For my readers who do not share my belief system, a note: this is another post where I am processing and clarifying, for myself more than for anyone else. It isn’t a sneaky effort to preach, proselytize, or convince you my religion is better, truer, or has validity over yours.
I have been engaged in the reconciliation process lately. Let me tell you, it has been miraculously, almost ridiculously, angst-free, not “easy,” but natural and free-flowing, instead of “forced.”
Back in June, for a brief moment, it seemed as if my relationship with my son was heading in a constructive direction. Then, without warning, it rubber banded and snapped. Painful emotions, on both sides, were drawn to the surface and a rupture occurred. Some may instinctively seek to place blame and either pile on guilt and shame or deny and repress, the victimized martyr – helpless. I’ve been them all.
My response, this time was different, in part because I now understand my attachment issues and how they’ve impacted my children. I understood the painful and difficult reality that he needed the emotional space from me to process his feelings and experiences with me. I resolved to give him whatever space he needed to reach his own healing enough, to reach back out to me. In the meantime, I would continue my own process and journey, so that I would be as receptive as possible when he did reach out.
It happened about a month later, quite a bit sooner than I had expected. He called me and apologized for what he had said and how he had done it, but not for doing it. I could easily accept it, because I understood it. However, I was still a little wary of how secure and lasting this repair would be.
A couple of days passed. I was experiencing a lot of pain and I was in a minor depressive episode when I was informed he was on his way over to visit. A very strong urge to run and hide from him came over me. I was afraid to have him see me like that and experience another break in our relationship this soon. However, I stuck around. I’m glad I did. In the five or so hours he was here, we processed and worked through quite a bit of our joint past. I’ve talked to him a couple of times, since then, and we’ve gotten together, just the two of us and talked.
A large part of our conversations have been spiritual in nature. Talking about religion, in general is a potentially explosive conversation. Discussing Christianity, even between Christians, can lead to rifts. He’s more “out loud” with his beliefs and understanding than I am; partially because his passion is so present and profound and partially because my beliefs and understanding have changed and evolved in ways that might be considered somewhat heretical. I also haven’t taken the time to clearly define what my beliefs are. So, when he asked me where I stood regarding Jesus, salvation, and forgiveness, I wasn’t prepared. I told the core truth, but dissembled a little bit and didn’t fully explain or disclose my understanding.
That’s partially where my post regarding a Christian Systems Check came from. Since writing that post, I’ve had a friend, who is also a pastor of mine, ask me what I see as The Gospel, The Good News. Again, I wasn’t prepared to answer. It is apparent that I need to do the work to clarify my beliefs, for myself, so that I will be prepared with a clear, honest response to questions about my beliefs.
Yeah, I know it is expected that I would have, should have, and could have done so already. Then, I realized, in some ways I already have.
November, 2010, I wrote, “A Picture of Sin.” I believe that all of us are born into imperfect, sometimes critically damaged, family, cultural, societal, and religious systems. Depending on the degree and type of dysfunction, in combination with our individual personalities and capacities, we become wounded and, eventually, cause wounds to others. This is part of understanding of “sin.” As a result of this sin, we are separated from God’s love, as well as our fellow human beings. As far as I know, we don’t ask to be born. We don’t ask to be born into a world full of wounded people who abuse, neglect, and manipulate one another; a world ruled by governmental systems that became distorted and turned into other than what was originally intended; a world where, all too often the corrupt, greedy, and power-mad seem to prosper while the rest of us struggle to just make it through the day.
Into this world, we are born, we are born pre-programmed for love, attachment, and belonging. We are born with the capacity of learning, experiencing, and growing in these things. We are born equipped with intellects and emotions to direct and inform the exercise of free-will.
However, we are and adaptive species. What we are born into and raised in shapes the development of what we are born with. If love, attachment, security, and belonging needs are met, we grow and expand into shape of loving and constructive beings. If those needs aren’t met, our shape becomes different and things like anger and fear grow into protective layers, separating us from ourselves, each other, and – in our perception – God.
I believe that God is the creative and cohesive force that created everything we know and all we have not discovered. I believe that God exists outside the boundaries of time and space. I believe God encompasses time and space. therefore, I also believe God exists, simultaneously in all of time and space. This means that God is always present.
I believe that humanity is the product and offspring of God. I believe we were created out of love and intended to be loved and to love God, ourselves and others. From the moment of conception we are loved, wanted and known. Because of God’s omnipresence in all of space and time, He (for lack of a gender neutral personal pronoun) has always known us, our lives, and our experiences – the triumphs, the tragedies, and everything in between. With that knowledge is the understanding that we see ourselves as separate from God instead of recognizing that God is part of our very beings and not just present in the world around us.
Knowing we separate and segregate ourselves in this way, God, chooses to make Himself as we are, mortal and bound by mortal limitations and boundaries of flesh, time, and space. Knowing we can’t lift ourselves up to Gods’s level, regardless of our efforts, God meets us where we are, as a human being. Not just as an example to show us how it’s done or to buy us off and appease us, but to show us that He goes through all the pain and suffering and experiences everything we do, and loves us through it all.
We get to choose whether to believe, trust, and act on that ever present love and empathy or not. When we do, circumstances may not change, but healing happens. As healing happens we can make choices that better reflect the love and care we are connecting to.
The Good News, in my understanding is that I am loved, and so is everyone around me. I can choose to believe and trust in that love and be connected to it in the here and now, thereby receiving healing and growing in my capacity to share that love with others. I can choose to share my feelings and thoughts, letting God carry me though the painful, confusing, and difficult things. I don’t have to do it on my own.
There’s more to what I believe. This is the foundation and core of it, the basis for the rest of what I’m figuring out how to articulate.