Sunday, March 21

Growing Up to Be Me

I wrote this for myself about a year ago. I just found it in my files and it really spoke to me again. I thought maybe somebody else might need to read it today, too.

God, when I grow up, I want to be a snowflake. Or maybe a falling star. I want to be lovely and singular. I want to catch the attention of those who would otherwise miss the beauty of the world.

When I get big, I want to take on the big boys and play like I mean it. I want to look out for the little guys and make sure that everybody sticks to the rules. I want to climb out of this box labeled, "Unimportant--Discard" and be heard by everyone who has ever ignored me.

I want to believe in myself. I want to know that I can do it. I want to take pride in my accomplishments.

I don't want to be lonely or left out or forgotten.

I want to matter. I want to be important. I want to know that I am worth ... something ... anything ... a lot.

I want to be cool. I want to be respected. I want to be desired. I want to be admired. I know I am loved; I want to feel like I am.

I want to make a difference. I want to be remembered. I want to be missed when I'm not there.

I want to stop being scared that I don't count, that I don't have a voice, that I'm not ... something ... not someone.

I’m so tired of being scared. Magical thinking, I’ve heard it called. Believing that I have power in situations where I have none. I am afraid that if I say, “I want to know that everyone loves me for me, not just for what I do,” God will teach me this lesson by making me sick or injured or paralyzed, so that those who love me must do so only because of who I am.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I John 4:18

You need have no fear of someone who loves you perfectly.

So, why am I still afraid?
  • Habit
  • Erroneous logic
  • Wanting to be in control
  • Remembering past hurts
How can I heal? How can I know who is trustworthy? How can I have faith in my own belief?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

And, while I'm asking, God, why do I keep having to learn the same lessons again and again and again? Did I not really learn them the first time? Or is it just that I need to learn them on a deeper level now?

Sigh. Growing up is hard sometimes.

God, can I just curl up in Your lap for a while and take a nap?

1 comment:

  1. This piece describes exactly the sensation left in me by fundamentalism, whether in Christianity, neo-hippy culture, or elsewhere. It describes exactly the lost, worthlessness, the essential nothing I am in a system of endless rules mediated by a capricious, judgmental deity (whether that deity be the traditional Christian God, the obvious power structure of a church or social group, or the unacknowledged Arbiter of In and Out that exists in any status jockeying setting).

    I started being conscious of this experience early in adolescence and never "outgrew" it until I left organized religion altogether. Even then, I found myself triggered right back into that state during my tenure with the alternative education, social justice, neo hippy, charter school and again more recently as I ventured back into Christianity and had to accommodate the traditional Christian God again.

    Fundamentalist Christianity will tell you this experience is the result of not having enough faith. Philosophers call it a denial of existential alienation. They are both right, though they'd never admit it to each other! When you stop believing in God, or when you can no longer deny your unbelief, or at least your unbelief that the God of Love who Damns to Hell all but the Special Few will acknowledge you in the end, you realized that you are essentially alone in the universe. There is no one outside yourself that you can count on to always be there. You no longer have faith, or no longer trust that the God you were taught is completely on your side (no, really, not what you say you believe, what do you believe in your most despairing moments?)

    But having named the problem, what to do? Fake a faith? Continue to deny the irrationalisms of traditional Christian theology? Become a cynical atheist, mocking those who grasp for religious meaning? Lose your sanity? I bet those responses cover 90% of people who recognize themselves in your post. Having tried all of them, I don't recommend any of them as particularly healthy.

    I think it is the continued grappling with this question, rather than being assured of a right answer, that actually gives meaning to life. To oversimplify, it is like outgrowing childhood and realizing you have to pay the rent check yourself and you always have keep working at getting the income. There is never another moment in life, no matter how rich you are, when you don't at some level have to carry that responsibility for paying the rent. Questioning ourselves--our place in the universe, the meaning of Life, the meaning of our individual lives--is never answered once and for all after that first awareness of the question. It is in the integrity of our questioning that is valuable in becoming whole in our souls, in being holy.


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