Fundamentalism is a gift that keeps on giving. Self-doubt… and doubting just about everything else. Second-guessing every other decision you make. Fear… in just about every arena. Mistrust. Over-thinking. What if-ing yourself silly. The pathological need for certainty. The reflex to conceal that happens beneath the radar and often outside awareness. Servitude to performance addiction and chronic self-evaluation (and others evaluation). Taking life and one’s self far too seriously. These are a few of the “gifts” fundamentalist religion has offered me over the years. It’s not necessarily an all or nothing thing. Each of those “gifts” has varying levels of prominence in my thinking, relationships, and emotions. I like to say, “You can take the boy out of fundamentalism, but you can’t take….” Well, you get the idea.
That dynamic often makes true spiritual experience give way to all kinds of toxic thinking. I long for that experience. And that’s a relatively new thing for me. Lately, that hunger and thirst has intensified… often serving as a reminder that a connection to the Divine is not conjured or easily accessible. It comes as a gift from the Almighty. Waiting on God to stir the embers in my soul has me going back and forth between impatience and loss of interest to a profound yearning that ushers in an utter dependence on Abba and true humility.
Over the years, those “gifts” have seriously impacted my relationships. The reflex to hide or conceal my true self runs deep. That reflex is rooted in the belief that if others were to know the “real” me, they would either criticize me, reject me, or “separate” from me. Then there is confirmation bias. In my fear of rejection I have often noticed only cues from other people that would seem to confirm the notion that others can’t be trusted, while rejecting any cues to the contrary. Love-based relationships stand in stark contrast to fear-based ones. Scripture says there is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear. Fear and concealment, then, block the development of true intimacy.
More on this in later posts.