The UU Church, severe anxiety, and a kind of prostitution.

comments 6
the Christian side

This afternoon we visited a local Unitarian Universalist church.  The people were very friendly, the message was compelling and soulfully good, and I loved the surrounding stained glass windows.

But I felt a strange anxiety creeping onto me throughout the service, increasing during the shared dinner following, and overwhelming me on the drive home.  What is this??

After some self-analysis, I realized that my psyche compared today’s experience with my Christian past in which I was thrust into new situations, often among social misfits, and the “love of Christ” compelled me to love the unlovely with open arms.  (The UU Church here felt like misfits because, let’s be real, we live in a fundamentally religious community where the dominant church here sticks its fingers in every part of life.  Those that aren’t apart of that community are naturally misfits in this society.)

I don’t think I realized how much this scarred me until this moment.

Growing up, I looked at people that my friends, social circles, and the world in general would pretend not to see and would force myself to swallow my pride, sit next to them, and build relationship.  This required quite a bit of sacrifice as a child, pre-teen, teenager, and college student.  But I pressed on, giving the broken (whether it be the incredibly uncool smelly girl in middle school, the dysfunctional youth group needing a great peer leader, the struggling new mis-fit church needing a full-time pianist, etc.) my full attention and timeful dedication in order that they may thrive, or at least, feel loved..

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Love the unlovely, sounds like a great cause right?  But no, not if my motivation was to please God.  Over and over again I’ve found examples of “prostituting myself” to save another for the sake of “loving as Jesus did.”  How awfully distorted.  My vivid language may seem a bit much for some of you, but it’s truly how I feel.  Manipulated, played, sacrificing myself in entirely unhealthy ways.  Every time I swallowed my identity to be nice to the weird kids, weird church, weird ministry, I dissociated.  Bit by bit, my core self eroded away until there was little left.  And I wonder why I’m unable to choose what I really want for myself.

(Hence the blog What would Teal do?)

Wow, so much is making sense in my life now.

Who am I?? Am I the nice person I always thought I was, or was that part of me the manipulative invention of an all-knowing God??

I don’t even care about the answer to that question right now.  I just want my anxiety to be released from these scary memories.

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The Author

I'm a closet atheist christian missionary. Paradigm shifts happen frequently for those who allow themselves to think critically about currently held beliefs and openly about new ones. I’ve developed the skill, or perhaps addiction, for change but the community around me is slow to catch up -- and would damn me if they knew where I stood.

6 Comments

  1. I relate to this so much! It is difficult to figure out who I truly am at my core after years and years of “living selflessly”. I’ve never tried visiting a UU church, because I think I’d fall into those old, familiar patterns. At the same time, I am totally cut off from the entire social circle I grew up with. At least we are aware enough to know that we don’t know who we are…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Uggh, I’m sorry to hear you’ve struggled with something similar! It’s amazing to me how scarring it can be to “live selflessly.” It keeps coming up more and more.

      Like

  2. I skimmed over this last year when I first started having questions, when I first discovered your blog. Today when I re-read it, I actually understood it – because I was able to honestly recognize myself in it. Giving of myself for the broken, befriending the lonely and smelly for the call of Christ, playing piano in a tiny church because there was no one else to do it when I was ONLY 12…. It was always about being meek, sacrificing for others (time, money, popularity, etc) because we could never outgive what God gave to us in Christ…. It’s no wonder I grew up feeling unworthy. I will not stop being a giving person because it’s who I am. But now I will give because I want to meet a need, because I want to show my human love, and not because I need to convince the receiving party to accept Jesus or because I have some other being requiring it of me, waiting up in the clouds to see if I’m doing a good enough job to receive his love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes yes yes!!! Oh my goodness I’m so glad we can relate to each other on this! Isn’t it freeing to be a giving person 100% completely because you WANT to?? And if you don’t want to, you can do so guilt-free?? (Still not quite there with guilt-free, but I’m working on it!)

      Liked by 1 person

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