RSS

Experiences with meditation

 

balance blur boulder close up

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

I felt like I had been making a lot of progress as an atheist, not believing helped me to feel more balanced, much more reasonable, and logical. It felt like a relief not believing in all the make believe shit. I told my wife that “If there is a higher being it knows what I need to believe, but that I could never go back to Christianity.” I didn’t have a clue what I needed either, but I was okay with accepting the unknown. I was used to having to be the one with the answers. Suddenly there was no one to evangelize, and no personal responsibility for being the mouth piece of god and saving other people’s souls. Somebody’s salvation was no longer dependent upon me sharing my faith at just the right time.

My mind got super clear after this epiphany and I started finding joy in learning about our universe. Although I always loved science, I was always trying to filter it through my old christian religious views and this would often cause a lot of internal turmoil. I always felt that a higher power, if it existed, would have to be far beyond our minds and our means to conceptualize this consciousness. My openness created a passion for learning again.  So one morning I woke up and saw the youtube video suggestions on my phone, one was a documentary on quantum physics hosted by a world renowned Physicist Brian Greene. I was amazed at how much goes on in the unseen world, and how the unseen has had a profound impact on technology.  I was also amazed to see that for every “law” in physics there seems to be an exception.

I was particularly mind-boggled by “entanglement” of particles, and the implications of quantum computers, and possible quantum travel. This all sounded like sci-fi and is almost completely hidden from our five senses. These were only things crazy people talked about a little over 150 years ago. Maybe not even that long ago.

I continued to be intrigued and continued to watch science videos. My next one among many others was a planet documentary by NOVA, hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson. It was your typical documentary, but what stood out to me is a man that Neil mentioned named Giordano Bruno, he lived back in the 1500s and apparently he theorized about the planets orbiting around the sun and that the universe was infinite. This was before the telescope was used by galileo. Its said that he came to these conclusions from a vision that he had. Neil then says “Lucky guess!” Then Neil goes on to share that this man was tried for heresy by the catholic church and then burnt at the stake.  I remembered hearing about astral projection when I was a kid and briefly looked it up again.

I also watched a documentary on Tesla, and he also had several visions throughout his lifetime. I later learned that Thomas Edison used to meditate to find the answers for some of his inventions as well. I continued my interest in the possibility of Astral projection from a scientific perspective and partially based on the idea that in quantum physics they talk about multiple universes that are parallel to us and that theoretically we could exist in multiple different dimensions parallel to us simultaneously in different energy forms. I would recommend the books Fabric of the Cosmos and Elegant Universe by Brian Greene for a firmer grasp on the concepts.

As I further read about Astral projection, it just seemed too far fetched to even consider, and so I placed it in the category of cool mind tricks that I could learn to do and have some fun since I had heard people who project can visit anywhere they want to go and control my dreams so I figured why not? It could be fun, and maybe even relieve some of my stress. I could go to Hawaii! I looked up some techniques and figured out that it is basically keeping your mind awake as your body falls asleep.

I tried for 3 days and nothing happened. On the fourth day I relaxed and right as I was about to fall asleep, I said this is it and I sat up in my bed. I felt this buzzing go through my whole body and my hands were see through. I had heard you can see your body too so I turned to look and I didn’t see my body and as I thought “wheres my body?, an outline appeared on my bed, and then I went into unconscious dreaming. I started to briefly think “maybe it is possible to project my consciousness into energy and that this is actually happening, but I take my thoughts with a grain of salt and continued to consider it a mind trick. The next day I was pumped, but it took me 3 weeks to have my next experience.

Prior to this next experience I was trying pretty much every day and getting frustrated because I wanted to experience it again. I was starting to have several dreams that seemed to be more lucid so I started writing in a dream journal as suggested by a group that I connected with after my first experience to ask questions. They were getting really coincidental too. Like I would dream something come down stairs and my kids would ask me to do something I was doing in my dream. These experiences shocked me, and I consider myself to be very grounded, and I do not trust my emotions or thoughts as the test for what is true. This was not the direction my life was heading either. I was trying to make my life more simple not complex, so these things caused a lot of tension at first. I was getting discouraged too, because I couldn’t make it happen again.

