Friday, July 26, 2013

Life, God, and the Little Things - Part 2

Let’s fast forward a few months.  The nutshell of the months between January – April were essentially a monotonous routine.  Get up, go to work, come home.  Get up, go to church, come home.  All the while, my wife (rightfully so) continuously brought up the desire for children and my consent to try.  There were days when my responses could have been kinder.  But, she is a strong and forgiving woman.   I am so honored to have her as my wife.

My only solace was in my weekends when I could use my writing or games to escape my reality.  I had resigned to my imprisonment.  I think the phrase, “creep along,” would adequately describe my progression to anything.  Every day it was the same old thing.  I was getting further and further behind on my payments for loans until I reached the point that I couldn’t pay them anymore.  My car had broken down with Sam and I working conflicting schedules (we ended up having to borrow a church member’s vehicle).  Funnily enough, I did get it fixed and it broke down on our way up to Ohio two months later.  That’s another story though.

In April, things were beginning to look better.  My old position at work had opened up and the CEO gave me a call and invited me back.  This was the beginning of resolution to a lot of my issues.  While where I was working at the time had a lot of room for potential growth, there was no growth happening and so I ended up jumping on the offer and gradually worked my way into the customer service position that I am part of today.  During this time I also had a friend move in as a house mate until he could find a job in the Birmingham area.  He’s currently still looking.

Within all that chaos of life, I still found myself completely dead to anything related to religion or Christianity.  I was numb.  I didn’t feel anything, even when playing music where I normally would feel alive.  I felt dead to the world.

At this time I was also dealing with an incredible fear.  One that some of you will relate to, and some may think is utterly ridiculous; a fear of death.  A fear, so intense at times, that I was just shy of a full on panic attack or mental breakdown.  Every night the thought would cross my mind and I felt myself feeling sick.  It was a crippling fear.  And on top of that I was afraid to reveal this fear to others.  I was irrationally afraid that people would look down on me in some way, like I was weak or stupid for having such a fear.

That is until I just sort of blurted it out on the trip coming back from Ohio and no one flinched (except me, in expectation of worse).  Since then the fear has subsided, for the most part.  Occasionally it still haunts me, but every time it is significantly less. 

Which is crazy right?  If I am a Christian, shouldn’t I have no fear of death because of the promise of “eternal life”? 

Maybe, but I think if we are all a little more honest with ourselves, we all go through a point where we deal with it.  I think a more accurate metaphor might be that we are all on a plane ride that we know is going to crash at some point.  We don’t when or where, but we do know one thing.  We have a parachute we can use when that happens, and we cling to it so tightly that our knuckles turn white.  Because we know that while it is still going to be a terrifying experience, it is our salvation from a gruesome death.

And I guess that really sums up what I’m driving at with these posts.  An explanation to what I’ve been working through and why I identify myself as Christian.

The thing is, science is great.  It has taught the human race so many things, and I think it’s great for understanding the physical world around us.  It gives us the facts, the logic, the reason.  And generally, it is unbiased in its conclusions.  That is its purpose.


I think we forget how important the heart is too.  In our society, Logic and Reason have become the masters.  It’s about the numbers, the facts, the hard tangible evidence.  But it is only one half of the coin.  Our intuition, instincts, and perceptions are just as valid and important.  That gut feeling when you know something is wrong and you turn out to be right.  There was no logical connection but the connection was there nonetheless.  I’m not even talking about our emotions, though they play a role.  The heart plays a role in understanding anything.

Example:  World War II

Factually, we know that it involved most of the countries in the world dividing into two alliances.  We know that roughly 75 million people lost their lives in that war for various reasons directly connected to it.  We know that Hitler was a key figure. But that doesn’t explain what it felt like to experience it.  It’s just the head knowledge.

A gentleman tells you about D-Day.  He explains his fear, the adrenaline rush he feels, the chaos, the horrors.  He explains everything with great detail on the experience.  And you can relate, because you’ve felt shadows of those emotions.  It is a story that connects with your heart.  It’s the heart knowledge.

On their own, the two are good, but when you put them together you get a much more holistic understanding of the event that was World War II.

Simple, I know, but I think it conveys what I’m trying to say well enough.

It is with this heart and head combo that I try to make every decision.  Because sometimes it is better to have mercy, and other times it is better to show none.  Because not everything can be seen with the naked eye, and sometimes you have to read between the lines.

In that pursuit, at this time I’ve concluded God must exist.  Others will conclude that he doesn’t and they are allowed to believe that just as I am entitled to my own beliefs.  But since this is my blog, you are getting my perspective.  Because sometimes it really is the little things that can bring about a whole new understanding.

In this past year, though, I have seen too much to suggest otherwise.  The impeccable timing, the peace when there should be none, among other things.

As a conclusion, I think C.S. Lewis wrote it best when he wrote The Silver Chair:

“One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one more thing to be said, even so. 

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. 

So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say.”

