Easter now past us, we can take comfort in the idea of rebirth and resurrection in our own lives. Even the darkest moments of our lives can be resolved. The lingering hurt and pain can be put aside, forever, if we like. But only if we want it for ourselves. No one can make us grow and mature as human beings if we are resistant to the process.
In all fairness, we've all got baggage somewhere along the line. How we choose to deal with it in the course of our lifetime is the most important thing of all. I really wish certain people would recognize that existing in a perpetually wounded state, for any reason, is self-limiting. This is true regardless of the intensity and magnitude of the hurt that caused it in the first place. Some people I know are in love with their own resentment.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.
Here's an example. When I was in college, I used to crash campus bible studies. It gave me great pleasure in those days to try to cast doubt in the minds of the conservative Christian students gathered there. I saw Jesus as a fraud and wanted others to reach the same conclusion I had. Now, I regret my decision, even if my beliefs about religion are still extremely different from those I originally sought to refute.
Having now returned to the religious tradition of my past, albeit a more liberal variety, I’ve been dismayed at some of the reactions I’ve received. Among groups of feminists, I’ve often been the focal point of an intensely negative response to the whole idea of forgiveness. To them, forgiveness in any form seems coerced. The images and associations that come to mind to them are of situations where women are forced to forgive their attackers or abusers. That’s not really what I mean.
With time, I came to peace with Christianity, recognizing that what I had been taught was far removed from the reality. What I really came to peace with was myself. To this day, I see lots of LGBT religious seekers standing on a continuum of belief and doubt, somewhere out there. Many of them never become believers and never enrich their faith because their past hurt continues to bubble to the surface. They're stuck in a kind of spiritual maturation limbo and can go no further.
No one would attend a house of worship if he or she didn’t really want to belong. Holding onto anger, which in this situation is akin to holding a lengthy grudge, is not healthy. I believe that people who have been damaged in their past by large, all-encompassing systems like organized religion have a right to what they want to believe. It's everyone's choice to come out or not to come out, and it's everyone's choice to make peace with religion and religious expression, or not.
But it would make it a lot easier if we could, on both accounts. It would grow the shrinking numbers of many religious groups, which continue to decline with every passing year. And it would stop the thousand tedious arguments of insidious intent, as T.S. Eliot put it so eloquently.
We have our trigger points, each of us, regardless of how and what sets us off. But we can't see hidden landmines unless others first tell us where they are. We really can't have a collective short fuse because acting in such a fashion does no one much good at all. Nor can we feign to successfully read anyone’s mind. I openly encourage a more radical honesty and rational discussion.