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Personal Relationship


Margee
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I was thinking this morning of how hard I tried to have this 'personal close relationship' with an invisible god who was supposed to be my very best friend.

I tried so many ways in my imagination to picture jesus at my side or his holy spirit 'engulfing' me, to say and do the right things. I pretended that he was watching me as I studied my bible. The most I always felt so close was in church, when we were singing a slow gospel song to him.

 

How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

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How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

I understood from a young age that everyone was faking it, and I basically played along, although mostly in terms of nodding knowingly at everyone else's unctuous comments rather than adding any of my own. I still somehow felt God was real, but not in a personal way. More of a philosophical way. More along the lines of "millions of fellow believers couldn't be completely wrong".

 

Even later when I was exposed to soft-core charismatics, I just felt they were working themselves up into a frantic froth of emotionalism to fake it. A failure of imagination on my part, I suppose, but I never felt guilty about it. I think there was an implicit "don't ask, don't tell" policy available for those who wished to subscribe to it. In other words, as long as you don't rock the boat with sinful talk about doubts, you could get a free pass from all the glad-handing and carrying on.

 

I have come to see a lot of this "personal relationship" BS as a pathetic effort to belong. I saw so many examples of it in other areas. My family came into the faith in large part because my oldest brother was troubled, having fallen in with heavy drinking Navy buddies, and the church gave him structure and a sense of belonging that was less unhealthy than carousing around all night and upchucking on the back steps when he got home. Years later when I was at Bible institute, the guy in the next dorm room, an earnest but dim soul, wanted so badly to excel at his studies that he spent every spare penny lining the walls of his room with second hand Bible commentaries and reference books and theological treatises as if just living among them would rub off on him by osmosis. I used to watch him reading those books uncomprehendingly, honestly believing that God would turn on a light bulb that wasn't there. Ultimately I suspect he ended up like my oldest brother, who was also a simple, fundamentally happy man: a whipped puppy, confused and puzzled as to why he did -- and cared about -- all the right things, only to end up kicked to the curb. In my brother's case, with bone cancer.

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I tried so many ways in my imagination to picture jesus at my side or his holy spirit 'engulfing' me, to say and do the right things. I pretended that he was watching me as I studied my bible. The most I always felt so close was in church, when we were singing a slow gospel song to him.

 

 

I always did this too, but there was always that nagging question in the back of my mind when I would try to "hear" what god was saying to me - How did I know it was god and not just me?

 

Doesn't get much more personal than that. The Christian who believes he or she has a "personal" relationship with Jesus actually just has a personal relationship with themselves!

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I never EVER believed the whole deal about putting gawd/jeebus ahead of your closest loved ones. I tried to believe it but it just never made sense to me. How can I so intensely love something I cannot see/smell/touch/taste/hear? This could have been partially a product of being raised in a luke warm church, I didn't attend a charismatic church until I was 19 or so. Never got anything out of prayer either, I thought I just wasn't a "chosen one", but I fully believed that other people really got to communicate with god. This is probably what it made it easier than average for me to unplug from the whole deal since I'm not really what you'd call "spiritual"; rather, for better or worse, I'm pretty concrete.

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Many people imagine they have an angel, spirit guide or a god looking over their shoulder. The imagined entity guides, protects and advises. I think it's an extreme form of self talk and visualization, which is normally a good thing when recognized for what it is. I have read of many successful people who imagine a roundtable of famous thinkers discussing the issue at hand. It helps expand one's thought patterns and leads to new ideas. If you are repeatedly told your imaginary friends are in fact real, psychosis is but a few steps away.

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This is actually one of the issues that finally pushed me over the edge and out of Christianity.

 

You see, unlike most Pentecostals in the Assemblies of God, I never spoke in tongues. Not even once. Instead of rambling loudly and incoherently, I actually tried to listen to hear something from God. I wanted to hear that "still, quiet voice" that I had always heard about. Instead of playing contemporary Christian music all the time to drown out my thoughts, I tried to listen for him to say something, anything to me.

