When reduced to their testimonies, every religion is the same. I was messed up, I found my religion, I followed its teachings, I’m not messed up anymore. Testimonies are usually used to entice needy people to follow the teachings of the religion. They embrace and obey, some with success, some with none. We call up the success stories to lend more credence to our narrative, while we secretly hope the supposed failures will either get with the program or show themselves the door, preferably the back door.
Failure in our belief system threatens us. When we meet someone who is not “victorious” in our chosen religion, we feel the need to make excuses for our religion. It can’t be the fault of religion. It can’t be that our system does not work for everyone, it has to be the fault of someone else, namely the failure.
What if instead of insisting on success stories, we instead were honest that life just sucks and we really don’t have any answers? What if we instead loved people in the midst of their suffering instead of insisting they follow our religion to fix their problems? What if we instead acknowledged the truth and said “I don’t know?”
I don’t know why…
Your child died.
You lost your job.
Your spouse cheated on you.
But we don’t. We must have the answer. We can’t admit for one moment that our religion might not be THE answer.
And this is the real reason victims walk away.
There is no quick fix to real pain, there are only two courses you can take…cover it up in the shroud of religion, pretending everything is fine, or be real and admit the pain, admit there are no answers.
The former gives people an excuse to judge the hurting, the latter enables us to sit with the suffering in their pain, to bear each other’s burdens.