Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Less biting, more barking.

Woke up a few minutes ago to the gentle tapping of March rain on the window panes. It was a soothing sound and the gray light that softly filtered into my bedroom announced the arrival of yet another day. As my mind slowly came awake and resolved itself to another day in this body, I began to take inventory of the physical plant. I certainly had enough sleep, what with the nap yesterday and all the time spent last night in its embrace. I must have slept hella hard! A pain in my neck told me that I had went from an easy sprawl across my bed to that tight curled up embrace that wadded the pillows and comforter into some Degas painting by morning. A puddle of drool had seeped out of my mouth coating my cheek and the closest pillow. Enchanting! I think not. Sometimes one wake up all cute and cuddly, other mornings its a violent reminder of how much like beasts men can be. I feel like some kind of animal this morning, but then I feel that way most days.

Padded into the kitchen and got myself some water. I guess there are some great advantages to having opposable thumbs besides the obvious. Slipped some jeans and a t-shirt on and came here into the office to try to eek a few thoughts out before my day rushed in as it has lately. Popping my toes and back feels good. The long work outs of the last few months is starting to pay off as my body hardens and reshapes itself for Spring and Summer. This entropy thing and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can sure be a bitch at times. To be 18 again without a need or worry for routine maintenance. Youth certainly is wasted on the young, or at least it was me.

So I tried to pray last night after I climbed in bed. That didn't go to well, as I was pretty well beat and drowsiness ambushed me, but I still felt rather foolish to be laying there talking to myself. Do you ever feel that way about your faith? That somehow it is nothing more than self-fulfilling prophecy and words articulated to the air around you? I can't help but wonder sometimes, but then, I guess that is not the best thing to say or think in the blinding competition and urgency that has become American Christianity. We are all supposed to be some kind of informed, educated and stalwart bastions of the faith when usually I feel like a desultory, feeble effort clawing towards even marginalized success, at least as of late.

The last few days of pondering in open moments have led me to the realization that I am a bit like a wounded dog when it comes to all things concerning Christ. You know the type or at least can empathize. A lifetime of wounds and hurts from those who kept promising love has slowly shaped me into someone who is un-trusting, skeptical and hurt by those who profess concern and help, especially in the name of God. Each time I encounter yet another person who ends up being the holder of another stick to beat me with has slowly shut my ears and heart to the few who may be actually trying to help. For a few years there, I ignored the pain and turned eagerly to each out stretched hand that was open and seemed willing to assist and comfort me. Those hands all too often turned into emotional fists and sharp sticks of judgment, so I started to look askance when someone promised love. My eyes started seeking the ground more and more instead of the sky and the eyes of others.

I have learned that my issues and questions I am struggling with in regards to faith have less to do with the God of the Bible, the person of Jesus Christ and more with those who claim and profess to be his followers. That "root of bitterness" that it speaks of, has found place in my life and slowly poisoned the little bit of water I did have. As a result I am now cynical and antagonistic to all of those who claim the labels of the groups and organizations that have hurt me over the years. This is not fair to them. It is not correct for me to assume as much and I need to find that soft place my heart used to smile in. While I have learned some costly lessons, I feel that this journey is not an uncommon one. We have problems and  misunderstandings with people and as a result, at least as a guy, we try to guard what emotions we do have left intact. Instead of letting yet another person open the possibility of fresh pain with my vulnerability, it is much easier to go on the offensive and attack while still in a perceived but illusory place of strength and control.

For the harsh words and confusing thoughts to you who have attempted to help, I am much sorry. This life is never an easy thing but in biting the proverbial hand that tries to feed or pet me, I am slowly losing hope that anything but my own world view is possible. I have shut my heart and soul to the very individuals who may have found something they are attempting to share, albeit in our own frail and human ways. My issue is not with God, it is with my past. It is not something that is present always, but more something remembered. The result of much negative reinforcement has brought me to this place and I am going to have to take a chance on letting love in. I don't know exactly where to start but I can open my mind and heart, curb my tongue and simply sit content and listen.

God is not his followers. Jesus is not the people who go to those buildings called churches. My faith is not built on other men. My own best and worst shadows are for me to cast and dance with. Don't try to change me, just love me. I don't have all the answers, in fact, I have very few of them. I do not want to argue about strange points of doctrine or the deep matters of theology. I am trying to learn how to live here. Who do I get to love? What is sin really? Some of the things in my life are not right. I realize this, or at least am finding this slowly. Let me work on it. Stop with the cutting words, harsh looks and judgmental stares. I know I am probably not the guy you thought I was when you welcomed me into your lives or church. If grace and mercy is for all, doesn't that include me too? We aren't probably going to agree on a lot of things. I refuse to carry the baggage that others seem to delight in picking up along the way. If I do not find something useful it will be discarded. Please do not feel that I am insulting your faith or practice. I simply must live in the reality of now, not some fanciful notion of obtuse wording and the strange language that the church shrouds itself in. I need life...and that more abundantly.

I want to stop biting and start living. Less growling and more playing. I hope some of that made sense. I have to go pee now and then take a shower and maybe sharpen my teeth...kidding. Coffee sounds like a plan too.Thanks for hanging in there with me. My bark is worse than my bite, at least I hope it will be.


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