In 1973, Olivia Newton-John sang the song “Let Me Be There”. Link here to enjoy her lovely voice!
According to the way I was raised, God is always watching over me, protecting me in real-time. In other words, God is ‘always there’ with me! I’ll pick this piece up down the road after a bit, for now, I just want to set the pieces in place.
Growing up preacher’s kid, I was not nurtured, so much as I was put on a stage and expected to be the supporting cast to what my Dad believed. Our entire family was supposed to present a united, synchronous front. This worked for a while, but I have had the creeping feeling in my adult years that I was a great performer on the public stage. Give me a position of responsibility, like a teacher, supervisor, or choir director, and I’ll dazzle you with my preparation, charm, knowledge, and performance! You’ll love me!
Or, really, you’ll love the stage character who is on when the lights are on. But when the lights go off, the audience goes home, then I am alone in the darkness, lonely, feebly crying out to a large empty, echoing hall. And its a scary place. Lot’s of unknown creaks and bumps that I have not been prepared to deal with. There is no script for those things.
Because I was not nurtured, I was not affirmed as having value apart from my performance. The messages that I received from both home and church were,
- If it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing your best – (translate that as being better than everyone else)
- A ‘Christian layman’ is inferior to THE PASTOR of the church
- It is not really okay to be ‘average’, you should be THE LEADER! Average is failure.
And so I learned to be the guy who was looked upon as being ‘above average’ in my academic performances, and worked to be recognized for having a killer work ethic, who would hold a higher standard than everyone else, the GOOD GUY who had a higher standard of morality, civility, and following the rules than anyone else.
And all this came at a horrible cost to personal relationships. Having been taught my entire life that I was to be separated from the world, that I was chosen by God who had a plan for my life, made me think that I really was morally superior to other people!
This drive to be better than, is a two-edged sword. It drove me to be an award-winning, excellent teacher who created a strong successful math program for my students. The stage lights were on full bright, and I dazzled my audience!
Sadly, I lost the most important relationships of my life. My own identity, my marriage, my children. Everything got sacrificed for my all-consuming need to gain approval.
But I really had no idea of what ‘normal deep friendships’ looked or felt like. Everything was sacrificed to gain approval externally.
If I didn’t get recognized somehow at my work, for exhibiting a higher work ethic, or promoted to a supervisor, then I felt like I failed. And sadly, this dynamic is still apparently quite healthy in my psyche. Now I am one of about 70 commission sales people, and I am not in the top 10. Being ‘average’ is unacceptable to me even when I make a good living. I feel inferior and ‘left out of the inner circle of favored people’ because I am not one of the ‘A students’, but a ‘C student’ so to speak.
Another thing that goes with this horrible need to achieve is this; Let me get personal as if I’m talking directly to you right now. I have to know that my performance is numerically better than yours, in order for me to feel as if I can even be accepted by you as an equal.
Not being nurtured left a huge gaping maw in my soul.
And even now, I am consciously attempting to not elevate certain coworkers into my ‘Mommy’ or my ‘Daddy’ by either complaining (looking for their sympathy, and confusing it for love) or by asking for their advice, or thinking that their opinions automatically supersede my own.
I am actively learning to respect me. I am learning to give myself grace and love. I am trying to learn to change my self talk from utterly beating myself up, to talking myself up. Honestly? I’m not there yet by a long shot!
So I left an idea laying on the road and now I’m ready to pick it up, dust it off, plug it in, and see how this all hangs together
I was taught that God is my ‘heavenly father’ who loves me with a love beyond our human understanding, who meets ALL my needs, who watches over me, cares for me, knows my needs even before I approach Him in prayer. I was taught that God wants to give us not just a life, but an abundant life, overflowing with joy and peace!
But this all-knowing God knew that my earthly parents would put me on their religious stage, teach me their script to dance to, and knew I would lose my identity in fundamentalist religion. This fundamentalist God supposedly knew I would have emotional needs of nurture, acceptance, and feeling a part of that would be utterly cut off, and not met. And God never showed up for me. Ever.
I wished that I had a God that would have gently sang ‘Let Me Be There’ to me, but there was no ‘magic god’ who stood by me, or strengthened me when I was made to perform on stage to a jeering audience.
So, if God claims to meet ALL our needs, then this is merely another lie, because the fundamentalist God never met my emotional needs of being accepted for who I was, nurtured, or given an internal successful life script to affirm my worth.
A lot of bad scripts are still actively playing in the empty, creaking old decaying theater. Nobody shows up there anymore, the lights have stopped working. And I hear the mental rats scurrying about in my head suggesting that life should just be over. The show was all smoke and mirrors, I am nothing. Nobody comes backstage to inquire about anything, and the wind whistles through the holes in the ceiling.
I am alone in the darkness. Done.