I’ve felt way outside my comfort zone as of late. As if Im now traversing some previously uncharted territory….
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t like being told what I ought, or should, do. Not because I am evil and strong-willed (although I could be both of those things…), but because the real message being spoken is this one: “this is who you ought, or should, be.” Which, incidentally, will always be at odds with who you are….
That covert message is why I hate fundamentalism. Why I felt like a bewildered stranger in a strange land during my time at a very liberal leaning Seminary. When other human beings tell you with their words and their actions that you are not of value unless you do as they tell you to do, (expecting more of you than they expect from themselves) they are truly saying that you are not of value to them as you are. It might be more honest to just have them come out and say that, it would save naive people like me a lot of trouble.
Those that would speak to you this way cannot possibly be speaking the language of God. Because God already knows who we are. If we pay attention, God uses our day-to-day lives to gently mirror our inner selves to our conscious mind. He doesn’t waste our time using social constructs, peer pressure, gossip, platitudes–using the language of shame to garner control over what God Himself refuses to control– to make us appear to be something that’s more acceptable to those that happen to be around us. That’s the ego’s way, bringing us to the appearance of a non-descript “goodness” that will forever lie just beyond our reach. In the end, following our ego, and allowing others to control us within the dictates of their egos, fails to bring about anything reminiscent of a common good. It can’t. The ego lives in the delusion that only “I” matter. “I” only do what you tell me to do because at the moment, it happens to benefit me in serving my present purposes. It cannot possibly bring about true reconciliation of the inner self with God, nor reconcile us with each other. Ego is forever imprisoned in the delusions of “I” am greater.
I don’t blame fundamentalism or my Seminary for how I felt within those respective systems. I felt that way because I cannot serve a system while simultaneously serving God. I can see systems for what they are: social constructs ruled by human egos, intent upon hiding the truth in order to perpetuate an illusion of safety. So often they are experienced as being toxic because systems are largely Inhumane. This world is not a safe place. And it never will be. That’s the human experience– we are simultaneously hurt and are hurt by others. True “repentence” is recognizing that same propensity in all of us. It is seeking the guidance of a Higher Power to minimize our complicity in that hurt, and in doing so, finding the humility to own up to our part in perpetuating it. Systems can’t do that. Systems and organizations cannot serve God. Only the human beings within those systems can accomplish that in the exercising of their own free agency. But more often then not, systems dictate our actions in ways that would serve someone or something other than God. Which is a very sobering reality.
I know I am much much more than my ego. My issue is, where do I find other people like me, that are no longer in bondage to this mask of the self? Or to the same systems responsible for their bondage? How can I partner with them to help others that are still struggling to be free? How can someone like me, granted the courage to heed the guidance of Truth spoken by my inner voice, help others fighting to find the strength to listen to their own? Religion isn’t the answer– it’s but one of many paths to the disillusionment we need to finally be free. Another system that hurts others…
I know I’m not alone, but when I’m constantly surrounded by those ruled by the “I”– their own or others’– I cannot find an “us” with which to battle my feelings of loneliness. There is nothing sacred in friendships serving ego. Instead, there is much there that is toxic to someone like me.
Still feeling in exile here, God. Just sayin’…