I am revisting my earlier post “Weeping in Church”. I have a deeper understanding of my relationship with God.
Sunday December 17, 2017. Evening service. Toronto. I found myself weeping in church.
Earlier that day, I had attended church in Barrie, then visited my ailing mother, my brother and his wife, taken the express bus back to Toronto, and the TTC to church downtown. I welcomed the peacefulness of church. The Reverend and the congregation read aloud from the screen, The Confession:
My brokenness and sin is ever before me. I have desired control and that has only produced fear. I have desired power over others and that has only served to alienate them from me. I have desired my own comfort and that has only brought forth anger when my comfort was not achieved. I have sought the approval of others and meticulously kept them from seeing my true self for fear of rejection. I am consumed with thoughts of self-aggrandizement, self-promotion and self-service. In my deepest parts, I doubt that you are God and I want to rule myself. Show me the truth of the cross through which you rescue me from myself and my idolatry [of myself]. May the work of Jesus ever stir me towards radical, joyful obedience in my home and place of work.
May he be my reason for living and my source of joy, hope, faith and love. Amen.
I trembled and wept at the words, “I have sought the approval of others and meticulously kept them from seeing my true self for fear of rejection.” All that was me.
My crux was that I believed life was too complex to be understood; life was absurd: it had no meaning. Life left me indifferent. I would leave meaning to others. The bright white text dragged me into my nightmare, and I came through thinking anew about my relationship with God, with others and myself, and my nightmares.
I have had nightmares all my life. When I was young, I would wake up in our bathroom to my mother soothing my forehead with a cool wet cloth. Once, I awoke in our neighbour’s house. Another time, I had a dream of flying above the trees; suddenly, I was unable to fly. I awoke on the street, terrified. Bullied, I wanted to be a tough guy at school, fear of the night rendered me a sensitive child.
Often in my nightmares, I find myself in a scenario out of WWII: I am with strangers who have gathered in a pub or house to celebrate something. The Nazis arrive and round up the group to be shot, everyone except me. For some reason the Nazis sense I am a Nazi and ignore me. Still, I am afraid that the Nazis will find out that I am not one of them and shoot me. Also, my fear is that the group thinks that I betrayed them. I am as a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
After reading the words of The Confession, my debilitating nightmares of Nazi persecution suddenly informed on my waking life. The nightmare was a rendering of how I behave in real life. I fear authority (authority rendered as Nazis). I have social anxieties about not being accepted by others. Being ingratiating, witty, and sarcastic, all this “meticulous” negativity in order to distract others from seeing that I was not a tough person, caused me a life of despair. The Confession ratted me out.
August 28, 2017, I gave up drinking. Drinking had become poisoning. Not drinking alleviated anxieties that paralyzed me mentally and physically. Sobriety had me desiring more out of life. But, what?
One day, I had a quirky thought, “I am so terrible at pool that if I switched one thing in my brain, I would be great at pool.” This whimsical notion led me to the wisdom that my negative attitude must change to a positive attitude. This way of contending with problems (solutions) by flipping them on their ear led to, a complex life, flip, a simple life. A life of despair, a life of joy. Indifference, love. Love was what I desired.
From The Confession, the word “reject” was a key to going forward in my life. In my nightmares, I want the Nazi’s to accept me but also I must hide who I am (not). To flip The Confession on its ear, I fear rejection renders as I am accepted. The Confession, in its entirety, then renders as, the affirmation that God loves and accepts me for who I am. I surrender, I am sensitive to others.
“I have sought the approval of others and meticulously kept them from seeing my true self for fear of rejection.” That evening in church, the lessons I learned are that I do not need the approval of others, I am accepted by God; I will never again fear rejection, God will never leave me; and, I will always live as my true self, the self that is one with God.
God who is love is the source of my joy. God who I love will always love me. Thank you, God.