Rat god

I spend a lot of time alone in a basement, surrounded by rats. Because of my sacharin nature, I have not been able to keep my foolish heart from becoming attached to my furry little experimental subjects. Some experiments that I conduct require me to sit in silence for long periods of time as I watch my rats explore, freeze, groom, poop, or otherwise ruin my experiment. Naturally, my brilliant mind wanders. Often, it wanders straight into crazy town (see below).

I hate how afraid my rats are of me. Every time I open up their cages to deftly pick them up at the base of their tails and gently place them in whatever experimental apparatus I pre-ordained for them that day, they flail their little feet as if I was doing something horribly torturous. Usually the task my rats are being drama queens about is something fairly benign from my point of view, like placing them into a large round container for 5 minutes while absolutely nothing bad happens to them – I’m just there to observe how much time they spend hugging the edges of the circle versus strutting confidently in the middle (this is a measure of anxiety). Then right back they go to the comfort of their own little homes.

I wish I could explain to them that I come in peace, that I mean them no harm. I wish I could explain to them that the bizarre little rituals I’m putting them through are for a reason. A grand reason that no street rat – whose miserable little existence comprises of  slinking around city dumpsters to forage for food before it gets eaten by a hawk or poisoned by pest control – would ever dream of. These lab rats of mine will never have such a gritty existence because these are no ordinary rats. They have special genetic mutations that cause them to over produce the “bad” form of a protein so that they begin to resemble humans with Alzheimer’s disease as they age. Almost everything about them – how anxious they are, how long it takes them to fall asleep, how well they learn a new task, how quickly they will give up in a challenging task, where and how much pathology is in their brains – could be an important key to helping millions of humans with Alzheimer’s disease. Think about how many humans aren’t even blessed with that sort of distinct purpose.

Another scientist in another lab created this rat strain for such a time as this. We didn’t kidnap their ancestors off the streets to fulfill our evil scientific schemes – these rats would not even exist if not for scientists. And then they came to me. I decide what happens in their lives. Some I randomly assign to be breeders. As such they get to have lots of great sex and raise little families. #toblessedtobestressed But most rats I assign for my experiments. They could be designated to a very short experiment, and the last thing they ever experience will be mild confusion in a weird new box before they join the Big Rat in the Sky. Or, they could be involved in a very long, complicated experiment in which they will be subject to all sort of weird environments, some even mildly aversive or painful, and have a lot of interaction with a large scary mammal who smells like coffee and tacos. Sometimes this large scary mammal seems sinister – most of them remember her taking them into a new, stinky room, losing consciousness, and then waking up with their head screaming in pain. But sometimes this large scary mammal seems compassionate – they also remember her visiting them at home when they had headaches, and giving them yummy food that eased the ache in their heads. This large scary mammal also frequently put them in stressful situations, but never seemed to let anything actually bad happen to them. Until, well… They don’t like to think about why all those cousins never came back that one time.

I am, essentially, Rat god.

I’m much more advanced, capable, powerful than these critters -why do I want to explain myself to them? Why do I care what they think about me? Why do I want to make myself known to them?

Because they’re cute.

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And this has led me to have a thought that’s probably wildly irreverent. One part of the Christian story that never made tons of sense to me was why God would ever choose to reveal himself to us. Why not just let us go about our dumb petty lives and then die, never the wiser? But my stint as Rat god has made me wonder.. What if God decided to work humankind into his plan and reveal himself to us because, well… he thinks we’re cute?

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Just think it over before you immediately dismiss it, that’s all I ask!

 

— Editorial Notes —

Obviously the God-as-kind-scientist metaphor can only go so far, but that’s ok. I’m not trying to design a new religion, so everyone spit out that grapefruit-flavored Topo Chico you just drank!

Nothing in Christianity makes sense except in the light of relationship

Let me begin this post with a profound quote-*

Nothing in Christianity makes sense except in the light of relationship.

-C Gallo, 2019

The relational aspect of Christianity is the overarching story that ties all the aspects of the Christian faith together. If you try to understand any piece of Christianity without it, you will have misguided ideas of how Christian theology should be applied to your own life. Your faith will be stunted.