 

From the time that I was saved as a teenager until now, nearly twenty five years later, I have never heard anything from God or Jesus. Not one solitary word. I have never seen anything that could be interpreted as a sign, either.

 

When this finally sank in with me a couple of years ago, it hit me like a brick. I don't have a personal relationship with God or Jesus, and I never did. Neither one has ever spoken to me in any way that I could detect. To have a personal relationship requires communication from both parties involved, and I finally realized that I had just been talking to myself for over two decades. This also means that I can't see God as a father figure. Even though my father wasn't the best possible dad, he was generally around to talk to me and help me with things. In fact, I could call him up right now if I wanted to, and he would actually say things in response to me. God has never, ever done that for me. Saying that we have a personal relationship with God through his written word is like saying that I might have a personal relationship with someone who has only communicated to me through letters written by a third person. It doesn't meet any definition of relationship that I am familiar with outside of Christianity.

 

If God does exist, and if he wants me "back in the fold," then he'll have to learn to actually start talking to me directly. If he wants this relationship to work, he's going to have to realize what being in a relationship actually means.

 

I think it's also worth pointing out that I have yet to meet a person that I would call "normal" who claims to hear from God; they always seem a bit "off" in some way or other. In fact, the people who talk most about being filled with the Holy Spirit and hearing from God make some of the most piss-poor decisions in their lives of anyone that I know; they tend to have severely dysfunctional relationships with their families and coworkers, they are incredibly irresponsible with their money, and a lot of them can barely hold onto their jobs. These are not people that I would trust with anything important.

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How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

 

For me, having a perception of god had nothing to do with any of my senses. I understood god to be a spiritual being who manifested himself to us through the holy spirit who bypassed our physical senses and made himself known to us through our "spiritual sense." I came to believe that my "spiritual sense" was made manifest in a number of ways. For example, I may have had a problem in my life and prayed about it and then I'd open the bible and read some scriptures. Upon reading them, I would see a new and different meaning in a particular scripture that until that moment I had never understood (or thought I understood) before. I saw how personal scriptures could be and that they could speak, through the holy spirit's guidance in my life, directly to my own particular life situations. That made me believe that the bible really was the "living" word of god but it only came alive with the holy spirit's guidance. It was so convincing to me.

 

It was these kinds of experiences that trapped me for so many years and why, for me, breaking away from Christianity was no easy task. I had an internal struggle, the magnitude of which I can hardly describe, between what my logical mind saw as nonsense but my experiences seemed to prove was spiritual enlightenment brought to me by the holy spirit. Frankly, if I had had terrible experiences and had not had so many positive ones, breaking away would have been so much easier.

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If God does exist, and if he wants me "back in the fold," then he'll have to learn to actually start talking to me directly. If he wants this relationship to work, he's going to have to realize what being in a relationship actually means.

 

This made me laugh out loud because it's so sad but true. I've thought the same thing actually. But really, the whole personal relationship thing is a joke, it's just christianity's way of remaking itself to try to find relevance in a modern world.

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How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

 

I can't be of much help with this issue, in spite of the fact that I have spent most of my adult life participating in this childishness.

 

What I can say with courage and dignity is that now that I have "put away my childish ways" (at least the ones that have given me the most pain, grief and suffering) and examined life with "maturer eyes"--I am astonished by the new perspective!

 

I can see more clearly now that the fog has "lifted"-- (fog will always come and go, that doesn't necessarily have to be a negative considering the broader picture).

 

If I had not discovered, for myself, the futility of a "personal relationship" with a guy (Jesus) who was born in a different time and place, with an agenda of which was his and not mine, I would never have realized that It is possible to find genuine happiness and liberation in the ups and downs of my human experience!

 

I find my (personal relationship) futility as the experience necessary for me to realize, for myself, my capacity and the capacity in other human beings for greater compassion, freedom and growth!