During the 3 weeks prior to the second time I had a dream that I was trying to get to a basketball game that I was playing in at 4am, and I was struggling to get there on time. Then my dream switched to a guy in front of a house jumping around yelling at me ” come on, astral project!” When I woke up I immediately knew it was an indication that I needed to try at 4am. The answer just popped into my mind. I had been trying at night and just kept falling asleep. Now keep in mind that it took me a week to do this because I doubted it. But I decided to just believe that maybe my subconscious mind was listening to my desire and telling me how, but it was all still just in my head.

Finally, I decided to try. I set an alarm and woke up at 4am went down stairs laid on the couch watched some astral projection videos and began to meditate. It took about an hour, my first took 4 hours and was exhausting. So when I projected I said “I did It!” All the sudden I was standing in my house, but I felt weak almost like I didn’t project enough energy and consciousness, and I know that doesn’t really sound reasonable to some, but that’s my conclusion. Before I projected I had wanted to see if I could go to my dad’s house and then see if I could tell him what he was doing. Its weird when I came out of body like I said I felt weak and I only had half of my field of vision. I almost felt drunk and briefly thought “Oh shit I had a stroke.” Lol! I quickly realized I was projecting I said that I wanted to see better and my vision improved. Again I couldn’t remember what I wanted to do so I just thought ” I want to fly.” I immediately was parallel to the floor and about three feet in the air. I said in my head, “I want to go out of my house!” I put my arms straight out and just bumped into the wall. Then I switched into a dream that I was telling my wife what happened.

Meditation (not in the religious sense), and my projection experiences have had a very positive impact on my life and I look forward to more experiences. I would not have been open to them had I not given up my fundamental christian views. And maybe this was the answer I was looking for that seemed unanswerable with words, and exists without the confines of fear based religion. Meditation benefits have actually been scientifically shown to have many benefits for the practitioner. I won’t go there with the astral projection though, that is something that needs to be experienced to believe, and is possible for anyone.

Advertisements
 
4 Comments

Posted by on August 21, 2018 in Meditation

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Do Atheists Still Hope?

broken clay close up crack

Photo by Martins Krastins on Pexels.com

To many religious people not believing in god feels so hopeless, and elicits feelings of despair. It’s understandable, some of us have suffered a lot, and the thought of our loving god not being there is very disturbing. Some of us never felt loved until we believed in God, and so letting that go is like ripping your heart and soul out. I remember feeling so alone when I was a kid watching my mom getting beat, listening to my siblings cry begging him to stop as we watched her get thrown through broken glass.

This is crazy, this guy beat my mom the day before my 8th birthday, my brother was crying. I told him to quit crying because I didn’t want him to come up stairs and yell at us. I ended up kicking him because he wouldn’t stop, he got a bloody nose and started crying more, this guy ran up stairs and was yelling at me and my brother, then he took the blood from my brothers face and wiped it in my moms face and said “See what your son did?” “Do you even care?” Then he proceeded to fight with her. He ended up dying of liver cancer a day before my birthday the year I graduated nursing school and had overcome my inferiority complex caused by this bastard. This is the obituary(http://www.dailyinterlake.com/archive/article-0652dd80-4e11-11e3-9882-001a4bcf887a.html) Try to explain that coincidence, it is unbelievable!! I want religious people to know I understand, and I am not trying to steal your peace, I’m trying to reason with you because I know the fear that is living beneath the dogma. I also know that if there is a god it has to be much bigger than religion.

This fucker would cry, hug us, and apologize for hurting my mom afterwards, and then do it again and again. Each time he would cry we would believe him and trust him again. It was so terrorizing, you never knew when it would happen, things would seem like they were going good and then we would wake up to screaming and fighting. It felt like this guy killed my heart for a long time, the part that gets excited about life and trusts that good things will happen was broken most of my life; instead I struggled so much with sadness, rage, and fear! It crushed my mom’s spirit too, but she was finally able to get out of it after several failed attempts to leave. Good thing too, because I would have killed him— I am not exaggerating. It actually feels very therapeutic to write this stuff out.

