Rants, Musings, and Mental Meanderings of a former Conservative Christian Mother. Standing Strong against ignorance, preconceptions, labels and excessive housework. Celebrating original thought, religious freedom, parenthood, free enterprise and chocolate.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Delusion of Control

After all we have been through the last couple years, I have truly come to see the appeal of the illusion of control. I could not understand why people would cling ferociously to the teachings of their church, against all logic, evidence, even common sense, even as they saw their family falling apart around them, until I realized that they are trying to grasp the reins on this runaway stagecoach that is our lives. When you are told that following a narrow set of guidelines gives a guaranteed outcome, especially as a parent, this appeals to everything inside of us that craves control. You are told you are submitting, letting go, denying yourself, but in fact you are really telling God he owes you one. If I keep up my end of the bargain, God is required to deliver. I remember a woman who suffered from depression, who, upon having a bad day began tearing her house apart looking for the "sin" that was summoning the demons oppressing her. She dug out a box of old Motown records, and gratefully destroyed them. It was easier for her to believe that dusty, never-played records were causing her troubles, because she could destroy them. She could be in control of that. Another mother whose daughter was slipping away from her ran to her room and threw out all the girl's jeans, believing they were somehow causing her daughter's issues. They had both bought into the lie that everything bad that happens is because of sin, so if you are struggling, it's the Devil. Period. (Never mind Job, I guess.) I have seen people who could never face up to the fact that sometimes, LIFE IS HARD. Teenagers are moody and difficult to understand. Good people get sick and die. Hard-working men lose their jobs. It happens. You can't control it. We are beyond narcissistic when we want to take both blame and credit for everything. God does not care if you read a New King James Bible, wear blue jeans, listen to music with (GASP) a beat to it or not. I saw enough sexual deviants within these circles to assure me that focusing on the minutia is either a sign of delusion or deliberate deception. Who cares if your daughter wears blue jeans if your son is a child molester? Where is the balance? Where are the sensible priorities? Where is the common sense? Not in any of the truly fundamentalist churches. Now, I have seen certain groups of people thrive in these environments: emotionally scarred (usually from a difficult or "colorful" past), Kennedy Syndrome sufferers (large extended families of fundies, usually in the ministry, who form Kennedy-like dynasties), narcissists, and people of below-average intelligence. People will be quick to point out exceptions, those naturally sweet-tempered people you find in any religion that they hold up as the ideal, but you don't make a rule based on the exception. Overall, these are the groups who thrive either being completely in control, or in blindly following someone else completely in control. They are both delusional. Do you really think all your troubles are because your wife wore blue jeans? You really think with the true pain and suffering going on the world, the unspeakable horrors people suffer in our ghettos, in other cultures, in the nearest city alley, that God cares about your church's pet standard? I am picking on blue jeans, but the concept is the same no matter what the trivial hang-up. Life did not come with an instructional manual. The Bible teaches you how to survive the ride and make the most of our brief sojourn here. It turns what could be a momentary blip on a radar into a life that matters and leaves a lasting impact on the world when we go. By no means, however, is it a recipe book that gives you some kind of magic code to produce the outcome you want. (Pardon the mixed metaphor.) Not to mention, as much as they scream about the Bible, most of these pet standards aren't even in the Bible, or are misapplied Jewish guidelines. If you are still trapped in the fear and control of these circles, with everything inside of you screaming to escape, just let go. Get out and live your life. Don't let the fear cause your life to spiral into a self-fulfilled prophesy. Too many escape, only to let the paranoia that is brainwashed in control them and drive them to a life of pain and confusion, not knowing what standards mattered and which did not since they are presented with equal importance. I know people who left these churches, lived in gross immoral sins, devastated their families, destroyed their health with drugs, but still think the KJV is the only Bible and that Santa Claus is Satan trying to undermine God. It's a good thing they got their priorities right! I mean, who needs an intact, functional family as long as there's no mention of Santa, right? Give me a break. Calmly, think it through. Study your Bible with an open mind. Talk with your spouse about your concerns. Make the decision that will best keep your family close to each other and emotionally healthy and happy. Do what is best for your family unit, not what makes you look like a Super Spiritual Christian. Yes, it's humbling finding out you weren't really on some inside track to God's favor. More likely, you were an arrogant blowhard that did more harm to the cause of Christianity than any political agenda.
I guess the best way to summarize my point is this; If you realize that there is something wrong, and you want to make a change to better your family, use your God-given common sense. It is hard, since at first, everything that goes wrong you will blame on your "rebellious" heart. Or, you will miss the pride and affirmation that comes from living a life that stroked your ego and drove your family apart. In time, though, you find a peace in accepting that living in that kind of an environment does more harm than good, to individuals as well as to family units. Don't stay in it, even when you know it's wrong, for fear of losing your kids. (You're more likely to lose your kids when you negate your credibility with them by following this nonsense.) They do not have the answers, they cannot guarantee the outcomes, for good or for bad. This is a tragic lie too many have bought into, and a lie too many cannot let go of, even as they see it being debunked time after time as entire generations are lost to Christianity thanks to the damage of radical fundamentalism.