How do you withstand the waves, when you can’t see where they’re coming from, How do you stand firm when the storm just won’t quit? How can you find your way when the dense fog permeates every corner of your life? How do you hope for color when all is shades of dingy grey? How do you just hold on when every fibre of your being is screaming to just let go.
Hope fades. Colors fade. Energy fades.
But somehow inside I know there’s more. I’ve tasted religion. The rules to twist your experience of the world to their worldview is nothing short of control. “There’s hope!” they say. “There’s hope, all you have to do is believe”. But believe in what? Your view of what may or may not be the largest religion in the world? Believe in your building? Your members? Your ‘mission statement’? And really — it seems there are people more interested in using that as a tool of control, or a shield to defend their actions. “Don’t worry, God’s Grace will cover my sin!” while they defy the very rules and religion they claim to follow.
But what else is there? Zen and the art of nothingness? No — there’s more depth to life than emptying yourself of everything. The way of peace? At the surface this seems like the best choice — but there are times and places, situations where violence may be needed. What about reincarnation — living “a good life” in hopes that I’ve lived good enough to move up a level….but what if I haven’t despite my best efforts? What if the circumstances of the world throw me a curve and I don’t come back as a higher life form, but one much lower? What about enforced religion — belief by might and strength? No — I don’t believe that anything enforced can be a religion, merely a way of thinking, or brainwashing.
So that leads me back to Christianity. This man Jesus that his followers claim was executed in one of the most brutal ways known to man — the Roman Cross. A way of execution designed to be as painful as possible for many hours, bordering on death but not quite there…The man Jesus of Nazareth was executed, yet his disciples witnessed him alive 3 days later — and would continue to do so under cruel punishment and threats of death. That is a depth of belief few in North America truly have, and few can really comprehend being persecuted under pain of death for a religious belief.
And in that — the fact that Jesus’ original disciples or followers proclaimed his death AND resurrection under threats of death and extreme torture — says there must be something to it. It’s one thing to be young and zealous and go on a suicide mission in hopes of killing some unbelievers when your explosive vest detonates — perhaps you’re hoping for company when you reach whatever your destination is in the afterlife. But again that’s enforcing belief on others, domination by force.
It’s in the fact that Jesus’ disciples faced death, and did so joyfully and peacefully (from my very limited understanding of historical documents). Resistance, not through might and force, but by sheer peace and non-resistance. There’s something to that, which means the man Jesus must be different. History itself is split into 2 because of him. If he was just a good man, maybe a good preacher — history has had lots of those and will continue to do so….but there’s gotta be something more to him if history itself is split into 2 periods, before and after his birth. A man who opposed religion, a man who in one instance says violence is not the way — yet in another situation says that if his followers aren’t armed, they should sell some of their clothing in order to purchase arms. A man who defied the standing religion by cutting it down to it’s core of insecurities, power, and manipulation. And if recorded history is correct, very rarely did he use violence to do so.
So what does that mean? I don’t know to be honest. There’s something different, something compelling about the man Jesus. History is changed because of him. Many things, both incredibly good and horribly evil, have been done in His name. And yet, over 2000 years later…somehow, he’s still relevant.
People claim in Him there’s hope. There’s color for the dingy greys. If not a shelter from a storm, then security to withstand it. A beacon in the fog.
And maybe there is. And maybe I don’t want to dig for that hope, because it just might reveal how deeply scarred my heart really is, how much bitterness and anger is just under the surface, how much resentment and pain and sheer ugliness is there. That if I really believe, I’ll have to open the Pandora’s Box of my heart. And I don’t know if I want to see what’s in there. And while I’m being honest this whole thing of a “personal relationship” with Jesus just goes over my head. I struggle to feel connected to, loved, valued, cherished by my friends and family — and they’re people I can see, touch, talk to, that I can hug and laugh with — and if I struggle to feel connected and valued with people i can see, people who have expressed their love, care, and compassion through words and actions…how am I supposed to feel any sort of connection to a Being, who exists beyond the borders of time, space, and our laws of physics? I can read, I can hear stories, I can listen to people who have struggled to believe, and now do. And I do those things, and that gives me glimmers of hope that maybe one day I’ll find my way too. But for now, I feel like a broken extension cord. I might be plugged into the right source, but whatever is damaged inside prevents the power from getting through.
There’s hope. There has to be. But I’m tired of pushing though on sheer grit. It’s exhausting in ways I don’t even have words for. And when my guard is down, this whole week I’ve been on the verge of tears of just brokenness.
This song…(Broken by the band Lifehous) is so close to how I’ve been thinking and feeling the last weeks.