Grace and Peace


Erik Pasco said...

I found this post by Michael Gungor helpful related to doubts:

Anonymous said...

I think it is a completely accurate and factual statement that every Christian struggles with doubts at some point or another.
I have certainly had mine. Sometimes at work I find myself in a situation where I think I have seen the worst of humanity. Then I go home and see the news to find out what I saw at work was just the tip of the iceberg. People are corrupt and evil and right now we are on the devils playground.
I find myself head raised toward heaven asking, "Where are you, Jesus?"
Then the doubts set in. The fear takes hold. The panic overwhelms.
Just when I feel myself losing it, God always gives me a reminder that he is in fact watching and loving and that one day his vengeance will be great. It brings comfort.
The one verse in the Bible that he constantly brings to my mind is in the beginning of Genesis. When the serpent is speaking with Eve and he says those horrifying, poisonous words, "Did God really say...?"
That very question birthed a lie and her very foundation was shattered. She made a terrible life altering decision because of that question, or more so because of her answer to that question, which must have been, "I don't know."
So when I feel lost and completely overwhelmed by fear and panic. When I hear that poisonous question lurking in my heart and head, I must take action. I must say out loud, to that evil serpent, "YES, MY GOD DID SAY...AND HE IS NO LIAR, SO GET BEHIND ME SATAN. YOU CANNOT PLUCK ME FROM HIS HAND."
Here are the facts:
You are normal for fearing...anything. Life, Death, Sickness. Fear is normal. Welcome to humanity.
You are loved more than life itself. You are a husband, brother, son, and most of all the passion and love and creation of the almighty God. Boo-Ya.
Satan will cause doubts. That is his game. This will not be the last time you struggle.
We are in a war. Sometimes we lose sight of what we are fighting for because the fight seems to never end. That is why we must keep constant reminders around us. That is why you must blog, and I must respond. Because you are not fighting alone. When you are weak I will be by your side to draw my sword and give you a break.

Austin Ezell said...

Thanks guys.

Dan Sanders said...

Sorry for being late to the party. Seems like the guest of honor showing up late, right?

Austin, I'm sorry you've had such a rough go of it lately. That sucks. Seems like a lot has happened. As you said in your previous post, you've been a recluse to me lately, so I only know so much. Regardless, I am genuinely sorry stupid things have happened. I cannot be apologetic about my deconversion causing you personal problems, because it's been my decision and I've paid for it dearly. However, I never wished to cause you distress.

I do have a few questions, if I might.

Which god have you concluded must exist, and why? I suppose we must conclude that you are referring to the Christian god, a combination of the god of war Yahweh and Jesus of Nazareth as seen in the Bible. Did you engage other religion's gods during your time of struggle? By your own logic, Allah might be the god that must exist, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster might be in all of the gaps of our scientific knowledge, or the simple god of deism might exist, the primal cause that is then completely absent for some inexplicable reason. What did you look at specifically to come to the conclusion that the Christian god must exist? Do you simply feel it is true? Why?

What did you look at when it comes to science? When you say "science is great," and then go on to say that it can't prove everything, you are both saying what no scientist would disagree with, and then inserting faith into the gap where scientific thinkers would say they're working on it, a classic argument from ignorance. So, to be more specific, what can science not tell us that intuitive spirituality can? How do you know? Are you getting this from Rob Bell's newest book or a publication like it, or did you look into any scientific texts or theories? Would you like some recommendations on scientific theories to look into?

I ask these questions because we've had exactly one conversation about all of this, and I had no idea you were in this much distress about it. You could've asked me a few more questions while you were struggling, but I'd be glad to recommend to you what brought me to the conclusions I've come to now if you'd like.

Regardless, you should know I respect your ability to choose and that you've made some hard decisions lately. It's not for me or anyone else to tell you what to believe. I'd be happy to make you a better informed believer though, if you care.

Austin Ezell said...

I was, in fact, referring to the Christian God. You're right it is true that Allah or the flying spaghetti monster are just as likely to exist by my own logic I used. The thing is that my distress actually just came between an existence of God or lack thereof. I was seeking to validate other religions or potential deities. Closed minded? Maybe. It just wasn't on my thoughts.

As far as the Science comment is concerned. I wasn't actually trying to "fill in the gaps" with faith (I've seen that statement a lot lately). I was merely pointing out that there is more that goes into understanding anything beyond the empirical evidence we find. There are aspects that we can only understand through the intuitive and instinctual nature of our humanity. Which is why I gave the story vs. facts example concerning WW2. Another Example might be when you get that "gut feeling" or a "vibe" about something that turns out to be true though you had no hard evidence to back it up.

I'll never stop exploring what all of this really means I'm sure. But that is my nature.

Half my problem was, I didn't know how much I was affected either until recently. (about a week or so before I started writing this post and some discoveries came in the writing!)

Hope that answers at least a couple of questions, or at least clarifies a little.