the decades that have seemingly flew by, the residual effects of those years continue to manifest themselves in my life.

As I had mentioned last time, fear has been a lifelong companion. It has colored relationships, work, education, and in general how I see myself. I have come to the understanding that the tap-root for this weed of fear is anchored in my interaction with those of my peers some 40+ years ago. It was their attitudes, and words directed at me that have shaped my inner spirit for so many years.

I cannot stress enough how bullying in any way, shape, or form literally kills the spirit within a child/teen. I also cannot stress enough how long it takes to recover from such wounding..

bullyingI began to experience bullying around the sixth grade. Being a shy, introverted kid with NO athletic ability did not help. It started with words, and then sometimes physical pushing or hitting. But even if there had  never a time when I was hit, the words and the mocking alone damaged me almost beyond repair. Children/teens can be brutal in their assaults. As a result confidence, self-love and acceptance, self-worth, and the ability to believe in myself were ripped away from me like layers of skin, and I was left an emotionally bloody mess,

And no one, it appeared me, cared.

There was not parental, or school administrative interventions. I withdraw more and more into a cocoon constructed not of a web of silk but rather a web of emotional pain and rejection.

I believed the taunts of those that said I was stupid, broken, dumb, and a reject.

My heart was never at peace, never at rest. It was always on guard for the next verbal attack.

So today, some 40 years later I try desperately to heal, to move forward, to live life as me. But many times the ghosts of the past whisper in my ear to remember my place, to remember that I am nothing, and can do nothing. And then I slip into the  default mode of my youth  I withdraw, procrastinate, avoid conflict, run in fear, question my abilities, and strengths. And finally remember my place, as the spectral chants envelop me as in a thick fog and I agree with them for a moment, a day, a week, a month, forty years. I am inferior to the rest of humanity. But I am tired of this wilderness wandering

O God! Rescue me from me, so that I can love ME, the me you created me to be, and to create the things that I am still meant to create before it is too late.





Fear, The Great Unmotivator

22 07 2015

I remember very little from my childhood, and the things that I do remember usually have some negative emotion attached toovercoming-fear them. Here is a brief list of the things I feared as a child…

Spiders, having fallen face first into a orb spider web,
Abandonment, every time I heard my parents argue I thought that they would get a divorce.
Gym class, since I sucked at every sport.
Using the bathroom at school. Anyone who knows anything about being bullied knows you do not want to be in the bathroom when the “cool” kids came in. This led to me not using the bathroom at school for many years and waiting until I got home.
Peers in general, since they were able to ridicule me at any point in time with no intervention for school authorities.
Answering questions in class, my peers taught me that I was stupid, and who wants to look more stupid by getting a question wrong.
My father, his anger could be epic and I usually was fearful to be around him even when he was in a good mood (a caveat here, he was not a physically abusive person)
Failure, this I think has been the thing that has caused the most trouble in my life. The fear of failing, of looking bad, had paralyzed any growth in my childhood and teen years.

And speaking of teen years, here is a short list of those fears.

Peers again, for the same reason listed above, new school, same torment.
Fear that what my peers were saying about me was true.
Being alone my whole life.
New things, and original thoughts, I never tried anything new and I never came up with an original thought since it had been drilled into me that I was stupid and worthless. It was in my teen years that I really embraced my worthlessness, and lack of self esteem. I truly did hate myself. Imagine for a moment waking up every day dreading what lies ahead, and being filled with fear and anxiety and self loathing.

I carried many of these things into adulthood and for many, many years lived in constant fear of failure. Over the years things had gotten better as I began to understand the unconditional love and grace of God as the only constant in my life. But even my early Christian experience taught me, erroneously, that God was expecting perfection and since I was far from that two thirds of my Christian journey was lived in terror of God getting me.

With all this background you now have a fairly good idea of how I allowed fear to manipulate me. But some habits die slowly and hard. For the past few years I have come to place where I have begun to embrace fully who I am, because God embraces me just as He created me to be, Yet, I now come to a place in my life where I must make some hard choices. And my default emotion is fear, fear of the unknown future. And my mind quickly jumps into catastrophic thinking and all I can see is the worst case scenario. And in seeing those thoughts play out in my mind, fear once again paralyzes me from making any forward movement.

Fear has ruled my life, it has become a habit of the heart, my heart, and I want so desperately to be free of it. Yet like a leech it continues to suck life out of me. There are no easy answers and I know that for me to really live my life the way God intends me to live it, I need to take the next steps.

