empathy: ˈempəTHē; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another
Empathy seems very lacking in the Evangelical Christian’s mind. What I mean is, unless your feelings and struggles can be explained and remedied by the Bible, they are immune to them.
A few days ago, I received a private message from the pastor’s daughter – a very nice and sincere message that related her prayers that my eyes would be open and my heart would be freed. I chose to respond in a way that would allow her to know what I have been through and why I am at the place I am now.
I understand your concern. I know what it is like to be concerned for others’ eternal destiny. I was in that boat for so long. Crap, it actually gave me anxiety. There were days I could not even get out of bed out of fear my brother and possibly my parents would go to Hell. My body was physically overtaken by panic. My arms would go numb, my legs could not hold me. I also agonized over whether or not my children were “chosen.”
But now, my heart IS free!
I did what Paul and Peter said to do. I studied to show myself approved (2 Timothy 2:15). And I am now able to give an account to the hope that is within me (1 Peter 3:15). I studied the Old Testament and the prophets, first by replacing “LORD” with God’s “original” name “Yahweh.” I saw there was no room for the Trinity. Then I realized that Yahweh did not tell the Hebrews they would go to Hell for disobeying even the slightest of his commands. That is an invention of the Church. Yahweh did not use Hell as a threat of punishment, neither did he use Heaven as a promise of reward. All that came later during the Babylonian captivity while they were among the influence of Zoraoasterinism and then later Greek, theology.
So yes, I am free and I rejoice everyday for that! I can now look at people for who they are instead of wondering where they are going after they die. I see their value as human beings. I see the beauty in them like I never have before.
No, I don’t have hope or assurance that I will live on forever after my body expires from this earth. But that’s ok. I don’t need to believe I will live forever in order to find value in this life here and now. Actually, I appreciate my life more now that I know it is finite.
I’m glad that you have found hope and meaning in your faith. Just know that Christianity doesn’t provide that for everyone. There are so many people that have been mentally damaged by it. I am one of those people. I am slowing starting to speak out about it. Because I have come to realize there are more and more people suffering in silence.
“Christianity, above all, consoles; but there are naturally happy souls who do not need consolation. Consequently, Christianity begins by making such souls unhappy, for otherwise it would have no power over them.” -Andre Gide
Her response was, “Thanks for taking time to respond. Obviously we disagree over what is essentially True, and that is okay. Know you are loved – please greet your sweet [family] for us.”
I have also begun posting things about religious trauma and how Christianity cause my anxiety and panic attacks. The only Christian that acknowledged my statement and showed some concern has suffered from it herself. No other Christian has seemed to attempt to understand or care about this issue. And I don’t really blame them. If they were to acknowledge it, they would be acknowledging that their religion does not work. They would have to acknowledge that not every Believer receives the peace that passes all understanding.