I have been offline for about the last six months. To put it bluntly I have been terrible. I hope this post explains a few things. I apologize for being offline for so long.
More than a decade ago, when I was in high school, I was a counselor at an Evangelical Christian Children’s Camp. At that camp I counseled a little boy who was about eight years old. On the first day he pulled me aside and told me he was having visions. He saw the Virgin Mary in a mirror as if Mary was his reflection. Soon fire would appear and the devil would gobble up Mary and stare back at him as if it was his own reflection. He was scared and thought the devil lived inside of him.
I remember praying with him that Jesus would come into his heart and the visions would cease. I then chalked one up for team God that another soul was saved. Except no one was saved. The next day he told me he could hear Satan talking to him, telling him to hurt himself, to hurt his mom, that his life was worthless. I prayed with him again that Jesus would take those thoughts away and replace them with comfort and peace.
But to him they were not thoughts. They were audible voices and they did not cease. He grew more desperate and said he could see Satan staring at him whenever he closed his eyes. This time I grabbed the director of the camp and we prayed with him that Jesus would protect his soul and the voices would stop and he would be a peaceful eight year old boy. It didn’t take.
That night something broke and he threw himself into a frenzy. He had never been violent before. He ran through the bunkhouse pushing kids down and ran out the back. He ran and fell off a concrete embankment onto his face. That stopped him. When asked if he was okay he said he couldn’t feel his toes. Someone said we shouldn’t move him but call the nurse. He was taken by helicopter to the hospital. I still don’t know what exactly happened to the boy. The director implied he might have been demon possessed.
I don’t believe he was demon possessed. I think he was a sick, scared little boy who panicked. For the last six months I have felt like that little boy. Seeing, hearing, and smelling things that don’t exist but are terrifying. I am afraid to go to sleep because I fear what I might dream. The simple act of brushing my teeth is an ordeal. I don’t find comfort or fun in activities I used to enjoy.
I doubt God’s existence or subsequent goodness. It seems that God is as powerless to help me as I was to help that eight-year-old boy. To borrow a line from the movie Constantine, “God is just a kid with an Ant Farm.”
I even doubt the First Questions I ask myself or my “a priori” knowledge. How do I know what I see, hear, touch, smell, taste, feel, think is real? Do I even exist? Do I have a soul? I pondered Descartes’ famous phrase, “cogito ergo sum,” or “I think therefore I am” and came up wanting. I cannot prove my existence by thinking that is a cop out. If I abandon all preconceptions all experience I have no framework to think in. Either I exist or I don’t exist and I need to take the first steps by faith. I have to believe before I can think. Thinking can change what I believe but belief has to come before reason in order for reason to have the foundation to build upon. That is why philosophy is so diverse. It is because people believe differently they arrive at different logical conclusions based on what their beliefs are.
So I have to choose what to believe and then reason my way back from there. It is the opposite of science because you have to be biased in order to think philosophically. But there is the eventuality that you reason yourself into a corner where there is no way to philosophically justify something. That is when you get to the big issues of WHY?. Science is great at telling people how something happens. But it can’t tell why something happens. Science can tell you how to take a human life. Science has proven to be very creative when it comes to destruction. But science cannot give you the control to say when to use a weapon and when not to.
That is where ethics or moral belief comes into play. You can reason why a certain ethic is more harmonious or more chaotic than another. Order and Chaos are very scientific things. It can tell you what ethic is more likely to extend your life or further our dominance as a species. But it can not tell you what is bad or good. It cannot tell you if something is wrong or if it is right.
It cannot give me the absolute truths that my soul yearns for. Science cannot satisfy me. I want to understand the principles and/or personalities that govern so much of my experience. So I come back on my knees to God and pray. I don’t know if it is because God comforts me or if it is some conditioned response because or my upbringing but I feel better when I pray. I don’t panic when I pray. But with prayer comes an emotional response I do not want, anger.
I am angry with God, disappointed, heartbroken, Jesus said that following in his footsteps would be hard. But really…this fucking hard.
I am like the eight-year-old kid praying, asking for help, trying to live each moment in the presence of God but I am failing. Not only am I failing in my spiritual life I am failing at life altogether. My medicine isn’t working, I isolate, I have grown lazy, I have low-self esteem which is a fancy way of saying I don’t value my own life. I am a mess God. A mess and I don’t know what to do. Help…
Nothing happens. Then I get into the phase of I have to do more I have to contribute some how. This summer I taught children five days a week about the Bible and how God loves them and wants them to succeed. At the same time I was dying inside, at times suicidal. It got so bad that I would have panic attacks before and while I was teaching. Panic attacks so bad it felt like a heart attack. I would sweat and force myself through it, day after day after day. I felt like a liar, a cheat. But I know a lot about the Bible. The first book I personally owned was a Bible. I read it everyday until I was nineteen. I have led Bible studies including reading the entire Bible in ninety days which I did once on my own and in about half a year with a group. I knew the words to say to these children I taught I just didn’t believe them. Perhaps that is why I had no right to teach them.
But I stuck with it. The kids responded well to what I taught them and even though I was drenched in sweat the kids responded well to me. Which means that something I taught struck a chord with them or kids are gullible, maybe both.
I have done all I can to reach out to God. But I am left alone. I’m not perfect, I am sure their is another I to dot or T to cross. But why this hard God? Why am I so broken and have to stay that way? Aren’t you supposed to bind up the broken hearted. To make the lame to walk and blind to see.
I don’t want to live afraid. God. I don’t want to be motivated by fear. I don’t want to sleep with the lights on because I am afraid of the dark. I don’t want to fear my dreams or the images I see whenever I close my eyes. I don’t want to be the eight-year-old boy face down on the ground wondering if he will ever stand again.