Defective. Ignorant. Socially inept. Delusional. Addictive personality. Codependent. Uncommitted. Fearful. Depressed. Angry. Kind-heart. Broken-heart. Sincere. Funny. Selfish. Unaware. Sensitive. Analytical. Emotionally driven. Sad. Lonely. Courageous. Suicidal. Honest. Despondent. Conscientious. Still trying. Survivor.
I would use these adjectives to describe and define myself. And while I would like to lay all of the bad traits at the door of my fundamentalist upbringing, (environment), I have to think that some of it is just simply my own inherent traits. (genetics)
I have a thought. (That’s good right?) I am going to try to build an analogy with mathematics and Baptist fundamentalism.
Let’s see how this goes. . .
What if you were only taught arithmetic and that was all you knew for most of your life? What if you were further taught that arithmetic was the only legitimate math, and anything else was simply worthless, and imaginary? Could you function in our society? Yes, you probably could, after all you’d know how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, do fractions, decimals and percents. That alone would let you invest in stocks, pay your bills, save money, understand basic interest rates. But you would be limited in your career choices.
But what if you realized that your level of math understanding was merely the entry way in the house of knowledge? What if you could see all your acquaintances, enjoying a full course sumptuous meal around a long dining table room, while you and your poor, loyal wife are standing, shivering together seeing what could be while standing just inside the small, plain entry way of this house?
And what if you then realized how little you had, how ignorant you’ve lived, how hurtful you’ve been to other people because you’ve mistakenly believed that the only legitimate world view is the fundamental arithmetic level view?
What if your plain view is entirely insufficient to solve a quadratic equation (or gain higher knowledge in order to expand your scope and quality of life?)
Could you ever forgive yourself for causing those you love the most to live gray, lonely, hungry lives because of your own limited, ignorant beliefs?
Is there life beyond fundamental arithmetic? And if so, is there any reason to try to gain more knowledge, attain a higher level of living after you’ve lost everyone you’ve ever loved? Will the life function deteriorate and converge to 0 or is there enough emotional energy to create wonderful life that diverges upward to positive infinity?
I think there is a sense that Baptist fundamentalists have defined my entire identity, purpose, and world view using ideas akin to simple arithmetic. And arithmetic falls far short of modeling the relationships in our real world. And so I find myself in a position of realizing what could have been, but without the training or education to enjoy a better life. Highly frustrating!
And when I look back on how ignorant, how insensitive, how deluded I’ve been with synthetically created expectations of others, I am in horrified, despairing shock. I can never, ever, ever make this right to the people I’ve hurt. Ever. I can never re-engage again. The math problem was a higher order equation, that ‘normal’ people knew by normal course of living, but not me. I was stuck thinking that elementary beliefs were sufficient for all of my life. That I knew everything, when I was really so ignorant, that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know.
Should I beat myself up for only living out my life on an arithmetic level? Should I allow others to judge me, mock me, or insult me for not having the knowledge they had? For not having the success at integrating goodness, graciousness, financial savvy, building great long term relationships?
On one level, the answer is obviously a resounding no. Because how can a teacher expect a student to know how to solve problems without the necessary tools? It would be very wrong for a teacher to berate their student for being defective in knowledge if they were never shown how to do a thing.
I am a student at life. I feel that I am averaging a life grade of a D. And just repeating the same feelings I felt in Junior High of social ineptness, loneliness, and not being wanted.
I can study, practice, and eventually escape ‘arithmetic living’ realizing there is so much more to attain.
And that, right now, is hanging in the balance.