Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Addicted to God

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When we became a Christians it was because we loved God and we loved Jesus.  Our pastors and the Bible promised us that they loved us first.  After all, Jesus had sacrificed himself for us and for all mankind.  God loved us enough to give us breath and then he loved us enough to make provision for our sinfulness.  Not only that he made the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and everything in it for our use and pleasure.  Though we never actually heard his voice, though we never saw him we knew he was there because his word told us so.  We believed.  That’s right, love was the reason for it all.

What next? Now that we were Christians what were we supposed to do?  Read our Bibles, pray, and go to Church?  We did.  Faithfully.  Beyond that what was there?  Reading the Bible and praying and going to Church didn’t seem to be enough.  If we were truly in a relationship with Jesus shouldn’t it change us?  A reading of the New Testament tells that is so.  Change us it did.

John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  We took that to heart and let that shape our thinking.  Apart from Jesus we could do nothing. And for the most part we didn’t without consulting him in prayer.  In addition Matthew 22:37 says, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The Bible is literal, right?  We did our best to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds.  It’s the greatest commandment, isn’t it? Well, what does that mean?  To love God like that? According to John 14:14 Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” If we were a part of the fundamentalist Christian movement we believed that “He must increase; I must become decrease.” John 3:30 and that The first will be last and the last will be first.” Matthew 20:16

We learned that we couldn’t or shouldn’t do anything without God.  Our wisdom? What wisdom?  None apart from God.  Our strength?  What strength?  We have none.  Our hearts?  What hearts? They belong to God.  In every way we diligently tried to conform to the will of God.  This is all supposed to be our joy to do.  Each time we handed over another piece of ourselves to God we were delighted.  Why were we delighted?  Because we thought we were delighting Him.  We thought we were pleasing the Almighty Himself.  What greater joy could there be?

In the beatitudes we are exhorted thusly, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-11

We are to be completely enmeshed in God, believing His every promise.  God has found lost little us and we have gained heaven.  We are to allow the Holy Spirit, with whom we’ve been baptised, live through us to be gentle, to learn His ways, to show mercy, to remain pure, to keep the peace and to be the bigger person. It is no longer us, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20).  We are meant to have no will of our own, no thoughts of our own, no things of our own.  Not only are we supposed to be this obedient to God, but to any authority he has placed over us.  Parents, husbands, pastors, teachers, employers.  Give ourselves.  Give our all.  To serve, to please, to help, and to take care of others. We became rescuers, martyrs, the persecuted and persecutors.

Now we have a hard time knowing what we like, what we want, how we feel.  We feel guilty when we put ourselves first, when we make a priority of taking care of us, and meeting our own needs.  We second guess ourselves because we’re not supposed to trust our own judgement. Many of the patterns and characteristics of codependents fit us to a tee.   Because that is what we were and maybe still are.  We were in a one-sided relationship where the other wanted all our attention, praise, and efforts.  It is an unhealthy way to relate to another.  And yet, as Christians, that is what we are told we must be to please God.

We cannot be ourselves.  Not until we develop some healthy boundaries which then make the relationship untenable.  Slowly but surely the distance in the relationship grows larger and it dies.  But we have not. A miracle has happened. We have broken free.

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27 thoughts on “Addicted to God

  1. Well said! It’s amazing how we can get ourselves so comfortable in a codependent relationship, and how hard it is to break it.

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  2. Weird. Now I have a Robert Palmer song stuck in my head…

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  3. Love this post.

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  4. **We learned that we couldn’t or shouldn’t do anything without God. Our wisdom? What wisdom? None apart from God. Our strength? What strength? We have none. Our hearts? What hearts? They belong to God. **

    This comment really hit home about how cult-like Christianity can be. As you say, you aren’t allowed to trust yourself, or your judgement, or your emotions. You always have to run everything past the person in charge — in this case, God. It also doesn’t encourage individuality. Perhaps the slogan could be “Want to not trust yourself? Be a Christian!”

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    • YoungPastor was fond of saying that what made all other cults cults was that they weren’t true. The reason Christianity isn’t a cult is because it is. 😯

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      • I once had a priest try to explain that superstitions weren’t true because they weren’t a complete system, like Christianity was. I asked him (I was about fourteen, I think), “So the difference between Christianity and not walking under a ladder is that Christianity is more complicated?” He sort of spluttered and then said that no, the difference was that Christianity was true.

