Written by LA Jamison
One of the worst things Fundamentalist Christianity and Conversion Therapy ever taught me was that there was something so inherently bad with me. Born without God, I was destined to a doomed fate on Earth and in Hell unless I did these two things;
Go Through the Steps of Salvation
Become a Straight Man
I “re-dedicated” my life to Christ many times simply out of fear I didn’t “mean it with my heart” enough or do the steps the right. Since neither of those two steps provided long lasting solutions despite all that I learned at a heart and spirit level, I wrestled with my failings, sin, and mental shortcomings. They continued to chase me down after each transformation I celebrated. Things kept creeping back in overtime and before too long, I found myself back at square one. Soon I was once again wrestling with this feeling of the wrath of God forever on my horizon. Recently due to surgery and a complication from that surgery, I was set aside from much of my usual activities (including work) for about 2 months. This allowed inner reflection and a re-read of one of my favorite books “Everything Belongs” by Richard Rohr. I had read the book three times already and this was my fourth. On this fourth read, “everything” hit. I got the whole thing because I could finally put aside hang-ups from my religious upbringing. I am now on a completely different journey of learning to love myself so that this kind of love and God’s love can be poured into others. I want that for you too.
Whatever your reason is that you feel something is wrong with you, which you can’t quite put a finger on, I hope you find these reflections helpful. Let’s begin:
Reflections on “Everything Belongs” Pt. 1
(The books used for these reflections and quotes are “Everything Belongs” by Richard Rohr and “There Is Nothing Wrong With You” by Cheri Huber)
What is Wrong With You?
Whether or not you subscribe to an inherent problem within or problems stemming from without (in the society we are raised), we need to begin with the imperial culture we are saturated in. It is one that emphasizes “winners” and “losers”, “victors” and “victims”. Think of our most popular reality shows like “American Idol”, “The Voice”, all our game shows, news outlets driven by one-sided politics. There are victors and there are victims portrayed in our media outlets.
Here in America, we have a unique American Problem in this regard and a big part of the problem is our own solutions for it. Now that is the definition of a “clusterfuck”. When you have a doctor who makes you worse off than when you came in, you’re pretty screwed. The solutions we have by and large appeal to our mind and ego. Our self-help gurus are driven by a belief that says we can think ourselves into new ways of living. Richard Rohr states, “We don’t think ourselves into new ways of living. We live our way into new ways of thinking.” How many of us have tried to change our thoughts? Have you run that Olympic Marathon yet only to fail over and over again? This isn’t to say there isn’t anything we can do to tweek our thinking or put away irrational thoughts from playing with our ego and soul. However, Rohr suggests that transformative living doesn’t have much to do with our control or our own thinking. Trust me, I am a product of strictly Cognitive Therapy that began in my twenties and continued into my late thirties. Not without benefit, but by and large living as a switchboard operator over your own mybrid of thoughts is a losing battle. So, how do we do transformative living? How do we let go so we can get into that place of being a human “being” rather than a human “doing” who must hold tightly to the controls? Stay tuned to the series!
Let’s start with this one fact: there is nothing wrong with you. This is the title of a book by Cheri Huber by the same name “There Is Nothing Wrong With You”. It sounds appealing but also (if we are brave enough to admit) a little selfish. We at first say to that “Ahhhhh! How nice!” and then moments later “But wait a minute…that can’t be. There are things wrong with me and isn’t it selfish to think I am good?” Hearing that there is nothing inherently bad about you is something we all long to hear. Everyone of us wants to think we are born good and yet, something also tells us we are not. What is behind that part of us that doubts we can be good? How on earth could we be good, warts and all?
Does this sound familiar:
“I told you not to do that!”
“Sit down and shut up!”
“Why don’t you ever listen?”
“I’ll give you something to cry about”
“Shame on you”
“You should be ashamed of yourself”
“That serves you right”
“Are you ever going to get it?”
“Just once do something right”
“Wipe that look off your face”
“You should have known better”
“I guess I have to do everything myself to get things done right”
“You’ll do as you’re told”
“I could skin you alive”
“It’s your fault”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Now what’s the matter with you, cry baby?”
“Go to your room”
“Get out of my sight”
“You drive me crazy”
“Why aren’t you more like (him/her)?”
“I’ll give you something to cry about”
“Wait till I tell your father what you did”
“Go in the corner”
How about hearing any of these:
“God favors the righteous”
“Sinners are thrown into the lake of fire”
“Keep your mind on the things above, not on the things below”
“God hates divorce”
“God hates the sin but loves the sinner”
“God hates homosexuality”
“It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”
“Through Adam came sin and death and through Christ came life and peace”
“We are born in sin. No one is good.”
