Struggling to Find One’s Self

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Having been raised in an environment where old school Pentecostal holiness ruled the day, I can definitely tell you that being different is nothing new for me.  (Wikipedia)  Christianity is in various forms now, though it always has been, with some being more “common” than others.  Anyone not familiar with old school Pentecostal holiness, it is a denomination of Christianity that states that women are not allowed to wear pants, shorts, jewelry, nor make-up.  There weren’t many male restrictions besides what males are commonly restricted within mainstream, if such a thing exists, Christianity.  My family definitely saw themselves as outsiders from everyone else.  “If you don’t think like us or serve God like us, then you are not doing it right,” was the gist of the mindset.  Sometime later, my immediate family transitioned to one of the many Baptist Christian brands, and then to more of what you would call non-denominational forms of Christianity.  (Wikipedia, Baptists), (Wikipedia, Non-denominational)  Baptist was more “mainstream” and didn’t have as many restrictions on its followers as did the Pentecostal brand.  It came as a surprise to me much later, that even Baptist was no more one thing than many of the other denominations.

As I got older, I left church and did my own thing so to speak, though the religious upbringing was still lingering in my consciousness.  To those that may be offended by the reference to Christianity being a religion, I utilize the definition of religion provided by the Oxford Dictionary, which states, that a particular system of faith and worship is a religion.[1]    As time marched on, I found my way back to church, though in a different form.  A form which I would later find was not the one for me.  I found that in my personal life, because of allowing my defenses to come down frequently, that when people said, “I’m Christian,” and the lack of understanding of human affairs, finding my way was quite difficult.  It would a long time to develop as an individual. To be become comfortable with my own thoughts and who I was.  I take no negative issue with the fact of my religious upbringing.  It was still necessary for foundational purposes in regard to morals, ethics, community, and a spiritual center.  It kept me away from many dangers.  It, unfortunately, led me into many dangers on the other side, though.  Intelligence is great to have, though it has nothing to do with guarding you against being gullible.  Being a person that is easily persuaded to believe something, as the Oxford dictionary defines it, you can find yourself in many difficult situations that are not easy to get out of.  Being credulous can be dangerous in a world where some people are out looking for someone to dupe to get ahead, or just have nothing better to do than to make things difficult for other people.  Your emotional center is key.  Emotional holes are easily picked up by predators lurking for someone to use.  A key to this understanding was provided by M. Scott Peck.

“Whenever there is a major deficit in parental love, the child will, in all likelihood, respond to that deficit by assuming itself to be the cause of the deficit, thereby developing an unrealistically negative self-image.”  (Peck 60)

Deep rooted and seated emotional issues that stems from ones’ childhood that are not dealt with in sufficient time and effectively causes that child to develop into an adult that is incomplete emotionally.  It will take years for that adult to take an honest look at themselves, realize that they have the emotional issues, and then begin to seek proper help.  Not all parents are evil.  Some parents just don’t know any better.  Ordinarily, when one is unaware of what they are doing, they go seek advice from others who do know.  Sometimes pride and other things get in the way of this.  So, they pass on their failures in the form of maltreatment unto their children.  They then, at times, try and make up for those passage of failures through the giving of gifts and allowing of significant amounts of leniency.  A child needs proper development.  Not gifts and leniency to make up for the lack of effective parenting skills.  The truth is, while this is a harsh thing to say, that just because someone can do something, does not mean that they should.  We must be honest with ourselves and admit and do something about our own personal failures.  You can be really good at one thing, but horrible at another.

As individuals, being aware of our own personal failures and owning up to them, keeps us from allowing the negative aspects of us to get out of hand.  They rarely manifest, and we do not make excuses for them.  Those who are prideful and refuse to accept that they have personal failures, harm people all of the time.  Even when on the surface their intentions appear good.  Intentions don’t excuse outcome.  You could have good intentions toward someone and still end up doing a great amount of harm to them.  The reasoning behind why you are doing what you are doing in no way justifies your actions any more than someone who set out to actually do harm to someone.  The outcome can be the same regardless of the intentional outset.