 

My "personal relationship" experience was a "conjure." Something that was said that I must do, but at the end of my "conjuring" there was this "seasoned" understanding that this" way of doing" life is unsustainable--their has to be something more authentic, living.

 

So, I upgraded my "conjuring" experience for something that enlivens and moves me to love myself, others and the world more fully--the simple experience of living my own life experiences. Upgrades are necessary when the sleep-worn thinking of childhood becomes "dead."

 

Sometimes I'm forgetful-- "from whence I come"--a naive and lonely child!

 

But, hey, that's life.

 

"For sixty years I have been forgetful, every minute, but not for a second has this flowing toward me stopped or slowed. I deserve nothing. Today I recognize that I am the guest the mystics talk about..." Nicholson Mathnawi, Book I 2084

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If God does exist, and if he wants me "back in the fold," then he'll have to learn to actually start talking to me directly. If he wants this relationship to work, he's going to have to realize what being in a relationship actually means.

 

This made me laugh out loud because it's so sad but true. I've thought the same thing actually. But really, the whole personal relationship thing is a joke, it's just christianity's way of remaking itself to try to find relevance in a modern world.

 

My dilemma also! In the last five years, I had done everything in my power.......beg, scream and put letters under my pillow :twitch: to get god to 'show' himself to me so I could have a 'real' relationship with him.

(I don't know what I expected from the letters?) :shrug: Crazzzzzzy :Doh:

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How can you have a personal relationship with someone over the phone? Or with someone you met on the internet? Except if you're a christian you can "feel" god hugging you.

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Well, here's an example, Noggy.

 

I'm replying to you right now. If I so desired, I could ask you questions about you and your life, and you could choose to answer them and then ask me questions about myself. We could exchange phone numbers, or even set up a time and a place to meet. That means that I have now interacted with you more on a personal level than God has ever interacted with me

 

I can't say I've ever felt God hug me.

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I was thinking this morning of how hard I tried to have this 'personal close relationship' with an invisible god who was supposed to be my very best friend.

I tried so many ways in my imagination to picture jesus at my side or his holy spirit 'engulfing' me, to say and do the right things. I pretended that he was watching me as I studied my bible. The most I always felt so close was in church, when we were singing a slow gospel song to him.

 

How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

 

 

I think for me, as a 'worship leader/musician' from my teen years until 4 years ago - the 'personal relationship' connection came more through singing worship songs and the emotional high you can get through corporate worship/singing. People often commented on how I was so 'sensitive to the holy spirit' in leading worship as I would sometimes change songs and move into others as they 'came' to me and interject prayer between songs more than just speaking out or trying to whip up the crowd. I've always been a deep thinker and the process went along well with the whole prayer/worship thing.

Also, I was part of a 'mission organization' for many years that encouraged us to 'listen' to god speak and expect answer. I would daily wait/meditate quietly, read my bible and whatever voice or thoughts entered my mind, I would claim them by faith, as the voice of god. We were taught to "silence the enemy (satan's voice), submit ourselves to god, repent of all sin and then trust that the next thing we heard was him... I was a teen when taught this so always went thru those steps and accepted 'by faith' I was hearing from god. I remember even telling my friend (a few years back when my questioning started in earnest about my christian faith) that god was as real to me as any person -- but now I truly do see it, as someone commented, as no more than a 'relationship with myself' ...and yes there were times I believed god told me something and it didn't happen but you learn to excuse those times as you were the one making a mistake in hearing. It's pretty bizarre now that I think about it.

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How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

 

 

invisible and . . . imaginary. I don't know how, but I did. I wasn't charismatic at all, and never felt God told me anything specific. But I did feel as if there was this God who loved me and instructed me (mostly through his written word which I actually read . . . with heavy heavy Christian glasses). I loved that God sacrificed himself, . . . to himself. . . or whatever but I loved that he loved me and that I was saved forever (saved from this same god tortoring me . . .? okay I will never finish if I keep spinning off like this). I admit I struggled with the personal relationship with Jesus aspect, I tended to think more of God then Jesus, yet I really really truly believed I had this relationship with this God.

