Monday, April 10, 2006

I remember having nothing to say...

I was a second-year college student at the Christian school, Trinity Western University. My major was Fine Arts, concentrating on Drama, minoring in English. I had joined the little drama troupe, Spectra, a five-person team that performed sketches and little plays. This was a great thing for me, really challenging but not beyond my abilities. I enjoyed being a part of it. To be honest, I had quite a crush on Dirk (yes, that was his name), but he never returned my affections. Oh well.

Anyway, at the end of the school year, we had a three-week tour booked all down the West Coast to California and back again, playing at churches to represent the school. The evening would consist of about half an hour of sketches, then one of us would give our testimony (for the unchurched among my readers, this means my little story of what God had done for me lately), and then the school staff member would give a plug for the school. We each took turns giving our testimony, one per night.

I'm not sure where on the journey this exactly happened. I was sitting in the back seat of the van beside Dirk, watching the highway roll by. The staff member called back from the front of the van, "Paula, it's your turn to give your testimony tonight." I was quiet for awhile as I thought about this. What had God done for me lately? What had He impressed on my heart? What difference was He making in my life? I couldn't think of a single thing. I watched Dirk watching the road roll by. He was so beautiful, so unattainable.

"Celestina?" I called up to her, "I can't give my testimony tonight. God hasn't done a bloody thing for me, and I don't want to lie to anybody."

It was very quiet in the van after that. Everybody used most of their energy to not look at me. I could feel them not looking at me. Dirk quietly asked if I was OK, and I said "yes". Inside, though, it felt like I had just jumped off of a very high bridge. I was realizing that the whole foundation on which my young life had been built thus far was, at worst, meaningless to me, or at best, unfathomable. All of a sudden my future was completely blank, wide open...empty.

Everyone kept me at arm's length for the rest of the trip. I performed my bits in the sketches, but I wasn't asked again to give my testimony.

10 comments:

annacond said...

Isn't it pathetic when people keep others at arms length because they had the guts to be honest? Especially honest about God? My thought is they all thought the same thing (God hasn't done a bloody thing for me lately), they'd been lying to the audiences all along (and they'd continue to lie to audiences to portray themselves as Good Christians), and you basically called them on it. Good for you for having the guts to say the truth, even though it obviously cost you a lot.

Wonder what they're all up to now? Plastic Christianity at its best?

Leonard Sadorf said...

Maybe you see it in retrospect, but that could have been your testimony, that nothing is happening and that you were waiting on the Holy Spirit to put something on your heart. Sure, it's not sensational, like being delivered from an addiction or saved from rock and roll, but it puts the testimony in the right perspective.

I know. Easy to say after the fact. The thing is that they never teach us the watch and wait part as much as the rest of the routine. But God and how he moves is rarely routine.

Spoke said...

My latest rant is similar to this senario. Funny how God has you and me often thinking alike. I don't know what I would have done during this situation. I wonder what they thought? I wonder what people think...what Christians think, when people are honest.
It sure gets uncomfy quiet like though doesn't it?

erin said...

i stumbled upon your blog, and i wanted to say that i love your honesty...its sad that honesty doesn't really get you far in most of what we would call "the church" i've experienced it too.

Kim said...

It's not right to be looked down on when you feel so very dry. Isn't that supposed to be when we as Christians are supposed to support each other the most? Hmm...I can understand the uncomfortness of the others, maybe they felt their words would be inadequate, so they felt uncomfortable and said nothing....it's hard to believe that all of them just were faking a real God experience.

We are all inadequate, and few have the strength to admit as much (oh, they might say "I'm not perfect" but ask them what's wrong and they'll never tell you reasons.) I'm glad I"ve started gathering those around me who want to get to the truth in their lives, whether it be "GOd I don't feel you right now" to "I did this, and I feel lousy".

There was something I heard once that rings so true. Those doubts in your life, the things that make you feel inferior to those around you are Satans way of blackmailing you, as long as you keep them in the dark corners of your mind, he has hold of you and can tell you whatever miserable lies he wants, once you let those thoughts, or sins out, suddenly Satan loses his bargaining chips and you realise you can be forgiven and loved through anything. Thats what the whole "confess your sins to one another and pray for each other and you will be healed." bit means...not that others can heal you of your sins, but that they can re affirm that you've already been healed. It works the same for thoughts that you feel only you think, like "God isn't there helping me at all"...when you have a healthy group who can pray through stuff and love you through that, who can say "yeah, I kind of feel like that too.", that's when you can start to heal and Satan loses his power really fast.

Keep your honesty, Paula, it's what I valued most in you when I first met you and I still like to see in you as time goes by.

just a Jesus addict said...

That's awsome Paula! Sure shows you how "well equipped" some people are when they don't get the candy coated response that a lot of plastic believers feel compelled to say. May we never feel compelled to turn away the real people because we ourselves don't know how or forget how to be real.

Paula said...

I'm not sure if I wrote this memory clearly enough. I wasn't just dry, friends. I was done. I had been wondering about what I truly believed, but it was at that moment in the van that I realized I believed in nothing, that I didn't know who God was at all, and that I was tired of pretending that I did.

It was four years before I re-surfaced, realizing that it didn't matter if I knew who God was, but only if He knew me.

RadioSilence said...

It takes guts to take a stand like that, especially in that sort of environment. For all the good that religion can bring into people's lives it can be truly one of the more polarizing forces as well. That can happen alot when people are raised to believe in something without ever taking the steps to question beliefs. And that can be a daunting task to wonder if a foundation that you've grown up with is truly not as sound as you may be lead to believe.

Don't ever give up on that kind of honesty.

Kim said...

Yeah, looking at it all, I can't help but believe that you were raised like many of us, not to question our beliefs at all, not to dig in and doubt. God has so much room for our doubt, I wonder a little if people had allowed you to voice doubts, instead of feeling uncomfortable and avoiding you, you might not have rejected God so drastically...

Amber said...

Paula, if you wrote a book I would buy it. (Trusted you haven't already written a book. If you have written a book, then I WILL buy it.)

"I watched Dirk watching the road roll by. He was so beautiful, so unattainable."

LOL