“… Man’s desire for God is bedded in his unconscious and seeks to satisfy itself in physical possession of another human. This necessarily is a passing, fading attachment in its sensuous aspects since it is a poor substitute for what the unconscious is after. The more conscious the desire for God becomes the more successful union with another becomes because the intelligence realizes the relation in its relation to a greater desire and if this intelligence is in both parties the motive power in the desire for God becomes double and gains in becoming God-like. The modern man isolated from faith, from raising his desire for God into a conscious desire is sunk into the position of seeing physical love as an end in itself. …”
This passage from Flannery O’Connor’s “A Prayer Journal,” was written in 1947. Flannery would have been 22, only three years younger than I am now. Even without the knowledge of what time in life she was in when she wrote this, it speaks to me, especially now.
I’m currently in uncharted territory. I’m dating a fellow believer.
Regardless of how rooted in faith my upbringing was, the kind humility and dedication only Belief can bring have never been qualities I specifically searched for in a romantic partner.
Part of me feels as though this was a subconscious choice, like some vain and self-preserving part of me didn’t want the companionship of another Christian because “What if they’re better at it than I am?” “It” being living in a Christ-like way. At least 90 percent of my anxiety can be traced back to a fear of failure – so, why would I want to be constantly made to feel I didn’t do enough in my faith?
But, as is true with anything, one does not really know how an experience will affect them until they’ve had it.
In my life, I’ve never really fully turned away from my faith. Sure, I’ve had specific questions; I’ve made myself sadly scarce from church services, but the fact that God exists has remained a constant. I’ve, therefore, never had a returning-to-God, humbling experience – at least not in the life-altering, somewhat-dramatic extent I’ve known other people to. And, I’m ashamed to say, sometimes hearing personal stories of self-realization and surrender to God makes me uncomfortable. But why?
There’s that fear of failure again.
If your faith is never tried nor necessarily “renewed,” are you really living in it actively?
While I’d not pass judgement on someone else in my position, I am judging myself.
I’m not a bad person – I make concerted efforts to treat others as He’d have me treat them – but striving to live in a Christ-like way includes more than that. Christ didn’t walk around only helping people. He shared the word of God.
Lately, that sharing is an act I’ve missed. I used to feel so full sharing the word through music as a member of my church’s praise team. Now I’m nearing that inconsistent “Easter/Christmas” follower status.
I’ve known this since before my recent venture into dating someone active in their faith. But, seeing faith through their eyes has slowly made me fall in love with it even more.
I never stopped believing, but perhaps I did have a lapse in seeing how needed it is in my life to be in community with others of faith.
I think part of me saw practicing Christ-like kindness and care for others as enough, but truly living in a Christ-like way is never thinking “enough” is enough.
I remain with questions.
No account of another human follower – mine nor Paul’s – is infallible. My account of faith, my life, myself retain their faults.
But it is those faults that make us human, so my fearing failure, especially failing to “worship well” is only hurting one person …