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DHatcherE

Lost, Confused And Feel Like A Loser...

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Hi all,

 

I am 43 years old and just plain lost, confused, depressed and anxious over religion. I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist home, was "saved and baptized" at the age of 15 and then just milled about

smartly doing my own thing until the age of 40. I spent a career in the US Navy and retired in 1998, had a great job as an engineer until 2001 and then lost all when the place I worked went out of business. My wife got depressed and started having panic attacks which immobilized her and confined her to our home for almost three years. Since she couldn't leave the house and could not be alone either, I was confined to the home for the same period of time.

 

We started our own business (insurance) from a home office so that we could eat and we struggled until about 6 months ago (at which time our situation became tolerable) just to have a place to live and eat cheap food. During this time (around 2003) I started to seek God in a "spiritual" way. I became disillusioned and mad at "Him" for letting me down. I assumed I was being punished for not living better, acting saved, etc. I got the idea that if I was "more pious" that my situation would improve and as such I got into the Bible,

learned it (from a C.I. Scofield, KJV-only, fundamentalist, pre-tribulational point of view) cover to cover.

 

I also became hateful, homophobic, judgmental, arrogant, proud and basically made a complete ass of myself. I even got the idea that if I was an ordained minister and started an internet ministry that God would certainly let me off the hook and so I did just that. That issue (ordination) caused many problems between myself and my wife and I eventually resigned the ordination simply due to the fact that my attitude had become unbearable even to myself and I knew that I was not fit to call myself a minister.

 

I struggled (daily) with doctrines that no one could really answer (dispensationalism, calvinism, arminianism, etc.) and caused myself a lot of emotional turmoil. I found that most Christians were not willing to talk to me online to really help me sort it all out (recall that I am confined to home still). I eventually found my way to Islam and found MANY good, humble people willing to talk to me and help me sort out my emotional discord. I eventually came to disbelieve Christianity and embraced Islam. Of course this did NOT help matters with my wife at all. She was really mad now. The ordination fiasco was NOTHING compared to telling her I was a Muslim. She does not understand what Muslims believe and does not care to either. She did not care that I told her that I did not believe in Christianity anymore because I did not believe that Jesus was God. Get this - she said that Christianity does not teach that Jesus was God, Jesus was God's son and that's all. So she does not even know what traditional Christianity teaches.

 

Anyway, Islam helped me to drop the attitude and become humble, quiet and peaceful. My wife, however; forbade me to be a Muslim. Said that if I believe that crap that I could "pack my stuff and get out". So I dropped it (openly anyway). I eventually came to the conclusion that I did not fully accept Islam either because I could really accept a teaching of "eternal damnation", nor could I accept that God cares if I eat pork, wash right hand before left, asked forgiveness for using the bathroom or owned a dog or the need to bathe completely before praying if I have had a sexual encounter (all of which are Muslim dogma).

 

I found Deism after reading "The Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine. I was (and still am) enthused with Deism but find it lacking the ability to give me a "moral code for life". I don't exist well (too much engineer in me still) without proof texts, and procedures (how to live), etc. I do NOT believe the Bible to be inerrant, infallible or perfect in any way. I do not believe that Jesus was God Himself come to earth. I really don't know WHAT I DO believe but I know what I don't believe anymore. I can actually (over the course of a literal 24 hour period swear that I am: Deist, Christian, Unitarian, Muslim, Taoist, Atheist. Yep, all of 'em in one day, I change my religion more often than my socks.

 

I need help sorting this all out so if anyone here feels up to the task of trying to help me figure out:

 

1. How to escape the emotional turmoil that I am in

2. Where to start to sort out my faith (what little there is left of it)

3. How to find a place in which I feel comfortable

4. How to reconcile my faith with the inconsistencies in the Bible, I just can't overlook the mistakes and contradictions, how do I tell what to believe in the face of this problem?

5. What do we do with Jesus? What was He to us? What beliefs are necessary or are NO beliefs necessary?

 

I would appreciate it alot.

 

Conversely, if no one wants to waste their time, I understand. I have many times thought that perhaps John Calvin was right about unconditional election and I am just one of those poor souls that is destined to never know what to do or what path to follow, just plain "bound for hell", except I don't believe in Hell.

