Since coming out of religion, specifically fundamentalist Christianity, I’ve been constantly surprised by the changes in the way I view life, death, purpose, other people, and myself.
I used to struggle mightily with a poor self image. My parents never understood this. To them I had every reason in the world to be confident. I was raised in a loving home with generous family who spoke goodness into my life. I wasn’t bad looking, was a good student, had a nice personality, a few talents (or “gifts”), etc.
But for some reason I was still painfully shy, felt unattractive, didn’t date, and never thought I was smart enough to really accomplish anything important. Every compliment I received was rebuffed with a “Thanks, but….”
Through all of my adult years I have tried to overcome this. I had the help of a therapist. I had prayer and took antidepressants. I have an amazing husband who has always told me I was wonderful and capable of anything. But despite all of that, deep down I still had a nagging sense of shame, of being unworthy, of being a fraud.
Today I saw a video that triggered all sorts of emotions. A video that reminded me of the hundreds or thousands of messages I received as a child and teen and adult from within the Christian community that could be responsible for why I felt I was worth so little.
Jentezen Franklin makes an incredible comparison about how you are the pizza box and God is the pizza. We can choose to allow God to work in us if we remain clean and empty like a vessel.
Metaphors for the relationship between God and man abound the Christian faith, especially the tradition where I lived. He is the vine, I am a branch. He is the shepherd, I am a stupid sheep. He is the potter, I am the helpless clay. He is the savior, I am a wretch.
But “God is the goozy melting pizza, I am a throwaway 39 cent cardboard box”?
This is a new one. But probably an accurate picture of what I was taught. Without God, I am worthless. Apart from him, I am no one. The only way to be someone, to be valuable and valued, is to empty myself of everything that makes me unique and be filled with him. Anything else is prideful and sinful and an abomination that puts me in league with the devil.
Yes, god made me unique, but I’m made in his image so I need to disavow my unique nature and take on his.
Yes, I matter to the god of the universe, but only so much as I surrender my will to his.
Yes, I was created as a good thing, but those original people screwed it up so I am mostly made up of a sin nature (especially as a woman) and it would be best for me to comply with what I’m told and stop asking these pestering questions.
Oh and if all that wasn’t enough, I better keep myself clean or no matter what I do, god won’t come inside me. (Don’t do it…. just don’t go there….)
Through all the decades of my sincere belief, these concepts always nagged at me. Now I reject them completely and am finally able to accept myself – and others – as is, good and bad. I have inherent value and worth.I don’t need to get it from anyone else, especially not some invisible entity defined by people thousands of years ago. I have a responsibility to use my talents and time, not to judge people but to help them.
But watching the video, something else occurred to me, a sort of Douglas Adams cum Monty Python view of the universe that opens up a whole new bunch of questions and made me laugh out loud:
If God is a hot and cheesy disc of Italian goodness and I am the box that keeps that fatty gooey goodness clean and warm, does that make Jesus the ultimate pizza delivery guy?