I have heard there is a god
who looks for men of crushed spirits.
I don't know where to look for him,
but if he wants to find me
I will not hide.
23 March 1984
The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17.
On the surface my poem does seem to be in tune with King David’s thoughts but I actually have it back to front. God was never looking for me. He knew where I was all the time. I, on the other hand, wasn’t looking for him either. Not really. Not sincerely. I studied his Word and enjoyed showing off how knowledgeable I was but although I imply in the poem my spirit had been crushed that really wasn’t the case. Certainly not in 1984. Maybe my spirit was scuffed when I wrote the poem but I had nowhere near hit rock bottom. And even when I did I know I only went through the motions of contrition. It was artificial. But then that covers my whole approach to religion. I expected that by going through the motions I would become… what? Holy? A cat can spend its whole life learning to bark like a dog and wag its tail at all the wrong times but it’ll never become a dog. It’s not enough to do what some religion tells you is right and not to do the things they say are wrong. You need to believe those things are right and wrong.
Years after all this I made a friend online, a woman, who was having an extramarital affair. She was also religious and I was just about to pack it all in. I forget which church she attended but I don’t know any major religion that condones adultery. She had her reasons—my husband doesn’t understand me (I forget the specifics)—but as far as she was concerned God would understand. I said to her, “God might well understand but that doesn’t mean he condones what you’re doing.” She couldn’t handle that. She’d decided what God was like and her God understood, had forgiven her and would continue to forgive her every time she climbed into bed with this guy. Talk about delusional.
I was never that. I just kept practicing my bark and wagging that tail.