 

But in the end it matters not if I believe it or not if John was right.

 

I feel like such a loser....

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Hatcher...welcome to the TCPC boards.

 

Wow...you really ask a lot from those of us who are mostly still struggling with their spiritual identities. But I think the answer is that we all have had these sorts of problems, but maybe not to the extent that you seem to. My best advice would be to not concentrate so much on what you think is necessary to have a spiritual identity, that is, a spiritual "label" by which your spirit might be known. Rather, read as much as you can about progressing to a belief system that seems to work best with the way that you "honestly" seek to live your life. That means to live your secular life in the best ways that you can first, and then let a belief system build itself for you from that point. Read as many of the past threads on the board that you can stand. You'll find many suggestions on how to move forward.

 

All that I can advise is to relate what has worked for me, and of course that does not make it a "right " way. Just think of it as a suggestion on how to progress from where you are to where you wish to be. And if you can do that much, you are definitely not a "loser" by any definition of the word that I know of. Remember and apply the old Chinese proverb that a journey of a thousand miles begins witth a single step.

 

flow.... :)

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Hello DHatcher,

 

Welcome to the board of misfits..... Not really. I can only speak for myself.

 

One step at a time. Relax and make yourself at home here. Everything you need to help you is with you right now and perhaps your time spent here can help you realize that truth. It seems to me it is a good thing not to have too fixed of any belief. I believe the book by Thomas Paine was an eye-opener for you. It leaves a lot of past programming to be undone so one can see what is before one and has been there all along.

 

No need to rush in and believe anything. Truth surfaces when it is ready to be realized. Sounds like you are close to a break-through. My deepest love goes to you my brother in Christ. What you believe makes no difference to me. We are all one in God's eyes.

 

Look around the site and participate where you like. People here seem to be more tolerant than most forums. ..Well, I hope nobody makes a liar out of me . :D

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As we used to day in Georgia, you have quite a testimony. Welcome to the forum. I will respond later. I just found a holiday job with J. C. Penney! I don’t know what I am doing. However, I am glad you are here.

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Hello and welcome Hatcher:

 

I'll echo what the others have said and perhaps take a stab at your #4.

 

Take for example the Synoptic discrepancy that occurs in the passion scenes. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark both of the thieves taunt Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, one thief taunts Jesus and other defends Jesus, and asks to be remembered when He goes into his kingdom. Rather than racking your brain trying to figure out which narrative is "true" , try to find what each narrative says to you personally. A story doesn't have to be historically accurate in order to carry truths for us. Myths often contain more truths for us that we can use in our lives. They are often more useful than sensational news events that you might see on TV which ,even though they actually happened , are of no use to us spiritually.

 

MOW

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I need help sorting this all out so if anyone here feels up to the task of trying to help me figure out:

 

1. How to escape the emotional turmoil that I am in

2. Where to start to sort out my faith (what little there is left of it)

3. How to find a place in which I feel comfortable

4. How to reconcile my faith with the inconsistencies in the Bible, I just can't overlook the mistakes and contradictions, how do I tell what to believe in the face of this problem?

5. What do we do with Jesus? What was He to us? What beliefs are necessary or are NO beliefs necessary?

 

I would appreciate it alot.

 

Conversely, if no one wants to waste their time, I understand. I feel like such a loser....

 

 

Hello, Hatcher. Welcome to the board.

 

Wow. Great start. You know what questions you want to ask. A lot of people spin their spiritual wheels for many years before becoming brave enough to ask the tough questions out loud. Once the questions start coming, though, the big problem one has is learning to be patient. God hears your questions when you really mean them, and begins to work right away to help you find the answers, but the quest for answers which will mean something to you at a deep inner level (as opposed to quick, superficial answers that last as long as a Chinese-food take-out dinner) is a quest that takes a lot of time. And patience. Did I mention you'll need patience? And a good sense of humour? Yeah. You need patience, a good sense of humour, and one other very important thing: a dogged, determined, no-fail, take-no-prisoners belief that you are worth the time and you are not a loser.

 

Perhaps you were guided to post on this site because God knows there are answers waiting here for you.

 

God bless on your journey.