 

And it was all in my head.

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Well, here's an example, Noggy.

 

I'm replying to you right now. If I so desired, I could ask you questions about you and your life, and you could choose to answer them and then ask me questions about myself. We could exchange phone numbers, or even set up a time and a place to meet. That means that I have now interacted with you more on a personal level than God has ever interacted with me

 

I can't say I've ever felt God hug me.

 

 

Yeah, and people like you have an easier way of walking away from christianity.

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As a Christian I tried hard to imagine Jesus walking beside me and being my friend and all that. Though I have to say when I believed that God was watching over me 24/7 it rather made me stressed than happy. I mean thinking that someone is watching me all the time. That's not healthy. To me it certainly wasn't.

 

Another thing is that, of course, I imagined Jesus to be perfect. And maybe it's strange, but to me it's hard to love a perfect person. I love people with their flaws, struggles - it's what makes it interesting, it's the thing you, as another human being, can relate to. But what do you do with a perfect guy? Just dead boring IMO.

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Its rather delusional, but its quite easy to create the illusion of a relationship in your mind where none actually exists. It is done all the time in the minds of millions of fans of rock stars and other famous people. Yes, they may not be exactly invisible - theoretically you can go and see them - but practically speaking chances are you will never get to know them, so they might as well be invisible.

 

I know, because I have done it myself. You read everything you can get your hands on about the person, and if they are famous enough, there is a lot of material. Then you can quite easily imagine how they are in "real life". What they would say, what they would do. Its all an illusion, of course, and if you actually did meet them they would not be what you expected because you have crafted an imaginary person (which is really just yourself), which you had an imaginary relationship with (which is really just in your own mind). Some people even live vicariously through the famous person.

 

The extremes of this way of thinking slop over into mental illness. Take Mark David Chapman and John Lennon or John Hinkley, Jr. and Jodie Foster, for example.

 

I see Christians doing this same thing - but it takes a lot of effort. They have to reinforce this "relationship" by working on it all the time -hence the church going and constant Bible reading.

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How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

I couldn't either.

 

I heard about people who had seen Jesus and angels and such, and I wanted it soooooo badly. I even prayed for it for years, but it never happened. Not even a whiff or a puff of wind. Nothing like that. The only "manifestation" I experienced where excited emotions during prayer or worship, but I knew that it could be explained by psychology.

 

It all came to a point in my life when I truly, really, really badly, needed this magical Jesus friend to support me. That's when I discovered that he wasn't there. He only existed in my imagination.

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One of the greatest reliefs of deconvertion was that I no longer had to try so hard to relate to an invisible, imperceptible entity. I could work up certain special feelings but how could I know it was God/Jesus I was feeling and not just something out of my own psyche? Like some of the rest of you say in this thread, it can happen in certain types of prayer or music or whatever. There was a time in the history of Christianity when sexual intercourse was supposed to do it, especially for the human male. I suspect that is why men are supposedly better positioned to lead the church than women.

 

In anthropology of religion I learned that these things are universal. Music and prayer continue to be used to this day to bring on the mystical experience.

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How did you guys manage to have a close 'personal relationship' with something invisible?

 

Any time there was a warm fuzzy feeling, feeling of ecstatic joy or feeling that something profound had been said or interpreted from the Bible - that was attributed to a close personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Of course if it didn't mesh with the greater mythos , then it was from the devil.

 

It was the constant affirmation of this or that being from God that provided the mystique of immediate access to the divine. In fact, it was all group think and mental conditioning.

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I always wondered how much of "hearing god" was just hearing my own self think. I realized there will never be any way to know whether I'm just making stuff up or god is talking to me. And it really really bothered me that he cared so little about us that he would supposedly talk to a few people in the bible, but left us to ourselves and left us to guess at his love for us, because of some actions he supposedly did, according to a bunch of writings from thousands of years ago. For a long time I did believe he was there, and that his spirit guided me. But then I realized how it was all just me, guiding myself. And it feels so much healthier to trust myself now because I've always been the one caring for me and making decisions. Of course I've done stupid things, and still do make mistakes all the time, but now instead of groveling in guilt over them, I just learn from what I've done and say "hey that didn't work out so well. Maybe not a good idea to do that again." And I go on with life.