        If anyone wants to make the argument that I was “never really a Christian”, this would be Exhibit A.

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  5. Well, I guess I was just a failure at it. I couldn’t feel any Christ living in me. I couldn’t live selflessly. I couldn’t maintain being God centered in my existence. Finally, conflicts between the Bible and the real world as discovered by science, and the overall Bible story just not making any sense caused total apostasy.

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    • Ultimately I was I failure at it, too. I was happy as a lark, going along martyring myself for the cause, until I figured out it just wasn’t true [at least not in the sense I’d believed it was]. Then there was no point.

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  6. Michael Mock said:

    “I once had a priest try to explain that superstitions weren’t true because they weren’t a complete system, like Christianity was.”

    I don’t even know what this means. Not a complete system? A complete system of what? Belief? What’s any more incomplete about a superstition than Christianity? If a black cat crosses my path I put up three x’s to counteract the bad luck. It has a fix. Shhhh….don’t tell anyone about that. Nobody knows I’m, *gasp*, superstitious.”

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    • I think he was trying to explain the concept of internal consistency – basically, that Christianity doesn’t contradict itself despite offering a comprehensive way to understand Life, The Universe, and Everything. Superstitions, by contrast, generally don’t have any particular system behind them; they’re just quirky little rules sitting out there by themselves. (If I’d known about the I-Ching at the time, I probably could have stumped him completely; he was charismatic, but not particularly bright, and he never knew quite what to do with me. Neither did the rest of the youth group, come to that.)

      Still, it was an extremely poor choice of example on his part.

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      • Hmmm…yes, indeed a poor choice on his part. When I was a believer brainwashed I, too, thought Christianity didn’t contradict itself despite offering a comprehensive way to understand Life, The Universe, and Everything. Now I see glaring inconsistencies, contradictions, and gigantic holes in philosophy. It’s anything but complete.

        For starters “Burn in Hell, but I love you” seems pretty contradictory.

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  7. This is great. It’s almost poetic how you describe it. And the feeling of breaking free. I still can’t believe how upside down the world used to be. Everything I knew was wrong.

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    • I can’t believe it either, jonnyscaramanga. I thought I had it all. I thought I was so clever, intelligent even, because I had the secret to life and the universe. And all those idiots with their false sense of security, their book smarts of evolution and history and cosmology…well, they were just too smart for their own good. Who needed all of that? All the answers were right there in one book. Bunch of fools, saying God didn’t create all of this.

      I was so deluded and enmeshed and, as it turns out, pretty messed up.

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  8. God was definitely an addiction. I was groomed for it. Now I have to fill this void of martyrdom-seeking I have in other causes. Or, I could grow up, admit ideals are fine but impossible, and decide to enjoy life.

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  9. An addiction indeed. I’m not sure I can ever be free from it, honestly. The Biblical images that I use to love still live in my brain. Very hard to stop thinking about something that was basically hard-coded in our minds from birth.

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  10. Reblogged this on Out From Under the Umbrella and commented:

    I was reminded of this post as I read Zoe’s blog post this morning and the subsequent comments. Addictions are hard to break. Might as well face it:

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  11. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” It , at least, may be better to be in an antagonistic position in regard to God than to be spiritually dead. Here is another old quote, “Where there is life there is hope.” Just remember that the converse is also true.

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    • I’m not sure I understand what you mean in relation to this post with your first quote. I realize that you’ve never undergone the process of apostasy, that there are emotions, and feelings that go along with that. Expressing those is not a matter of being in an antagonistic position with regard to your God. They just are.

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    • It’s simply astounding to me how anyone could think that former believers put so little time, thought, and energy into their deconversion that reading a few quotes would have them running back to Christianity.

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      • Or that anyone could think that deconversion is a conscious choice. It isn’t. Or that anyone could think that when one deconverts they become a robot with no emotions. Having emotions obviously means that we are being antagonistic toward a God we don’t even believe exists.

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  12. This makes me wonder if having an addictive personality to begin with might make for unhealthy relationships with God.

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    • I suppose that’s possible, Doug B. Though that makes me wonder how someone with an addictive personality can have a healthy relationship with God. When a person has an addiction the seemingly only way to eradicate the problem is by complete abstinence from whatever their addiction is.

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      • It would seem if we are using “addiction” as a model, you would be right. I’m not convinced that is always the best model to use. On the other hand, codependency is a learned behavior that can be overcome. This is interesting and I confess I never thought about it these ways.

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