My mind messed me up the other day, it took me through a time warp, I reverted to my old ways, the ways I thought I had left behind. My brain freaked out and freaked me out, and I just can’t stop thinking about it.
I met an ex-pastor and I struggled to understand how this was possible, the way that my mind used to work. I used to think that it was impossible to be an ex-pastor, that it will always be part of you. But also, I quite stupidly used to think that the skill set a pastor had could only be used for “good” works, those of God.*
My understanding was that pastors had godly, “not of this world skills” skills that could not be applied to a worldly job. I did not see being a pastor as a job – that sullied the role of a pastor – referring to it as a “job” degraded it and made it of this world. The calling of a pastor was godly and mysterious. One that was so very special.
That was what I thought I used to think and then these confused thoughts appeared in my mind the other day, messing with who I think I am now. What a brain fuck. I was disappointed in myself. After years of reprogramming my mind this regressive thought appears, eating in to how I interact with this person, the regressive thought that pastors are special. This goes hand in hand with the other things I used to think, that pastors are “not of this world”, that they are called by a higher being to serve people, that they should be respected simply for choosing to spend their days telling people how to live their lives simply because the voice in their head says so, that their role in society has more importance than any other role and that I should be in awe of their relationship with God.
As soon as he told me that he used to be a pastor, I felt this strange need to be more careful with my words (stop saying Oh my God !) and I found myself treating him with reverence and more respect. I noticed this as soon as we had stopped talking and I was puzzled for the rest of the day. The puzzling moved into annoyance and then into anger.
I was puzzled because these thoughts conflicted with who I thought I was not. It annoyed me that I had reverted to my old ways and it angers me that people place can such awe and importance in the words of a pastor, someone who may not have had any formal counselling training, probably doesn’t have a great deal of education or life experience that enables them to provide substantial or valid advice,** and they give advice to people based on what they have gleaned from the bible and those elusive signs that God has given them. It irritates me that I used to follow teaching from pastors so literally, that I once did not question what they said and that I accepted their guidance with no critical thinking involved whatsoever. I am angry at myself for not questioning and I am frustrated for anyone out there that is now not questioning their pastor.
What angers me the most now is that I allowed my thoughts to cloud my judgement. I allowed the confusion of my old thoughts to prevent me from talking normally to this kind person that I had just met. Someone who I got on really well with and had a laugh with, until the boundary of religion appeared and clouded my judgement and blocked my thoughts. This is what religion does to everything, it clouds judgement and messes with minds.
* I struggle to refer to God with a capital and in a normal way, the way the dictionary does. I do not believe God exists now, he is not a person, he is not a being, he is a concept perpetuated by men that has marred the face of the earth and no longer deserves to be held in such esteem with a capital. For that reason, I have decided that from now on I will put a sarcastic slant on my references to this God . Just so you know.
**I generalise here and know some very well educated pastors and some well lived – like the one I was speaking to recently. And some advice that pastors give is helpful and not in any way damaging.
Image detail: I took this photo of Slieve Donard on a day that I had forgotten about, it was an awful day. A day soon after something absolutely awful happened. A day that my family decided we wanted to get away for the day and take a walk by the sea, to wash out the days that had passed. We walked along the beach, with our chests crumbling with pain, whist our eyes took in the beautiful view of the mountains. My thoughts felt like barbed wire through my mind, they shot through my head and could only be quietened briefly with the sound of the waves and the view of the sky. A pastor would have dragged the barbed wire, he would have whipped it up in my head. He would have messed me up even more. I will tell you about this day some time, when the memories are less painful and I feel I know you well enough to share.