Where Credit Is Due

So, I have this little side gig where I sit in a dimly lit room and listen to people complain all day, one-on-one. Believe it or not, I don't really mind. For the most part, I enjoy listening to people share with me. Sometimes all they need is just someone willing to listen. Don't worry, though. I'm not a therapist.

However, I recently had an encounter with someone that left me a bit stupefied. After spending several minutes listening to this young lady explain to me in great detail her many ailments and problems, she capped it off with, "But God's been so good to me." Wait. What? I hope in that moment my face didn't betray my utter dismay at her words. Sure, I get it. This is the part where I (because it's automatically assumed in the Bible Belt that I'm a Christian too) look at her with great admiration and commend her for her unwavering faith in God, despite all of the shit he's thrown at her. I smiled and nodded, because I do have a job to keep. And I really don't mind to give credit, but let's give credit where credit is due.

Here's the truth of the matter, and it's quite sad. Life's dealt this poor lady such a despicable deck of cards, that the only way she can cope is to hope and pray that there's some underlying and meaningful purpose to all of her suffering. Maybe, just maybe if she continues to praise God in the midst of a seemingly miserable situation, he just might come through for her in the end. Or not. Who really deserves the credit, though? She does! For living, for getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. I just wish she knew that.

I wish all Christians knew that. I wish I had known it when I was a Christian because maybe I wouldn't have surrendered my identity to a lie, but my training started early. Christianity is such a strange paradox. On the one hand, it lends itself to a collective narcissism, the elevation of self or many selves, in this case. It's all about you, how the creator of the universe has favored you and your purpose and your special relationship with him. On the other hand, however, you're a filthy rag; and without a savior, you'll never be good enough. You did something amazing? Well, don't even think about taking credit for it. Like the song says, "And give Him the glory; great things He hath done." What a destructive cycle, a travesty to the human psyche that I don't think is realized until you're on the outside.

I wish I could say that deconverting out of Christianity made it all just go away. The truth is, sometimes you're left trying to figure out who you are because you were so busy trying to be what Christianity said you should be. I will say this. I may not know exactly who I am, but I know who I'm not. Give God the glory? Umm, no thanks. I think I'll take the credit now, for every accomplishment, big or small. And YOU should too, because it turns out, there's no invisible man working through you or for you or with you.