I developed a voice in my mind that would tell me everything would be okay, that I was loved, and that I was safe— all the affirming things a child should hear. It seemed natural for me to believe in god. Anytime things were enjoyable though I feared that it would all go to shit. At times I would see little flashbacks in my mind, while having fun with friends and later with my family, of my mom getting hurt and seeing her face, I learned to block most of it out, and I was later diagnosed with PTSD from this and generalized anxiety disorder at 30 years old. I knew the fears were irrational, but I couldn’t control it, I would have these flashes, and then have instant pain and panic in my heart followed by several hours of irritability. This has greatly diminished since my beliefs have changed, I have not taken any medications for a year now, and I rarely have any flashbacks or panic.

Imagine this cosmic being that loves you, but will allow horrible things to happen to you for your good to develop you spiritually. This is the fear I walked in throughout a lot of my christian life, and the bible perpetuates this fear with many verses I won’t go into right now, but the bible presents a bipolar God; you can’t trust his character. This is like the abusive guy my mom was with, I just painted the meaning of the suffering differently. I reasoned that gods plan is perfect and I needed to just accept it. So when people use the Job story to elucidate gods ways with verses such as, “…the Lord gives and the Lord takes away” and “Should we only accept good from god and not the bad?” It terrorizes me. The ones who say this don’t really believe that terrible things are going to happen to them should god choose, because secretly its easy to believe you are protected from painful suffering.

Eliminating god from the equation has given me a lot more hope than I had before. I don’t feel like when I’m happy and enjoying myself that God is going to have to humble me with suffering, put me through a trial to make me more dependent on him,or discipline me for forgetting him. I don’t have to wonder if its in his will for me to suffer the loss of one of my children. I don’t have to figure out why a loving god allows suffering in the world, I can take responsibility for helping those around me when I can. I don’t have to spend countless hours praying, seeking, and trying to figure out an invisible gods will for my life. I really love not worrying about battling Satan around every corner, or taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. I am way more open to other people’s ideas and thoughts about life. I feel way closer to the people around me, because I don’t automatically assume they have evil motives if they aren’t Christians. I feel more human! I’m thankful for freedom!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on June 4, 2018 in Atheism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Virgin Birth? Come on Now Mary

black and white black and white depressed depression

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I never realized just how ridiculous the virgin birth was, or I think I did at the beginning of my Christian faith, but like so many other things, I tucked it away in the back of my mind, and opted for the experience. Church taught me to basically suspend logic to have the experience. This worked for me for a very long time, the carrot was always just out of reach though. See in most churches being logical with out the outer structure of what you have experienced and emotionally decided is true is considered to be putting the cart before the horse. Even for the ones that are super strict, they just play more on the guilt side of things. They depend on you being illogical about the gravity of your thought crimes. No matter what church, there is still the pressure to know what you can’t possibly know. As soon as you realize that it is impossible to live up to the standard, and stop seeking approval, the guilt can begin to dissipate.  I hope that this begins to happen for any of you that have lived in guilt and shame for so long. I know its hard, but there is a calm after the storm. I’ve noticed that as I have let go I have overcome things that felt impossible as a christian.

Anyway lets think a little bit about a virgin birth, aside from it being physically impossible, we already know as Christians it was acceptable to believe these things.You probably already know about there being many stories of virgin births before Jesus, so the idea was not a new one during Jesus time. Not to mention I think these details were added way after Jesus death, but I’ve digressed. So back to Mary, she gets impregnated by the holy spirit, she visits her cousin Elizabeth who is six mos pregnant already, and Mary sings a long ass song about god’s favor, which is amazing because it was spontaneous yet a hundred years later they were able to remember hers and Zechariah’s song word for word, sounding just a little fabricated.

Elizabeth is six mos pregnant and Mary is newly pregnant by the holy spirit. Rather than appealing to the miraculous here, this sounds a bit like an emotionally damaged teenager desperate for love and wanting a baby, and security. After Joseph supposedly has a vision he decides to marry her any way, but the bible assures us that he hadn’t been with her physically before that and intended on divorcing her quietly to not put her to shame,before his heavenly vision. Several  reasonable possibilities here, but I’ll just mention two of them. Joseph probably had relations with her before their marriage and rather than pulling out, accidentally impregnated her. The other plausible explanation is that Mary cheated on Joseph.

