Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Faith in Self

I've a big, fat, ugly problem with the idea that one cannot be happy or blessed if God or Jesus isn't thrown into the mix.

Y'all, this idea is everywhere lately.

A very very very Christian friend of mine wrote, "I may not see myself as anyone worth much of anything, but Jesus loves me, cherishes me–who could ask for more?"

It reminded me of a local Methodist announcement board (y'know, those that they have outside the church with often quirky and "clever" sayings for all to see?). It said "In order to make God great, you have to be less."

I rolled my eyes at first, but an acquaintance said "truer words!" and mine eyes were opened.

This is the problem. Not humility! But the feeling that without god, I am worthless and with god, I am worthless. The same church had before advertised "If you follow yourself, you've a fool for a leader" or some shit like that.

Do you feel awesome about yourself yet?

Then--and I don't frequent this discussion board at all anymore because it just pisses me off--I ran into a blog post over at Feminist Mormon Housewives because someone I like wrote it. Nat discusses the YW value of faith and asks "how can we best put this into action?" She talks about faith being nothing if you've no faith in yourself. It's well worth the read but the comments...well, here's your cliff's notes:

"Where's the mention of the Atonement? Of Jesus Christ? Of our Heavenly Father? Faith in oneself is nothing without Jesus."


It made me so mad.

On a related note, there's the idea I've ran into all my life--Mormon and not--that if I just gave my anxiety to god he'd take it away.That I lacked faith if I couldn't or "wouldn't." Even my father, who knows how awful our condition is, gives some credence to this idea.

Dad, Dad, Dad.

He of all people ought to know better. I think he has an inkling, but we know how hard it is to deny lifelong teachings. You tell yourself that even though life is hard--nay, damn near impossible--now, it could be tragic if you changed anything.

But God doesn't take anxiety away. He adds to it.

Just because you walk away from God doesn't mean the anxiety and bullshit goes away with him. Not entirely. I've this sneaking suspicion that it's because God doesn't exist. It has nothing to do with God or his religions. It has everything to do with chemicals and constructs and how your brain is structured.You only have so much control, but you do have some control. I've learned this and am still learning this, and it has nothing to do with God.

Learning that you're worth it gives you faith. Denying your problems don't work. Trusting in God and not in yourself doesn't work. At all.

There's something amazing about the process of discovery of your own worth. That you, not God, can do it. That you, not God, did it. All because you believed in yourself. That's powerful. That's hope. That, y'all, is harder than belief in the divine.


  1. This point, this idea that we are pieces of crap, was the turning point for me with Christianity. I simply cannot worship or praise or believe in a god who created us all worthless pieces of crap, so worthless and bad that God himself has to come down and die for us so we'll all know how terrible we are, and that having self-worth only comes through ceasing to be yourself and letting Jesus live your life for you. It's all wrong to me.

  2. One of the biggest things I struggled with for many years was a lack of faith in myself. In my ability to make proper decisions, to know what was right and wrong, all that shit. I suspect I can draw a strong parallel back to the indoctrination that was my childhood, and even after I walked away from it all, I spent years looking for outside approval for most of my thoughts.

    That may be one of the very toughest pieces of indoctrination to break. At least, it has been for me. Turns out, I can be happy believing in my self. Now I just need to find a way to remember it.

    Good thoughts.

  3. i have a perspective on this, but i'm hesitant to offer a counterpoint, because i don't want to offer it if you're just venting.

    in short, i don't think i'm crap or awesome, and that actually relieves a ton of pressure and anxiety for me. i can elaborate more if you're interested. i will say that i HATE prosperity/new thought evangelism, which basically says that you can think and pray your way out of anxiety and sadness and bad situations.

  4. ah, jess. the exception. you're not the only one, i know that.

    i worried about you reading this as i thought of you while writing it (mostly after), and almost deleted it. i'm thinking of deleting a lot of things these days.

    this is a vent, you're right. i've been largely surrounded by and, for some reason, surround myself by this stuff. masochist, much?

    things have changed for the better for me since leaving. i'm still very much confused and hardly see myself headed toward any great "a-ha" moment or "i am so awesome," but it's been better. i'll take it.

    i don't know. i wrote this and i can't stop thinking about it.

    i'd actually appreciate your perspective. i always do.