Moving Forward

Last week I was writing a post about the withering away of my bitterness towards institutional religion. I never got around to publishing that piece as some other things came up. After some beautiful conversations with God this weekend, I was rereading that draft and could see, after only a few days, how much my viewpoint was changing.
Admittedly, I’ve had my objections to the institutions, and still do, but many were from a place of severe disillusionment. God didn’t really try to force me out of this state, but gently guided me and eroded away all of my disappointment and heartache. Now, I’m beginning to be able to love the religious people again but in a better, more real way.
Before, I loved those who were raised to acknowledged the same views as me while distancing myself from, if not vilifying, those who were different. As I studied the Bible and talked with God more and more, I started seeing discrepancies with that approach. One day, after asking a series of questions, the carpet was ripped from under me as I saw just what I was supporting.
My heart was broken to say the least, but I felt Jesus’ presence strongly comforting me. It was like he was physically there wrapping his arms around me. I began to interact with those I was led to believe I should avoid. To my amazement, they were surprisingly human. The dehumanization techniques I had been blinded by were blown away when I actually entered into their individual lives to try to understand them more, while laying aside any of the presumptions I’d had before.
After that, I became quite bitter with religiosity. Now, I’m beginning to be able to love more openly. I don’t think I’ll ever be a part of an institution again, but I feel like I’m able to find common ground for loving discussion with others even if we don’t see eye to eye. I don’t feel a need to force my viewpoint, but rather just openly and honestly listen and respond as the Holy Spirit guides me.
This journey is wildly unpredictable, but I’m loving the new things God is showing me everyday. Regardless of how obstinate I’ve been, he has led me to a better understanding and a deeper relationship. Jesus has turned the negative experiences and attitudes I’ve had into beautiful opportunities to love others. Maybe that’s a part of the plan—to redeem all of creation through even our most despondent conditions.
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4 thoughts on “Moving Forward

  1. Hi John,

    I’m a fellow INTP Christian as well (although female). I spent a good decade or so being an atheist, and being very anti-institution myself. I still wrestle with the core issues of traditional faith as per laid out by the Bible, but I’ve grown a lot, and have managed to return to my faith, but with a reformed perspective. I’ve spent a lot of time with individuals who are not necessarily believers as I’ve grown up with in my formative years and definitely, I can relate to you when you say you’ve come across real humanism in these people who are not of the same yolk. When I think about what true Christianity means, I think about who Jesus Christ is and what he was trying to teach mankind. There’s countless stories where he clearly shows contempt for people who place legalism over the true Christian way of life that only Jesus exemplified perfectly. I think he cares more about where our heart is, stripping away any superficial rituals/laws, etc. And to love others – that is the core message. And that kind of nonjudgmental, non exclusive love is the humanity I’m talking about that I see in so-called non believers. Anyway, glad to find another INTP, and that is another issue on its own to deal with!

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    • Very well stated! It took me a bit of trial and error to figure out how to relate to God. I eventually had to take a major step back from religion and figure things out just between me and him. Embracing my personality was also a big step towards figuring out who he created me to be. Jesus definitely redefined the entire concept of love to the point that we’re still struggling with comprehending him. I continue to learn new and deeper meanings from his words and actions daily.

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      • Just curious, how do you think being an INTP has helped you figure out who God created you to be? I’m asking only because I’m wondering if other INTP types have faced similar frustrations, confusions, and often lonely/misunderstood moments in life that have rooted from particular INTPness.

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      • I had problems connecting with God all my life based on the standard formulas I was presented. I did everything I was told: going to the altar, praying, reading the Bible, attendance, participation, teaching (within the denomination’s rules), etc…,but none of it worked. My intent was genuine, but I wasn’t growing any closer to God.

        A college instructor of mine had us take the Myers-Briggs test. I was skeptical but blown away when I read the INTP synopsis. It took some time, but I began embracing my strengths first – introverted thinking and making those intuitive (Ne) connections through studying the Bible and putting together the historical aspects. My form of prayer has become a constant chat with God. Meanwhile, I put the lesser Fe on the back-burner even though emotion was heavily pressed as the way to relate to God. As I began growing closer to God, I began being alienated from others because I wasn’t doing it the way they told me to. I tried discussing some of the things I was discovering but only received resistance to conversation. I was told things like “you’re being doubtful and that’s a sin”, “the devil is tricking you”, and “you’re getting involved in something dangerous.” Eventually I had to leave the institutions for my own spiritual well-being. That step has been the biggest for me growing towards God. Outside of that box, I’m free to explore the depths of God’s love as far as I can comprehend. It’s quite a beautiful and enjoyable journey for me.

        I guess in summary, it had to start in my head and make some type of logical sense before it worked its’ way to my heart.

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