Maybe this was obvious to every other Christian, but for me it was a game-changer. I don’t want to overstate my own knowledge, but I have a good grasp of Christian theology. I understand the big stuff – the trinity, the fall of mankind, redemption, etc. I even enjoy getting into the weeds of more nuanced theology like eschatology** and predestination. But often, the more I pander to my brain the more my heart checks out. My faith shrivels.

How or why does the relationship aspect of Christianity matter to me?

Relationship gives life to my faith

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Christianity as a religion is boring, oppressive, and constraining. It is often harmful and can be used to exploit people. Christianity as a religion will not help you better yourself (for long). It will not give you warm fuzzies (for long). Christianity in terms of relationship, though…! The wildest but perhaps most important claim of Christianity that we claim to actually know – have a relationship with a spiritual being. THE spiritual being. It isn’t a neat and tidy abstract idea, and it’s not a flawless system of logic. It is [or should be] crazy and scary and exciting.

Relationship affects how I think about oppositions to my faith

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I sometimes encounter people who insist on badgering me about my faith. All of them look triumphant if I don’t have an instant answer to any of their misgivings about Christianity. They express dismay at my lack of open-mindedness and refusal to be in a perpetual mode of discovery. I will tell them something like “I’m not sure how to answer that, but this doesn’t necessitate me abandoning my faith ,” or “I’m really not in a place to effectively research every opposition or issue you’ve brought to my attention.” Some have implicated that they pity me a weak-minded, brain-washed child who won’t (or can’t) contemplate all the mysteries of my faith on a flip of a dime.

If they were challenging the conclusions of my last published research article, they would be perfectly justified in this attitude. Scientists should always be open to new discoveries and be the harshest, most vigilant critics of their own theories and data. But Christianity is more than a theory or data points. It’s a relationship. It grows. It involves experiences that build on each other. At some point, a trust is formed. Those experiences and that trust transforms the way you think about all new data.

For example, I have been dating someone for about a year.*** When we first started dating, if someone had come up and told me “I have good evidence that your new guy is a major flake and you really can’t trust him to do what he says,” I would have taken their words seriously. I would have launched an investigation into whether or not that was true. I would have considered halting all romantic activities until I settled whether or not I could trust him.

Now that we’ve been together for a while, however, it would be crazy for me to take them seriously. I wouldn’t waste time reevaluating every interaction my boyfriend and I had in the past year. I wouldn’t ask for us to take a break while I investigated. I wouldn’t even ask him about it. I simply know that they are wrong. Even if the person who told me that believed strongly in their statement, I would conclude that they misinterpreted his actions in the past. It’s not that I’m brainwashed or in denial of any potential flaws, but we have experiences together. At some point, a trust was formed.  I have seen him in bad moods and good moods, around his parents and around his friends, extremely sleep-deprived and well-rested, very relaxed and under an enormous amount of pressure. During all of this, everything he’s told me he would do- he’s done. Every event he’s told me he would come to- he’s been there. So it’s not that I’m stupid or blind, it’s that we are in a relationship. And the relationship itself has changed how I view any new information or perceptions any one else might have about him.

Just the same, I’m not going to approach all objections to God in a purely objective or abstract way. I can’t. That does not – I repeat, does NOT – make me a brainwashed buffoon.

Relationship affects how you think about being good

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This is probably one of the most misunderstood features of Christianity – the “good deeds” issue. It’s widely recognized that Christians should, in theory at least, be good people. Yet a major tenant of Christianity is that humans are already so deep in the pit of imperfection that no amount of good deeds could ever pull us out of it. So if we can’t earn good standing and we’re putting every single egg we have in the grace basket, what’s the point – why do anything good at all?

Strangely enough, I have found great insight into this issue from the movie The Breakup. In one scene, they’re having a huge fight about how the boyfriend Gary is never doing the good deeds that Brooke asks him to do.

Gary: “Fine, I’ll help you do the damn dishes.”
Brooke: “That’s not what I want. I want you to want to do the dishes.”
Gary: “Why would I want to do dishes?”

Gary would want to do the dishes if he cared more about making Brooke happy than he cared about making himself happy. He should do the good deed because he knows it’s something she cares about and would bring her joy – no more, no less. It’s the exact same thing with good deeds in Christianity. We don’t do good deeds to prove we’re better than other people, or because it comes easily to us, or because we think we’re earning some sort of spiritual brownie points. We do good deeds because we have reason to believe they are important to God and bring him joy – no more, no less.

