Recently my Facebook has seen an awful surge of people showing off their Christian spirit. Yes, there are usually your overzealous Christians posting their corny pictures with their corny phrases and all those things that make you think "Hell, I'm so happy I'm a Generic Christian". It's kind of curious how most of the Christian MEMEs go around the general topic of "I'm so useless, but God is with me soe He will make all good". However in the recent days I came upon a couple of MEMES that were down right disturbing. I won't address them all, because really, people have lost of issues, but let me concentrate on two that, in my opinion, really make more damage than good.
"I Hate Myself, I Hate Other, But I Love God"
A cousin of mine published on her wall this picture that said something like "If I look at myself, I get depressed, if I look at others I get disappointed, if I look at my circumstances I get desperate, but if I look at God I get happy". Now, before I go on about stuff, let me explain her circumstances. She's the third of like six siblings, I'm not sure whether she finished highschool, married young, lives in a peaceful, small country, is divorced, has some kids and makes ends meet through renting rooms in her home. Her family is insanely Christian, up to the point of bullying under the pretense of "spreading the gospel". Her family isn't tight knit, and last I heard, none of the children are in speaking terms with their mother.
So yes, now onto the quote. I couldn't resist and told her that I found her quote to be one of little self esteem and not very positive towards others. Evidently that could be considered an attack, so she attacked in "fashion" by claiming that God had helped me and been by my side even if I "rejected Him". Her whole family loves to think I reject God ^_^. It's what they do in order to be happy, and well, they have to. If they truly believe that God is a book called "Bible" and God is "Church", the idea of someone like me saying that God is God and He manifests Himself everywhere and in all Religions and believes and lives in the heart of all, and that though Jesus is our savior, Christianity isn't the sole path to God, for Jesus has availed it for all if they love their fellows and are good... well, yeah, my thinking deeply conflicts with the ravenous, dogmatic, aggressive ideas they nurture and which are the basis that allow them go bullying others and mask their abuse as "doing God's work". What? You don't believe me? Well, let me tell you this: I converted to Christianism at 12 (I was born and raised Atheist), but they kept saying I was Atheist and kept gospel-bullying me. Then, when I started taking some yoga classes a couple of years ago, they declared I'm Pagan.
The point I later tried to make to my cousin was that it was really sad that Christians making Christian MEMES found it necesary to contrats God's Love with the lack of self-respect, self-esteem or love for thy brother. I mean, wasn't actually Jesus who said something in the line of "thou shalt love thy fellow man as much as thyself"? Isn't there implied then that you should love yourself? I mean, think about it, God made us, God loves us, so why is the Christian message that you hate yourself and others - all of whom are loved and made by God - but love God? And how can you so easily discard God and God's love when is gets to you THROUGH you and through others and everything that surrounds you? A clear example of this self-effacing overzealousness by Christians comes in this "inspirational quote" I found while looking for pictures for this post. I mean really? "God, please erase all you did about me and just make me a copy of you?" Really? God made you and you are good just like that. If you are displeased with the way you are, well, YOU do something about it. God isn't there to live your life for you, that's your job.
However, as you check the circulating MEMES they all spread the same message "I am worthless, I can't do anything, I hate everything, I'm so depressed I'm about to kill myself, and only my faith in God keeps me up". Why is there nothing positive? Why isn't there a happy, motivational quote like "Hey, I'm so AWESOME! I learn from my failures, I enjoy my successes and God is there all the time holding my hand and cheering for me". He totally does, by the way. But instead, the spread messages keep hammering into the heads of the good Christians that their own life isn't in their hands, and all they can actually do is go to church and read the Bible and God will "take care". Their sole obligation is to "serve God". How? Again, go to Church, read the Bible and possibly volunteer at Church activities and give money. My cousin's family possibly include bullying and harrassing through the gospel also as a great service to God. And it is awesome! I'm one evangelizing away from definitively turning into Cultus Deorum Romanorum.
I find the message dangerous because it exposes those who live it and follow it to preying of unscrupulous people, as well as to depression and other emotional trouble. First of all, while you don't love yourself, you can't really love anyone. Not God, not your significant other, not your family, so start loving yourself. Let no one tell you otherwise, don't be conviced of how good it is to be selfless and self effacing, God made you, God loves you and He is God, so if He loves you, sure you are worth loving, don't you think?
Loving yourself can be hard if you are constantly surrounded by negative messages or passive-agressive behavior, but if you allow me, perhaps this can help you find your love in yourself, or fall in love with yourself. First, take stock of who you are. Find everything that's good and pretty about you. Not the things others praise about you, but look at you and look at what you like. And everything goes. If you like it, it counts. ^_^ Like maybe you like the way you can heap up a tall and really delicious ice cream serving. Or you might like how you have discovered the way to make a perfect peanutbutter sandwich. You might love your style or how you can combine colors so well, or how you always find something truly unique to do or wear. Pile up on all those good things and reward yourself for them. Dedicate time to yourself. It doesn't need to be much, but you could go and take yourself to the movies or to a walk on the park, or separate a moment in your day to curl up in your favorite sofa and watch TV or read.
