by Stan Bennett

by Stan Bennett

Friday, April 4, 2014

What a Stupid Journey



My journey, or deconstruction, as they say, is typical of ministers who lose their faith. I was raised in an ultra conservative denomination, had my doubts but committed myself to service. I wanted to help people and make the community and the world a better place. Over the years I moved incrementally to more liberal churches—each shift seemed pretty dramatic. However, no matter how far I may have come on this religious spectrum, it’s the wrong spectrum, and I have rejected it outright in the privacy of my mind and heart—almost no else knows I’ve come to this point.



I look at the shifts I made in the past. 

On past occasions, I came to a crisis of faith where I just wanted out of ministry, but decided to try again in another venue. As I reviewed each of those shifts, the commonality was not just a crisis of faith, but also physical and mental illness. 



I look at my medicine cabinet full of blood pressure pills, three different pills for diabetes, an antidepressant, two heart medications, and a little Valium to take the edge off when I get agitated or can’t sleep.  What happened to the vigorous man I once was? The one who was brave and daring? Why did I let myself break down like this?



I became a full time minister when I was 23 and immediately began to feel the inadequacy and frustration of ministry, and since then I’ve had many nights when I was so agitated I couldn’t sleep.  After a short time, I imagined what a relief it would be to just quit existing, and I daydreamed about ending that existence.



It was decades before I came out of that terrible depression but I have still looked forward to the day when I am done and if my current health problems brought that day fairly soon, well that wouldn’t be so bad. 



It seems so stupid now, to try to form some sort of spiritual support group out of people who are mean and superstitious, to try to find cosmic truth from a book of cultural myths, and to trade my health and happiness in a failing attempt to make an unhealthy organization succeed. 



But lately, I’ve come to realize that I’d like to stay alive and do more than exist. Perhaps it would be okay to actually be happy?  Christianity is suspicious of happiness and promotes the nobility of misery, which seems incredibly stupid, as I think about it now.



If there is a god in heaven, I don’t think he/she/it really insists that I be miserable to get there. And why would I want to spend eternity with someone who is so mean? And if he doesn’t exist, why have I spent so much time trying to live a contagiously unhappy life?

7 comments:

  1. IT IS TOTALLY OKAY TO BE HAPPY.

    IT IS TOTALLY OKAY TO WANT TO BE HAPPY.

    YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.

    And only a total bastard of a parent, lover, friend, or colleague would insist you be miserable just to maintain an illusion.

    I felt moved to say this again, in case you maybe needed a reminder.

    I don't know what comes after this life, but I sure do know that whatever it is, it doesn't look a goddamned thing like Christianity envisions it (or like that little kid in the movie claims he saw).

    --Cas who can't remember her login and holy cow is that the time well fuck me running

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  2. Cas, I've written this reply three times and hope this time it will stay put. Thanks for the encouragement. Sorry it took so long to post. And I'm still waiting for the cabana boy position to become available.

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  3. Not sure if you will read this or even respect or respond to what I have to say. You and I seem to be at complete opposite ends of a spectrum. I am 37 I was raised where there was no God the only God I was taught about was beer, pot, and women. I joined the Army after graduation and even there beer and women were the God's. Fast forward to about 2010. My daughter who was 3 almost 4 started ministering to me. And I was a single father her mom was not in the picture. I am a Minister I am very strong in my faith. I spent 30 plus years running as far from God as I could but He has blessed my life 10 fold... Just my story.

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  4. Greetings I am almost certain that you have forgotten more than I have learned as I am a rather new Pastor. My journey has started in the complete opposite of yourself.

    I was raised to have no beliefs one way or the other. I was raised that beer and fast cars led to fast women. And who cares we don't get out alive anyway. I was 17 and joined the Army just like my dad and my granddad and his dad all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Bare with me I am getting to my point.

    I traveled the world I slept with just about every Nationality of women I shot big guns and felt like a man. I was an alcoholic until the birth of a bouncing baby girl turned my world upside down. At the age of 3 she would pray over me she would ask me to give my heart to God. I had run as fast and as far as I thought humanly possible. But I applied the breaks. I got down on my knees not even knowing how to pray and gave my life to God. My daughter is now 7 I have been to seminary. I am the Pastor of Soldier Ministry and Soldiers PTSD Ministry.

    I know what I have wrote won't affect you and you might even be saying I just wasted 5 minutes on this crap. But believe me you never know who's life you are going to affect with the Word of God.

    I plead to you that maybe you take a moment of your day. And ponder the idea of a sabbatical and remember that there are many people who you may have not yet reached for whatever reason.

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  5. And I am sure that you have forgotten more than I know.

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  6. Dear Ace, my apologies for not posting your comment sooner. I need to be more diligent in checking my postings.

    Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story with me. We are a little different but we share the story of our children having life changing effects on us. Thank you also for your efforts to care for our soldiers, who need much more support than they've been getting.

    I don't wish to show disrespect to you. In fact, I'll offer this to. In fifteen years you'll be the age I am now. If we are both still alive, and you find yourself at a critical place in your journey and you find yourself not nearly so certain of your faith perhaps we can sit down and I'll be happy to listen to anything you want to tell me. In fact, you can tell me anything now... but no, I won't be going back. Peace.

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