the church is killing me

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For some of you the title of this is a little frustrating (for some of you who know me better, it’s really frustrating). You’re tired of hearing about church here, about how I can’t seem to make it exist. You’re tired of hearing me throw around words like community and sanctification so glibly, like I understand them. I understand, because I’m tired of it, too.

I tried to explain that it’s like I’m being clubbed in the head with a bat (or maybe a dull axe that will leave me some kind of nearly-headless ghost). That I would prefer a swift execution, neat with a corpse to bury and a soul that is finally free. I would prefer something sharp, to the point, and efficient. But I am so stubborn and so angry and so ugly. There are days I look back on and wonder why God bothers, to be honest.

So, instead I’ve been hit in the stomach so many times. By the words of friends and family here and not here. All of whom love me. All of whom are right. They’re telling me I can’t keep up the apathy. That I can’t keep up the selfishness. That I have to be the change I want in my own life, if I’m too wrapped up in me to care about the change in the world (and I am. Let’s make no mistake about that).

She is so persistent that I go and turn in a form that says I will do something other than hide in my room and watch New Girl that I actually do. I drive there in my car, turn in the paper, and run by the nearby mall for two seconds. I throw up in a trashcan in the middle of the food court.  I prayed for the church to touch me, but I guess I was hoping for a caress instead of a punch to the stomach.

Which goes to show that we don’t know what we need.

I think about the Great Divorce. About the lizard on the man’s shoulder who whispered lies. It had to die, painfully and brutally. But it had to die. Reading it, I’m prone to laugh at the silly ghost who can’t see that. Until I look down and see that I am totally transparent. That I am pierced and destroyed by the realness of the Church. That the accountability and community and sanctification are like the stick in the book, and I could work for a year the way I am now and never pick them up and make proper use of them.

We are supposed to be becoming solid. But I sit on my own shoulder, hissing lies into my ear. I block my ears to the words that might save me. And I know it will hurt terrifically.

But I have to die. I have to kill off all of these scaly pieces of myself, if I can ever hope to do more than stand at the edge of the life God has brought me to.

The church is killing me. It is pushing me outside of the things I want to do. It is speaking the truth when the truth is sharp. It is unsettling, uncomfortable, and inconvenient.

And I wake up, for a second, underneath it all. Open my eyes for the first time in months. I apologize. Over and over again. I wake up, and see that the monster is big, and I am small. See that maybe I ought not to have listened to Eminem and befriended him. And I hear the church still, hacking away at it.

The church is killing me. I will almost certainly not survive.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardlywe are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (from 2 Corinthians 4)

It is a parasitic growth, and neither can live while the other survives. If my soul is going to live, if it is going to crawl outside selfishness and apathy, I am going to have to die. I must decrease, and He must increase. Because my life should be forfeit to Him, anyway.

So when I say the church is killing me, understand that I mean it with a frightened kind of gratitude. With a fearful kind of apology. I’ve known this for so long. That it was inevitable. That so much could not survive. But I’ve gotten so confused. I’ve fallen in love with the parasite sapping myself of all my energy and passion and love for anything other than myself.

When I say the church is killing me, I hope you will hear it as a whisper “Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy”.

Thank you, and I’m sorry.

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One response »

  1. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/guyon/prayer.xvii.html

    “Self-examination should always precede Confession, and in the nature and manner of it should be conformable to the state of the soul: the business of those that are advanced to the degree of which we now treat, is to lay their whole souls open before God, who will not fail to enlighten them, and enable them to see the peculiar nature of their faults. This examination, however, should be peaceful and tranquil,
    35 and we should depend on God for the discovery and knowledge of our sins, rather than, on the diligence of our own scrutiny.

    When we examine with constraint, and in the strength of our own endeavours, we are easily deceived and betrayed by self-love into error; “we believe the evil good, and the good evil” (Isa. v. 20); but when we lie in full exposure before the Sun of Righteousness, His Divine beams render the smallest atoms visible. It follows from hence that we must forsake self, and abandon our souls to God as well in examination as Confession.

    When souls have attained to this species of prayer no fault escapes reprehension; on every commission they are instantly rebuked by an inward burning and tender confusion. Such is the scrutiny of Him who suffers no evil to be concealed; and under His purifying influence the one way is to turn affectionately to our Judge, and bear with meekness the pain and correction He inflicts. He becomes the incessant Examiner of the soul; it can now, indeed, no longer examine itself, and if it be faithful in its resignation, experience will convince the soul that it is a thousand times more effectually examined by His Divine Light than by the most active and vigorous self-inspection.

    Those who tread these paths should be informed of a matter respecting their Confession in which they are apt to err. When they begin to give an account of their sins, instead of the regret and contrition they had been accustomed to feel, they find that love and tranquillity sweetly pervade and take possession of their souls: now those who are not properly instructed are desirous of withdrawing from this sensation, to form an act of contrition, because they have heard, and with truth, that it is requisite: but they are not aware that they lose thereby the genuine contrition, which is this Intuitive Love, infinitely surpassing any effect produced by self-exertion…

    The soul will also be amazed at finding a difficulty in calling faults to remembrance: this, however, should cause no uneasiness; first, because this forgetfulness of our faults is some proof of our purification from them; and in this degree of advancement it is best. Secondly, because when Confession is our duty God will not fail to make known to us our greatest faults, for then He Himself examines, and the soul will feel the end of examination more perfectly accomplished than it could possibly have been by the utmost exertion of its own endeavours.

    ….”

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