So the other week, I decided to try going to church. My dad is a Baptist pastor. Ultimately, I’m not quite sure what made me want to start going again. At first, I thought it was something I’d do just for him. My dad wants to see me in church again, and just like writing is my thing, church is his thing, and it makes him happy when I show up.
I haven’t regularly attended church for the past ten years.
Now I think it’s because there’s a lot I’ve been struggling with internally. Fear is powerful motivator, and lately I fear I’ve been going down the wrong path in a few ways which I won’t get into here. Which sucks, because it isn’t something I feel comfortable talking about with anyone at all, really. I’ll just say that it’s a certain kind of addiction which involves something on the internet. Anyway. Suffice to say, there’s this strange urge to “get clean”.
But I have my doubts. I doubt myself, and I doubt the presence of God. I doubt His forgiveness, especially when I get caught up in the throes of anxiety and guilt-tripping myself. Like you can’t conceive of this idea of a benevolent, forgiving creator when you feel like your thoughts and emotions are chaining you to the ground. And every time you get up, an obsessive thought comes flying through the air to pin you back down.
I also feel like I face deeper battles if I choose to bring spirituality into my life again. The question of faith is difficult. Not so much faith in God per se, but faith in myself and how to weave the two together. During my years as a Christian, there was so much I struggled with that was pounded into my head (at conventions or by youth leaders, not by family) that was “sinful” or “sacrilege” to do or think about. But I never felt that opening my eyes led me down any wrong path.
I believe there is good in everyone. I believe God is in everyone, and that expressing yourself is an extension of that. But do ideas need tempering, in the same manner that a public image does? I ask because there are deep, disturbing stories I still want to write covering a range of sexual and psychological issues, but I often question their purpose as an extension of me, and their place in a spiritual life. What does it mean? Am I ready for a more pure life? Can I write such things and still call myself a Christian?
These are difficult questions. I know this seems confusing, so I’ll give a solid example of what I mean here.
There’s this story I want to write called Sting. Very disturbing, intense sexual matter, particularly dealing with a mother who psychologically breaks down her own son to forge him into a sexual weapon to use against the man who raped her. As he grows up, she teaches him the art of seduction, how to come onto older men and what they like, etc. that she learns at her job as a therapist counseling sex offenders. It’s often alluded that they have somewhat of an incestuous relationship, more emotional than physical. Her son is eventually successful in seducing and murdering her rapist, though she goes to jail once the police find out what she did to her child. There is much more to it, but overall, the story deals with deep taboo questions regarding society’s views of teenage sexuality, age of consent, psychological manipulation, and the boundaries of what it means to have a choice.
In other words, do we have free will, or do we just think we do because that’s how we were nurtured and raised?
And I ask myself what place such a story has when it comes to my faith…holy crap, did I just answer my own question here?! Whoa.
Anyway, the struggle still remains. I broached this topic before with myself months ago, and every so often, I return to it again. Because I suppose I believe (or at least I have been taught) that living a Christian life means giving up certain things, and it’s only natural to start with the most obvious that need to go. I don’t know. Maybe my ideas of true Christianity were just warped by all those conventions I attended over the years. They want to “save everyone from sin”. I don’t think I ever got that with my dad. He’s not that kind of pastor at all. I’ve never really discussed my personal faith all that much with him, if at all, and maybe I should start.
Another thing I crave is a closer relationship with my dad. He’s always been my pastor, and the only one I ever enjoyed listening to (I know that’s biased, but it’s true). I love his nature. He’s a funny guy. He gives people a lot of hope and talks extensively about the love of Christ, never doom-and-gloom or hellfire sermons like a lot of those ultra-conservative nutjobs. But it’s difficult to really have a conversation with him too, only because he’s always busy and I am too, and despite the fact we live under the same roof, all we ever really discuss is politics (which gets boring fast).
But I’m rambling lol. I guess my point is, my dad is one of my biggest inspirations. Both my parents have been, perhaps my mom even more so when she was still alive.
So how can I give people hope in the same manner, using my talents? How do I have that same faith in God and faith in myself, while still remaining honest and true to who I am and who I want to be, and especially with what I want to say and show to the world?
As a writer, my mind is often a very disturbing and scary place. I think it was even when I didn’t write as much. I’m sure if I believed in demons, I’d think I was possessed, but I pride myself on being a rational person in the real world lol.
But I’ve always loved asking tough questions, and I think this definitely fits. Do I want a Christian life? Do I even want a Buddhist life, with its many principles and texts which I feel in some ways better resonate with me than the Bible does?
Spirituality and faith are just…difficult anymore. And I wish it wasn’t, because it’s something I want in my life, because I see what that power does for other people. It changes you–hopefully for the better. I want to have faith, and to believe in myself and in the godly force which moves and guides all things. It’s just so hard to see it as something that’s there, especially when you haven’t opened your eyes to it for so long.
Anyway. I will be going to church tomorrow, and I’ll see how I feel about it. Or maybe I just need to have a spirit walk with it, and get really personal with God.
Because ultimately, that’s what I feel a spiritual lifestyle should be. A personal relationship with a being, whether it be your own inner being, or one with the “universal consciousness”, or whatever force you feel moving within that drives you to personal greatness.
I dunno. Maybe the first thing I should do is stop worrying and not get caught up in rules or particulars just yet. Read my Bible, read other religious texts, meditate on it, and just go with the flow of wherever it takes me.
Maybe faith is like a river. What do you think?