I never realized before just how much Christian teaching is filled with “you should be doing this and you probably aren’t”. Things like regular quiet times, frequent prayer, daily Bible readings, just to name the obvious trio. In the less conservative churches, those preaching about praying every day and reading the Bible most days do often leaven their words with re-assurances that they aren’t perfect, either.
But I don’t find it helps all that much. The guilt about what you’re not doing and should be is still there.
It’s hard to put into words exactly what happened. Something about what I believe has changed. It’s a tricky thing to pin down quite what, but I know what drove it.
The first real turning point was almost two years ago when I did the New Warrior Training put on my The Mankind Project. I can’t and won’t go into the details but for the purposes of this post, there was a spiritual experience involved. It was liberating. It was kind-of religious without being inordinately so. It was non-threatening insofar that there were many other men present who had trodden this path ahead of us initiates and were explicitly there to provide guidance. And I didn’t see it until recently, but it also showed me that there was genuine spirituality that could be had without dressing it up as Christianity.
The second real turning point is harder to identify. There was an openness that led me to a Tarot card reading. There was a distinct “handing off” to God of a problem that I’d been carrying for years. And there was a palpable sense of permission to do the equivalent of getting out of the car of Christianity and looking at it from the outside. With no requirement that I ever had to get back inside.
And then a few weeks ago, I decided that I was happier staying outside, so to speak. So I did. Most people in my church would be horrified at what I’ve been looking at. Or wouldn’t understand it. Or both. There is, in fact, only one person I might share some that information with. And it’s not the pastor.
I’d grown up with the Christian guilt. Until now, I’ve never known life without it. Until you stop fighting, you don’t realize just how relentless the battle is to deem yourself “enough of a Christian” if only to yourself.
The lack of its weight is one of the most real spiritual things I’ve ever felt.