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Breaking Up With G-d

19 Mar

Occasionally a song resonates with your soul.  Sometimes that resonation has little to do with the artist’s original intent.  Perhaps that is one of the signs of truly meaningful expressions.  There’s something wonderful about a song that transcends its topic.  I’ve had that experience over the past week.  Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” has been that song for me.  Rather than a reflection on a former romantic relationship the song has placed melody and lyrics on my former relationship with G-d…the one I knew in my youth…the one I knew from my Evangelical born-again phase.


Reflect with me, if you will, on the lyrics for a moment:

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

You can be addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
And you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

SomebodyI used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
SomebodyI used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

I used to knowThat I used to know
I used to know somebody

I should probably specify at this point that I haven’t become an atheist or agnostic.  I still believe in G-d but what that looks like is quite different from what it has been in the past.  I have broken-up with the anthropomorphic projection of my fears, hopes, insecurities, prejudices, self-doubt, anger, and desires.  Moreover, I have ended my relationship with those projections of my culture and the cultures that serve as the foundation of my culture.  There are, I still believe, parts of that affair that were shadows of the divine.  All of those elements were, though, tangled hopelessly into an idea I named “G-d”.

I feel particularly connected to the imagery in the video.  The relationship I shared with this G-d was created by filling in a paint-by-numbers pattern.  Piece by piece, doctrine by doctrine, sermon by sermon…the tapestry of our journey together took on shape and color.  It was not until later that the sharp corners and lack of shading began to bother me.  By the end…color drained away all together and the borders vanished.  All that remained was raw human flesh ready to move tentatively toward a new era, a new love.

'Broken Heart' photo (c) 2006, David Goehring - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Breaking up doesn’t mean though that I am free and clear of that previous “personal relationship”.  I will carry the baggage of that failed relationship…it has undeniably become a part of who I am.  It is intertwined with my very being for better and for worse.  That was love and it’s an ache I still remember.

Your friends, divine former lover, still come around to remind me that it’s over.  They snatch back the mementos of our relationship, as if they actually could, to serve as a reminder that you never needed me to begin with.  Though we shared a deep and meaningful history, when that relationship was over your messengers told me I could no longer call myself “Christian”.  I became a stranger and that feels so rough.  You found others who will love you more truly than I ever could.  I did love you, but we found that we could not make sense.  I’ll admit that I was glad that it was over.  

I’m deeply sorry I had to leave. I needed to.  You see, I didn’t feel like I could be myself.  The relationship demanded that I become someone I couldn’t truly be…but I’ll be damned if I didn’t try to become that person.  Every time I failed to accomplish the impossible you claimed to forgive me by acting large and when you did I felt so small.  I realize now that I was always set-up for failure.  And I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say.

In the end it is better off this way…for both of us.  I will always remember the good times we had and the love that we shared.  The past is the past though.  Now you’re just somebody that I used to know.

Somebody…

…that I used to know.

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7 responses to “Breaking Up With G-d

  1. maventheavenger

    March 20, 2012 at 8:21 am

    interesting thoughts jim

     
  2. Marcy Pearson

    March 20, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Is this describing a break from tradition Christian rhetoric and viewpoint, or a break from God all together?
    Your writing is very engaging.

     
    • jimwangerin

      March 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Hey Marcy, Thanks for asking. It’s complicated. I feel like I, along with the cultures I engaged myself in, created a certain image of G-d. That image is what I am breaking from. I still maintain some sort of belief and connection with G-d…but it is far more mysterious, ethereal, and hopefully healthy than what it was before. However, one of the things I tried to express in this post was that I still can’t find it in myself to say I am separated from that previous image of G-d. In a way, that image will always play a role in how I think about G-d. I am thoroughly influenced by the path I have traveled. I would still personally consider myself Christian…but acknowledge that there are many who now disagree. I deeply value many of those traditions, but I no longer call them G-d nor can I affirm assumptions that their expressions and doctrines are void of humanity and fallibility.
      Hope all is going well with you and the fam!

       
  3. Brandon Sawyer

    March 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Hey Jim. Great post. I really enjoyed the symbolism of the pain that you feel because you really did try to be the person who you thought God wanted you to be and now you see that you were not being true to yourself in that endeavor. Also the pain you now experience when his messengers say that you are no longer welcome to call yourself a Christian. You “became a stranger and that feels so rough”. This is such a sad truth of the evangelical church today. If you don’t fit all the exact paint by numbers criteria (profess to believe all the right doctrine) you are no longer welcome to consider yourself a Christian. This is painful for so many people who have tried so hard to fit then realized they would be so much better off if they truly sought after what was real and not what was created by the evangelical culture.

    Thanks for some stimulating thoughts!

     
  4. Jessica Evans

    March 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I have to ask if you ever felt a detachment from G-d in this, and; if so, how did you come back to an intimate relationship with Him? I am finding myself being pulled farther and farther from the same doctrine, and at the same time I feel so distant. I try not to be, but it’s very hard to feel close when you’re surrounded by people in church that expect you to believe a certain way and not challenge the beliefs you’re being spoonfed. I can’t ask questions and it’s hard to seek counsel without being confronted with the same doctrines I’m struggling with in the first place! It’s been very refreshing and eye-opening to be able to see what others have struggled with, I don’t feel so alone. I should also thank you for challenging some of my beliefs/assumptions, without that challenge I would never have delved deeper into scripture.

     
  5. jimwangerin

    March 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Jess.

    Detachment? To say the least… To be completely honest sometimes I feel as far away from G-d as the heavens are from the earth. I do have my agnostic moments where I get so frustrated that I don’t know what to believe anymore…so I just don’t in those moments. That used to freak me out. Over the past year, with a lot of help from friends, I’ve become more okay with being honest with myself about what I am experiencing and to embrace those experiences as authentic and meaningful.

    I think detachment is almost unavoidable when we are going through these changes in our faith. My circle calls this process “deconstruction” (inspired by the philosopher Derrida, although admittedly I’m not that diligent or skilled in applying it technically). In that process we try to understand ideas by identifying the influences that those ideas have been built on (and the influences on those influences and so on). In doing so, I think it is actually of benefit to become “detached” to move toward objectivity.

    However that’s really emotionally trying, exponentially so when we are so connected to our subject. I struggle with it…it doesn’t always feel great to be doubting and questioning. The one thing that has helped me over the past couple years is to identify a “center” that can weather the storm. I’m sure holding this center hinders progress in the deconstruction process technically (Derrida would be so pissed if he knew I was cheating)…but my sanity is worth something too 😉 For me, my center is Love. When I can’t hold onto anything else, I still hope beyond all hope that “G-d is Love”. Many days that is the only statement of faith I can muster…but it is sufficient in those moments.

    I should mention that on other days I experience the divine in far more than I ever had before the transition. When I look into the stars and contemplate trillions of years in the epic of the universe…i feel connected to G-d. When I’m participating in arm-chair biology, cosmology, geology, philosophy, etc…i feel connected to G-d. When I consider all the millions of little interactions we have with each other and everything we come across everyday…i feel connected to G-d. I feel connected in dialogues like this. Most of all I feel connected just by being with and experiencing love & life with my family and friends.

    Anyways, glad to be on this journey with you Jessica. 🙂

     

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