I don’t think God wants us approach good deeds like, “Fine, I’ll help you do the damn dishes.” I believe he wants us to want to do the dishes.

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— EDITORIAL —

*Phraseology stolen from Theodosius Dozhansky, who thought evolution was the overarching story that tied all of biology together. ( “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light if evolution”). If anyone tried to understand any piece of biology without it, Dozhanksy claimed, they would have misguided hypotheses. Their scientific discovery would be stunted. This post isn’t about evolution, but I have a compulsion to provide the source of my thoughts. My deepest fear is getting caught in a scandal that involves accidental plagiarism. BUT I will say that if you are curious about how the Genesis creation story relates to current scientific thought on human origins, I highly recommend reading The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John H. Walton (amazon link here). It greatly influenced my thoughts on the subject.

**the ONLY reason I dropped the esch bomb was to be a Pretentious Pretentierson.

***No one knows for sure. It is currently a hot topic of debate by many scholars.

Christian folk: You ain’t broke so stay woke

Some Christians seem to thrill themselves with repeatedly announcing that they are “broken,” and praise other Christians who are open about their own brokenness. Maybe Christians take on these disparaging adjectives to distance themselves from self-righteous bluster, or to stay humble (e.g. “I’m no better than you, homeless prostitute! #humble #blessed). I get that, I do. But ultimately, it’s complete nonsense. Here is why —

Uno – it’s not humility that’s spurring this “brokenness” talk, it’s usually a declaration of absolved responsibility. People know they’re screwing up and weak, but instead of making steps towards repentance, they want to make sure everyone knows they are so completely helpless there is no way they could have *not* made that terrible decision.

Duo – Christians are not supposed to take on our weaknesses as our identity. Even the field of psychology is ahead of the curve with this —

If a person recovers from or is recovering from cancer, do we refer to him or her as “being the cancer?” No, we do not, because we know that cancer is something that one can recover from and isn’t necessarily permanent. Many are hopeful that, as with the majority of cancer prognoses, the individual will eventually be cancer-free. What is more, the cancer does not define the individual’s existence while battling with the disease or after recovery.

When someone with mental illness is labeled as “OCD” or “bipolar,” there is that perception that being “bipolar” sums up his or her whole existence. We do not take into consideration the person’s actions (good or bad) because in our minds, our perception on the label he or she has been given is our basis. Even worse, the individual who is labeled often internalizes the tag to the point that they feel that their entire entity is summarized with it.

from an article edited and reviewed by psychologist R. Y. Langham, M.M.F.T., Ph.D Full length article here

This is not to say that we ignore our weaknesses. But we confess them to each other so that other people can exhort (what a great word!) us, and we can repent! I almost hesitate to use the word repent because it conjures up an image of a hypocritical, salivating evangelical preacher, but I love the word because it doesn’t just mean “feel bad about what you did” it means “to turn.” Repentance isn’t about feeling self-deprecating guilt, it’s about doing a 180. If we do emphasize our past and present weaknesses, let’s do it to emphasize the joy and hope that God has/will triumph(ed) through them (e.g. 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Trio – let me give you a list of verses in the biblio that talk about how broken– as in dysfunctional — Christians are.

 

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There you go. Good stuff.

But wait..

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed

– Isaiah 53:5

 

 

And [Jesus] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.

– Luke 22:19

Wait, what’s that?! Jesus was broken… so that we could be broken, too?

Nah.

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

– Hebrews 10:14

Jesus was broken so that we even have the possibility of sanctification – aka holiness, aka NOT BROKEN. Not only did Jesus break so we don’t have to, but he didn’t stay broke either. So the “Omigersh I’m so broken” talk does not belong anywhere in the gospel narrative.

Broken is what we were. Let’s embrace who we are now, and start dead-sprinting toward the wholeness and function we were made for– through grace alone!*

⚡️⚡️⚡️

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

General notes

  • There’s a place for broken-heartedness, or being contrite — but I’m talking about broken as in dysfunctional. 
  • I understand to a non-Christian absolutely all of this is nonsense. That’s okay with me. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s super encouraging.

