Sunday, April 12, 2009

Feeling Bad For Not Feeling Bad

Easter morning. The day all good Evangelicals and other Christian types meet to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The focal point of belief, the reason for our forgiveness, the cause that changed history. So why again this year, am I having a difficult time not making a bigger deal out of it? Why am I fine sitting in my morning chair, enjoying a quiet house, reflecting on my week, and savoring a rich cup of coffee? I think it has something to do with not feeling bad any more. Back when I was a good Evangelical, there was a point of view I completely bought into that I am only now starting to unpack and question why. This sentiment was expressed so commonly, especially in every other worship song I sang and led, I adopted it as if it was my intended lot in life. Let's just call it the identity of desperation. The one song that embodied this idea as good as any was the one titled, "Breathe." The simple lyrics of "I'm lost without you; I'm desperate for you." rolled off my lips like bailouts out of Washington. I loved this song. I thought it was so brave and courageous to sing this kind of passion, until I came to a discovery a few years down the road. I think the main reason I connected with it was because I was depressed. I felt horrible about myself, my place in life and what the future might not hold. In fact, I am starting to realize that much of my spiritual identity was built around that condition, and now that I am no longer depressed, I am redefining my faith accordingly. And I wonder if I'm not alone. Part of the reason I don't want to go back to the Church As I Knew It is that it helped reinforce my feeling bad and I don't feel a need to return to that place in my life again. Maybe I am, but don't feel like I'm trying to lay blame on Church or anyone other than myself, because ultimately I am the one responsible for the maintenance of my spirit. What got me thinking about this more were all the little Facebook profile updates I see from my friends expressing their sentiments about Easter. Sentiments that once made perfect sense now seems so foreign to how I view Christ and what His life represents. Honestly, I don't feel like a wretch anymore. I don't feel desperate any longer. I feel free and empowered. I don't rise each morning with the need to read the Bible and have it remind me of all that I am doing wrong. I don't need a weekly sermon to reinforce the darkness of my depression with a general assumption that I am nothing more than a man in need of a Savior. I guess I want to keep moving forward to better places and there are too many voices around me proclaiming their sin and shame and not enough living in freedom and power. I don't claim to know what God is thinking all the time, but if the image of Him as Father is accurate, would I want my kids calling me at all hours of the day to recount all the ways they let me down and to remind me of what bad children they are? If indeed He is risen, I'm pretty sure He's going to stay that way, and I'm going to do my best to do the same. Happy Easter.
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Anonymous said...

Any thoughts for someone who is in full time ministry and wanting out?

Ian said...

Excellent thoughts. Thanks.

I can remember a time when I came to the realization that striving for more passion, more fire and more desperation for God's presence was making me spiritually and psychologically sick.