When I was a teenager, my heroes were fallible men. Attending my Baptist church three times a week and many evangelical retreats and contemporary Christian concerts, time after time they would take to the stage and tells their stories of depravity and helplessness in having integrity and carving out their characters, instead giving themselves over to addictions and sinfulness until they destroyed their careers, relationships, and reputations before Jesus came and saved them. Although I have since stopped attending church, reading the Bible, and listening to Christian music and messages, I have still foolishly followed the example I was given.
When I was twenty-seven, I had a coming out talk with my family, informing them that I was no longer a Christian and that I enjoyed alcohol, marijuana, and premarital sex. I think I left tobacco out of the mix, but in the years that followed, although premarital sex was not much of a problem since I didn’t know how to cultivate relationships with people that I’d thought of as horrible sinners for the last decade, I gave myself over to my new religion of destroying myself with addictions and leaving God out of the picture. Having felt deceived by the auspices of the Judeo-Christian heritage that had comprised so much of my life, while I read about a number of other religions, I never found a tradition I felt comfortable practicing as much as I enjoyed practicing folly.
For many years, I’ve entertained myself by watching opportunities pass me by as I’ve embraced myself as less than I actually am. Still having some sort of faith in a God I couldn’t explain in a world of continuing synchronicities, I have reveled in my foolishness and have siezed many opportunities to judge myself as unworthy of the life I imagined, miring myself in the depression of shame. Hating myself for getting ensnared by my chosen addictions, I forge and endless cycle of punishing myself with the very instruments of torture that were keeping me from my dreams, watching them turn to smoke from my own personal hell.
Though I’ve still had a heart for what I’ve known as God, on a level of consciousness between subconscious and unconscious, I have lived the second half of my life, roughly a quarter century, trying to prove to the world that I am the horrible sinner I’d learned about when I was younger in order to honor that Greatness. For whatever actually becomes of my life, it is not due to my ego’s illustriousness, but the grander intelligence that continues to provide the stage for it to play on. Having now let down seemingly every person I have ever met, I have granted the opportunity for others to practice forgiveness and let their hearts be filled, more adeptly playing the role of the fool, shirking wisdom, grace, and love to break myself down and allow my torment to spread.
Too often, I have given up on life and not risen to meet my potential. I have told myself that I don’t have integrity or character, that I didn’t deserve to succeed, and I have lived out that reality. Yet though I’ve played the part of the fool, I still believe in the Unbroken Path and my ability to further my journey.