Monday, January 30, 2017

"Just get over it" - Words are Cheap

During my brief time in the US, a new friend, who had left the COG about twenty years prior and had since grown into the most wonderful Christian I had ever met, convinced me to try prayer with her prayer group. 

I sat in a chair in the center of the room. People gathered around and laid hands on me. I'd been through this before. Many times. This was commonplace in the cult. Praying the devil out of me for various sins and my failings and weaknesses. This time was supposed to be different.

I was told to "forgive myself." "Breathe out and let go of all of that."

It was just not so simple.

It is not easy to pull out the tendrils that had grown within me for thirty long years. I couldn't "just get over it" and move on. The effect was too much a part of me. I needed time. And what I didn't know then, I needed knowledge and understanding.

I could have compartmentalized, fallen into blind denial, claiming, "it was all in the past," and "Jesus looks at my heart." But I couldn't. I knew it was a cop-out.

I looked to self-help books, but the advice I got to "love myself" went nowhere. "Stand in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say, 'I love you.'" Uh. No. It seemed a stupid, childish bandaid - and impossible. I had messed up my life and my kids' lives. That's a lot of guilt with not much room for "self-love."

Aware that I couldn't stay in this cloudy limbo for the rest of my life, I started to study - mainly audio courses when I drove, did housework, or walked, and those became my salvation - really.

The realization of how I had been used and exploited began to dawn. There was a lot of anger that I needed to get out, and I had no one to tell. I wrote it down in a notebook.

As time went on, I gradually was able to understand, and through understanding begin to lay aside the crap that I carried from those years. I finally started to grow and mature - which maturity had been stunted in the cult.

Only through understanding could I begin to find freedom from my past.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Life is Not Fair

Another insidious COG doctrine: "Life is fair."

Karma - in the oft-tossed-around contemporary sense - is not unlike the Biblical doctrine of "you reap what you sow." It seems to come from the idea that the universe (or God) holds the scales of justice in his almighty arms and pours out retribution according to the wrongs one has done. Or conversely, he pours blessings, health, and prosperity upon the righteous.

What if this were true?

Let's say you are rich. Born into a rich family, or perhaps you "pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps" and are now successful. If you embrace the idea of reaping what you sowed, then you can pat yourself on the back for being so good to have reaped such fortune. You "deserved it," after all.

But what if you are in a difficult situation? Some unexpected tragedy occurred. Your life took a turn and you feel at wit's end. Did you reap what you sowed? Did you deserve it? If you believe in this concept of a just world, that what goes around comes around, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Your misdeeds somehow brought this evil upon your house. Woe is you. (And for a cult member, this meant prayer sessions and introspection to discover what lesson "the Lord was trying to teach you.")

But the truth is, shit happens. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. A large part of life is simply determined by random and uncontrollable events.

If people in a good situation believe they have gotten there by their own "goodness," wouldn't they tend towards a smug condescension of those who are having hard times? "They got what was coming to them."

Might these fortunate folks even turn their backs on friends who struggle, because they want to "get rid of the negatives" in their lives? "I don't need that kind of negative energy." Sounds scriptural, "Keep yourselves unspotted from the world." 

"Holier than thou," more like.

Since we cannot walk a mile in another's shoes, and we do not have control of the random events of life, the only rational way to treat others is with kindness. 

"Always be a little kinder than necessary." (James M. Barrie)