My last post on hating God and everything being meaningless was dramatic and sarcastic- two things I love to be. Especially at the same time. Unfortunately, drama and sarcasm do not always compute through a screen, and it’s come to my attention how ungrateful or resistant my post might sound in response to the many, many people who have not only entered my life this year through the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps program, but have opened their homes, hearts and lives up to me as well.
In my own heart, it is not the case that I’ve overlooked or discarded any of these people or blessed circumstances at all. In fact, I think that BECAUSE of all the resources the CESC program has granted (a discernment team, a host family, a counselor, group therapist, one-on-one check-ins with the priest/program director, prayer partners) and the plethora of support and vulnerability that’s been shared with me over the last seven months, I’ve been able to explore my own doubts about Christianity, Christians, and even further– God. More than that, I’ve been allowed to do so with curiosity and boldness. I’ve been enticed to reckon with my faith so intimately that I’ve allowed myself to say and think, “I hate God” …you know, just to see what happens.
In fact, I think that BECAUSE of all the resources the CESC program has granted, and the plethora of support and vulnerability that’s been shared with me over the last seven months, I’ve been able to explore my own doubts about Christianity, Christians, and even further– God.
What is happening is some great articulation about why I’m uncomfortable being perceived as Christian.
I fear that outing myself as a Christian will signal to others I am like the other Christians in the world.
Such a label makes me imagine others imagining a version of me, Sara, wearing a cross necklace, driving and listening to KLOVE, and pinning prayers to my Pinterest Prayer board. Since I’ve actually done all those things, oh well.
My skin crawls thinking about how I relate to the born-agains. I’ve got role-models who are– Anne Lamott, for instance! But I’m just not as Jesusy as that.
I find myself consistently questioning how to project my faith, if I have one, and how I prefer others to perceive me.
Do I consider myself a Christian? Well, I certainly admire Christ. Do I agree with the church?? Well- what church? The Catholic Church? The Episcopalian church? The Analects of Confucius? And on that note– if I “project” a faith, or allege myself a particular denomination, then what do I even “project” or allege myself to? The writings of the 1,500 year old documents? The rituals and practices? The people in our own day and age who project or allege themselves to the same thing? None of these answers appeal to me- and none of my questions at present, are leading anywhere else concrete.
When I say God-loving Christians, I recall people who vocalize their understanding of and devotion to God to other people in an attempt to at best, invite others to adopt that same- or very similar understanding of God and at worst (and this is what I want no part of) a moralizing demand to follow God a certain way. I’m confident in saying that within this year and this program, I have NOT felt moralized to believe in God a certain way
This sharing of how we understand and experience God is wonderful. For instance, and I have many positive ones– a congregation member giving me the Jesus Calling book truly and deeply touched my heart… I felt like we were on a level of common ground, one in which I vocalized my struggles and doubts, and her responding, “hey, this helped me.” Kind of like when a friend hands you a bottle of ibuprofen because you mentioned you had a headache: you don’t have to take one, but you appreciate the gesture because you know the other person benefitted from the pills in the past and they just want your headache to go away like theirs did. I will add that with Jill– I appreciate the gesture, but more than that, the book has totally lessened my headache and given me something meditate on every morning.
I suspect my friends and family- or perhaps even acquaintances and strangers might consider ME a “God-loving Christian,” because I so often associate with folks who live their love for God out loud boldly, and because I admire many of these people and the fact that they live their faith so vocally. I am not one of those people– but in my post, I attempt to emulate vocalizing just where I’m at with God the way so many of the people I admire vocalize where THEY are at and how God or Christ or the Holy Spirit works in and for them.
At the crux of why I express such an aversion to associate with the “God-loving Christian” rather than a “God-questioning, God-hating, God-doubting, God-annoyed-by” Christian, is that I discern the perception of Christianity throughout the globe to be negative: exclusive, moralizing, many times violent. It is not so much and certainly not often that the individuals I encounter embody these negative traits (in fact, when I consider my own experiences it really seems inaccurate to have the aversion that I do). It’s the history I’ve read, the spiritual abuse that’s existed, and especially right now, the nation-wide exclusivity of “the other.”
What I do hold precious in my soul is the scope of mystery and vastness that a potential God, or spiritual entity has. I do not want the fierce moralization or the negative side I perceive about “God-loving Christians” to limit that potential God’s abundant mystery and love for humankind.