Perhaps by exposing fear to the light, as I am here, it will somehow loss its grip over me.





Wandering

14 07 2015

lonlinessI am 56.

At this point in life I should be pretty well established in a career, in friendships, in purpose. i should be anticipating retirement in a few years. In essence, I should know who I am.

But…I don’t.

So much of my life has been spent “trying to become”. Whether it was a better father, a better Christian, a better son, brother, husband, friend. I desired to be noticed, to be accepted, to be loved, to be admired, to be looked up to, to be significant, to make a difference. Each time I began to pursue these things I was reminded by the small, critical voice that I will never be anything. I was told in my youth by a parent unable to love me, and peers that wounded my emotions and spirit with gleeful abandon, that I was a  failure, that I was unworthy, that I was damaged.

I have envied, and despised in my heart those that have “made it”, seem to have it all together with career, family, and friends. I have felt cheated, ignored, abandoned.

My life has been tossed between the waves of anxiety and despair. I have been enveloped in the thick, dark clouds of depression and hopelessness.

I built a wall of defense to protect my fragile and injured heart from more damage. This wall is covered with graffiti reminding me to never be too happy, never let people know the hurt they cause. pretend to be fine, act as if I have it together, never allow anyone to discover me, because I are less than others, I have nothing to contribute, I will never measure up.

And now I am older. I have squandered my life in so many areas, living in fear, self doubt, and procrastination.

This past Sunday in church during worship a fog of loneliness filled my heart and mind. While everyone else is singing of their perfect relationship with God, all that is going through my head was that I am such a f***-up.

I wish one could reset their lives, like one can reset a computer.





The Other Gospel of “Christamericanity”

7 04 2015

Paul wrote in the book of Galatians these words,  “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”. These are words that should be noted by American Evangelicalism. What we are propagating is a gospel contrary to the Good News, the “euangelion” of God found in Jesus. Here are specifics of the Gospel…
Christ died for our sins,
He was buried,
and that He rose again.

The Gospel speaks of the grace and love of God, the glory of Christ, of peace and the Kingdom of God.  The Gospel is eternal and it is for all people, in all time. And Jesus is central to it all.

That is the Gospel.

another gospelNow lets contrast that with the American Evangelical (AE) gospel message.

To be fair, all the previous things I said, AE would say they preach and believe. But it goes beyond that. Here is what I have been taught, and what I have observed over the years. To be the right kind of Christian you need to adhere to the following…

The Bible is inerrant, and literal.
Patriotism, and embracing a conservative political point of view is critical.
The poor should not be helped by government, not with health care, food stamps, cash assistance, and any other program that enables them to “just sit around”.
Birth control is a sin, as is condom distribution, and teaching sex ed.
Some of the laws of the Hebrew Bible are in effect today, but only some of them.
Tithing brings God’s blessing, holding back brings a curse.
Giving “seed” (money) to television preachers speeds up God’s blessings
Only AE knows the truth about God and the Bible, every other church is wrong.
God wants us to discriminate against some sinners.
God wants us to call out other people’s sin.
God will punish you if you sin, and in fact He is mad at you and will cut off relationship with you unless you repent.
God doesn’t care if you seek to help people make their lives better in the here and now, because one day we will be raptured and the world is going to burn up.
Your faith depends on you, you have to do everything you can to be right with God.
Too much teaching on God’s grace is bad. There needs to be balance.

What is missing? Jesus. And because of that, Evangelicalism has polluted, and changed the glorious message of the unconditional love and grace of God through Jesus into a religion of rules, regulations, and duty.

We have become the Pharisees.





Jesus Speaks to the Evangelical Church.

30 03 2015

dead churchJust as Jesus spoke to the 7 first century churches in the Book of Revelation, I believe that this is what He might say to the American Evangelical church today, This is an adaption of the message to the church of Sardis.

