I realised I had believed a lie.
There is shame in being successfully lied to. It’s why liars often get away with it. Because people don’t want to accept that they’ve been taken in.
Who lied to me? What was the lie? you may wonder.
My culture lied to me. Even though I knew I was being lied to, on some level I accepted the message as truth. This is the lie: that life should be as easy and comfortable as possible.
I shouldn’t be surprised or upset that my culture would perpetuate a lie. After all, culture is formed by people, and we are flawed beings. Culture encapsulates our collective strengths and failings.
The Christian subculture has largely accepted this lie as well, even though it is directly at odds with the gospel message. As Richard Rohr says, we can’t have the resurrection without the crucifixion. In other words, we can’t skip straight to the glorious part. When there is pain, we have to go through rather than around it.
I think it is because of the relative wealth in these cultures that the prosperity gospel myth persists in Western Christian subcultures . There are enough people being “blessed” to perpetuate the myth that God is “rewarding” their faithfulness.
But comfort is dangerous. Think of King David. He only perved on his neighour, starting a chain of events that ending in his murdering an innocent man, because he was chilling at home when he was supposed to be out fighting for his country. (Not that I condone war. But in the context of the story, he was choosing comfort over responsibility.)
What I have realised is that comfort is kind of flat. It’s not painful, but it’s not extremely enjoyable. When you move out of comfort, the extremes are wider. Everything is better and worse all at once. Just because you have slipped out of the cocoon and into real life, where both the risks and the pay-offs are greter.
Perhaps I am expressing myself vaguely, and you won’t understand what I am saying, but I am okay with that. Hopefully my vagueness will mean that the centre of the message is more accessible.
1. I got this idea from Lori Smith, in her book A Walk with Jane Austen.