Anglican, Zen Meditating, Trade Unionist, Liberal, Left Wing, Foodie

On ditching the bible and finding God

on November 10, 2013

I had a bit of an Ah Hah! moment in church today. Somehow in the middle of a sermon about the resurrection I began to reflect on why I have struggled for nearly 20 years to sit down and read the bible.

Being raised in the evangelical and pentecostal church there was a huge focus on the discipline of prayer and scripture reading. My Mum was a great advocate of the quiet time and Mum, my Dad and my older Brother were impressive examples of Christians with a disciplined devotional life.

In my teens and during my time in Bible College and again during a year working with a mission in Thailand I was actually pretty good as well.

But 2 years out of 40 ain’t really that impressive when you think about the fact that for 35 years I have had a strong Christian faith and spirituality.

I used to beat myself up about it, I got periodically guilted about it from the pulpit and from various spiritual leaders. Never directly of course because mostly it was my guilty secret. The skeleton in the closet of my otherwise impressive spiritual house.

I ceased to worry about it around 3 years ago. Having followed my vocation into working as a advocate for a trade union, and having stepped out of the discernment process that had me heading for the Anglican Priesthood I stopped worrying about how I would sustain a life as a professional Christian. I just started living…

Then today in church it hit me. I struggle to sit down and read the bible because it scares me. I feel anxious just thinking about it. It’s not performance anxiety, it’s this is dangerous and any minute I am about to get clobbered anxiety.  The same kind of anxiety an abused child feels when their parent begins to raise their voice.

The small remaining evangelical voice in my head tells me I am afraid of being convicted of my sin, as well I should be, and shame on me for being a coward and burying my head in the sand and refusing to confront my sin.

But there is more to it than that.

I am scared of being clobbered with the bible like I was in those pente and evangelical churches. I’m scared that my own head will do to me what numerous pastors and super Christians used to do.  I will start to read and I will be unable to filter out 35 years worth of voices telling me that I don’t measure up.  All that I read with these voices are stories of spiritual giants who periodically stuffed up but still managed to walk on water, heal the sick and convert the sinners to the righteous path.

I am scared that it will some how drag me back in to those toxic communities.

I don’t read the bible because when I do I feel judged.  And I don’t think that is about scripture itself, I think that is about the way it has been used around me.

I am over following a  belief system I don’t measure up too.  And even though preachers have told me over and over again that Christianity is all about grace and us abandoning our need to be adequate and surrendering to God’s love I don’t believe them.  Because with one side of their mouth they have told me that whilst with the other side they have  piled me up with should’s and musts and have too’s.  And all of these have been justified by the use of scripture.

It’s hardly surprising I don’t want to read it any more.  It’s more surprising that I will even darken the door of a church, let alone be a part of its governing body.  The  ironic moment of grace in this is that my current faith community is finally a safe enough one that I am allowed to have the spiritual space to actually make these realisations.  And be allowed to sit with the questions and the fear and the anger and not be judged for them. Or have anyone try to fix me, to make me conform.  God bless my little Anglican Church.

It’s ironic also that I am the happiest I have ever been.  According to the  spiritual leaders of my youth I am in the worst spiritual condition I have ever been in.  Living in sin with my Buddhist lover,  having cast of the fundamental theologies of my youth for a wishy washy all roads lead to Rome, new age Christianity that accepts all faiths  as valid and refuses to believe in hell or even in sin really.

I am just so much happier, more contented, more at peace with myself, more connected with myself.  It turns out I did not need the bible for that. I needed to ditch great swags of baggage that I had been loaded down with and start being true to myself.  Maybe this new lightness and wholeness I feel is where God actually is.



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