It told me–or maybe it was mostly the people involved–to “hold on to God’s promise” and that this translated to me getting what I wanted if I just “believed” hard enough.
Looking back on that now, it sounds like a bait and switch. And people are usually pretty pissed when you do the switch.
I realized several days ago, as I was reading something Christian-based, that I am still angry at Christianity to the point that I forget its good parts. I honestly feel that what the religion is today is a mockery of what Jesus was sent to help create, so I don’t feel disrespectful offering my opinion on NOT liking what the religion has become.
But I need to learn to focus on its core, and not judge Christianity by the actions of the people who call themselves Christians. The anger that arises in me is the whisper, telling me that I need to find forgiveness; for the brainwashing when I was at my most vulnerable; for the perception that those years were wasted on false promises when they could have been used to help me find REAL meaning instead of “if you’re sick it’s your fault for not believing in God enough.”
Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different. And it’s over, so I need to move on… After I properly grieve.
So yes, Christianity never helped me with illness. It was judgmental. People blamed me, said I wasn’t doing something right, and that God was “allowing satan to punish” me for it.
From what I’ve seen, these are the major reasons people stop believing in any religion, especially Christianity: They are led to believe that (1) God hates them, (2) that God is punishing them for something, and (3) they can’t possibly wrap their minds around praying to anything that could “allow” so much suffering in this world… Which, from my previously Christian standpoint, did indeed make me awfully confused. But from my current, well-rounded standpoint, that I in no way achieved through the Christian religion, I understand it much, much better.
I’m a Universalist so I believe God is Love and there are infinite ways to connect to the divine. I don’t believe God, the Universe, controls our actions. It wants to lead us in the right way, toward Love, which is our true form, our connection to the Source, but it can’t stop us from hurting ourselves or others. That’s the free will part.
Many Christians I was around felt like they had to protect the image of the god in their head through bizarre logic, such as: If you believe in Him, nothing “bad” will ever happen to you. (And of course “bad” can be subjective. For example, I no longer see illness as something “bad” but as a part of life, like getting older. We all get sick eventually.) Or if something bad does happen, it’s because you weren’t doing something right, and these bad things will continue to happen until you get rid of all the “evil” in your life. I.e., Everything is your fault.
In my case, during my first years of being ill, their descriptions of the “evil” in my life were: “Stop drawing dragons, they’re symbols of the devil!”; “Someone in your household has been watching pornography!”; “Get rid of that gargoyle, it has a ~bad energy~ and it’s evil!” (I guess they forgot gargoyles are on cathedrals…); “This is a generational curse because your parents had an affair!”
It was all about letting other people tell me what I needed to do to earn their god’s love, what I had to do before He would take away this “curse” which had been bestowed upon my physical form because I wasn’t “perfect” enough to receive his mercy. (Sarcasm alert…) Because, you know, it’s so much better to have no spiritual direction and a broken soul but be physically healed, than it is to be spiritually and emotionally whole but fragile with physical illness. (…Okay, sarcasm over.)
How rarely people mention the SPIRITUAL HEALING part of that “you will be healed” promise in the Bible, instead of interpreting it as “pray and all physical illness will leave you.” With that flawed Christian-based logic, I guess Tammy Faye Bakker died from cancer because she didn’t love God enough? (Still being sarcastic, there. That’s not true at all!)
Become closer to God, closer to Love, closer to the Universal tie that connects us, and you will find healing. Perhaps not physically, but spiritually, emotionally. That is how I interpret that metaphorical promise in the bible, a book I firmly believe was intended as a metaphorical masterpiece never to be taken literally.
The goal of being “perfect,” especially to a judgemental human’s eyes, is completely unattainable. It will leave you struggling in self-hatred until you die because nothing will ever be enough. A belief in God is not your way out of anything negative ever happening to you.
Like the Buddhists, I believe life is suffering. Bad things do happen to good people. Hurting people hurt other people with their free will. Disease happens. Natural disasters happen. I can’t say I understand every instance of things, but I do know from those situations, with guidance, come some of the strongest people on this earth. Through all the pain comes forth a warrior. I’m one of them. And I use that strength to try to help and inspire people… So how dare anyone try to say God was “punishing” me, with the likes of something that happens to all of us.
It’s not a “one size fits all” where disease is a punishment that “shouldn’t” exist. Disease exists. If you have a body, it can and will get diseased and die. Life is a fatal condition, as the saying goes.
I think wonderful things can come from having experienced illness, and its’ timing is absolutely essential to how our lives turn out. For some, it’s the only way they are going to stop and think, about their lives, about their actions… How many near-death experiences, how many sicknesses, bring people closer to the divine and/or what’s really important to them? That’s not an accident, not in my book. Illness also profoundly affects the lives of those closest to the person who has disease.
If someone can look at me and say that God has not healed me, they’re not looking closely enough. I used to be so angry, and led by negative emotion, and torn. Nothing could have ever stopped me in my tracks like disease has…and yet, I wouldn’t change a thing if given the chance, because no other turn of events could have landed me here today. I think I’d be like so many people, going through the motions of The American Dream thinking it’d give me happiness but never finding it.
Through great suffering comes great reward. It’s not what I would have chosen for myself, but I am amazed at how it’s all come together, at the person I am and who I’m becoming.
People lied to me, but they didn’t know they were hurting me. They didn’t know they were blaming me for my disease because of their own desire to protect the image of god in their head; because of their inability to handle the thought of their god “allowing” illness to happen; because they saw illness as a curse to be delivered from, not a fact of life with which one copes. They didn’t know it all came from their fear of not being in control.
It reminds me of this thing I once got from a Facebook app:
“True faith flowers from and through doubt.
If you never question your beliefs, you are just a puppet dancing to somebody’s strings. If God had wanted your mindless obedience, you would’ve been created without mind and without free will. But you have both so you can come to God of your own accord. Just look at the lives of saints: Most of them had gone through a dark night of the soul, and that’s why their faith was so strong. The path to true faith always goes through doubt. So ask those questions you’ve always been afraid to ask, and find the answers. Then your faith will become unshakable.”
I’m glad I asked the questions, I’m glad I doubted, and even if I am still working on my forgiveness, I am glad I am not that which has hurt me so that I will not hurt others in the same way. And may it be so.
♥ a rainbow at night