...Then there's a different kind of anger — the kind that surfaces in response to feeling hurt, the kind that wants to hurt back, and badly. I don't mean with superficial cuts. I mean with utter obliteration. The kind that wants to destroy another person's worth and value simply because you can. What has been troubling for me is just how often this kind of anger shows up in my thoughts and in my imagination, and how I've felt God challenging me to "get curious."
However, another rope has been lowered in front of me via therapy and residency, slowly and over several months. It's a rope made up of my strength and courage and resilience, of my worthiness of love and affection, of my ability to meet my own needs or to have them met by others around me. It's made up of my okay-ness when a relationship ends or transitions into something else.
We all have fears, anxieties, insecurities. Most of us are scared to death of being alone. We all get angry, or sad, or confused. Simply put, we're all human, and that shared experience is worth remembering at all times, because when we forget it, that's when we go wrong. That's when we miss each other, stop listening, and resort to hurting each other deeply, violently, or maliciously.
...I wish I were good at being alone, at feeling comfortable only in my own presence. But that is when the void of my loneliness, inadequacy, and insecurity is most present, tangible, palpable. I feel more and more like the authentic me, and it's hard to celebrate the goodness there when my mind sees the cracks, the flaws, the shame and the pain.
...what good is legalism, what benefit is there to blind faith, if it doesn't lead is into right relationship with God, with self, and with neighbor? How does self-righteous asceticism make us more like God? How does lording our "morality" over others evince God's love flowing into us and out of us? Often, to be on God's side means challenging the status quo, means turning the world upside down, even at the risk of our own lives. After all, doesn't Jesus teach us that the greatest example of love we can set is the willingness to lay down our lives for those around us...
The reality is this: we are all needy. If we believe in the notion of being made in the image of God, and if we truly believe that at God's core, God is a relational being whose existence is rooted in God's relationship between God, Son, and Spirit (at least in a Christian, Trinitarian sense), then it only makes sense that we as humans have an inherent, intrinsic need for others—this hunger to love and be loved, to care and feel cared for, to give and receive. Healthy relationships are comprised of balance.
The sad truth is most of us never even come close to that proverbial silver-backed glass with the intent of introspection. The idea of knowing ourselves is horrific. What if we hate what we see? What if we suddenly see what others see? Worst of all, what if we find out a truth we've been running from for a long time: the truth that the person we present ourselves to be to the outside world is not who we really are at our core? What then? What if our stories don't line up...
The fact is that to know yourself and to let your self be known by others is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable, nerve-wracking process. It often includes tension, drama, and conflict (all three of which I despise greatly). But rarely does this conflict come up, I think, because we inherently dislike or detest someone else. It surfaces because we see something in them that makes us feel something about ourselves. Yet when we refuse to be vulnerable, to "risk engagement," we put ourselves at risk for emotional atrophying and decay.
I love talking theology, but over the years as my own theology has been transformed and become broader in scope, I've been hesitant to engage those whom I believe to be more conservative than myself, fearing rejection or ostracism. However, these new friends were nothing short of kind and loving, even as I made statements and theological claims that most "evangelicals" would consider staunchly blasphemous. One of the group members asked me about the tagline on this site, the whole "thoughts and ramblings of a self-avowed, practicing heretic." I told him that, as I understand it, heretics are not necessarily wrong in their beliefs. They simply came out on the losing side of a theological debate. They are the minority, the marginalized, and as such, I'd prefer to align myself with them than with the doctrinal majority, even if we disagreed. That is why I identify the way that I do. It's about empathy. It's about solidarity.