Sometimes, when I’m praying, Jesus says “Do you trust me?”
I say, I’d like to, but not really. I’ve committed myself twice. And now I’m talking to myself.
Or at least, that is how our society would label this. Lilly Tomlin said that if you are talking to God, you are praying. But if God is talking to you, you are crazy.
I’m afraid. I’m terrified of going too far and losing control. I’m afraid of going over the edge. I’m afraid of having to go into the hospital again. The last time was 12 years ago. Who wouldn’t want a nice break from work? But the bills don’t pay themselves. And mental hospitals aren’t that awesome. The last one I was in one of the workers tried to molest me. This is especially evil since I was on sleeping pills.
So when that little voice in my head says “do you trust me?” and I think it is Jesus, I don’t know. So not answering that question really is answering it. It is saying no. No I don’t really trust. Because I’ve been over the edge before, and I don’t like where I landed.
So why is it that all the churches I’ve been in (mainline Protestant, mostly Episcopal) don’t teach people how to hear from God, and how to know what is the voice of God and what is the voice inside your head? Isn’t that the point of church? The stories in the Bible are full of people who talked with God. They knew God was talking to them.
God asked them to do some crazy things. Take everything you have and pack it up and move to some place far away. Take your child and sacrifice him on an altar to Me as a test of your loyalty. Or, you are going to give birth to the Messiah.
You know, stuff like that. Crazy stuff.
Yet our entire faith is based on people listening to a voice in their heads telling them to do crazy stuff.
Our culture says that if you are saying that God is talking to you, you are crazy. Even my former priest (Episcopal) said that she thought I’d fail the psych exam for the deacon discernment process I was in.
Meanwhile, I’m properly oriented to day and time. I get to work on time, I get the bills paid. I have friends. What is “crazy” but simply not adapted well? I’m starting to think she is crazy for thinking that serving God is all about trying to raise money by getting more people in the church. I think that serving God is all about waking up the ones who are there to hear the voice of God.
Maybe that is what she is afraid of. Maybe she’s never heard from God. I find it interesting that I’m not the only person who feels this way.
I’d like to propose that it is crazy that when a minister finds out that a parishioner has a desire to help people and wants training and oversight, she then thinks that the person is called to ordination. Isn’t the desire to help people normal? Isn’t it part of what everybody in church is supposed to feel? And the training – that is to make the person better able to help. Isn’t that the point of church?
Or is the point of church to be a social club? My old church had a few social outreach ministries – Second Harvest and Room in the Inn. Both are very good things, the very things that church is supposed to do. I know that the first one met with a lot of resistance when it was proposed. Meanwhile, the normal activities, the stuff that takes up the majority of the time there, are book clubs (not all are religious), ice cream socials, outings to hockey and baseball games, and karaoke night with frozen margaritas.
I feel it is crazy for people who say they want to join together to serve God to be distracted with these kinds of activities. You can have fun and serve God at the same time. Instead of hanging out at a game, why not hang out at a widow’s house and help her with house repairs? Why not volunteer to teach an immigrant how to read and write?
And make sure that you don’t make a requirement of membership in the church for getting help from the church.
I asked for oversight because I’m bipolar. I want to make sure that what I’m hearing is the voice of God and not the voice of Betsy. But the more resistance I got from the priest, and the more I started looking around at the activities in the church, I didn’t feel like I was going to be lead anywhere there.
Now, I knew even from the beginning that I was going to not be a member of this church forever. I prayed beforehand, upon returning to church, as to if the Episcopal church was the right one for me, and God said that it was the closest there was to what I needed right now. So I knew it wasn’t forever. I knew it was going to end, I just didn’t know how or when.
When the priest attacked me for my blog post called “My Problem with Church”, that was it. April 17th, and I’ve never been back.
This is hard, and strange. I’ve identified as a church-going person for many years. I’ve been a confirmed Episcopalian since the late 1980s. Gone. There is a sense of freedom, and of fear. I’ve been asked by some members to come back to lead the way for others, to wake them up. How can I, when I’m silenced by the priest?
And more importantly, I don’t want to lead, or teach. I want to be fed. I want to learn.
So yes, really, I do trust Jesus. I trust that I’m being led in the right direction. I don’t know where I’m going, and I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I’m in good company for that feeling. I know that if I was going to stay in that church I’d be even further from God’s path.