“Evil was defined as the use of power to destroy the spiritual growth of others for the purpose of defending and preserving the integrity of our own sick selves.  In short, it is scapegoating.  We scapegoat not the strong but the weak.  For the evil to so misuse their power, they must have the power to use in the first place.”  (Peck, Chapter 119)

“We do not become partners to evil by accident. As adults we are not forced by fate to become trapped by an evil power, we set the trap ourselves.”  (Peck, Chapter 118)

If evil was wrought in you from your childhood, having not dealt with it in sufficient time, in adulthood you become an active participant in your own demise.  You set your own traps.

“In The Road Less Traveled I defined mental health as “an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.”  (Peck, Chapter 207)

It would take me some time to fortify myself with knowledge and go through a few experiences that would make me strong enough to let go and move on.  Something that I had learned along the way concerning reality would have saved me years of my life.  That something involved the difference between actual or reality vs. potential and even perception.  Potential[2] deals with what could happen, whereas actual deals with what did happen.  What exists has everything to do with reality or the actual.[3]  Perception[4] and possibility[5] or potential have to do with what could be.  What might be or is likely.  Perception can become reality, but it is not so until what happens lines up with what was perceived.  So, reality and perception are not one and the same.  They can overlap, but do not always do so.  It is my contention that perception should have a basis on what has happened before as well as what is likely to happen based on certain determining factors or observations.  Does the person or the thing have the potential to bring about the perceived result?  If the person or thing lacks the potential to bring about the perceived result, then the position should be jettisoned.  Will the person with the observable potential do what is necessary to become what is perceived?  Will the thing be used for the purpose of bringing about the perception that one has for it?  These questions are unanswerable without observation.

A person out of touch with the actual or what is reality, is recognized by predators who lurk for weaknesses in others to exploit.  This has the potential to be dangerous.  It could be that a false perception of reality stems from one’s childhood.  If not dealt with it can cause observable markers within one’s behavior.  While predators are able to exploit the weaknesses of those who have a false perception of reality, those with that false perception play a key role in their own demise.  They set themselves up within their own traps.

Many people have other things that they grew up under that hindered them in one way or another.  I would not call Christianity a hindrance.  It has benefited many people.  I would say, that it would be helpful if some would arm themselves in general with more knowledge to keep themselves from the pitfalls that are probably unnecessary.  At least some of them are unnecessary.  The old adage that what you don’t know won’t hurt you, in my opinion, is rubbish.  The more you know the better and the more you know the further you can go.

[1] Religion – 1.1 [count noun] A particular system of faith and worship. Oxford Dictionary Online.

[2] Potential – attributive Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future. Oxford Dictionary Online. 1 mass noun Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness. 1.1 often potential for/to do something. The possibility of something happening or of someone doing something in the future. Oxford Dictionary Online.

[3] Actual – 1 Existing in fact; real. 2 Existing now; current. your actual — informal The real, genuine, or important thing specified. Oxford Dictionary Online.

[4] Perception – 1 The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. 1.1 Awareness of something through the senses. 1.2 Psychology Zoology The neurophysiological processes, including memory, by which an organism becomes aware of and interprets external stimuli. 2 The way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. 2.1 Intuitive understanding and insight. Oxford Dictionary Online.

[5] Possibility – 1 A thing that may happen or be the case. 1.1 mass noun The state or fact of being possible; likelihood. 1.2 A thing that may be chosen or done out of several possible alternatives. 1.3 possibilities Unspecified qualities of a promising nature; potential. Oxford Dictionary Online.

 

Bibliography

Peck, M. Scott. “Chapter.” Peck, M. Scott. Chapter 3: The Encounter with Evil in Everyday Life: The Case of Hartley and Sarah. Second Touchstone Edition 1998. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983. 85-138. Book.

Peck, M. Scott. “Chapter 2: Toward A Psychology of Evil: The Case of Bobby and His Parents.” Peck, M. Scott. People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. Second Touchstone Edition 1998. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983. 47-69. Book.

Wikipedia. Baptists. 31 October 2018. Website. 5 November 2018.

—. International Pentecostal Holiness Church. 10 May 2018. Website. 5 November 2018.

—. Non-denominational. 5 March 2017. Website. 5 November 2018.

 

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