*1 Cor. 6:11; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Tim 3:17; Galations 3:3

 

Christmas is blue without the rhythms

When I was younger, the entire season of Christmas was full of twinkly magic. Seriously, I remember feeling this warmth and lightness in my heart for at least a week or two before Christmas. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but when I reached a certain age- probably 16 or 17- I remember being aghast that the warm fuzzies were no longer with me.

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Actual pic of me as a little girl! Jk (pixabay image)

Now, I’m sad to admit, I can understand why some people hate the holidays. I don’t even have to deal with a horrible family dynamic or extensive travel, but I still get stressed out by the shopping, coordinating of diva schedules, etc.

But, it seems practically insane to be irritated by what is essentially a feast with the people that I love the most.

So what’s the prob, Bob?

Tonight I was watching this Amazon Prime documentary The Science of Fasting. Yep, this is how I spend my evenings these days. It was a little bit too big-Pharma-conspiracy-theorist for my taste, but it did have some pretty compelling evidence that fasting can be healing and restorative. Anyway, it made me think about how fasting was a given in the Biblical times. And that made me think about how feasting was not simply tolerated in the Old Testament law, but required! So that makes me think that both fasting and feasting are spiritually healthy.

And THAT made me think about something I read in this book Sacred Rhythms. It was actually talking about Sabbath, and how important it was to have rhythms in your life of work and rest. Truth! 🙌  It’s both mentally and physically straining to work constantly, but for me resting when I have nothing to rest from is actually the most straining of all. They’re best when they go together- work can be a delicious challenge if I’m coming from happy rest, and rest is sweet when I’ve had a productive work week.

So, bringing this wild thought train back to feasting, fasting, and the holiday blues…

I think at least one reason why the holidays, Christmas especially, don’t seem special anymore is because they’re not special anymore. We are surrounded by, or 3 min and $3 away from, large quantities of palpable food pretty much all the time, and we already immediately buy anything and everything that we want.

We’ve made Christmas into a Santa-themed continuation of our already feast-y lifestyles .

I realize this is probably coming out pretty dour, but I don’t mean it to be. This is more of a reflection on how my year-long indulgences can ultimately be joy-zapping. I wasn’t made to indulge. I was made to work, sacrifice, give, etc.

So…. Me thinks I need to take this rhythms/seasons ideer more seriously,  oui? Maybe if I had the Christmas spirit of sacrificial giving year around, the Christmas feasts would fit perfectly into that rhythm. TBD if the twinkle magic will also return. A gal can dream! 😴🌠😍

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Please come back, Christmas twinkles! (pixabay image)

Feliz Navidad! 🎅

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

Please note that I recognize that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. I hope that this post did not make anyone think otherwise. But whether or not you are a Christian, Christmas traditionally also involves a celebratory feast. And it is the lack of joy in that feast that got me thinking about feasts generally and their purpose and why I and many others can be total jerks about what are supposed to be joyous events! Thank you for your understanding, and God bless America.

 

 

 

 

I don’t care what you believe if I don’t like who you are

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why exactly I’m a Christian.* And I don’t mean I’ve been thinking about why “one” in the general sense would be a Christian, I mean why have the faith. So, I’m not going to present a hole-proof outline of all the philosophical or historical arguments for Christianity. Those are important,  but when it comes down to it… my reasons for believing are rather idiosyncratic, with a smidge of touchy-feely. But hey! I betcha if you had to break down specifically why you loved your bae specifically, you would get pretty touch-feely, too. So cool it!

Anyway, a large part of why I believe is the character of some of the people that I know who believe. Not all of them are perfect, and to be sure some of the people who I know are Christian – whether nominally or “for realz” is beyond me – are not particularly encouraging to my faith.

*But* there are some people who I just can’t not believe when I think about them.

Why?

1) They are smart. They can use logic. They aren’t overwhelmed by complexity. They can understand and consider the merits of opposing views even if they ultimately reject them.

2) They are wise. They use their resources appropriately, without crossing over into (paradoxically) self-aggrandizing asceticism. They frequently have and facilitate conversations that lead to reconciliation, instead of stubbornly and foolishly escalating every conflict that comes their way.

3) They are kind and joyful. When they smile at me, their eyes reflect the warmth straight from their lil’ cinnamon bun hearts. I always feel encouraged and more energetic after I talk to them.

