Thursday, September 10, 2009
Christian Chat and the Burden of Guilt
I hang out in a Christian chat room on Yahoo...Christian chat room #3 (I started in CC2 many years ago, but it was taken over by some foul mouthed youths and we had to move to CC3) to be exact. Christian chat has been very challenging to me over the years, giving me insights into how some people think about Christianity, how some people think about Christians, and how some people simply don't think at all.
In Christian chat I have learned about theologies I never knew about before like Preterism and Calvinism (I cried for 4 hours upon learning the precept of Calvinism) and the Kenite Theory (don't get me started).
And I have also had people attempt to heap guilt upon me for my faith...the lack thereof, the quality thereof, the trusting thereof...all on behalf of my 15 year old son, Sean.
Sean was born with a congenital heart defect called Pulmonary Valve Atresia. In essence, he was born without a pulmonary valve to pump oxygenated blood into his lungs. By 30 minutes after his birth he was blue. He also had a hole in his heart and a leak-like-a-sieve tricuspid valve, but that was less worrisome at the time.
At 1 day of age he underwent a heart catheterization. At 3 days of age he underwent open heart surgery. He was still blue...about 60% oxygenated. I had nurses come up to me on the bus and grab his little hands and confront me with, "Are you aware this child is cyanotic?" Well, duh.
At 10 months of age he had another open heart surgery and for the first time in his life he was pink. You'd have thought the whole flock of us had lost our mind gushing over his pinkness, but it was such a NEW thing for us and he had been so bluish and was now so pink we just couldn't help ourselves.
When Sean was born most of my friends were very literalistic/fundamentalist in that they believed the Bible is the Word of GOD, literally, and that is their fundamental belief on which they stake all other beliefs. And it is this belief that led to my guilt...
You see, if I were a woman with "the right kind" of faith, or a woman with "enough" faith, or if I "trusted in GOD and not man" my son, Sean, the light of several of our lives, would be healed WITHOUT NEED OF A SINGLE HUMAN DOCTOR/SURGERY. BUT, evidently, I don't have "the right kind" of faith, or "enough" faith, nor do I "trust enough in GOD and not man." And therefore, by this leap of logic, it is MY FAULT that my son is not healed. In full. Never needing another medication (he was on meds from birth to age 14), or operation (of which he has now had 3).
Now, when I left literal fundamentalism behind, I thought I had left this guilt thing behind. I spent a lot of time wallowing under the weight of this guilt for many years, to the point of almost wanting to kill myself...and I THOUGHT I had walked away from it. Until last night...
Last night in CC3, a man challenged me again on this very issue. And all of that guilt and the resulting pain which comes out as anger just reared it's very ugly head. And I am ashamed to admit I yelled at him. For about 2 minutes. Sigh. About how I am not taking that guilt back, and that he cannot make me, and that I was done with this trying to make my son's heart not being fully healed "my problem/my issue". And then I left the chat room...
But you see...in some ways they are right. I don't trust. I don't trust hardly anyone. And I don't trust GOD much at all in things like healing. Oh, yeah, you hear that occasional story of GOD healing. But when do you actually see that in your life? How many people in your life have something wrong that simply isn't getting better. And these are good people, Godly people, loving people, praying people...and they aren't healed.
I've seen this all my adult life. Parents, desperate over their child's condition (or their husbands, or their friends) run from one healing service to another DESPERATE to have their child/husband/friend healed. They pray. They beg. They weep. They prostrate themselves on the floor. They beat their heads against the walls. They tear their hair out. They tithe. They give...until they can't do it anymore. They are broken over it. And although they say, yes, I believe GOD heals, that's lip service. Because to say less than that causes such a whirlwind that you cannot, emotionally, bear it. So it's safer just to say, yes, I believe GOD can heal. And I believe GOD sometimes does heal. But no, I do not believe he ALWAYS heals. Or that there is some formulary out there in which you put in the right combination of syllables of prayer or weeping or begging or crawling and your child, your baby, your object of adoration, is fully healed on the other side. Because, trust me, if there was a formula out there, we parents would have found it by now. We'd have moved heaven and earth and we'd have memorized that formula and we'd be going around teaching it to others because NO ONE wants this feeling that some THING within their mind/heart/faith keeps their child/husband/wife/lover/grandmother/WHOMever from being healed.
And that all welled up in me last night. And poured down on that poor unsuspecting fundamentalist man...to whom I will have to apologize tonight (or whenever I see him again). Because he didn't deserve 15 years of guilt spewing forth onto his personal being, anymore than I deserved the heaping of guilt in the first place.
So the moral of this story is this: Be very careful how you word things when dealing with the healing issue. Some people have had more than they can bear and will fall apart at the merest wisp of you trying to show them how far off the literalistic healing track they have wandered...And each and every one of them is raw under the outer layer. You aren't the first, and you won't be the last, to point out their loved one should be healed.