“The law of sin and death separated you from God”
“Less of me and more of God”
“God sees you through the lens of Christ”
“It is because of our sins that God’s wrath came upon Christ.”
“Wives should be submissive to their husbands”
Or how about these:
"We want go-getters at our company”
“You aren’t meeting expectations”
“You are fired”
“We have to lay you off”
“You make too many mistakes”
“Can’t you get this right?”
“You messed up again”
“We went with somebody with more experience”
“You are just not what we are looking for”
Sometimes there is just dead silence from parental sources, church or employers that demeans our self-image.
Now, we could probably throw a lot more in here. Is it no wonder we feel something is wrong with us? Add in the images that bring to awareness we aren’t as beautiful physically as we need be so we need ______ product. We aren’t the financial success we should be so we need ______ online course for thousands of dollars. So why is this happening?
These are messages of control based on fear. It is what generation after generation has passed down out of ignorance as a form of control. We were taught this by others who in turn didn’t know any better than us. It is our form of “socialization”. The great thing is we now do know better and we are waking up to that fact. There is hope to rectify this situation for ourselves and for future generations. This type of socialization feeds into our innate desire for survival. It is in our DNA to find what is wrong and fix it. It is a very primitive drive that has been taken to extremes. We are taught to hate ourselves for being the way we are, to punish ourselves until we change. On top of that, as Cheri Huber states, we pat ourselves on the back when we beat ourselves up because we feel that is what good people do. Humble people take no pride in themselves, but rather they beat themselves up to show they are busy and are “under construction”. If we aren’t beating ourselves up, we aren’t trying and if we aren’t trying, we die. This is what drives us: a fear of death. This is the bill goods we have bought into. The question you have to ask yourself is “how is that working for you?”
What our primitive form of socialization does not do is show us how to love ourselves, to appreciate our own goodness and who we are, to trust ourselves and our own heart. We are not inherently the problem but rather we are born into a world that is fear and control based. It is a culture that is success driven. If we are not beating ourselves about missing goals, we feel we aren’t doing our job as a good human being. We see God and self as something to be attained but, as Rohr aptly points out, even Jesus the Christ said “The Kingdom of God is here”. It is already here but fear comes in and says, “But if it is here and I am accepted then what? There is nothing for me to do and that doesn’t feel right either!” Stay tuned to this series as we will get under the hood of this as well.
What we have to learn first is to see, as Rohr states, in a “success driven culture” that is “focused on achievement, attainment and even spiritual capitalism… we worship success”. We worship success more than we worship any god. People who feel hopeless then look to the church and what do they see? People who think they have God in their pocket as they spout out glib, quick and easy answers to life’s complicated issues. People who feel hopeless turn to gurus and pay a lot of money for emotional and financial success as they pedal their systems which ultimately make you feel guilty when you can’t think positively enough after you dad and sister just died and you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer. They offer very nice packaged ideas of “I think, therefore I am” that robs you of your money and doesn’t really answer life’s traumatic, diasterious random acts of violence to body, heart and soul. Sometimes we just need to cry through and not “positive” think ourselves out of emotions we fear. The only way through is feeling them a lot of the times.
Today, with social media, people are doing more comparing against themselves than ever before and it is leading to a health crisis of loneliness and sadness. The stress is building and it is effecting people’s health according to doctors. Our culture is living through the eyes of others, in appearances and images. It encourages us to live in a world of constant dissatisfaction, distraction, perfect bodies, teeth and skin. Rohr states, “We have been seduced into imitating and desiring what we are not and can never be”. It is only the ego that tries to see itself against someone else. Comparing splits us off from connection with our own body and we wonder why we are walking around with so much insecurity. We’ve given our power over to other people and what corporations are selling. Why? Because we have been taught something is wrong with us. We want to know what is wrong, eliminate it and fix it. It is our natural state of survival.
The soul doesn’t know itself by comparison to someone else—it just “is”. Rohr suggests that “our soul knows itself by what is now and through all things both dark and light”. The soul does not “overcome” and it is not “defeated” because it doesn’t play that game. Only the ego plays that game. The soul is who we are before we were even born, says Rohr. Thinking is what created the ego but before that and now, the soul is a force—not a thought about who is winning and losing.
There is nothing wrong with you. This doesn’t mean we don’t find ourselves without a problem but it is not a problem you created. It is rather a problem that was thrust upon you from the time you were being raised through our primitive socialization process. It will take a lot of unraveling and of peeling back but I hope this series will begin that for you If you want to see more, please comment below that way I know people reading
Through this series we will set about to unravel all the deception we have bought into, why we buy into it, and understand the ego, soul and spirit in a new way. I hope you will stay with me and also make comments or questions.