 

Yeah, I always wondered why others seemed to "love Him" so intensely when he was so ungraspable and so NOT present and so...schizophrenic and hard to please. I thought I had a relationship with him but I always thought I wasn't "doing it right" and everyone else was. Which is of course what they tell me now. I just didn't believe correctly or have "true faith" or really give god a chance. Bullshit! :jerkit:

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I think it's also worth pointing out that I have yet to meet a person that I would call "normal" who claims to hear from God; they always seem a bit "off" in some way or other. In fact, the people who talk most about being filled with the Holy Spirit and hearing from God make some of the most piss-poor decisions in their lives of anyone that I know; they tend to have severely dysfunctional relationships with their families and coworkers, they are incredibly irresponsible with their money, and a lot of them can barely hold onto their jobs. These are not people that I would trust with anything important.

 

I just had one of those moments today that highlighted exactly what I said earlier this week.

 

There's a man at our church who I'll be calling "Bob." Bob has been out of work on "disability" for a long time. Among his many issues, he is hard of hearing because he refused to wear ear protection at his industrial job even though there were signs everywhere informing him to wear it; he has tried unsuccessfully to sue his employer over the issue, partly because of the aforementioned signage, and also due to the fact that his coworkers wouldn't back him up. This should give you a general idea of what goes on in this man's head and how he deals with the world.

 

His biggest issue is the fact that he is extremely overweight. While I couldn't tell you exactly how overweight he is, I would guess it's in the neighborhood of 200 pounds over ideal, if not more. His other major health issue has to do with an inability to breathe well, but I would be willing to bet that if this problem isn't caused by his weight, that it's at least severely aggravated by it. He was under the care of a doctor for the breathing problems, who prescribed steroids. When those didn't work very well, Bob decided that maybe it was because the doctor just wasn't prescribing enough of them, and so he somehow got hold of some steroids on his own, and was injecting himself with them. I am seriously in fear that Bob is going to die of a heart attack in the middle of service one day, because he is always as red as a tomato, and doesn't just look overweight, but like he's literally going to explode.

 

This man does nothing all day except surf the web and collect his disability checks. My father in-law, who is the pastor of my church, tried to make him the church secretary. However, Bob decided that was too much work (all one hour of it a week, if that), and has stepped down from the position.

 

This should all give you a pretty clear picture of Bob.

 

Well, a few months ago, Bob came up to me during the after service coffee fellowship, and stated that he and his wife have been praying that my wife and I would be filled with the holy spirit. Never mind the fact that in Christian circles, this is akin to saying, "My wife and I have been praying that you and your wife's sex life improves," because it's a very personal thing; what also bothered me was that Bob, being who he is, was implying with his statement that he is filled with the holy spirit. The reply that instantly came to mind (but which I refrained from saying) was, "Well, I guess you're right, we definitely need the holy spirit. Just look how it's helped you!" Instead, I think I just stared at him dumbly, wondering what I could possibly say that wouldn't sound like I think he has an IQ below 80.

 

Fast forward to today. While watching over my son and daughter during coffee time, I overhear Bob talking to someone else about how he's so excited because he's had a "visitation" from the holy spirit. You all may have heard when this happened, because my eyes were rolling in my head so hard that I'm sure it was audible in other states.

 

Yes, indeedy, you heard it right here! Bob, who wrongfully attempted to sue his employer, who does nothing but collect disability, who shoves huge quantities of food in his face at every opportunity, and who injects himself with illegally obtained steroids, has done had himself a visitation from the holy spirit! God himself has spoken to this man! Amen and hallelujah!

 

Give me a fucking break.