If Joseph was an upstanding man and loved her, but intended to divorce her quietly if she cheated, what if that is the explanation as to why you never hear about him again in the bible. Maybe he found some stuff out and left her quietly. This seems like a reasonable explanation. He goes from having supposed visions with angels to disappearing without a trace in the bible. You would think if he had these wonderful experiences he would be right there supporting Jesus through his ministry.

I remember Hitchens saying this once, and he was quoting someone else, but I can’t remember who. It was essentially ask yourself “is it more likely that there is a natural explanation and my mind has somehow been deceived, or that the natural laws suspended themselves, and there was in fact a miracle?” Think about how many times you have seen the laws of nature suspended. Just think of how many situations you misinterpret on a daily basis, and these same kind of people wrote the bible. You can even apply this to Jesus’ resurrection.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 3, 2018 in Atheism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thankful

Thankful

I wanted to share a thankful post today. As I sit here with one of my sons fishing at a beautiful park we live near, I look around and see all the trees, varieties of flowers, I hear the birds, and I realize I am truly living in the present, and I don’t need to be angry. I’m at peace.

I don’t have a god to appease, I don’t have a cosmic will to uncover. I just get to relax and watch my son fish, field his questions, and watch him discover. I get to be at rest. There’s nothing else I need to do. I can even be in this state while I work.

I’m not missing anything. I have a beautiful life and I’m thankful for it. There’s no more “what ifs,” this is what I have, and I’m luckier than most.

I hope that my thankfulness will spill over into helping others who are less fortunate than I am. But right now I get to support my family, I get to work, I get to have conversations with my wife and kids. I get to enjoy the beauty of life.

Now I just need to get myself up off my ass and exercising again. Lol.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Living

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Is God Trustworthy?

sunset hands love woman

Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

My Dad says, “I love you son! I would take a bullet for you; I will never let anything bad ever happen to you.” The following scenario plays out: my Dad jumps in front of a man with a gun as he is shooting, most of the bullets miss, but one grazes his shoulder, and hits me in the back as I’m running away paralyzing me from the waist down. Months of physical therapy ensue but to no avail, I am not able to regain function. As a result, I am confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

Would I still consider my Dad trustworthy even though something bad happened to me? Absolutely! My dad did everything in HIS power to protect me from danger. In fact, his love for me was so deep that his primal instinct was to sacrifice his life to protect me. I would say my trust would be strengthened by this bad situation. I believe the majority of us parents feel this way about our children.

Let’s apply this same concept to a perfect omnibenevolent omnipotent God without arguing that God has to allow suffering for some cosmic plan, for our individual or corporate betterment, as punishment, or that we have caused disease and suffering ourselves as a result of freewill. God promises love, care, kindness, blessing etc, and addresses us as children of God if we are in Christ Jesus and that by the spirit we cry Abba. The scriptures contradict themselves on this matter. On the one hand we are promised blessing, peace, love, faith, comfort, abundant life, divine protection and on the other hand we are promised that we will suffer.

Now we can learn to twist the sufferings into perceived blessings, but then how is this different than the abusive spouse who eventually breaks the victim down so much that the person eventually believes that all flaws in their abuser are their fault, and that they deserve the treatment that they receive? The way that the bible confronts suffering, leaves a lot open for interpretation, and so people are able to reduce their sufferings to some kind of plan that they don’t understand, but will when they get to heaven.

So in the case of a four year old little girl that I took care of with brain cancer (out of millions in the world in similar situations) on hospice, the mother was a Christian, although divorced, she attempted to work together with her ex husband to care for their dying child. I took care of this child as she deteriorated, half her body was paralyzed from multiple seizures that damaged her brain. She lost her ability to walk or speak, and had constant bouts of nausea and vomiting. I remember her older brother looking at her on the floor in her room after a seizure, vomit in her hair and unable to move, I could see the why in his eyes; I could see the sadness. When would she be able to play with him again? Would he ever hear her laugh, or see her draw pictures, or write her name, or see her run again? I could see the despair in the parents eyes, knowing that they would do anything to see her healthy again, and yet knowing that they were going to lose her.

