I had a conversation with a great friend yesterday and we came to an interesting revelation. We look at things differently. (ok- you are probably saying, “DUH!” at this point) Our history, our beliefs, our focus causes us to look at things a little differently. We have the exact same reading/reflections from Sarah Young called “Jesus Calling” and I told her how I was reflecting on them and analyzing each reading to see what I agreed with and what I didn’t. If I didn’t agree, I was correcting the section so I felt it was true. After all, she is writing it as if she if Jesus saying it. My friend shared that if something didn’t resonate with her, she just shook it off and didn’t think another thing about it. Hmmm. Why is that? Why, if I read something and don’t agree, I am compelled to make it truth? If she reads something and doesn’t agree, she just moves on. If I am sitting in church and I am uncomfortable with how a prayer is worded or something that is said in the homily, the same thing happens- I want to correct it. I remember listening to a homily years ago about volunteering and giving our time to Lord and helping others. Having 7 small children at the time, a couple in diapers and one nursing, I didn’t have a lot of time to volunteer. So I went to confession as I must be sinning as I didn’t do what the priest said was to be done. He corrected me and tried to have me understand that at that point in my life, it was ok NOT to be volunteering, that at some point, that time would come. There was no sin there.
I have done that alot in my life. Beating myself up for things that didn’t really apply to me. Then I began analyzing things, seeing how they apply and feeling a need to correct the situation instead of just letting it go. One of my core values is truth, is that why I need to rectify in my mind when something doesn’t resonate with me? But when someone says they are speaking on God’s behalf, they better get it right, right?
But I think so many get it wrong.
Everyone is human. Everyone has “stuff.”
But when people with their stuff are in positions that violate the vulnerable, that does major damage. It is in our human nature to avoid pain, so we need to figure out the source of the pain. If it comes from people speaking of God on or on his behalf and we are hurt, the tendency is to reject God, or at least those speaking and acting on his behalf. I know many, many survivors of sexual abuse who have a relationship with Jesus but want nothing to do with organized religion. I wonder if they heard messages that didn’t resonate with them or actually reinforced their negative self images, which doesn’t make logical sense that God would mentally beat them up, so they avoid that pain. They are drawn to God, but the church causes pain so avoid church.
One of my major gripes of one of the prayers of the Catholic Church is the 2nd verse of the Hail Mary. I know that the first section is from the Bible, but the second part, “Pray for us sinners…” was added by people. Human beings with “stuff.” Why can’t it just read “Pray for us..?” Why do we have to call ourselves ‘sinners’ 53 times in the course of 20 minutes? Talk about negative reinforcement. I prefer to think of myself as ‘a child of God who sins’ instead. Ask any psychologist and they will tell you that it can be harmful to call your child a ‘bad boy’ or ‘bad girl.’ The better expression would be to say, “you did a bad thing.” Our identity should not be wrapped up in our behavior. My identity is that of a child of God. If I heard that more, perhaps it would be easier not to be branded as a sinner. If you are branded a sinner, you act like one. Wake up people. And that is why I avoid Mary. Why would I want to have a relationship with someone who calls me a sinner over and over and over?
And this is where I analyze and correct. I have stopped using the word ‘sinner’ when I pray the Hail Mary. I am teaching my kids the same thing. I believe Mary can lead me closer to her son, but alot of damage has to be healed from that wound first. I am working on identifying myself as a child of God, loved and cherished, which is what a survivor of sexual abuse needs to hear. That is the very reason I wrote my “Stations of Hope.”
Gee, I wonder if that is why so many survivors of sexual abuse blame themselves: it was something they did, something they wore, something they said, that caused the abuse. They are after all, a sinner.
So when we realize that the crime committed was not our fault, the place that should bring consolation and truth is the very place that crucifies us.
Can anyone else relate?
(So I looked in google pics for “sinner” and “child of God” Definitely a different feel, right?)