I May Offend You with This Post. If so, I’m Sorry!

I have been contemplating religion a lot. Partly because I realized the Abuser’s mantra that “God can’t love you, if He did, you wouldn’t be in pain” has been (along with the equivalent piece about my family) the hardest thing for me to “fix.”

My family, in the form of my brother, and I may just get to be easy acquaintances, although I doubt we’ll ever be friends — we have few interests in common. My brother made a real effort to see me in my own world and not insist that I meet him in his. I didn’t have to be a student to his college professor and we tried. I don’t expect we’ll ever be buddies, but we can be friendly. He didn’t sneer at me, which was what I was most afraid of. I know him well enough to know/see it when he’s mocking people. He wasn’t.

So my human brother can at least respect me. And, given that I realized not too long ago that I could have loved my sister if she hadn’t kept propping her ego up by making me less to her more, then what does that lead me to with God?

If I believe that I was likely NOT unlovable at birth, then I can accept God/Jesus/Christianity — right?

No.

It isn’t that I don’t think Jesus was likely the Messiah — he might well have been. It isn’t that at all. It’s the “get out of jail free” thing. I don’t want to be forgiven, or not in the traditional sense anyway.

cross

Where I am — seeing myself as flawed and that being okay, is a huge step up from where I was for 50+ years — thinking I was damned, vile and had to be perfect to be merely adequate. To go from that to seeing myself as so flawed that I then need redemption seems like going backwards. Am I perfect? No way.

This is also tied to forgiveness. I don’t believe in that “get out of jail free” card either. I’m sorry. I don’t think if Attila the Hun or Hitler had said “I’m sorry” and done whatever religious conversion that it just washes it all clean. No. More, I want to be responsible for my own actions. I’ve hurt people. I’ve been nasty, judgmental, done careless things which got other people hurt. Done them as a kid, done them as an adult. Am I sorry? Yes. Do I want to be forgiven? I don’t really know. I would like to know that whatever stupid, careless, selfish, arrogant, nasty, hateful, etc. thing I’ve done to or caused for another did not result in lasting harm. I’m afraid that isn’t so and yes, I regret each and every one of those instances.

By the same token, other people have done that type of thing to me, sometimes for decades (my sister for example) and with the repeated pain, I don’t want to forgive them, don’t want to hold the pain/anger tight either. I just want them removed surgically from my life, and no, I do not want to forget the pain — because it is instructive.

I think I have a different perspective about pain, especially emotional pain, than many. I have this completely overwhelmed grieving child stuck in me. I can’t make her feel better. I’ve never found the edges or end to her pain. It’s basically a baby’s grief of abandonment. Not rational, not limited, not controllable.

Because of that, and having to cope with it nearly as long as I can remember, people and things which consistently added to my pain I have written out of my life. No, I don’t want the anger or the bitterness, but I  can’t afford to forget either. That grieving baby takes a chunk of my resources. If person A or situation B consistently pushes me that way, it’s too expensive.

That colors how I feel about God and Christianity and that “get out of jail free” card. I didn’t need Jesus to die for my sins in order to be able to live with myself. I had to learn to live with myself without Him, as He was part of the “proof” that I was beyond redemption. If I hadn’t learned to live with my flawed self, I would have kept trying to kill myself until I succeeded.

Having gotten where I can live with being both flawed and human, I have no desire to “chase” forgiveness or redemption. I also have no interest or intention in pursuing relationships which continually push my buttons.  My mental health has been too dearly wrought.

At the worst, an encounter with these people can cost me two weeks of well being. Ask yourself, who’s worth two weeks of happiness or just being okay in your life? If you’re me, the answer is: no one.

The irony here is that this means I’m also denied the comfort of religion, and the Abuser wins again — sort of. This is still the best I can manage.

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5 responses to “I May Offend You with This Post. If so, I’m Sorry!

  1. This is one of the most powerful posts I’ve ever read! My initial read left me literally unable to speak so I reread it. I could have written this (except your rhetoric is far superior to mine) for I struggle with many of the same emotions, thoughts and questions concerning religion or rather, how it impacts me. Like you, a product ~ no change that to a survivor” of abuse, I was not exposed to any religion as a child. It was after I gained freedom in my late teens that I began to ponder religion and what, if any, impact it had on me. Did I lean towards a particular dogma or creed? Did I even believe in a higher spirit? I inherently knew I did because when no human stepped up to help that abused child so long ago, she would close her eyes during physical pain and silently ask God to save her. The very fact that I am still here reinforced my early prayers. I eventually embraced the ideology of a particular denomination in my 20s but even now, I still question many of its doctrines. I think of myself as “Catholic Light”…

    • I was a “born again” for a year. It didn’t stick. I miss the community of religion, but not enough to lie by showing up at a church and supposedly believing as they do. And who asked me to show up and start making waves? No one. So I don’t. The church community I belonged to lo those many years and miles ago no longer exists. The church building houses another denomination now, and I can’t find the pastor I knew, even on FB or google. Gone.

      • Oh honey in the words of the late Joan Rivers “Let’s talk”. My small parish is an enigma. Most of the parishioners don’t even know my name, instead refer to me as the “Hat Lady” because of my fondness for vintage hats. A few would speak to me but when my name appeared in the local paper because of my legal issue, I became a piranha. Amazing! The absolute worst part was the way the former priest was treated I’d see parishioners in front of me openly make fun of him if he made a faux pas in pronunciation during his homily. He requested to be transferred after only two years. Now we have one who is “back to the earth”. I fully expect him to grow grapes and have us stomp them into wine a la Lucy & Ethel.

  2. You certainly do not offend me. About the “get out of jail free” card, though – there’s really no such thing. Remember the prodigal son? And how the brother who was always a dutiful son complained about Asshole getting the red carpet treatment? I got a new slant on that (thanks to the church, I admit). Dad replied to Dutiful Son, I love you, *and all I have is yours.* We just have to celebrate your idiot brother showing that he has more brains than God gave a goose. (*It will be YOURS to decide, so just be kind to the fool. Your option.*) I hadn’t even thought about that before. – Linda K.

    Linda Tiernan Kepner http://www.lindatkepner.com

  3. You know I had to go look that up. I’d forgotten about the parables. Thanks Linda!

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