Friday, January 24, 2014

woke up depressed

Some mornings I wake up angry with my ex-wife for taking the kids out of the area. I was a stay-at-home dad for 9 years. I took care of the kids, fixed their lunches, helped them with their homework, took them to play dates, dropped them off to school & picked them up every day, and all the things that a parent would do to take care of their children. Now I get to see them once a month for a few hours.

Short of winning the lottery and moving closer to them, I don't see what I can do. I can just barely take care of myself. Working? Being regular enough in my feelings so that I won't be overwhelmed by the pointlessness of my existence?

Is it any wonder that the feelings of loss overwhelm me at times? People have told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and get over it. I find myself with a curious sort of attachment to the grief and anger. At least if I hang on to them I maintain some kind of connection to when I was with my daughters. My beliefs about personality and suffering tell me to let it go and get on with my life. But my world for all that time was keeping house for my wife & kids. My therapist says that I haven't processed my grief and anger. She's right, but there are times when I think about suicide as self-euthanasia. Then I think about how it would affect my daughters and I'm just miserable until I find something to distract me and the mood passes.

This is why I think about suffering and religion. I'm too restless to settle for a final answer so I find myself with times when I acutely feel the worthlessness of myself and my life. Can the feelings of worthlessness be explained by an abusive father and a guilt-mongering mother?

The Christian answer to suffering finds its ultimate rationale in deferring a final resolution until after death. There are stop gap measures until then: helping marginal groups like the poor, drug users, alcoholics, proselytizing to the spiritually destitute, and the like. Evangelicals find the experience of finding Jesus in their life a down payment on the world to come. But what if this deferment is itself problematical? I don't believe in transcendence either of God or of the world to come. It's too fantastic and looks too much like escapism. And besides, I buy into arguments against transcendence. Religious experience is a psychological and social kind of problem. It's not that a person having a conversion experience is crazy or exaggerating or something else dismissive. The vast overwhelming majority of people claim to have had a religious experience never ever stop and ask themselves, "Wait. What just happened to me? Was it because of fasting not God? Maybe there's a mundane cause for what just happened." In other words, people who have had religious experiences don't think too much about them.

I had a religious experience before my infatuation with Evangelicalism. I had been drinking a lot. After I did a lot of crazy and reckless things, I was taken back to my room. (It happened in college.) I started screaming that I didn't to live. That I wanted to die for the sins of the human race. Then I realized that I was feeling guilty about some childhood traumas. I was blaming myself. I realized that I didn't have to die for anyone's sins. Jesus had already done that. I saw myself hanging on the cross with Jesus. I was feeling guilty. I was guilty and my sins were washed away. I had a moment of intense joy,then passed out. I read Mere Christianity the spring afterwards. I prayed and accepted Jesus into my life because Christianity dealt with those kinds of things. The following semester I became involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and stayed a member(?) for about 2 years.

It is easy to dismiss my experience as not genuinely a religious experience because of the alcohol. Other than that it fits the usual pattern of Evangelical conversion experiences. There is the overwhelming consciousness of guilt, the experience of release from that guilt, then making a commitment to follow Jesus. Many evangelicals would dismiss my infatuation with Christianity as not authentically Christian because if it had been, I would not have lost my faith. I must not have tried hard enough. I passionately investigated Evangelical Christianity and found it lacking. What more could I have done?

Rejecting Christianity means that one's suffering is mundane and nothing special like proof of hidden truths like the sinfulness of human nature, or that human beings hunger after Christ's love. I reject a transcendental answer to the meaning of life. My rationale? Life is everything that a person might experience. Meaning requires a context and source. But since meaning requires a context and source outside one's experience, if follows that the meaning of life must be found within that experience or not at all.

So what do I want from my suffering? I want it to be a source of joy, or at least a minimum I want joy inextricably intertwined with my suffering. I want to put my suffering into a context that allows me to say my life is good. Can a person be happy but still be abjectly miserable from time to time?

blogger visitor counter

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog

Map of Visitors

Locations of Site Visitors