My post last week was kind of, I don’t know…not sad, exactly, but definitely notes of melancholy. I find myself full of questions most of the time, and a lot of times it feels like I’m the only one asking those questions. I know that’s not true, but there are definitely times when it feels like I have this view of the world, of God, whatever, that isn’t shared by many of the people in my life. After I wrote that post, I read another blog that was so full of positivity and life is great and God is great that I just wanted to crawl into a hole. What is wrong with me?? I thought. I felt alone and sad, and I even felt mad at those people for whom life is seemingly full of joy on a regular basis. Who seem to be able to easily ignore some of the things that for me are blaringly obvious. I get self-righteous about it, like I’m somehow a better person because I get all worked up about things like injustice and violence and cruelty in the world (because surely I’m never unjust or cruel myself, right???) and think “Well, insulating yourself from the bigger issues in the world doesn’t make them go away, it doesn’t solve anything!” As if my over-wraught musings do something to solve anything.
It got me thinking about personality types then, I remembered studying them in psychology way back when, and so I looked them up. I almost fell out of my chair when I read the Wikipedia definition of Melancholy Personality:
-…fundamentally introverted and thoughtful…overly pondering and considerate…preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world…often perfectionists…self-reliant and independent…so involved in what they are doing that they forget to think of others.
I mean, that describes me so well, its crazy. And it was such a relief you know, because it was like, oh that’s just me, that’s just how I was made. Of course, it doesn’t excuse poor behavior. I have definitely done things “wrong” in my relationships with others because of the way this brain of mine works. But it felt good to realize that some of how I am, some of the struggles I have are just part of the way I’m wired.
I realized too that, interestingly enough, I tend to surround myself with people who are kind of the opposite of me. I don’t know what that says about me, but in one way it’s good because it pulls my head out of my butt for a little bit, but it also makes me quite frustrated when I feel like no one understands me, no one gets where I’m coming from. It can feel pretty alone. And yet I can imagine if all my friends were melancholy like me we’d be a hot mess.
“If one is to deal with people on a large scale and say what one thinks, how can one avoid melancholy?…as the current answers don’t do, one has to grope for a new one, and the process of discarding the old, when one is by no means certain what to put in their place, is a sad one.” Virginia Woolf
I just pulled up this quote tonight while I was thinking about this. I think it says a lot, especially in my current state of spiritual struggle and questioning. The “current answers” in my life just aren’t cutting it, and that’s exactly what I’m doing, I’m discarding those old answers, those old beliefs, and I really have no idea what to put in their place. No. Idea. And it makes me sad.
And this makes me sad…I really enjoy reading Rachel Held Evans…I follow her blog and I read her book “Evolving in Monkey Town” and it resonated with me so much. So many of her questions are things that are roaming around my own head and heart. A lot of mainstream Christians (men in particular) have not so very nice things to say about her. Not nice at all. She has a new book coming out, and I saw this quote about it tonight, and it is negative and it made my heart sad, because it felt like an indictment of me and my own struggles. This is what it said:
“Rachel Held Evans: how to mock biblical principles with a smile. Godly women should be truly repulsed by her behavior and example.” – Dr. James White
Now, I have no idea who Dr. James White is. But I’d wager he hasn’t really read anything Rachel has written, really read it with an open heart. Anyone who reads her has to see that there is no mocking going on there, just an honest searching. And you know what? Dr. James White has no idea who I am. I think if he read my blog or read my mind he’d be repulsed, he’d think “Godly Women” (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) should be repulsed by what goes around in there.
That thought didn’t make me mad (though they often do).
It made me sad.
Because in saying that he is saying, essentially, that God is repulsed. God is repulsed by questioning and searching. God is repulsed by not just accepting what religious institutions lay down as the law.
God is repulsed by me.
Now, there are certainly times when I believe that, when I fear that. But most of the time, I don’t think that…I think God understands the way my brain works (even if I don’t entirely) because it’s just the way he made it to be. Melancholy. Uncertain. Afraid. Terribly, terribly afraid.
I don’t want to be repulsive to God. Or to anyone else.
But I don’t know how, I don’t think I can, I don’t know that I’d even want to change the way I look at the world.
I want to be pissed off that my Cambodian goddaughter was sold into sex slavery.
I want to be outraged that there are people around the world who are tortured because they don’t follow the party line, don’t vote a certain way, are part of a certain tribe or clan or religion.
I want to feel angry that there are Christians, Jesus-following, Bible believing Christians want to label my questions and struggles, want to label Rachel Held Evans words and writings repulsive because they think they have everything all figured out.
I’m sad about it. I’m melancholy. It’s who I am. I hope you’re not repulsed.
I hope God is not repulsed. I really don’t think he is though.