Friday, May 3, 2013

Don't Read This, It's Worthless Self-Absorption

"Most artists have pain in their lives: it's why we make art: to create beauty out of chaos, to find meaning and healing in the art." --Susan Isaacs, Angry Conversations with God

This line terrifies me. I immediately ask, "If I heal will I no longer have any art?"

Art has been the one constant thing that I have enjoyed throughout my life. Art in any form and fashion. Observing art and creating art. But it is the creating that I am fearful of losing. I don't actually think of myself as creative. It has sort of been a gift out of my pain. If I let go of the pain, will I lose my art. Will I lose this gift...until more pain comes?

This thought makes me squirm. Why am I even considering holding onto the pain and the wounding for the sake of art?

Reading this book has been a necessary and liberating, but also a terrifying experience. Susan Isaacs's life almost mirrors mine. The stages she goes through. The thoughts and feelings she has.

At first I was overjoyed to read this book because I felt like someone understood me. Someone was feeling the way I was. I was no longer condemned or told to stop doing what I am doing. I felt validated.

But now it makes me uncomfortable. Because I have to read to the end. Because I can't stay in my emotions forever. Granted Susan is not me, and our paths do not have to be identical. But, still. Here is a woman who was where I was and am....and this book is (hopefully) going to tell her story of getting out of it. Will I choose to do the same?

I feel so disconnected from my life right now. I feel like an outsider. Perhaps that is why Susan's story is affecting me so much.....because I am observing my own life as much as I am observing her. Seriously, I have only a few assignments left for school, and my brain is only holding on by a thread. I am going through the motions in order to finish. I have no clue how I handed in a seventeen page exegetical project..... Did it even impact me? I read out of the Bible right? And then I look at the people around me, and I wonder how they are connected to me. Am I really connected to them? Are they really my friends? Am I really considering spending the rest of my life with this person?

I am terrified. I am worried that I am losing my hold on my life. Am I losing my grip on reality? (That is what I really want to ask myself, but am afraid to.) And what about others around me? What will happen if I lose it? What will they do? I've already "lost it" once.....that didn't go over too well. Landed me in a psychiatric hospital. Don't want to do that again. Perhaps I am just being dramatic. Perhaps once again I am focusing more on my feelings than on Christ. But Christ.....God/Holy Spirit....they all feel so distant.

Susan comments on all of the extremes in her relationship with God. Most recently she recounted the focus on healing, and then also the extreme experience that caused her to walk out on God. I am going to quote Susan's analysis of it here.... becuase it is worth quoting...

"Rudy put down his note pad and rubbed his eyes.

Rudy: You know I was a pastor? I was in that denomination. I was as that conference.
Susan: With the gold fillings and animal noises?
Rudy: (Nodding) So many well-meaning people got caught up in it. I screamed as loud as you did, Susan. All I lost was my job. A lot of those people lost their faith.
Susan: How do these wackos end up speaking in God's name? Why does God allow it?
Rudy: The real question is, why do we allow it? I think we allow it becuase we're so hungry for God, we're willing to do anything to experience him. It's not just fringe Christians. Islam has the whirling dervishes; Hindus chant mantras trying to reach nirvana.
Susan: At least Hindus get the groovy yoga pants. We've got the permed mullets.
Rudy: Hunger for God is part of the human condition.
Susan: Is insanity part of the religious condition?
Rudy: Tell me why you chose those wacky churches.
Susan: I went to the Pentecostal church because I didn't want to vomit myself into a coffin. I went to the Rock 'n' Roll church because I had a hole in my donut. Call me an opportunist, but when you're terrified and depressed with your head in a toilet, healing is a big draw.
Rudy: Fair enough.
Susan: Look, what happened to me is nothing compared to a real rape or murder or the Holocaust.
Rudy: Is that what you think God would say to you? 'It's not the Holocaust'?
Susan: Maybe, I was so traumatized, I blocked him out. I don't know if I want to hear what he'd say now either.
Rudy: But you need to. Why don't you wait a moment and listen?

I sat for a while, but I could hear no words. No answer. No nothing. I picked up Rudy's Bible and skimmed through the Eighteenth Psalm.

Susan: 'In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. . . . My cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked . . . because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils.' You see, Rudy, I told you he had a nose. 'He reached down from on high and took hold of me. . . . He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.'

I closed the Bible.

Susan: Only he didn't rescue me, Rudy. So I rescued myself.

We sat a while longer in the silence. Finally I thought I heard something. It was the sound of God weeping."

That is where I stopped reading last night. Last night was the most extreme disconnect I have felt from my life in a while. I had hoped reading would help reorient me. Instead I was led to this.

What am I doing? I am so confused. Am I wasting God's time? Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting my life? Why can't I move forward? Do I want to move forward? I want to be validated. I want to know that God cares for me and loves me--even if I am His servant . . . His slave. If I am a slave, am I even worthy of His love? No. But the Bible says He loves me, doesn't it? Am I looking for too much experience?

The nun that I listened to a few weeks ago, who spoke on psychology and spirituality, told us about the whirling dervishes. I was shocked. Here is a "Christian" woman who is seeking to experience God any possible way she can, even if she must run to the practices of other religions. And yet, here I am, doing the same thing, only my thing has a "Christian" label. What is wrong with me? Am I doing the right thing? Or am I doing the wrong thing? Is it even about right and wrong?

My Hebrew professor this morning spoke positively of getting a post-graduate education at a secular college since it offered a wider worldview. I was shocked (no--not really . . . the good little girl inside of me was shocked . . . the rebellious, angry girl inside of me shot her fist up in victory). (P.S. The Hebrew word for nose is the same as the Hebrew word for anger. So it is very possible that the phrase from Psalm 18 could have read, "The earth trembled and quaked . . . because he was angry. Smoke rose from his anger." My anger definitely blows smoke, even if my nose doesn't. My anger burns hot.)

I feel like I am losing my art. I have not written anything but this blog in months! Is it laziness? Or am I truly losing something?

I discussed with my psychology professor about whether healing prayer/ inner healing/ listening prayer/ theophostic prayer is something supernatural or just something psychological that our brains make up. Does it matter? Can God use us in our fearfully, wonderfully madeness in order to do something powerful? Does it always have to be so black and white, supernatural or natural. Is there an in-between? Can humans themselves be the in-between? We may not be God, but we are certainly made in His image.

What am I doing with my life? Where am I supposed to go? How am I to use my gifts? How am I to enjoy life (instead of being unhappy and confused) and serve God (instead of serving myself or other people)?

Do I dare even ask God to come down and meet me where I am? Susan did it. Job did it. I have done it in the past. Can I do it now? Or was I wrong to do it then? Am I letting myself be a baby--an infant in my faith--if I ask Him to do it again? What faith do I really have?

My professor is meeting with a young woman who has spent twelve years in China. "She choose Jesus over this man. I'm not sure whether it was because this man was the wrong man, or becuase Jesus was the right man. But I know it was traumatic." What does it mean to choose Jesus?

My grandfather seems to think I should go get my Ph.D. at a big secular university--without getting a Master's. Is this choosing Jesus? Or is this choosing myself again? Or my idol of academia? And what would that choice mean for the relationships in my life? (I know, what relationships, right?) And is a Ph.D. really worth anything these days anyway? It certainly doesn't give me any more direction in life.

People are hurting left and right. My family. My friends. Life is moving along. Finals to be taken. Internships to go to. People to see. Places to go.

And I have my head up my butt, trying to figure out who I am on the inside. Is there really anything to learn about myself from the inside of my anus? Not sure. But obviously I feel the need to see for myself.

God, I'm a mess.

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