I was powerless too! I begged and pleaded with God to heal her. I told God that it would be impossible for me to believe another miracle if he wasn’t going to heal this little girl. We ended up transferring her to our comfort care center. I remember her grandmother was there trying to soak up as much time as she could with her. They decorated her room with all her favorite things. I saw all the love around this little girl, I would see her little broken body, and I would look at her little hands and just break down. I would have done anything in my power to heal her.

I wasn’t their when she died, but my coworkers told me that when she died her father just held her and cried. When the funeral home arrived he would not even look up, he wouldn’t allow them to take her for a very long time. He just held her little body and cried. They trusted God to protect their little girl, and God allowed cancer to take her. Her parents were totally powerless, and had to watch her deteriorate and die, and then they are forced to live life without her, and not only that if they are to hold onto their faith, they are forced to make sense of God’s sovereignty.

It took a while, but through this experience mainly, and multiple other experiences, I realized that by embracing life as it really is was more trustworthy than trusting in a God that would allow this to happen to his children. I didn’t have to be embittered against a God that doesn’t exist, or shift my paradigm to accommodate the bullshit. I determined that God was not trustworthy, because I don’t believe that God can or should be justified in allowing the suffering that happens in the world.

If God existed and took one of my children, no amount of explanation would ever make me feel okay about it, and I think it would be morbid and sadistic for God to expect that. I think it would be equally wrong to write suffering off by saying “Well, God doesn’t look at life like us, or God has a plan.” If I am his child and he is my father, I should have an understanding of his plan, and not be forced mystify my experience. It should be made plain to me. Instead I am supposedly equipped with a brain that is fallible and unable to understand spiritual things unless I am born again of the spirit. This adds even more complexity to the equation. I am then forced to attempt to understand God while “understanding in part” as Paul calls it, and then I am supposedly held accountable for not knowing. Yet I am told in other places that “his ways are not my ways and thoughts are not my thoughts.” This is the perfect equation for accepting randomness and stamping it with the divine.

Think of the most trustworthy person you know, and God is less trustworthy than them. If God would take the child that you love most in the world and call that a loving plan, He is a tyrant and not worthy of worship nor of our trust. I have thought through all the Christian apologetics on suffering, and realize through a lot of “soul searching” that suffering is incompatible with a loving trustworthy God. Life is meaningful and short; we shouldn’t squander it trying to fit God into our worldview when it doesn’t make sense. We should love the ones around us, not waste time being bitter, and live in the present moment, because that’s all we can believe in.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 25, 2018 in Is God Trustworthy?

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hide and Seek With God Part:4a

construction destruction power steel

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Before pursuing my RN career I was a painter, and I already hashed out my militant christian mindset in previous parts. I had grown progressively tired of being laid off every winter in painting, my family was growing,and I knew painting was not good for my physical health at all. I had already started developing horrible neck and back pain as well as breathing problems. I also knew that I needed to provide more security for my family.

These ailments coupled with my fears of God rejecting me served to produce fear that I had compromised so much that it was possible that God was going to sideline me and just let me die. Of course I went back and forth between Gods love and rejection, but it seems to be the nature of things in Christianity. I think we just get confronted with reality and perceived failures so much that we realize that it has to be impossible for God to be this nit picky, but of course the fear is still in the back of the mind.

I had attempted to sign up for college 5 times before this, and right before I would start, I would withdraw. I was afraid that if I went to college that I was basically forfeiting my calling. I was caught between doing God’s will and taking care of my family. Although I knew the scriptures about providing for your family and living a quiet life, I wanted to be used for noble purposes so I was trying to cleanse myself so that I wasn’t used for common purposes only—as 2nd timothy talks about. I reasoned that I could go to college, but I had to accept that I would be of common use to God, and not used for the noble purposes that I had hoped for.

