I heard something on the radio the other day and it got me thinking.
How much is my life with Christ hindered by fear of living in denial?
How much is it hindered by my fear of other people thinking I’m living in denial?
I remember an entry a while back that I wrote that fear had suddenly appeared to me as the mother of all Christian hang-ups. In Dune they say ‘fear is the mind killer’ but even more, fear is the faith killer.
What if I’m wrong? What if it isn’t God talking to me at all? I mean we are talking about ‘hearing voices’ aren’t we...what if I’m going absolutely mad and I can’t tell the difference between straight-jacket grade crackerdom and a spiritual nudge...if indeed there is a difference.
Ever since I read all those Lovecraft stories in high school with Jeremy O’Kelly I’ve felt like insanity would be perhaps the most frightening thing I could imagine. And yet, my last several years with God have been characterized by an increasing sensitivity (and conforming) to invisible things. Without equivocation, I am moving farther and farther away from the rational, materialistic worldview that is supposed to be my birthright as a child of the Enlightenment and approaching...no, not just approaching – racing, longing, reaching for a worldview that could easily be assailed as superstitous at best, or flat out bonkers at worst. Demons? C’mon now Really. Angels? Miracles? God TOLD you to do that? You know they have pills for that sort of thing now (since electro-therapy is out of style).
But that said, I still am dragging a very heavy ball and chain called denial. It’s this little, unobtrusive word that sort of haunts me whenever I ponder another leap of faith. There is a ‘nontrivial’ fear in me still that I’ve bought some bill of goods with all this God stuff. I fear the possibility that reality is one way, and I am imagining it to be another...in other words, that I’m living in denial.
Even more scary is the thought of sharing my crazy processes with others. It’s one thing to wonder in my own little brain if I’m losing it. It’s quite another to have that fact pointed out by somebody else. And as painful as it might be for Slusser to say to me, “Dude...are you holding it together?” it would particularly distressing for some random passerby to speak up. As if the dreadful and obvious nature of my psychosis was so compelling that the milk of human kindness insisted they offer assistance to whatever shred of sanity remain in my noxiously rotting melon.
...and I realize that it is also at exactly that moment that I recognize the ploy for what it is.
When I lay it all out like that I can see how exactly backwards it is. What could possibly motivate me to care for the opinion of a stranger more than for the heartfelt and contextualized feedback of a friend? A friend knows my story and sees my current step as only one step in a longer journey. A friend knows my past and is far more likely to know what deeper motivations (crazy or sane) lay under my actions. In short, to care more what ‘they’ think than what you think is simply inaccurate thinking. Even more so, and no offense to my friends, but nobody knows every nook and cranny of my psyche like I do and if Shakespeare's best advice is “Know thyself” and “To thine own self be true” then I am compelled to be true to my own heart, regardless of what even best friend's concerns might be. (Which is not to discount good counsel...I’m making a point here).
So suddenly, ‘Denial’ shows itself to be a kind of shadow monster, cast on the wall by hands trying to manipulate me. As Lewis puts it in Peralandra – it’s the empirical boogey. This unfocused anxiety about facts and numbers and the implied pressure to conform in thought and deed to what the Bible calls the World.
Going forward: I declare here today that I don’t give one flying fig what the world has to say about my life. They can all go to hell.
Second: I will not let fear of men, especially not the men and women I hold precious, to check my willingness to share my life with them.
Third: I would much prefer the uncomfortable uncertainty of a mystery than to force a ‘rational’ filter onto a transcendent lifestyle.
So with that, I’m reminded of something Jesus says: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons – full stop.” Mat 10:8
I’ve spent some significant energy in the last couple of years in learning to drive out demons. I’m working on healing the sick next.