 

Love Jen

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Hello Hatcher,

 

Your post is very forthright and honest.

 

Of course I doubt any of us could tell you what path would be best for you, but what I might suggest is taking a look at some of the contemplative practices that are available.

 

I've been through a fair bit of stuff myself, and while my story is nothing like yours, I have learned that my life seems to be a journey which continues to open me up to a process of unveiling God's presence. The trick seems to be in figuring out how to be open and discerning of God's will, rather than my own, because I keep getting in my own way.

 

When I pray the Lord's prayer, I place emphasis in areas that are different from what I often hear being prayed around me. I do this to emphasize to myself that is is God's will I seek, and not my own.

 

Our Father, who art in Heaven,

Hallowed be thy name,

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on earth as it is in Heaven

give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil

for thine is the kingdom

and the power

and the glory

forever.

 

I am currently reading a book by Karen Armstrong in which she talks about the difference between mythos and logos and stresses that, in recent years, much of the mythos has been removed from many of our religious traditions, leaving a somewhat unbalanced recipe for spiritual growth for those who seek it. In this book, she is putting into words something I have long thought but never articulated adequately.

 

My personal opinion at this point is that when we try to find God wholly through the lens of rational thought and literalism, we further separate ourselves from God, because God cannot be understood in this way.

 

All of the world's great religions at one point have contained contemplative, liturgical and/or ritual practices which are meant to pull us out of an overreliance on the rational mind and open us up to the presence of God. It is when we begin to believe that we can, or do, know God's will with the thinking, judging mind that we fall into the sort of arrogance and pride which you describe above.

 

So, given these beliefs of mine, one thing I would suggest is that you seek out some contemplative practices within Christianity, which you can perhaps then also share with your wife. I don't know what sort of church you attend; I go to an Episcopal church which is heavy on liturgy and I find that helpful. There is also something called "centering prayer", which you can read about here:

 

http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm

 

Wishing all the best for you on your journey,

 

Lolly

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My dear friend,

 

I hope you stick around here and continue to share your struggle with us. We are pretty good at spiritual discernment here.

 

I hope this doesn't sound condescending since I hardly know you but I really do believe in the power of counseling. I have benefited immensely from my work withseveral therapists over the years, particularly the ones who knew how to be an unanxious presence and could then demonstrate God's unconditional love for me. Wow! We all need that!

 

Since then I have gone on to receiving spiritual direction from a great spiritual director who knows how to be an unanxious presence and demonstrates God's unconditional love for me. Wow! We all need that!

 

I believe you are at a point in your life where you are ready to discard a whole lot of doctrinal baggage which plagues the church. This is good even if painful. One of the best books for understanding essence of Christianity and not all of its excessive baggage is THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY by Marcus Borg. I hope you will read it. He is a good writer and I think you will be able to get some clarity about your new approach to Christ if you read it.

Edited by mystictrek

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Thanks alot all for the kind words of encouragement and support. Nice to see that I am not so alone in this crazy spiritual struggle. If anyone is interested there is a "Spiritual Types Test" at:

 

http://www.upperroom.org/methodx/thelife/test.asp?act=test

 

This is on a site sponsored by the United Methodists. I dont know how accurate it is but it says that I am a Mystic. So I did some Googles for Mystics and Mysticism and have been amazed at how a lot of this stuff rings true for me. May be worth anyones time to take the test, it only takes about 5-10 minutes but you have to register to get to the page I think. If so just go to: http://www.upperroom.org/methodx and register and then click "Spiritual Types Test" at the bottom of the home page.

 

I feel fairly comfortable here so I think this may be a good place for me to get my feet on the ground and further my search for spiritual peace. Thanks again and God Bless!

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I dont know how accurate it is but it says that I am a Mystic. So I did some Googles for Mystics and Mysticism and have been amazed at how a lot of this stuff rings true for me.

 

I feel fairly comfortable here so I think this may be a good place for me to get my feet on the ground and further my search for spiritual peace. Thanks again and God Bless!

 

 

Hi Hatcher,

 

Glad to hear you feeling comfortable here. Perhaps we, as a group, can help you and others gets some answers.