Oh I knew God still loved me, but while God was love he was also just and “a man reaps what he sows.” After all, “God is not mocked.” I started to feel like college was God’s will so I reluctantly accepted God’s second best. I didn’t understand how God could reject my passion, but I trusted that God knew me better than I knew myself. But did he know millions were going to hell everyday and I was his man? I was willing to give up everything. Did God even realize the time was short? I accepted that maybe I had been like Peter always eager to please, but too fanatical, and always clumsy with the timing. So I looked at all this disillusionment as God’s mercy, discipline and grace, and as me doing everything in my own strength.

When I started college, I was uncertain on any direction so I opted to take transfer credit prerequisites for my Bachelor’s degree. Eventually I decided on being a teacher. It seemed to be a pretty easy direction to go, and I reasoned that if I ended up being a long-term missionary in another country then I could use my college experience to bring glory to God. I was still playing hide and seek with God, except he was giving me more sophisticated signs and clues to follow and it was my responsibility to find out what he was trying to say if I wanted to be closer. All this was a requirement while I rested in grace.

While I went to college I did all the things that I thought were a compromise before. I accepted government help, and I had decided to go to college. I had been convinced that anyone who went to college loved the world and everything in it, and loved their own lives way more than they loved God. They weren’t living the faith although they had all the right lingo.

This was one of my major paradigm shifts! I realized that I had been so wrong about judging everyone’s actions, and that God could use any means necessary to get me and others where he wanted them. I reasoned that God was using college and all my compromises to humble me and basically show me that he is in control and I have no say in the direction he wants to take me. Prayer about a direction started becoming very tiring, because I seemed to always be wrong about the direction God wanted me to go. I also stopped reading the bible so much because I felt like even though it had helped shape my beliefs, all the warm and fuzzies were disheartening to me, because I had been so blatantly wrong about God’s will so much before. I was scared of getting tricked again . This actually helped take the pressure off of me some. This was exactly where God wanted me, an empty vessel, no decision making skills, and willing to resign myself to anything that happened. After all, Paul wrote “If a man thinks he knows, he does not yet know as he ought.”

I had been continuing at the same American Baptist Church. This church was not blatantly condemning in anyway, in fact, I had learned a lot about Gods love here. However, finding God’s will is a very pervasive theme in Church if you didn’t know that already. I was getting tired of all the pressure, I basically threw it all off and became partially convinced that we did church all wrong. The house church ideas were becoming more prominent in my theology. I started reading more material that presented the institutional church as the wrong model for doing Christianity, and learned all the scriptures that backed it up. I wanted to find Gods will with all my heart.

I was still very into the idea of being a missionary, though I had adopted some views that allowed me not to rush it. I attended a Voice of the Martyrs conference, I met many people who had suffered horrible torture in other countries for being a Christian. I didn’t realize that other ideas are persecuted in these countries too, and so this served to confirm my faith, because Jesus said ” If they hate you, remember they hated me first.” This is just one verse. Like I said earlier my photographic memory allowed me to have intricate webs of scriptures tying together in my mind and confirming each other.

We ended the night with going to a house church meeting where one of the speakers at the conference had been invited. He laid the pressure on pretty thick at the meeting. I don’t think it was intentional, but his passion seemed to be a million times deeper than mine. I felt even more condemned. I was sharing some stuff with some fellow believers while I was there, and I had them decide that I had a spirit of deceit within me and they were laying hands on me commanding spirits to come out of me. They were making very awkward eye contact with me, which is hilarious now. I remember thinking wow I cant believe I’m on the opposite side of this, I had done this to people during my early days before. It was weird, but I had been charismatic so it wasn’t crazy to me, I had been wrong many times before too, so I reasoned that they were just passionately wrong, and hyped up from the meeting.

Another thing I noticed was that there were little cliques, way worse than institutional church. I heard people murmuring about home school being the best, and which bible versions were acceptable for a christian to read. I heard many more things from this group on Facebook over the years, but I don’t think I need to delve into it all. I just remember leaving that meeting that night and saying to my wife “It’s like we took every divisive person from every local church, and put them in the same room. It was intense!! Right there I decided no more house church for me, my church attendance just continued to dwindle as I continued to take care of my family the disenchantment grew deeper.

