Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Fear

Fear is just a dark tunnel you need to get through in order to stand in the light.  You know that it's better in the light, but the tunnel feels safer somehow.  It has walls.  You can't be seen. You can hide in fear.

Fear.

For some reason, known only to my psyche, the church panic attacks have set in again.  Even just dropping the girls off at the summer club our church is running is an ordeal.

It's been a year and two months since I left the cultish church I had belonged to since a child.  I feel that I should be over it now.  I shouldn't be going through all the fear again.  It's frustrating.

I still can't do 'no'.  Well, I can say it, but it plagues me with guilt afterwards.  So I'm now a Sunday school teacher which, either due to my personality or my learned helplessness I can't cope with doing.  I even took it on with great enthusiasm.  An enthusiasm I have learned to show whenever asked to do anything for the church.

Just tell them you can't do it anymore.

But the fear grips me.  You see, since the age of four I have been told that you never say 'no'.  If you are asked to do something you always say 'yes' because it is God asking you to do it.  If you say 'no' you are saying no to God and He will be heart-broken that you have said no.  You always say 'yes' to God.

I am an eternal disappointment.

I said I took on the role of Sunday School teacher with enthusiasm.  I have learned to be enthusiastic.  I can squash down my inner qualms because I have learned to do that over and over again.  I can make myself be happy.

I have lived my whole Christian life in cognitive dissonance.

Sometimes I don't know what I believe.

I long for peace.

I have had it drummed into me that you never disagree with the preaching.  Not even one jot should you disagree with.  You must accept that it is God speaking.

I have had it drummed into me that you never disagree with your Pastor.  You do as you are told.  If you don't, you are a disappointment.  Oh the Pastor rarely expressed anger to me. If I wasn't 'on board' with things I just got that sad look as if I had really let him down.  Oh, how he would cry out to God at night because the church wasn't 'one', oh how he was heartbroken, oh how he always had his 'tin hat on' because people were so hurtful sometimes and yet he just loved them.

And he was surrounded with adoring women.  Women who would put their families aside to do his bidding, women who would spend night after night at church services and meetings instead of being with their husbands, women who had no friends because you should love everyone equally and make no-one special in your life, because the Pastor said Christians don't socialise they just go to church meetings because they love God more than man, women who didn't ever meet up with people from other churches, women who would never ever go to another church service at another church, women who would stroke his ego by agreeing with everything he said.

The Pastor would have this special voice that he put on when he was hurt or when he was being especially 'loving' to people.  But when it came to the preaching, he would really shout.  I remember coming to church late and he preached loud and strong about people who hurt God by being late to church, if we truly loved God we'd be there on time.  Afterwards, he said he was worried I would feel bad, but he couldn't help it, God told him to say it all.  Obviously God isn't worried that I feel bad.  I have disappointed God, I must try harder. I am then comforting him because he's worried I'm upset.  I put on my happy face.  I tell everyone I'm not bothered.  I tell myself I'm not bothered.  God loves me, I just need to try harder not to disappoint Him.

Cognitive dissonance.  God loves me...but I'm such a disappointment...but I'm not bothered...everything's fine...none of it's biblical but I'm told it is biblical...

*head explodes*

So that's why I can't say 'no'.  I cannot bear being a disappointment and hurting people.  I cannot bear hurting God because you never say 'no' to God.  I cannot reason with myself.

But I believed it.  Hook-line-sinker.  I raved about it being the best church in the world.  I sought out scriptures that proved the preaching.  I had 'spiritual' feelings about it all.  It was like a drug being there.  But you see it was all a facade.  I was trusted enough to be allowed into the inner workings of the church. When I saw what went on behind the scenes.  The control. The gossip. The snake-like two-faced behaviour.  I carried on taking the cult-drug for a while. I joined in with it all...to my shame...for a while.  But it made me ill.  I had squashed down that still small voice for too long and it made me ill.  You cannot live a lie without it making you sick.

Jesus drew me out.  Gently he removed the distorted glasses I was wearing and I saw it for what it was.