“Write this letter to the angel  of the Evangelical church in America. This is the message from the one who holds all things in His hands and loves without condition:“I know all the things you do, Your music festivals, and conferences, your mega churches, and your media, your influence and power in the halls of the empire of the Caesar and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions of protests, and boycotts, your support of laws that discriminate and impinge on the worth and dignity of other human beings created in My image, nauseating! I see how you seek to make it harder for others to come to Me by lifting up your idea of moral laws and regulations, touting your “righteousness” against the “sinfulness” of those who have yet to receive My love. I see how you ignore the plight of the poor, the homeless, and the undocumented immigrant, thinking yourselves better than the rest of the world, and better than those who do not look like you. Foolish sheep! Do you not know that all that you have achieved been as a result of my grace and I am no respecter of persons, but love all with an unconditional love? Foolish children!  Can you not see that your man-made “holiness”  does not meet the requirements of my God.  3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first about My grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.4 “Yet there are some in the church in America who have not soiled their clothes with hypocrisy, and have prostituted themselves with political parties, but rather have clung to My sacrifice, and My grace. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy because of Me.5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.





Are You “Walking With The Lord”?

11 01 2015

Recently, I had a pastor elude that he can tell who is “walking with the Lord”? So I began to think to myself that in the church there seem to be a lot of people who think the same thing. A couple of questions I have then are…How can you tell? Are we suppose to make that judgement?

walking with the lordQuestion #1. How can you tell when someone is walking with the Lord? Do they look like Moses after he came down from Mount Sinai with his face shining with the glory of God? Do they walk on water, feed 5,000, turn water into wine (that certainly would save me money)? Maybe they heal the sick , raise the dead, part seas, or make the sun standstill? I suppose if they did those things that would be a pretty good indication that they were skipping down the golden streets arm in arm with Jesus. But no one is doing that. So what measures do we use? I think sadly, that most of us and most churches use church doctrine or our own understanding to make that determination.

Self confession time….

For more than half of my Christian life I had look through the cloudy lens of my own limited knowledge of the Christian faith to label people. Did they read the “right Bible version?”, Did they go to the “right church?”  Did they swear, drink, smoke, read their Bible, vote for the “right political party”, hold to the correct interpretation of creation, the end times, and a multitude of other doctrinal ideologies? I mocked, dismissed and vilified those that deviated from MY understanding, just like my church unknowingly taught me.

And I was wrong, I WAS WRONG!

There is amazing diversity in the body of Christ, beautiful, incredible, diversity. Christianity cannot capture the essence of God in one doctrinal statement, one denomination, one way of understanding His kingdom. And even in this great diversity we cannot completely reflect the mystery and awesomeness of who God is and how great His love and grace are.

Question #2 Is it our place to determine whether or not a person is walking with the Lord? The answer is obvious, and the answer is no! We are not called to look at others and their relationship with God and make a judgement, That is between them and their Creator. We as believers spend far too much time looking at others inside and outside the church and telling them how wrong they are.

Let’s try something else…lets try unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. When we are really walking with the Lord we become people of compassion, It is something the world is lacking, it is something the church is lacking.





New Year’s Resolu…..

2 01 2015

I will get back to my Hell posts next time.

I wanted to take a moment today to talk about the New Year. Yea, I know EVERYONE is talking about the New Year. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress are replete with status updates, tweets, photos of pithy quotes and blog posts about the freshness and newness of a clean New Years slate.

I even posted things as the clock struck 12:00 AM 1 January 2015. And made the boastful comment that, if God will’s it, this will be my “Best year ever!!”

But then the morning sun rises on day one of my ” best year ever” and I find I still have the same relational problems, the same debt, the same fears and self doubts and I realize that there is no magic in the sweep of a second-hand. I also know myself well enough to understand how easy it is to fall back into the same habits and patterns of the old year. All because it is more comfortable and self preserving than to tackle the hard things in life.

But this is where God comes into the picture.

This past fall, I went on a “mini” retreat, God spoke powerfully to me. You have to understand that before going I was at the point of actually doubting the Creators existence. But then He showed up, not with lightning bolts, an earthquake, or in a “slain in the Spirit” moment. Rather it was through the listening ear and wisdom of a Franciscan Friar, and a still small voice that came from within.

God affirmed me as me, as His created being even with all my weaknesses, changefaults, and failures. He explained away the cloud of regret that has hung over me for many years. He made sense of so much that didn’t make sense in my life. And He told me He loved me just as I am, not in spite of who I am.

And finally that His grace and unconditional love through Jesus is always enough to cover everything in my life.

So I go back to my proclamation that as He wills this will be my “best year ever”. It will be not because I am getting it all together, not because of my commitment to seeing it happen, not because I have a plan. Rather because in spite of all that will come this year, the very good and the very painful, His love and His grace will be there. And through it all He will sustain me.

And He will do the same for you too.

Happy New Year and may it be your “best year ever” too.








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