I wondered how could being a Christian be this complicated? I held on to the verses that talked about simplicity in Christ, resting in God, and trusting in his love and care. I thought about how Paul simplified things by saying “faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest is love, and the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” I remembered John “talking about setting your heart at rest whenever your heart condemns you,”” God is love,” and when I confess God is faithful and just and cleanses me. This simplifying of my faith helped me worry a lot less. All the other stuff in the bible had been gutted out of me. I thought this was God rooting it out of me, but realize now that it was my own confrontation with reality that was changing me. I had reduced my faith to the least common denominators, and created a belief system that had the most ambiguity, and ultimately helped me avoid any more painful disillusionment. Except, of course, for my final disillusionment with hospice nursing.

We were at the hospital the day after our second daughter had been born. I was almost done with my teaching AA degree. I was impressed with how excellent the nurses provided care to us with such compassion and respect. After many discussions with the nurses about their careers, I realized that this was the practicality I was searching for that could be coupled with my desire to help and serve others. I decided to become an RN and enrolled in the prerequisites.

Part 4b to follow.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hide and Seek With God Part:3


man s hand in shallow focus and grayscale photography

Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

During my time at the American baptist church, I learned a lot, and made a lot of friends. Funny though, after eight years to this day there are only a handful still in my life, but all seemed to be close friends at the time. I still had an almost fanatical sense of God’s call, and I pursued this with all my heart. I was willing to go anywhere. I remember feeling the need to detach from all my “worldly” relationships which to me meant anyone who was not a christian, even my own family, and I completely detached from them. I wanted to stay loyal this time, and I didn’t want any distractions getting in the way. I needed to be prepared to go anywhere, this world was coming to an end soon and I was a sojourner. I was working as a professional painter at this time, and used this job so that I could do mission work in the winter when I got laid off.

At this time I felt that mission work was the only way to go in christian life, because the time was short and Jesus gave us the great commission. Again I accepted the pressure because I was bought with a price, my life didn’t belong to me anyway. I was convinced that I needed to be ready to be a martyr at anytime. I actually believed that anyone with a secular job that claimed to be a christian had compromised in some way. I felt that people who got government help needed to have faith in God’s provision and so they had compromised as well.

About this time my wife and I started dating. We had known each other for several years, but had been on different paths. She was a new christian and I let her know right off the bat that I would not compromise my faith in anyway (except for premarital sex of course LOL). I told her that I was basically like Paul crucified to the world and the world crucified to me. I let her know that our lives belonged to God and we needed to be willing to give everything.

Of course the guilt of premarital sex made us both feel guilty, and so we had doubts about whether we were good for each other (weird to think about 12 years and 5 kids later). We got married in September of 2006. I wondered if she was holding me back, and immediately started micromanaging her spiritual life to make sure she was on the right path, and that she wasn’t loving the world too much. It was horrible for her looking back it makes me very sad. I did a lot of hurtful things over the years to her, and I regret it everyday. I’m learning to forgive myself, and she is learning to forgive me, but you wonder how you could be so stupid, fearful, or unloving.

I had no understanding though. I was able to bury my insecurities under the guise of spiritual duty. I was able to be a super spiritual person at church, but the moment the mundane kicked in at home I became a TYRANT!! I was a spiritual schizophrenic constantly feeling conflicted inside. I felt like I had chosen pleasure over God, and so the downward spiral of blaming myself for not finding Gods will and feeling disloyal made me a very angry and agitated person. If there were legitimate complaints from my wife, I would fly off the handle because my brain beat me into the ground night and day. I was really so afraid of losing her because I knew who I really was and I thought if she saw that then it was over.

I felt like nothing, but in light of my faith this was an important step in my growth process because if I was an empty vessel God could fill me up with what he needed me to be. I was a living sacrifice. I mean I really counted the cost and regularly engaged in self abasement. I trusted people to a certain degree, but deep down knew that God was the only one that could be trusted, so I held on to man’s word with a grain of salt. This is important to mention because though people tried to tell me my thinking was wrong I didn’t believe them, because I read this stuff in the bible. I reasoned that these people just didn’t want to accept the reality that they live life for themselves. By not compromising I was going to find God!