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Bless their ooey-gooey, warm, sweet hearts! (pixabay free image)

 

4) They are good. I feel like “good” can be seen as a weak word, but it’s absolutely perfect for these people. It’s unassuming, yet solid.. and true. The output of their lives is just … good. Or put in negative terms, the output of their lives is NOT bad.

5) Their families thrive. I don’t know if I can emphasize this enough. There are so many people who are super impressive in various ways, yet the people who are closest to them – who are most affected by the day-to-day decisions of their lives – are miserable train wrecks.** But these people’s families are – although far from perfect – functional, balanced, healthy.

There’s probably more, but my attention span is wavering, and I’m the one writing all of this! My point is, all the 5 points above coalesce into a loveliness that makes me… long. Yes, long! I want to be like them. Not in a jealous, creeper way, but in a hopeful way. Seeing them live this way — inspite of our world being an absolute shoot-hole sometimes — is very bolstering. And lo and behold, what drives this sort of behavior? Well, they would say their faith in Jesus.

Now, I’m sure there are also some Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. who are also admirable. So here we get into an phrase that is used ad nauseam in academic circles – neccesary but not sufficient. Good character is necessary, but not sufficient, for me to be open to hearing their world view. Does admiring someone’s character mean that I have to accept their entire worldview? No, I s’pose not. But it does mean that I will at least be open to listening to and considering their worldview, and find out what’s driving their amazingness. THEN I will also look into things like logical consistency, historicity, etc.

On the flip side, if someone is living a life that seems out of control, toxic, and damaging to the people around them, I don’t particularly care to hear their spiritual or theological musings. I may listen respectfully for a few minutes, but at the end of the day I’m kinda like, “It’s nice to know which underlying worldview makes you a jerk.” That may sound kinda harsh, but… amiright?!

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I’m going to wager a guess that this chic doesn’t have the character clout with these dudes to tell them nuffin’! (pixabay free image)

 

Why I wanted to write about this is two-fold. One, it’s convicting. Am I living a life that is attractive to people, that they would even want to hear what I believe? Or are they thinking, “Yah ok, let me know when your Jesus helps you not be a self-absorbed a-hole.” Two, it’s clarifying. With all the worldviews and opinions being thrown around, sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed with which one(s) is/are true. My advice is to “clear the field” of ideas*** by focusing on the beliefs and claims of people that you actually admire and want to emulate. TRUST ME, there are so few that this will free your time considerably.

Alrighty! Go find yourselves people worth ‘mirin’! And Holy Spirit, help us be people worth ‘mirin’!

 — EDITORIAL NOTES —

*It would be a lot easier for me if I wasn’t. Neuroscientists are not exactly impressed by Christianity. Also, dating would be much smoother.  #sacrifices

**Not that everyone should be held responsible for all the actions of their children, spouses, close family members, etc., but if  practically everyone close to you is in a state of chaotic self-destruction, that’s should be a huge, blinky-light sign that there is some sort of toxicity in your interactions. Conversely, if practically everyone close to you is flourishing like strong, well-nourished alabaster trees, it’s a perty good indication that you are creating environments that enable people to be their best.

***Remember I’m talking about general worldview / theological / spiritual beliefs and opinions. Obvs, someone with terrible character is quite capable of having brilliant insights into how brain networks interact to support memory, how isolationism affected the U.S. economy, etc., and their ideas on these sort of subjects may be worth considering.  even if you want to punch them in the face afterward.

 

 

It’s not you, it’s Jesus.

Ima be real: I struggle with dating non-Christians. For whatever reason(s), menfolk without the faith love them some Galloswag. And contrary to the dire warnings I heard in my youth, many of them are *not* sleaze bag jerk faces, with “only one thing on their mind.” Au contraire, many men who aren’t Christian have genuinely amazing qualities and seem to sincerely appreciate me.

On the flipside, IT WOULD SEEM many* menfolk with the faith are ‘meh’ or ‘oh holy gosh, no!’ when when it comes to yours truly.** I often get the eerie feeling they are comparing me to some champion-of-the-faith-barbiedoll-yet-somehow-unintimidating-wears-ripped-skinnyjeans-with-artsy-jewelry prototype.***

So yes, I have frequently dated non-Christians. Because.. well.. they saw me. And I liked them.

Even though sometimes I have had tons in common with some of these menz and liked them lotttssss, in the end it never worked out.