 

If you haven't read a lot of old posts, you won't know that I'm the woman who keeps insisting on channelling Jesus. Long story. You can backtrack if you're interested. What I'd like to say to you today is based partly on my personal experience and partly on knowledge channelled to me by Jesus. Here goes:

 

Finding your faith is a journey of finding both God and yourself, as others on this site have pointed out. This means you need to know your true, soul-based talents and your true, soul-based absences of talents. Not to worry -- everyone has things they're good at, and things they aren't supposed to be good at. God the Mother and God the Father make us this way on purpose so we'll lean on each other.

 

You've talked about your engineering background. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool engineer (that is, if you're hardwired at the soul level to be an angelic engineer, as it were) then you have a particular way of looking at the universe. Born engineers absolutely must take things apart to understand how they work. I know this well. I'm the daughter of an engineer. My younger son, who passed away from leukemia, was taking things apart and studying Newtonian laws from about the age of 1. It was just his way of relating to the beauty of Creation.

 

A leopard can't change his spots, and an engineer can't stop taking things apart. It sounds as if you've done a lot of this over the last few years. You've been disassembling religious texts and trying to put them back together the way they came out of the box. Your problem is that they won't go back in the way they came out. Some of the pieces just don't fit. It's not your imagination -- they don't fit because they don't fit, and only the contortions of certain human minds managed to get them into the box together in the first place.

 

But now you're learning you have another side -- the Mystic. You've been repressing this aspect of your true soul self for a long time, from the sound of it. Now that you're consciously aware of this part of yourself, you may be tempted to throw yourself into an exploration of what this means. My advice to you (from the school of Tough Love personal experience) is be patient. Explore the mystical archetype, but explore it cautiously. There's a lot of information out there that will harm you.

 

Incidentally (and perhaps strangely, from the point of view of others) the mystical archetype isn't all that strong in me, despite my dedication to channelling. Some would say that Neptune isn't strong in my birth chart. I'm a Mercury-Saturn kind of gal, which means I sure do like the History Channel on TV! My favourite TV show is the new Battlestar Galactica, which probably doesn't show up on the radar of most mystics, but sure does work for me.

 

Best of luck,

Jen

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Great advice Jen! I'd only add that as your views of God, religion, yourself, etc. change, take comfort in knowing that they will continue to change. Not thinking that the answer you come up with now has to be true to you for the rest of your life takes a lot of pressure off. :P The great thing about being interested in God is that you never ever run out of things to learn. So, take your time. Understanding is valuable, but doing is priceless. Especially if doing is non-doing or "just" being or "just" connecting. Godspeed on your journey and welcome to the board!

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Thanks alot all for the kind words of encouragement and support. Nice to see that I am not so alone in this crazy spiritual struggle. If anyone is interested there is a "Spiritual Types Test" at:

 

http://www.upperroom.org/methodx/thelife/test.asp?act=test

 

This is on a site sponsored by the United Methodists. I dont know how accurate it is but it says that I am a Mystic. So I did some Googles for Mystics and Mysticism and have been amazed at how a lot of this stuff rings true for me. May be worth anyones time to take the test, it only takes about 5-10 minutes but you have to register to get to the page I think. If so just go to: http://www.upperroom.org/methodx and register and then click "Spiritual Types Test" at the bottom of the home page.

 

I feel fairly comfortable here so I think this may be a good place for me to get my feet on the ground and further my search for spiritual peace. Thanks again and God Bless!

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You have passed the test of life where mysticism is in the world in our problems and differences, God just wants us to be tested and transform problems into good. When we face up to and make conscious the ills of society we solve the puzzle and see pure consciousness, the inner source of life moving through and around obstacles from the inorganic to the organic, from the organic to the mind and forward from the mind to the soul. The pure consciousness within will show us that God is not far removed from us, but with us in the here and now. Jesus also said this when he gave us the saying; The Kingdom of God is within. You have made it to the level of mystical fools that is why you are here. I hope you enjoy it. I am glad you have come here with a spiritual glow around your words.

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Jesus also said this when he gave us the saying; The Kingdom of God is within. You have made it to the level of mystical fools that is why you are here. I hope you enjoy it. I am glad you have come here with a spiritual glow around your words.

 

Soma, you're such a sweet mystic. Rock on. :D Love Jen

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