Last Saturday I was asked…are you going to jump?
Mmmm. 40..50 feet? Probably not.
I’m not stupid. You’re not going to give me $100!
How about if I took a video, and you could say you did it?
Yep. I’ll jump!
I walked to the edge – thought, what if I belly flop, hit the rocks, twist in the air and get hurt? I wanted to jump. Too afraid, I backed away, to the disappointment of observers perched on rocks below and on the cliff. “Awwwwww” (they wanted to see the mom-type jump). I watched two jumpers (survive and) beckon from below.
I tried again (right to left):
Jump? Now? ! !
Yes, I’m alive. Onlookers clapped and cheered for me, which felt out of proportion sensational. It was exhilarating! It hurt, and was worth it! IT WAS A BLAST! No, I couldn’t insert the video here. But thumbnail photos work great…you can’t see me too well in a swimsuit!
At a point in time, I BELIEVED, and I JUMPED.
I’m truly flummoxed at what inspired me to jump, my motivation to jump, the WHY. I watched others, absorbed their experience with gravity, rocks, and water, and BELIEVED I could make the jump, too. I assessed the risks, decided what data I believed, was at first hesitant, then…jumped.
You know me. You know this analogy is about faith. About taking the leap: BELIEVE. Again, after running the gauntlet.
If I had leaped like this before and hit the rocks or flopped and worn bruises, would I have been willing to try again? Or said, “I no longer believe I can jump without getting hurt (I don’t trust this theology/God/Bible/Christians).” Or “I no longer consider this worthwhile (I’m tired of trying/caring).” Or, “I don’t believe in jumping off cliffs” (I’m an atheist). What would it take to overcome those obstacles to believing that I could jump safely? Would it be enough if someone TOLD me that THEY flew like a bird and landed like a feather, and that I would too, if I just BELIEVED the way they do? If they quoted Bible verses about mounting up with the wings of eagles? How about watching them jump, land, and swim?
Another person’s reasons would be different. So, WHY do people BELIEVE? HOW do they decide WHAT to BELIEVE? And HOW do they actually BELIEVE? About anything, really…marriage, politics, global warming…but I blog about faith and domestic violence. Lately, about MY faith. I’m reading your posts! I hear you say “I just believed…in spite of what I don’t understand.” Even after abuse and disbelief or through trial. After believing perhaps mutilated scripture. How the heck do you DO that? You say, “I just did it.” HOW DO YOU DO THAT?????!
Standing on the rock – or jumping.
My experience with Christianity paired with abuse: Supernatural knowing – fail. Empirical evidence (life experience) – fail. Blind belief – fail. Understanding scripture – fail. Observing, listening to others – fail, if it doesn’t apply to my situation or they aren’t credible sources.
Regarding credible sources: I voiced my “mean God” perceptions to two close Christian friends some time ago. (It was anger – which they didn’t need to hear; but I really wanted answers from two who I thought would know, and they did claim to have the inside story from God….).
Source #1: “You are simply spewing hatred for God!”
Source #2: “You are hanging over the pit of hell.”
Let’s hear from Source #3:
Another dialogue with Graeme (Hardwired to Christ):
As you wonder if I am getting sick of you responding in a contrary vein, I wonder the same in reverse – especially my obstacles to crossing the line into belief. I am not consciously trying to AVOID believing. It’s just that I have gone in blind, in faith, before and it just didn’t work for me. I’m avoiding the humiliation and disappointment of hanging myself out there and doing it again. And I respect and appreciate beyond words the time and thought you have invested in sharing with me the reality of resting IN and WITH Christ, new creature, kingdom and earth at once, to the core of your being, that you experience.
I also don’t want you to go in blind – I also have tried the approach of saying things I didn’t really believe in and looking like a fool for it. In contrast I am suggesting a process of going in fully informed, a process of stepping into the one thing of which we are certain, ‘the sacrifice of Christ’ – but not until we have seen in it the rock solid love of God.
Diane (part of 2400 word “download”):
….God creates us to have free choice, but the consequences of disobedience are horrendous. Being deceived is no excuse. Consequences for all, because of the choice of two. Which side of God is that? LOVE or JUSTICE? Now we have a sin nature and are MORE likely to sin and be deceived, but still take full BLAME for the wrong “free choice.” Heaven or Hell. A choice? The FAULT of the humans who chose, not the ONE (or three) who created the set-up. Dominion GIVEN, BY MAN, by choice, to a different, created, FALLEN being, who has already disobeyed and been kicked out of heaven by GOD (not my man, who doesn’t have that power). GOD who kicked satan out then GAVE stupid MAN the authority to choose to pass the world to said fallen angel, by disobeying one command, the ONLY command. Hell. Separation from God forever. Nice. Or Burning in eternal fire of punishment, for making the WRONG choice of a FREE CHOICE. Even nicer! This is so much like what abusers do, really. Love and obey me, no matter what I do to you. I have the power, and I give you choices. If you choose wrong, I will punish you, and also hurt the kids. Oh, yeah, and I love you more than anyone else loves you. I AM love….
Love your work!! – I think you covered everything and I’m still here, and I presume God is too.
I’m not going to shoot back a smart-arse Christian response to you, but just wanted to say that “that was a good spray” – and it causes me to dig past the level of clichés and down into the seam of gold – I will respond…shortly…
….All of the ills of life have a way of defining our existence; our past defines who we are, both good and bad. Unfortunately our past is shaped by fallen mankind, the kingdom of darkness, and the traumas and hardships we have traveled through. These hardships leave a big footprint, they do not pass quietly into the night, instead they claim their place in our consciousness on a daily basis, they are determined to complete the task for which they were assigned, to capture us for life in their orbit.
Is it possible for someone who has been so overwhelmingly constrained within abuse for a significant number of years, to throw off this restraint, and choose to live their lives in a completely different orbit? Can an abused person ever be defined by something that has nothing to do with their abuse, can they re-define themselves by the blood of Christ, can they choose to leave behind the past to the extent that it pales in comparison to their new identity in Christ? In other words, is it possible for the blood of Christ to so re-define us that we start over with a blank slate – that the pain of the past can grow strangely dim in the light of His wonder and grace?
In my view it is indeed possible, if we choose it we can see out the rest of our days defined by the love of Christ, but only if we truly want to, only if we are courageous enough to believe He is as good as He claims to be.
Which source would you consider before jumping off a cliff?