I once read a book called the Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. He spoke of God's "Furious Love," describing it as a torrential and unstoppable force that one cannot resist, except to choose not to feel it at all.
Sometimes, we have to hurt, we have to let ourselves feel the wounds of the past and we have to allow people to affect us to even term what we're doing living. Yes, we may lose for a while. No, it will not feel good, and it will not be like the movies or shows or books you grew up being inspired by. But it's the only way to move forward.
When you're affected by something serious, it's tempting to close up, to stop engaging those around you and stop dealing with how you feel. It's less dramatic to allow your heart to turn to ice and just have fun, in an apathetic manner. I've tried it, and it was enjoyable. And then life caught up with me, and I found that my heart had silently drifted into the blackness of death, simply because I had stopped living.
I'll not reiterate the notions of my religious crisis here. If you want to know about it, read the post "Faithless." What's important is that I have lost what felt like an old friend in God. I still pray every once in a while that, if he is there, he will show me. Surely, if I have been designed to think and look at evidence and reason and feel and understand, the God that designed me could show up in a real manner? Why does faith have to be a prerequisite to this? I've had faith for years, and I've been nothing but damaged, nothing but hurt, nothing but taken advantage of and nothing but mislead. "Sin" is no excuse for the fact that I can count on one hand the trustworthy people I have met that still associate themselves with the faith of my past. So if I can't trust people, where is God? Is he so powerless that he can only reveal himself in circumstances that could be attributed to dozens of other things? Does he care more about testing my faith than about me? Or is he, as I'm suspecting, not there at all? The more I figure out about what we have discovered as a race, the less likely it seems that there is a god, especially not one like the Christian God. This is cause for grief, for I've spent 20 years trying to understand something that is apparently nonexistent. It hurts, and it's lonely.
I don't understand "Furious Love" beyond conceptually, but I do understand the pain this period of my life has left me with. I understand the grieving furious anger of having to look at years and years of faith and religious fervor that have affected friendships, romantic relationships, education, family, life choices, intellectual integrity, philosophy, sociology, psychology, emotional makeup, mental capacity, and my very being, and having to reframe all of it, reprocess all of it, and try to figure out what to do next. The only comfort I have is knowing that I am extraordinary for enduring so much dissonance and remaining sane.
I want to just say that Christians have hurt me, and that's because people will hurt me. I want to say that I know God and have a personal relationship with him, and I want to have the faith I used to have. I want it to remain in my heart. However, I want to know the truth more. I want to know what reality is, even if it's the blackest and most meaningless explanation ever, or even, shockingly, if it turns out God is actually there and I've just been angry and hurt. I don't care which one. Some may call me optimistic or even idealistic, but I think there's more to reality than merely what we can measure. Supernatural events happen every day, and the more we learn, the more of them we understand. Spirituality is connection, and there is, without a doubt, more to reality than we can sense with our limited perception of matter and energy. Even the emergent property of consciousness currently eludes us, and that's one of the simplest things about us as sentient beings. There is more.
I've been abused by women that did not even know that they were abusing me. They would take advantage of my kindness, allow me to help them and give nothing in return, and use their knowledge of who I am like a knife, stabbing and twisting. Manipulation is commonplace among those I've trusted, and I trust easily because I want someone that has the quality my close friends have--that honorable quality of love, of looking out for me and taking care of me as I do for them, of family. I have trusted too easily, and I have been broken for doing it. It is so entirely frustrating to know you want to find someone that can love you, and only find people that don't understand what that even means. When I confront them with what they did to me, some have cast the blame right back at me, because I volunteered to help them, I choose to try to fix them, because that's what I love doing. I love listening, I love helping people find serenity, I love bringing peace and healing to others. And now, I am choosing to bring it to myself. I can no longer allow people in that will not take care of me, regardless of what they may need or want. I am too hurt, I have been too damaged, and I have been used up. I am tired of it. I am done with it. It cannot stand, and I will not do it anymore. I grieve for this part of my past, the part that's allowed too much, that's assumed too much and tried to fix people instead of letting them be who they are, and has been left behind, discarded after those I've pursued no longer needed or wanted me, or worse, needed me for entirely too much, without the ability to even stand with me as an equal. It hurts, and I will not do it anymore. Some have apologized, and for that I am grateful.
Don't take it personally. These things happen, and I've learned to stand instead of lean on another. You should too.
I have friends that feel betrayed by my recent decisions. They don't understand, they think I'm making a stupid decision, and they worry for my soul. It is their decision what they wish to do, but I'd hate for any friendships to be lost just because I've moved to another stage of life. It hurts to lose people, especially without explanation, but sometimes these things happen. For this, I grieve as well.
I am not bitching and moaning about my life. This grief is beautiful, and it is my burning anger for now. If there's one thing I've learned to use, it is that rage that drives me to change, drives me to be better and to look the past square in the face, call it what it is, allow myself to process and feel what it is, and move on to be a better person.
Do not be afraid to grieve. Do not be afraid to be angry. Do not be afraid to live.