Agoraphobic Faith

30 03 2014

Easter has me thinking honestly. I guess the Lord does that type of thing, huh?

Disclaimer: I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, especially with how I am choosing to think about agoraphobia. I have found a redemptive angle to this interesting perspective of closeness and vastness and hope to offer some thoughts here. With that said, these are reflections about the manifestation of faith for me. I do not wish to offend or belittle; I DO hope to inspire honest reflections around faith and its understanding!

I think I am agoraphobic. This is a self-diagnosis, but I believe that it is pretty accurate. I get antsy when my senses, mainly the visual, come in contact with certain manifestations of vastness.

I do not become overwhelmed to the point of the inability to function; I become overstimulated. I tend to see everything. I see clearer. I see things with a sharpness that wasn’t there before because my senses are acutely aware of the imbalance in the scenic picture that I am taking in.

It feels too big, or rather, I feel so small.

The vastness reminds me of my minuteness.

I have found my anxiety of my smallness heightened in response to three occasions of vastness: driving through open land such as pastures, fields or meadows, driving beside mountains, and driving over, through, and beside the ocean.

And through this revelation of openness I have come to this conclusion – I am deathly afraid of God’s vastness.

If God created the land, the seas, the mountains, and I find myself made uncomfortable because the weight of its importance outweighs me. It signals something larger than me. It demonstrates that something can conquer me, swallow me up, render me insignificant, render me small enough to be forgettable.

And this riddles me beyond sanity because my minuteness does not expect the attention of such a vast God.

The vastness of God’s creation overwhelms my ability to understand it. Its bigness overpowers my sensibilities. I cannot calculate my existence in or around those things and spaces. I makes me acutely aware of my space in the story of God’s creation as smaller than a blip on the screen.

I am afraid of vastness, because it reminds of how vast God is, how creative God is, how God’s sensibilities render mine small, lacking wonder, lacking understanding.

What I lack, God is okay with – but this does not make sense. Why would the Lord favor such a little being as myself?

Vastness exposes that my faith is not wed to understanding. They are not considered together – sometimes one proceeds the other, sometimes one stands alone as if not married at all. And then I realize that they are not necessarily wed, but somehow they are together – sometimes.

It shows how human my faith is. It is so elementary and relies heavily on my senses to be. It also relies on how I can explain away the fact that God exceeds my comprehensive abilities. My intellect, my ability to believe are put in their place. I feel small. But my feeling small is not one of feeling insignificant as much as it is about finally realizing that I am nowhere near understanding God’s limitlessness.

If I am in awe of God’s creation, of land and rock and water, what other wonder, that I have not even tapped into, do I hold for the Creator? In my smallness and my not knowing, what more is there to see and know about God?

Thus, my faith is agoraphobic.

And I am happy with. Okay, maybe not happy with it, but I accept it.

I am perfectly fine with it being based on an uneasiness and constant reminder that my “I am” renders inconsequential compared to the Lord’s essence.

Because I cannot understand God, take in all of who God is, I find my faith quite appropriate. What else should my faith be outside of reminding? What else would be belief feel like if it did not include tension that borders fear but lives in the land of reverence?

A mixture of fear and fortune in my not-knowing and only partly knowing God is showing me something. Unfortunately and possibly fortunately, I am sure I only know a small portion of what this something even is.

I am sure that the vastness of Christ’s blood scares me too. I am positive that the vastness of God’s love and the omnipresence of the Spirit contribute to my anxiety.

What am I to make of myself if Christian understandings I am taught to believe incite a deep and subtle fear? A fear of goodness being so big that my humanity all of a sudden becomes bigger than I want it or ever need it to be.

My sense of me is heightened when confronted with the largeness of God’s creation and I am not sure that I am completely comfortable with this. My creaturehood is put on full display; God’s greatness reminds me that I only have the ability to be displayed because of the Lord.

I look forward to and at the same time dread what will be on display about me and my humanity come Easter Sunday. I can only pray, pray that my smallness does not try to occupy more space than it literally can. I pray that the vastness of Jesus’ words, ministry, and blood overwhelm me. They already do; I simply pray that they will continue to outside of liturgical seasons and moments on the church calendar.

I pray my faith does not cure itself of its agoraphobia; my humanity depends on it.




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