Time for a showdown?

I found this sweet little old picture the other day at the thrift store. The title is "The Chickens First Thought."

I found this sweet little old picture the other day at the thrift store. The title is “The Chickens First Thought.”

I was raised with a lot of religion. It was mostly the “thou shall not” kind, the warning kind, that always had the message somewhere below the surface (or not) that human beings were bad, sinful, fundamentally flawed, creatures. Growing up in this atmosphere was like trying to walk a tightrope…..one, by the way, that I was bound to fall off. The question was never, “Will I fall off or not?”, it was more like,
When I fall, will it be fatal: death in this life, and eternal damnation in the next? or “Will I fall off, get really hurt, repent, learn to walk that very thin line (and gratefully accept the suffering that this entails) for heaven in the next life”.

So for years when I got into a tight spot, or didn’t know which way to turn, or felt worried about how a situation would turn out, I had nowhere to turn but to myself, and that wasn’t much comfort since I believed that I had gotten myself into the current mess in the first place, so I really believed I deserved to suffer. …and I didn’t deserve help.

Spiritual help was reserved for “spiritual, hard-working, and good people” and I certainly didn’t count myself among them. I was way too selfish, lazy, and self-centered. In my mind, you had to be the sacrificing, silently suffering, servant to get help, and I wasn’t any of those.

The idea of God helping me was foreign. In my life it was more like, “God help you Mary!” Which of course meant there was no help, and I was about to get nailed for being….well, really, just for being me. The only trust that I had in a higher power was that I would get punished eventually for my transgressions. I was basically trying to stay underneath the radar when it came to trusting God.

God is inside of each one of us, is each one of us. What isn’t God?  We can’t offend God, anymore than we can offend ourselves. I found this out when I was at a very low point in my life and I screamed at God. I screamed at what I believed was a very distant cold, uncaring power that demanded I follow impossible rules, and was always silently watching me, ready to pounce on me for being the offensive sinner that I was. So I yelled at God.  And I wasn’t destroyed or punished. I was flooded with love, and this experience changed my life.

I cannot say that life was easy after this, my mind still needed a lot of work to change old beliefs. The image of a frightening old man (the God I was raised with) still came up, but it began to fade, and be replaced with something much larger, wiser, kinder.

I think that we all might need to pass through times like this; places so dark that there is nowhere to turn but inside. In some way, we need to have our showdown with God/Spirit/Universal Energy to find out that there was never a reason to fear, or doubt or hate. It seems to be a necessary component to our awakening process….at least it was for me.

It is like we have to shake ourselves alive, or be forever living partial lives; trusting in only our small, human selves, following impossibly small, rigid little human-created rules of right and wrong… living in fear of being annihilated.

I love the scene in Forrest Gump where Lieutenant Dan is hanging on to the mast of the boat, which looks like it is about to be destroyed, and he screams at God:

 “Lt. Dan Taylor: Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a bitch! Blow! It’s time for a showdown! You and me! I’m right here! Come and get me! You’ll never sink this boat!

Forrest Gump: [voice over] After that, shrimpin’ was easy.”

14 thoughts on “Time for a showdown?

  1. Mary i think we were separated at birth! Being brought up German Lutheran & w/a fire/damnation Pastor who told us we were going to hell continuously…i decided in my teens that if i was going I might as well make it worth my time…took me a long time to trust myself…you explained it soooo well…there are times i get into thinking i don’t deserve anything because i am such a deeply bad person….this is where it stems from….i did alot of inside work but there are days i have to just believe & trust on the fly

  2. Mary, this chickens first thought is, you put words to my thoughts, experience.
    “shrimpin IS easy” ! Hugs to all

  3. So true ! Thank you, thank you Mary for sharing your thoughts and opinions. It hits home for me quite often. Personally, I feel so fortunate that I was able to shake and wake myself up as to what my life had become. I had almost lost myself , while trying to do what others thougt I should do. I learned that I deserved control of my life; “Co-dependent no more ! “

  4. Mary – Your words beautifully express how I also feel. I’m thankful to have broken out of the mold my earliest religious experiences formed and to have found something “larger, wiser, kinder”.

    P.S. I think I’m going to have to get a copy of Forrest Gump. I love the pearls of wisdom you share from the movie!

  5. Maybe I’ve mentioned this book before by Matthew Fox, who was ex-communicated from the Catholic church for his beliefs and writings – it is titled “Original Blessing” (instead of Original Sin). Didn’t silence him though! Wonderful post today Mary. I think one of the shortest and most profound sentences that is used in earliest Sunday school instruction is simply this: God is Love. God is love.

  6. I think the “dark night of the soul” is a common passage for people on a conscious journey/journey of consciousness. I was blessed with very little religious instruction, but still there was that overarching feeling that I had to please God and probably wasn’t worth much attention unless I messed up. I have to say , though, thinking that I was being watched did keep me out of trouble, mostly (and makes me wonder why paranoia isn’t a more pervasive behavior). I see my grown children making their way without the burden of religious guilt that so many of our generation carry and their lives is still challenging. No one can tell us what Faith feels like. It is something we need to meet alone.

  7. You must have been raised a Catholic. For me it was not a good fit. I was too impressionable, and made me feel like such a bad person who had absolutely no chance of getting into heaven. I was a sinner at a very early age. The only absolution was telling my sins to someone sitting in a booth so that I could be forgiven. Who wants to do that? You already feel like such a bad person, and now you have to tell a priest! Catholicism was not a good fit for me.

  8. Having grown up in a similar church and a family deeply involved in it, it has taken me most of my life to understand God differently. And I have to admit, I’m still working on it!

  9. So true, Mary, I grew up with a punitive God-figure through religion myself. It’s too bad that religion has to come from such a negative place instead of a positive, loving, caring place. To confess my sins…sheesh…why not confess all the good things about people instead of all the bad.
    Good post, Made me think. I related totally,
    SandyP in Canada

  10. Mary,this may be the best post ive ever read from you.I have felt the same way for years.
    I will be sharing this with others later on this evening. Im having a good day and now will have a better day..

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