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I always wondered how much of "hearing god" was just hearing my own self think. I realized there will never be any way to know whether I'm just making stuff up or god is talking to me.

 

I'm currently working my way through a book in which he theorizes that "hearing God" is simply one side of the brain talking to the other side. It interesting to look back at the Bible and think "What if all these people simply had schizophrenia?"

 

http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Consciousness-Breakdown-Bicameral-Mind/dp/0618057072

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I think it's also worth pointing out that I have yet to meet a person that I would call "normal" who claims to hear from God; they always seem a bit "off" in some way or other. In fact, the people who talk most about being filled with the Holy Spirit and hearing from God make some of the most piss-poor decisions in their lives of anyone that I know; they tend to have severely dysfunctional relationships with their families and coworkers, they are incredibly irresponsible with their money, and a lot of them can barely hold onto their jobs. These are not people that I would trust with anything important.

 

I just had one of those moments today that highlighted exactly what I said earlier this week.

 

There's a man at our church who I'll be calling "Bob." Bob has been out of work on "disability" for a long time. Among his many issues, he is hard of hearing because he refused to wear ear protection at his industrial job even though there were signs everywhere informing him to wear it; he has tried unsuccessfully to sue his employer over the issue, partly because of the aforementioned signage, and also due to the fact that his coworkers wouldn't back him up. This should give you a general idea of what goes on in this man's head and how he deals with the world.

 

His biggest issue is the fact that he is extremely overweight. While I couldn't tell you exactly how overweight he is, I would guess it's in the neighborhood of 200 pounds over ideal, if not more. His other major health issue has to do with an inability to breathe well, but I would be willing to bet that if this problem isn't caused by his weight, that it's at least severely aggravated by it. He was under the care of a doctor for the breathing problems, who prescribed steroids. When those didn't work very well, Bob decided that maybe it was because the doctor just wasn't prescribing enough of them, and so he somehow got hold of some steroids on his own, and was injecting himself with them. I am seriously in fear that Bob is going to die of a heart attack in the middle of service one day, because he is always as red as a tomato, and doesn't just look overweight, but like he's literally going to explode.

 

This man does nothing all day except surf the web and collect his disability checks. My father in-law, who is the pastor of my church, tried to make him the church secretary. However, Bob decided that was too much work (all one hour of it a week, if that), and has stepped down from the position.

 

This should all give you a pretty clear picture of Bob.

 

Well, a few months ago, Bob came up to me during the after service coffee fellowship, and stated that he and his wife have been praying that my wife and I would be filled with the holy spirit. Never mind the fact that in Christian circles, this is akin to saying, "My wife and I have been praying that you and your wife's sex life improves," because it's a very personal thing; what also bothered me was that Bob, being who he is, was implying with his statement that he is filled with the holy spirit. The reply that instantly came to mind (but which I refrained from saying) was, "Well, I guess you're right, we definitely need the holy spirit. Just look how it's helped you!" Instead, I think I just stared at him dumbly, wondering what I could possibly say that wouldn't sound like I think he has an IQ below 80.

 

Fast forward to today. While watching over my son and daughter during coffee time, I overhear Bob talking to someone else about how he's so excited because he's had a "visitation" from the holy spirit. You all may have heard when this happened, because my eyes were rolling in my head so hard that I'm sure it was audible in other states.

 

Yes, indeedy, you heard it right here! Bob, who wrongfully attempted to sue his employer, who does nothing but collect disability, who shoves huge quantities of food in his face at every opportunity, and who injects himself with illegally obtained steroids, has done had himself a visitation from the holy spirit! God himself has spoken to this man! Amen and hallelujah!

 

Give me a fucking break.

Ohhhhhhh. Myyyyyyyyyyy.Gawddddddd!.That is sooooo good!:lmao: I enjoyed every word of this story! Thanks for the good laugh today Trapped!!

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I'm glad you enjoyed it, Margee. As much as I dislike going to church and having to deal with these wingnuts, I try to keep my sense of humor about it all and recognize the absurdity for what it is.

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