Any good feelings I had were encouragement to seek God more. If I felt good I quickly shut it down to avoid getting too prideful, because “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” as it says. I later realized that I feared feeling good because bad things always happened during these times between ages 6-12 years old. I have a very photographic memory too, and so I always had the whole bible swirling through my head tying all of my personal theology together and locking it tight in my head. I had it totally lined out and so nobody could talk me out of it.

I knew the bible better than most of my pastors and all my friends. I am not exaggerating, if any of my friends read this they will definitely agree. I would wear them out!! I knew all the various interpretations of the same scripture and how to make it fit. I knew every possible contradiction as well and so unbelievers were often ill prepared to debate with me. Couple that with my egocentric charismatic personality and I led a lot of people to God. I didn’t know I was egocentric, I thought I was doing the right thing and I loved God with all my heart. Egocentric is probably too harsh because I wasn’t like that all the time. I switched back and forth like a split personality.

Anyway now that I laid out my theological temperature during this time; I want to go back to mission work. I was 20 yo when I went on my first trip to Mexico and did work projects. My second trip to Mexico I was recently married, and of course still felt worthless, compromised, and unworthy of having a spouse, and so I became convinced that because my friend was a much better man than me that he deserved her more than I did. This fueled my insecurities, and at one point I confronted him and almost kicked his ass on a mission trip. Had it not been for a sweet lady talking me down I know I would have. He insisted my accusations were not true and even cried. I did not believe him one bit. I knew he was a better man than me. Anyway, side note, turns out he wasn’t lying he came out gay a couple years later. LOL. He is still my friend by the way.

Of course everyone heard about my flip out on the mission trip and though I didn’t experience this, I feared that people would be trying to split my wife and I up, because I had proven myself to be a jealous animal. My insecurities festered, I knew they were irrational, but I just couldn’t shake them. I prayed incessantly about them. I was still going to church and participated in various activities, but I was always afraid of being abandoned. My wife did know about my securities and always treated me with respect, but I was always in crisis mode.

I became convinced that the house church model was what we needed. It allowed us to be closer to people and we could make true friends. My wife and our kids were part of this house church for about 7 years, almost the whole time we were in the American baptist church. I read many of the books on this movement too! It was actually a Filipino/American house church. The leader became a very close friend to me, and he modeled the love of Jesus in his daily life He taught me more about balance in my life, and that mission work could be fun, not harsh and demanding. We are very close to him today. My kids still call him Papa Joe. He convinced me and my wife to go to the Philippines for mission work with him and some others from the American baptist church we went to as well.

There were several of us and we spoke in various churches and did open air preaching in Muslim villages in Mindanao. When I looked around at the ministers in their own neighborhoods reaching out to their people, I thought I should just evangelize at home. They are doing a perfect job on their own. Still it was a beautiful experience,and we planned on moving to the Philippines and going to bible college there. My wife was pregnant with our first child at the time, My first little girl. I felt conflicted, like who am I to have all these blessings and so I shut my heart down and made sure that I didn’t get too excited. But then she was born I couldn’t help it I wanted to just take care of her and loved her with all my heart. I became a little more okay with staying home, but felt like I was letting God down.

Again I felt like I compromised by preferring my family over God, because I had developed a theology around being a living sacrifice for God. This of course has completely changed! I always felt nagged in my head. I set up another trip to the Philippines. This time I would go by myself I was trying to earn Gods love back for having compromised my calling. I was around 23 at this time maybe. I want to add that I didn’t always feel horrible there were times of happiness and spiritual rapture, but I always reigned it in out of fear of disillusionment or that God would punish me for loving life. I came back half way convinced that I should stay home and raise my family and evangelize those around me. I had convinced myself theologically that since I wasn’t strong enough to not get married and have children that I was basically sidelined and my work would be unfulfilling and unimportant for God, but still required, and that I would always have that reminder that I compromised. I needed to accept that because it was the choice I made. I accepted that I would only get the second or third best plan from God.

In Part 4 I plan on talking about my decision to pursue nursing. My experiences in nursing school, the demands of church life and leaving, and more compromise. Part 5 will cover my hospice experience and questions I started having. Part 6 will cover my major changes in theology to accommodate my ever changing experiences and paradigm shifts.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Hide and Seek With God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,