The Cringe Factor
or why I am learning that this is not an overnight process . . .
Up to Here . . .
In a conversation with my wife about certain things that still cause us, each in our own unique way, to react negatively to people or situations related to the Religious Matrix. Sometimes our reactions bordering on the “fight or flight” edge of things. My wife speculated that, for her, it may be a form of spiritual PTSD. At first I thought that was too strong of an analogy, but then maybe it isn’t.
I responded that I referred to it as “The Cringe Factor”, that having been deeply involved with something over a period of time, being now separated and distanced from it gives one a certain perspective that, when looking back, makes you cringe a little. I said “For myself, having been up to here in it” (indicating with my hand pointing at about mid-ear level) “I have quite a few of those moments.” My dear wife, with that look in her eyes and a wry smile, indicated it was a bit deeper for me, pointing to a spot about 2 feet over my head.
Gee thanks, honey . . .
And here’s the thing: with all the talking and blogging I’ve done about Love & Grace, Mercy & Shalom . . . I have very little for myself at times for all the jack-ass things I did when I was deep in the RM and for all the jack-ass things that others did when( or are still doing in) the RM. Then there are the crazy-makers that are ever driving the performance edge by coming up with the lists of sins and things to avoid if you want to be really spiritual and the toxic-spew trolls that can’t say anything good about anyone or anything, no matter what level of good there really is because it’s not directly related to “Gawd, Cha-eesus or the Kingdom o’ Heaven”. (Okay . . . breathe mikey breathe. Center, relax, calm down . . .) Oh yeah, I’m full of grace alright . . . (heavy sarcasm there if you missed it).
The reality is you or I will never find a perfect community of any type, for we are wonderful human creatures that make mistakes. In healthy communities, there is room for that. A space is made for us to help each other walk through our crap, to deal with our mistakes and blunders. To love, heal and grow. I know this happens. I’ve seen it. I’ve been a part of it. I truly believe it can happen within and without any system or structure. I’ve also seen it traditional institutions that say “Welcome to the mess. There will be pain and tears and offences . . . but there will also be laughter, joy and healing. Come journey with us”. They emphasize our propensity for really mucking things up without making our humanity feel like worm poop. They balance this by learning to embrace the wonderful paradox that our humanity also contains the seeds of divine intention: beautiful, Holy creativity and the ability to grow in Unconditional Love.
But dang . . . it doesn’t happen overnight.
Welcome to the Dark side . . . We have Cookies! (but oh is it going to cost you . . .)
The down-side is that the RM can make having authentic relationship a challenge by overlaying it with all sorts of things that are not bad in and of themselves. Programs, rituals, traditions that are intended to foster community are layered in such a way that they actually do the opposite. Allegiance to the system and/or the leadership becomes paramount. The programs, rituals and traditions take on a life of their own that steam-rollers some individuals and allows others a safe place to hide with all their baggage, therefor never coming to healing and wholeness. The performance/success/celebrity driven culture of our time has been so adopted by the RM that it sets us all up for failure. A radical shift needs to take place. Some deep conversations need to happen.
The End of the Conversation ( sort of . . .)
My wife was disturbed that she was having this emotional reaction to elements of the RM and to the people in it. Like there was something wrong that needed to be fixed. Yep, I got that cringe too. But I encouraged her to accept where she was at. After all, we have both learned that feelings are neither good nor bad . . . they just are. It’s what we do with them that matters. I wish I didn’t have my “cringe factors” but I don’t try to stuff them. It’s difficult but I endeavor to carry them to The Divine, asking Papa to shed a little Love & Light on it all. Sometimes not an easy process.
We both came away with the conclusion that
A) It’s a learning process of differentiating between the person and the stuff of the system. Critical Thinking, Awareness and Mindfulness are necessary tools that will help with this. It’s not an overnight process . . . <sigh>
B) Stuffing things, not dealing with our own crap and denial of our own personal “cringe factors” is a Religious Matrix (prison) of its own.
C) Honesty and frank discussion with others about it is a step in the right direction.
And as always, we are not alone in this. Yeshua travels with us as guide, whispering to us “Come follow”.
Sometimes I just wish it wouldn’t take so long. I mean, if I didn’t have this cringe problem, I’d be perfect, right? (okay, you can stop rolling your eyes now. Gee, I hate it when you do that . . .)