Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spiritually Handicapped

I was raised a Christian—still am. This is not to say that I haven’t seriously considered dumping my religion. It is insanely tempting. Twenty-four years of eternal security does away with any fear of hell. What’s left just seems so…bland.
Allow me a somewhat disgusting analogy. I once went to the emergency room with serious bowel issues. Among other treatments, I was administered milk of magnesia, which is nasty stuff. Upon discharge, they encouraged me to eat more fiber. So that day I grab a salad from McDonalds and as I sat there eating it, everything tasted like milk of magnesia. I could not eat salad for a while after that.
So it is with my Christian life. I don’t need to go into all the gory episodes, but I had a number of Christians and Christian leaders act like a**holes in my twenties. They were primarily of the fighting, and fundamentalist, type. My response centered on their doctrinal aberrations; I moved to a more moderate position doctrinally and became adept at discussing fundamentalist foibles and faults, which is all well and good to a point. I still pour forth minutiae and detail on fundamental(-ism/-ists) like an expert on these matters when such topics arise, amazing and disgusting myself at the same time.
A man who has been through great war no longer wants to fight. That’s me. I have no fight left in my Christianity. No zeal. Christianity hasn’t been particularly good to me so I am not really interested in evangelism either—why would I drag others into this? I do well to keep my own self in the faith most days. I am my own greatest evangelistic effort. In earlier days my mantra would be, “These people are crap, God is not like this. I will search out the truth to find what God wants,” which is fine as far as that goes. But at the end of the day I am left with me. And I hurt. Oh damn look my legs got blown off. PTSD, what’s that?
It makes it really hard to be a Christian. I can’t function like other believers and probably even the pastor would like. This isn’t an excuse, nor am I playing the victim. I care less about me and more about what I can’t do for the church and for God. I care less about how I feel about myself and more about my lack of feeling for Christ. I’ve thrown myself at Bible reading and prayer just to slide off like so much egg thrown at a house. To become a Deist or Atheist is attractive because it puts me out of my misery.
There is no easy answer. But I know this. I may walk into church on Sunday with my two legs but spiritually, I’m rolling in on a wheelchair. This isn’t merely a statement of humility; everybody needs a little spiritual patching-up. I am beginning to latch on to the idea that my spiritual disability is permanent.
The average Christian may not like that idea. Certainly God can heal all wounds? Yes He can, just like He could heal amputees, but He doesn’t. Nor is this a thorn in the flesh—this is purely spiritual in nature.
To this point I have been ascribing my deficiencies to defects in Christianity itself, my theology, my lifestyle, etc. But these things are what they are. It’s time to wheel away from the brick wall and work within my limitations. It’s a tall order in most of today’s American churches, and I am still not certain how I fit in.


jntskip said...

Thanks for your honesty.
I am a pastor and struggle in much the same way from time to time.
You are not alone. Not only are other people with you, but Christ is.

David T. said...

Thanks for the encouragement!