Cut back on any self-scolding or any need to fiercely defend yourself against something you might perceive as a flaw. You fucked up? It's alright. Say "well, yes, I look awesome, but I'm just a human. I'll fix that in no time". You regret not doing something when you were younger? Well, do it now. There have been people geting their highschool diploma at 95, so sure you still have time to follow your heart and get that diploma in History of Arts you always wanted. Really, you are awesome and you can do it and God is with you, so really, what are you waiting for? Go love yourself!
Then, as you learn to love yourself, your eyes will be kinder to those around you. Nah, you won't automatically love everybody around you, and that's alright. Some people are just hateful and it's alright to not like them, but as you open your heart you'll find that you start to love people around you. ^_^ That's how it works.
So, when you find messages that invite you to dislike yourself, erase yourself, take a moment to think why they want you to do that, what's their purpose, specially when God loves you exactly the way you are.
"Churches and Hypocrites, Gyms and Fat People"
The second message I'd like to discuss is one shared by a friend of mine. His message said "Not going to Church because it's full of Hypocritical People is like not going to the Gym because it's full of people out of shape". I didn't even replied to this one because, really? Evidently I think the people who did and shared this MEME have never been to a Gym. Not like they need it, mind you. Gyms are full of forbidden, Pagan and Heretic stuff like yoga, pilates... not to mention that it's a temple to worship the body. Uhum... they don't go to the Gym, so they don't know any better.
Now, have you been to a gym? Let me tell you about gyms. Gyms are places where people with different body shapes go in pursuit of different purposes. Mainly all of them seek to be phyiscally healthy and fit, so they attend different classes that are offered, like zumba, yoga, pilates, tae-bo, aerobics. spinning and other stuff like that. Gyms usually also offer the chance to do some weight and machine work to enhance muscles. If you start attending, you'll see people of all shapes and sizes and of all ages working out, trying to improve. You'll also see instructors. Instructors are the people who help you with your work out sessions. They impart the classes, lead them, and if you do machines, they plan out a routine for you considering what your goals are and in what kind of physical condition are you. Also, instructors are fit, because after all, you don't want someone out of shape telling you what you need to do to get in shape.
People around can be in any shape, and well, if they are constant and comitted in their workout, you expect to see results in their bodies, but the instructor needs to be in shape in order to give you the confidence about their capabilities to get you in shape. After all, if the instructor isn't in shape, how would they ever know what to do to get you in shape? Like a nutritionist, would you trust a fat nutritionist to make you lose weight when they themselves are obese?
If your gym is filled with fat people and out of shape instructors, well, you won't be going there because you won't be able to get your goal. If your nutritionist is obese or anorexic, you won't trust them to plan out a healthy diet for you that will get you to your right weight. If your psychiatrist is crazy... well, that's Hannibal, and you rather leave before he makes a dinner out of you.
The point with churches and hypocrites at churches is that we agree that there's a lot of people who need help going to church and that's alright. We all are sinners and hey, that's how it is, BUT when the people preaching say one thing and do the other, are quick to pass judgment and then act in a different fashion or try to cover their mistakes instead of being responsible about it, then yes, sorry but that's not a church to follow. And here I'll lash out, so be warned.
Churches are often tarnished by the very testimony their members give. And here is really curious how people actually expect to judge a whole religion like Islam or Judaism or Christianity even for the actions of a few idiots, but can't take the same measure for their churches. Yes, churches shouldn't be judged by the actions of a few rouge extremists or ignorants, but what happens when those who dictate the message are the idiots? The priest that rapes children, the evangelist that washes money, the preacher that beats their spouse, those that steal, divert resources for their own pockets, those that lie and cheat.
Going back to my cousin's family, her mother - my aunt - is a really aggressive person when it comes to her evangelizing habits. She can make people dizzy with her never stopping speech about religion, and she swats her Bible up and down and covers all her basis. Oh, she is a sinner, but she faithfully reads the Bible and has read it many times and goes to the church and practically lives there. She despises her own mother. My grandma is in very poor health and she requires a lot of attention, which her daughters have taken upon them to take care of. Her children all chip in to cover her expenses and help the aunt that houses her, but this aunt seems - I've been told - bitter that she's not receiving the money, so she mistreats my grandma and often also shimmies out of her responsability to attend to her. Evidently she reads her Bible but doesn't feel like "Honor thy father and mother" is a commandment that particularly apply to her, or that it shall be enforced in ways other than going to church and preaching.
Personally I believe that you should go to church when you feel like going to church, when something call you there and when you feel happy attending. It's not something you must do because that's what good Christians do, I mean God can meet you anywhere, He doesn't need you sitting in a bench, looking forward all bored while your mind is racing a mile a minute about other things.
Many churches have very nice preachers and very nice people. I've been blessed to always find awesome preachers in the churches I've attended, be it Lutheran (which is my faith), or Catholic or Baptists... and I must say that I have found very cool ritual leaders also among the few Pagan rituals I've attended. I've also encountered stupid preachers, but those were mostly those that holler on the street and aim to disturb the peace of the passerbies. However others have had bad experiences, and well, that needs to be respected. Others simply get bored in church, and so that needs to be respected as well. Your connection with God isn't measured in the money you give to the church or to charity, nor in the hours you sit listening to preaching, or the songs you sing or the number of Christian songs you know. Actually, you don't even need a religion to be with God. Just be happy, follow your heart and listen to the Divine around you. Be true and kind to yourself, kind to others and be happy. As happy as you can be, and then a little bit more.