03
Apr
08

Baring my soul

eye02.jpgSharing what’s in our hearts is probably as intimate as a deep French kiss, just with less saliva involved and no chance of catching mono. And because it is so personal, it’s something that we typically have trouble doing with other people (and something that other people often don’t want to be on the receiving end of). So, it’s even harder to share what’s in our souls. This is particuarly true of something like Judaism or Christianity or Islam in their purest forms, because they are monotheistic, my-way-or-the hellway kind of faiths. God is not presented as a guy who tolerates any competition for the spiritual marketplace (then again, if He created everything, why would He?)

Looking at the Christian faith, folks will get up and give their testimony in the church about how they came to be born again or the ways in which God has touched their lives and helped them through their troubles. That’s great for sharing amongst the people who already believe what you believe, and yes, it can help lift the spirits of people who are in a dark place in their faith or new to the faith. But it does nothing to show to people outside the faith who you are or how God has worked in your life. It can even become masturbatory sometimes when people go overboard with it, and I cringed when I would see people give testimony every week in a way that suggested to me they just wanted people to see them standing up and talking in church.

But back to my point: I’m as guilty of not sharing my faith as anyone. In fact, I don’t even like getting up in church and doing it. No doubt the reason the Holy Spirit has led me to do this blog is because the management in the Heavenly Host has pretty much determined I ain’t a public speaker and even in middle age, still a pretty shy guy overall. No missions for me to the downtrodden. No televised religion program. Not even any handing out of pocket Bibles on the street.

But I can write. And the Internet provides a certain veil between us that makes me less shy, while at the same time opening up communications between us. It’s an interesting medium in that way, both shielding us and opening us up. So, let me share with you how I came to be born again. If nothing else, perhaps it will help you realize the position from which I am working and thus give you more insight into why I’m doing this blog and why I feel the need both to help Christians steer clear of traps inside and outside their churches and why I feel the need to remind folks that they really need to at least consider Jesus as an option.

My parents both came from Catholic stock; my dad is pretty devout overall and my mom was pretty apathetic. But the end result was that I was baptized Catholic, raised Catholic and, at least when I was with my dad, I went to Mass. That being said, my mom pretty much told me from the get-go that if I wanted to check out other faiths, I should. I never did, but that was more out of laziness than any particular loyalty to God the Father or the Roman Catholic Church.

Once I got my pass into adulthood, I went to church pretty much only on Christmas or Easter if I happened to be visiting my folks. So, essentially never. This went on for about a decade. I had only been going to church before because it was expected, and now I wasn’t going at all. Certainly, I believed in God. I believed in Jesus, too, but it wasn’t anything deep or personal. I never thought about the suffering he went through. I never thought really deeply about what he was preaching in his life. He was just “the son of God” (something I considered with about the same gusto I thought of my childhood friend Jack Prichard as the son of a city planner) and someone I thought it was OK in my mind and heart to gloss over in such a casual manner.

None of this is to say I was a “bad person” in life. I didn’t hurt people; in fact, I was a pretty sensitive guyto the point of being the man that women loved to cry on the shoulder of but never wanted to put a love bite on that neck. I was more honest than the average person. I think I had stolen a grand total of one item in my whole life, and that was a $3.99 item if I recall right. I didn’t have any particular awareness of  racial issues on a personal level, but I also never treated a member of another race as anything but a person equal to me (unless that person was an asshole, in which case they got the polite shrug-off like any other asshole I ever met).

I felt no spiritual emptiness in my life. No longing for something greater. Nothing like that. I was perfectly happy and content to putter through life and assume that all faiths lead to God and we’ll get into Heaven based on our actions in life.

Then I met the woman who would end up being my wife. She was the daughter of a pastor of a very small non-denominational church (probably closest to being Baptist than anything else). In dating her, it was natural, since I believed in God, that I would go to her dad’s church.

What happened there was a transforming event. Not because of any one person and certainly not because of the church itself, but because after more than two decades of being on the planet as a supposed Christian, I finally cracked open a Bible and (gasp) read it. Sure, in Catholic high school, I had religion classes, but I read the stuff about as passionately as I did my third year of slogging through Hamlet or the inevitably simplistic writing style of Ernest Hemingway. That is, I read it, I spat out the information I was expected to, and I deleted it from memory.

But finally, I was in a church where a preacher not only spoke with passion about God but who encouraged us to read the Bible. To check it out. To pray for God to open our eyes so we would better understand what we were reading.

I tried it. I read. And the more I read (and I finally read the Bible front to back for once) the more I saw how it made sense. The reasons why man got separated from God and why we’ve had to go through so much and why Jesus was necessary for us to come back to God. I saw how things tied together in the Old and New Testaments (Yes, there are inconsistencies and errors. You try putting a book like that through multiple lingual translations and multiple styles…after the original words themselves were filtered through people and see how much more imperfect and inconsistent yours would be.)

I got it.

Mind you, that was only the first step. And before I go on, let me relieve you of any misconception that I was simply charmed by the pastor or wooed into the faith by my future wife. I am not a joiner. I like to get together with people, but I am not big into joining groups, causes or anything like that. I am not a weak-willed automaton easily distracted by the first Jedi mind trick tossed my way. I was the guy in hypnosis stage shows whom the hypnotist would routinely ignoreand one time, the hypnotist actually told me why: Because he could see right away that I was someone who would be skeptical and who wasn’t just going to go under. And that explained a lot when at another show thereafter, another hypnotist not only ignored my raised hand when asking for volunteers, but made eye contact with me as he passed by and shook his head firmly.

I am not someone easily led. At least not by anything other than my dick when I was younger (but a lot of men, even the toughest bastards, are guilty of this). And certainly nothing, not even a sexy woman, could have led me to place my soul in anyone’s hands just because she asked me sweetly.

My future wife’s father may have been passionate, but it was not him but rather the Word of God that spoke to me. And even though I think I was already born again, I really realized it some months after beginning to go to church regularly and read the Bible, when I was driving down the street and suddenly felt the Holy Spirit fill me up. I knew with a certainty that no matter how shitty life might be now or in the future, my soul was secure. Jesus had taken care of that once I acknowledged my own faults and sin and his sacrifice on everyone’s behalf, including my own. There is no way to describe that feeling that consumed me; that feeling that burned away my old spirit of disobedience and separation. And it came from nowhere, yet I knew exactly what it was.

None of this is going to prove anything to anyone. But it’s my testimony. To you. And while it was probably not as good as the first French kiss you ever engaged in, I like to hope we’ve made a personal connection that will help you see me in a better light, regardless of my views, my swearing or anything other foibles I bring to the table.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

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