When I was in my late teens / early twenties, it didn’t work out because I was ridden with guilt the entire time we dated. I wanted to stay with them, but I shouldn’t.

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^How I’ve often felt (edited pixabay free image)

 

I would break it off regretfully, almost saying “It’s not you, it’s Jesus.” I took my own spiritual and emotional needs out of the equation. I basically conveyed to the spurned pago they were practically perfect, if not for that meanie Apostle Paul. “If only Christianity didn’t have these annoying verses about not being unequally yoked… Otherwise, I would TOTALLY date you.”

More recently, even though parts of me may still want to keep dating an adorbs guy who doesn’t share my faith, a louder, stronger part of me doesn’t wanna.

Why? I believe it has something to do with the ‘transforming your mind’ part of being a Christian. Being a Christian changes the way I view everything — how to handle my own successes and failures, the shortcomings of others, future stressful situations, my purpose on earth, beauty … It’s unsettling when I’m dating a non-Christian who can’t get over some bitterness toward someone who has wronged them, is existentially threatened by a career failure, etc. I know what keeps me out of those pits – praying, reading scripture, the encouragement and exhortation of Christian community, and thoughts like  “Yes, this person hurt me, but my struggle is not against flesh and blood. The more they wrong me, the more of an opportunity it will be to exercise the audacious forgiveness of the cross.” To me, that’s the stuff of freeing truth. To a non-Christian, that’s the stuff of idiotic gibberish.

Plus, I want a certain intimacy in my romantic relationships that involves sharing everything that’s important to me. I’m sure it’s technically possible to never talk about my faith and focus on other shared interests, but that would be … fragmenting. It would be more awkward than dating someone who didn’t think that the disease I research was even a real disease. We might still be able to guffaw over Parks and Rec reruns together, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have a true partner in life who would encourage and support me in what is most important to me.

 

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Mean ol’ Jesus, always coming coming in-between our hearts and theirs. *snorts* (edited pixabay free image)

But I think it’s worth considering what your decision would be if the bible was completely silent on this subject. If it doesn’t grieve you that they don’t have the same life, joy, peace, purpose that following Jesus has brought you – well then, maybe you aren’t finding life, joy, peace, and purpose in Christianity.

I found it super helpful and enlightening to do a heart investigation / rebellion deconstruction to find the primary source of my struggle. For example, I recently realized I get more joy from flirting/smooching/dating than from my faith. From there, I realized my feels toward God were pretty flat. From there, I read a chapter from Sacred Rhythms that made me realize I wasn’t creating space in my heart and life to find joy in Jesus. At least in my case, my dating strugglez were just as much a symptom of a problem as a problem in of itself.

Focusing on the solution to the root of my probs (feeling ‘meh’ about Jesus) has opened the way to work on “throwing off all that hinders” so I can run in free, obedient joy, instead of planting my feet in dutiful, obedient misery.

I’m not trying to paint myself as some super-Christian, belieeeeeeeeve meeeee. BUT I’ve been encouraged that most recently, the disconnect I had with a non-Christian would-be-boyfriend was genuine, not forced.

So Christian singles – instead of saying “It’s not you, it’s Jesus,” may we all honestly say “It is you, it is me, it is especially you and me together not being particularly helpful in my pursual of Jesus. Peace and grease.”

And then, let us joyfully FIDO.

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* With a few notable exceptions. You know who you are! #awkward

** NOT THAT I AM BITTER 

*** OKAY I’M PRETTY BITTER 

GENERAL COMMENT: The main reason I decided to publish these rambles is because this has been such a huge source of guilt for me for .. 10 years! And there’s practically nothing less Christian than being eaten alive by guilt. So, even if this helps two people, it’s worth the rest of the world rolling their eyes at my over-sharing.

 

Staying butthurt at the church will do little more than hurt your butt

Because this is my blog, Ima be real and tell you all that I have been through many spiritual funks… especially in the last 5 years.. especially with the church. There were times I adopted this ‘tude like, “Hey! I’m a wounded spiritual animal, and until the church or God steps​ up their game to win me back, I’m going to stay at home and sulk.” Then I sought out the company of other butthurt Christians so we could commiserate about how crappy or annoying other Christians were.

