“I’m tired of this—so tired” … so I took a Bible break

Photo credit: ronnieb from morguefile.com

I’m tired of this—–so tired. My bed
has been floating forty days and nights
On the flood of my tears.
My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.

I’ve owned a copy of The Message for a long time, but have honestly never read more than bits and pieces in it.  For anyone who doesn’t know, The Message is a modern paraphrase of the Bible. (FYI: Photo above isn’t from The Message.)

I was taught by my Fundamentalist background that The Message by Eugene Peterson was almost a gateway drug to unbelief and the fires of hell.  While I never thought it was that bad (I felt okay owning a copy), it just didn’t resonate with me.  The language was often too “hip” or, to be honest here, too stupid for me to take seriously.

A friend of mine and I used to play a silly game while we were talking on the phone.  We called the game “Guess Which Verse?”  We’d take turns reading a familiar scripture verse from The Message out loud, and then the other person would try to guess which text was being paraphrased. We were both Bible nerds at the time, so almost any passage was familiar.  We’d usually end up laughing hysterically about how idiotic and dumbed-down The Message was compared to the more familiar English translations we were used to reading and studying (KJ, NKJ, NIV, NASB, etc.).  Even the most familiar passages were often unrecognizable in the vernacular slang of Peterson’s paraphrase.

The Message, in my world at the time, was considered a joke.

A poorly written heretical bad joke.

Fast forward to today.

I’m no longer living in Fundamentalist Land.  I’ve relocated my spiritual home into Liturgical Liberal Lutheran Land.  When I go to church, that is.  Which isn’t often anymore.  Church people and pastors still scare me.

Some horrible abuse(s) at the verbal hands of a number of Fundy pastors and fellow Fundy congregants led me to a nasty case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.  I found it difficult and painful to read the Bible.  I’d pick it up and on almost every page, I’d stumble upon a verse which had been used as a weapon against me, aimed directly at my heart and life.

It was as if the Bible, itself, had become my main PTSD-like trigger.  I’d often find myself sobbing, and not the good “the-Holy-Spirit-is-speaking-to-me” type of sobbing.  More like full blown Panic Attack sobbing.  Shaking, stuttering.  An overwhelming anxiety response triggered by those Fundy church-related abuses.

So I took a hiatus from reading my Bible.  After the decades I’d spent pouring over the pages, not just reading, but studying–looking up every word in a concordance or Bible dictionary, doing Hebrew and Greek word studies, comparing translations, doing hours long indepth inductive study–I had a good storehouse of scripture I could call upon when needed.  And without the random stumbling on hurtful verses, I could find comfort in the ones that weren’t harmful to my bruised soul and heart.

Yes, I took a Bible break.  A several year Bible break.  A break that my formerly Fundy self would’ve considered heretical or back-slidden (or worse).

But today is Sunday.

I was sitting on my deck, eating a delicious frittata, and surprisingly wanting to read a few Psalms in the morning sunshine.  I went back inside and scanned my Bible shelf (yes, I have an entire shelf of Bibles), but couldn’t find anything that felt “safe.”  I saw nothing that wouldn’t possibly bring on an anxiety attack from some familiar passage that had nearly destroyed me in the past.

I was about to go back outside and just think about familiar Psalms, when I remembered I had a copy of The Message.  I didn’t keep it on my Bible shelf, because I honestly didn’t think of it as a Bible, but more as Bible-related “literature” (literature used loosely due to it’s poor writing).

I thought, “Hey, I bet The Message won’t be triggering, because the verses won’t even be recognizable.”  Much to my surprise, I found myself reading from the Psalms in The Message this morning.

Right off the starting gate, I found the cringe-worthy paraphrased verses I expected:

you don’t hang out at Sin Salon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

(That was from the opening stanza of the first Psalm, in case you didn’t recognize it.) 😉

After that insipid beginning, I took a sip of coffee, and braced myself for more of the same.  And it was there.  Silly stuff.  Mundane stuff.  But then, surprisingly, I’d happen upon a section that spoke to me in my current situation of being a mom from whom her three adult children have chosen to fully estrange themselves. (Psalm 6)

I’m tired of this—–so tired. My bed
has been floating forty days and nights
On the flood of my tears.
My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears.

There’s also this from Psalm 7 that touched my heart as I thought of the often fabricated and embellished narrative my children are now telling about me and our family:

Wake up, God. My accusers have packed
the courtroom; it’s judgment time.
Take your place on the bench, reach for your gavel,
throw out the false charges against me.
I’m ready, confident in your verdict:

The Message had a message for me.

And there’s nobody more surprised than I.


3 thoughts on ““I’m tired of this—so tired” … so I took a Bible break

  1. I love this!! I could have written much and def suffer from Post Traumatic Church Syndrome (I LOL at that one) . I am so very sorry that your kids have walked away…I feel a deep sense of loss for you. I wish I could be there and speak out for you and tell your kids how so very wrong they are. You are not alone and definitely blazing a trail that through your writing could very well save lives. If it was not for blogging I would not have found this online community who share my experience. I no longer feel alone. I no longer feel crazy. The pit of despair is behind me (I hope). Please, Please keep writing!
    Peace to you,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Steph. Your words were just what I needed to read today. It’s been a tough day today. Lots of tears. Sometimes it physically feels like I’m going to be sick. How could this have happened? We truly had a loving family while they were growing up. It’s not my imagination it was loving. It really was. But now they’ve rewritten the narrative of our family and of their own lives, casting me as the bad guy, wicked witch, evil stepmother, choose your metaphor. It hurts. So. Dang. Bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hurt with you friend and it is my deepest hope that everyone involved has an awakening. I believe you that the original narrative was loving. Absolutely you did not imagine that. What I have learned is that, our kids especially, will project their anger onto the parent they trust the most. At the same time they practice perfectionism (non authentic being) with the parent they least trust to handle their big emotions. This is how they keep themselves safe. There is a pack mentality where we side with bullies in order to be safe….if I am making myself clear 😛

    What I do know…is that the universe for billions of years has been seeking unity and we are all on this trajectory and the dark matter is all a part of the process.

    Just know that you are not alone and I believe that you are worthy of love and belonging and I stand with you precious one ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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