How was your childhood?
I only ask because mine was stuffed full of rules. From an early age. When to go to bed, when to get-up, what to wear, when to put it in the wash, how to sit at a table, use a knife and fork, when to get down from the table, when to go to school, when to be quiet, when to speak, when to go home
The list of “rules” begin at an early age and continued throughout my life.
I am hopeful it was not only my upbringing that was this way. Seems to me that it is the way. The Way we all follow mostly. Followers of The Way of growing-up. Rules are rules. And abiding by the rules is how you earn love. Because when you break the rules – that is when bad stuff happens. Either a silence, a naughty step, a withdrawal/rejection or even prison or breaking-up or divorce or really bad stuff.
Rules are there to kept. And broken when no one is looking.
We have a rule mentality. It is how society functions one way or another. Without rules there is chaos – and then where would we be? Gone to hell in a basket is where!!
The bogeyman gets used a lot on earth. Satan. The Enemy. The Devil. Old Nick.
The fiery furnace lifted effortlessly, the basement and creepy dark scary things borrowed, the things that go bump in the night adding a fear or two. Hell and heaven are used at an early age in our language. Aren’t the stars where we place loved dead ones? That is where they are now, Paul. Up there with the angels. Away from us. Safe and happy in a way I never understood. Not like I understood bad stuff for breaking the rules. That breaking the rules was not how to get loved.
Punishment and reward.
Eat your dinner and then you can … Just wait till your father gets home … If you pass these exams … Oh! You didn’t do very well in these exams … Sit properly and then you can … Ask nicely and then … Sit up straight … Sit down now … Go to sleep … Time to wake up … Who did that … I am disappointed … No you can’t, you haven’t…
And despite all that we usually do get the gist of “unconditional love”. Except we equate it with weakness not strength.
Does this ring any bells? “I want (whatever I want) and Dad will say no, so if I ask Mum nicely, she will get Dad to say yes.” And the opposite. When Mum would probably say no, I headed for Dad.
We learn how to manipulate the system. We learn about rules. We learn about love. We learn how to get our own way – one way or another. We learn how to stay out of trouble. We learn to keep our mouths shut. We learn how not to get caught. We learn rejection and we learn fear. And we are so busy learning – we forget we are being loved the entire time. Even though we know we are. Really.
And then hormones change the rules!
Girls get bumps and curves. Boys get hair and a creaky embarrassing voice. And with it more learning. This time the stuff no one told me.
Pretty confident girls get the boys salivating. Confident bad boys get the girls salivating. Judgement and self-abuse begins to really kick-in. The mirror now becomes our best friend or worst enemy. Comparison against others now a HUGE factor. More important than “the rules”. More important mostly than my mum and dad. They would always be there. And with this shift in perspective came Fear. Fear really grows up and pushes so much else out.
Fear of not fitting in, fear of not being cool enough, bad enough, cynical enough, clever enough, stupid enough, care enough, not care enough, wear the right clothes, say the right words, use the right gestures, be in the right club. Be with the right people. Be accepted. Be popular. More rules. LOTS of new rules! All with dire consequences. And then all those changes in my body and all those around me. The ultimate prize!
But the act of orgasm? The self-practice of orgasm? More rules. Don’t ever let anyone EVER catch you doing that to yourself. That is Dirty. That is how you really break the rules! And don’t ever let anyone catch you doing “it” with another. That is Very Bad!! Fear of being caught again. Always fear. And rules. The rules never talk about sex, orgasms, making love, how to share love, how sweet it is, how beautiful and mind-blowing having an orgasm together really is (they are too old for that – so we can’t either). And school is left to give us the mechanics of reproduction and protection and how not to “catch something when you do.” And/or our own parents make an embarrassed attempt to join the bandwagon of “How not to – because the consequence will be really bad if you do.” Or not.
There is a lot of rule living passed on from generation to generation. There is a lot fear passed on like a baton in this eternal relay race.
And then at some point – in comes God. Father Christmas for grown-ups.
He will Love me. He forgives me. He died for me. And with God comes yet another bunch of rules – and many rule keepers! Gate keepers. All dressed up and with titles. Rank and seniority. And we know all about rank and seniority. We learned that at a very early age.
So we have to learn to fit in all over again. Learn how to be “God cool” – how to fit-in with this new club – how to be accepted (or rejected) all over again – learn these new rules (and not be caught breaking them). Yet still with all the other stuff, all those other people, friends and family – all of the things so important in our lives – all of that still part of us. What I think of as having a life – living – living and breathing.
Yet so often the gate-keepers say (or imply with a look, a frown, a “way”) that we must drop all of that “sinful life”. We learn that people who don’t belong to this club are not welcome. We learn so much about sin. It is SIN! They are SINNERS! And – the biggest bummer really – I am still a SINNER every day! No matter all this stuff about being born again and being saved. I am still a sinner. All day. Every day. For the rest of my natural life. No matter how hard I try. Always the bogeyman, the fires, the damnation. Always the rules. And always the fear of rejection – of pain. Always fear. We pass on the fear – even here.
So have we been reborn? Have we been saved? Why should I still live in fear? Of all these rules – of sinning – of not being good enough – of being nothing without God – of having to say thank you all the time – sorry all the time?
I have never worshipped anyone or anything ever before. I loved and have loved and know love and yearn for love and relationship. Yet worship and unworthy and sorry and thank you – all the time? Isn’t that just being truly stuffed – or have I been saved for this? With more rules than ever I was before being saved.
And we wonder why we are what we are – generation after generation.