— I say all of this with zero formal theological training, so if you see anything that looks like the Gospel According to Galloswag, 1) please let me know and 2) please discard it from your mind. Far be it from me to lead someone astray with my own rambles! —

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This little guy kept a grudge at the church, and look where it got him. (pixabay free image)

Because this is my blog, Ima be real and tell you all that I have been through many spiritual funks… especially in the last 5 years.. especially with the church. There were times I adopted this ‘tude like, “Hey! I’m a wounded spiritual animal, and until the church or God steps​ up their game to win me back, I’m going to stay at home and sulk.” Then I sought out the company of other butthurt Christians so we could commiserate about how crappy or annoying other Christians were.

But guess what? The silent treatment doesn’t work with God and the church. I couldn’t emotionally manipulate them into screeching to a stop so they would pat my head and apologize for all the grievous acts they had committed. Nope, they marched on merrily without me as I stewed away like a persecuted pot roast. I get it, y’all. I’ve been one of the Butthurt Brethren. But I beg you, DO NOT stay there.

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This pot roast may feel persecuted, but I would still eat it. (pixabay free images)

If you’re currently butthurt at your church, the Church, &/or God, here are a few thoughts I have from my own experiences. Hopefully they will be helpful.

  • Don’t romanticize your rebellion
romance
What it looks like to smooch with your rebellion, smh (pixabay free images)

Sometimes my butthurt was just pure contrariness, and I would find comfort in romanticizing my rebellion as a “spiritual journey” or something equally cheesy. But I wasn’t journeying, I wasn’t theologically confused, and I didn’t lack clear direction. The bible is devastatingly straightforward for the most part. The problem was that I was 100% sure what I was (or wasn’t) supposed to do, and 100% sure that I didn’t want to do it. The struggle was actually against myself: knowing what I knew, feeling what I felt, what would I do?

  • Don’t project your spiritual dryness
dryleaves
When I’m a dry little pile of leaves, the life of others gives me the crankies. (pixabay free images)

You know how when you feel ugly, the beauty of others is offensive? So it goes with spiritual beauty too, it would seem. When I feel spiritually “bleh” because of my own choice to distance myself from God, the blasted perkiness (aka joy) of others makes me want to screech in frustration. When I feel insincere, I doubt the sincerity of others.

  • Do extend the grace shown to you to other Christians

Now, there have been times when I had legit grievances against the church. I’ve encountered blatant racism, blasphemy, and deception there. In fact, no one has hurt or disappointed me more in the past 5 years than people who I met in the Christian community. So why continue?

On a grand scale, the church is Jesus’ bride*, and I doubt Jesus is impressed when I claim to follow him while trashing His bride. What kind of hubs would be alright with that? On a smaller scale, the church hurts people because the church is people and people hurt people.** Yes, I have the right to be offended at some Christians. But instead of seizing this opportunity for personal vindication, why not seize it to exercise my freedom to forgive? Christians are supposed to set themselves apart by the way we love one another, and love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.***

As a final note, in a strange way the disappointments and hurts I’ve encountered within the Christian community have been great motivators for me to keep pursuing God in word and deed, because I really don’t want to discourage my Christian community the way I’ve been discouraged. Not so I can be built up as some righteous super star, but so they’ll be encouraged to keep the faith, too. Upward spiral!

spiral
SPIRAL UP! (pixabay free images)
  • in toto

I’m not advocating for anyone to bury their bad feels and pretend everything is great when it’s​ not. But for the love of your own LIFE please learn from yer ol’ Galloswag and do not waste time pouting, lest you grow into a bitter, shriveled, humiliated grape. Please don’t make your story be “I used to go to church, but now I go around trashing the church.”

Grapple, rassle, yell it out, but KEEP IT MOVING FORWARD. ❤

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Ephesians 5,  2 Corinthians 11, Revelations​ 19, 21

**Important​ caveat: if your church is full of false teachers, get on out of there! You expect to find sinners in a church just like you’d expect to find weak people in a gym. But one of the main goals of a gym is muscle growth, so if a gym’s trainers and longtime members are content pumping 2 pounders, somethin ain’t right. And one of the main goals of a church is spiritual growth, so if a church’s leaders and long-time members are content with their habitual sin and are preaching blasphemy, somethin ain’t right.

*** John 13 , 1 Corinthians 13