Towards the end I disappointed him, the Pastor.  I had to make a choice - truth or deception.   I was sick in mind and body.  I was sick of the two-faced hypocrisy that went on behind the scenes.  I was sick of being spied on and being asked to spy on others who weren't being 'one' with the preaching.  I was sick of them criticising my husband...all done 'in love'...all done with heartbroken voice and watery eyes...all done out of concern for me because I was so much more 'spiritual' than he was.  In other words I agreed with everything the Pastor said, went to all the services I could, and could talk for England about God.

I can write it all in a post.  It's easy.  I can't see the disappointment in people's faces and they can't see the tears in my eyes.  I can hide behind my computer.  It's easy to do this.

I probably won't go to church on Sunday.  I'll perhaps hide away.

It's crazy.  I tell myself it's all lies.  I tell myself so what if I disappoint, I can only do what I can do.  I tell myself that God is bigger than that and that He loves me.

But someone needs to tell my nervous system.


Originally posted on my old blog on 7/8/13.  Republished here 27/3/14.

8 comments:

  1. I can say no, but I hear you on the feeling guilty about it. I think far to many people do feel guilty. The church in general has guilted people into thinking that if they don't do what they are asked to do that they are bad people. Not true. I think my mom goes through it to sometimes. She gets asked to help out in children's programs a lot (seems to be the biggest needs), but she doesn't enjoy it. Doesn't God want us to enjoy our service for Him? She loves helping out at the help/guest desk. So do that I tell her! And both to her and you don't feel guilty about not helping out with the kids. There are so many places to help out at. I love doing more behind the scenes help...like setting up chairs, cleaning, that sort of thing. That's how I'm a service. Or donating blood I feel is a service too. (I know you don't want to do that and there is nothing wrong with that!) But I also know that God can use guilt too. It's a fine line sometimes. Boy, I ramble sometimes. :) I'm going through my own things with the church. In fact, I've kind of stopped going. I still do my devotions and things, but the church around here is so full of "clicks" and that coupled with my anti-social tendencies I have a hard time going. I like to do bible studies and think of that as my church. Some people would think that terrible though. :) But even those have their clicks and it's hard to make friends. *sigh* The devil sure knows what to use, doesn't he? My devotions yesterday reminded me that the devil can't do anymore than God will allow. It was a great reminder to me!

    okay, I'll stop the book. praying for you!

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  2. I think part of it is my introverted personality and I am a person who feels easily 'guilty'.

    But having been part of a cultish church that spoke out against socialising, that's not surprising really.

    I understand where you're coming from. I love Bible study too, I usually fare better in smaller groups too.

    What I dislike is so much of the modern church is so stacked against the introvert. If you're not on an emotional high and doing, doing, doing it's as if you haven't 'got the fire'.

    Thanks for the prayers. I will keep you in my prayers too.

    Hugs.

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  3. I prefer church services with no preaching - not that I'm often bothered by the content, more that I find it very hard to focus aurally and it makes me drift off! To me it is the least important part, and I'm glad anything more than a 5 minute sermon is a rarity in Catholic churches. Also even though I am mostly an extrovert, albeit an extrovert who often needs space, I like quiet at church and the chance to pray silently. Oddly for a musician I actually prefer services with no music, or with just simple plainchant. Emotional highs and prayer don't sit well together for me.

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  4. I do like an ordered quiet service too, I do enjoy singing at church. But I do think that there is a danger in modern churches of expecting an emotional, excited, enthusiastic response to everything. I like to cogitate and ponder on things, I don't always get immediately excited. I agree with you about how the preaching shouldn't be the total focus of a service, Jesus should be. I think that is one problematic area of most protestant services (as I know that the Eucharist/communion is the focus of the Catholic service - as I understand it), sometimes there's too much focus on one man and his interpretation of scripture. I long for a smidge more reverence and order.

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  5. I am a person who easily feels guilt too, which makes us very easy to manipulate.

    Just keep writing and processing, it's healing and a help to others.

    Love and Hugs.

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  6. I've been there too. I'm so glad you are working through it with the Lord. His loving ways are so simple, so gentle and so true. Sending hugs, xxx

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    1. Hi Tina, thank you for your kind words. God is so good to us. It's been hard to go through but we can really see His hand on our lives. Hugs. xxx

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