In the summer of 2014, my daughter introduced me to contemporary pop punk music. As a former 80’s girl, this music delighted me, and it didn’t take much for her to con me into taking her to a concert.
I hadn’t been to a secular concert since my teenage years, having listened primarily to Christian music since having children. As one of the oldest people there, I was acutely aware of my ridiculous display, jumping, dancing, hands in the air and belting out the lyrics I knew by heart at the top of my lungs. During one of my many favorite songs, my heart sank. I realized my face was to the sky, my arms wide, and I was singing from my very soul.
Just like I do in church.
I was in full out praise and worship mode at a Fall Out Boy concert. What the actual hell? I was shocked and ashamed. What was wrong with me that I fell right into church mode at a secular concert, and one in which f bombs were dropped, no less. Not only that, my spirit was soaring, my soul sang to the very heavens. It wasn’t just that my habit of singing loudly and raising my hands had occurred, the very same emotional high that I counted on getting from church attendance was coursing through me.
I was a blasphemer. A heretic. An awe that should be reserved for God alone was directed toward a bunch of tattooed men in leather.
That happened two months after I had last attended church, and I haven’t gone back since. My faith had been unraveling anyway, and the epiphany that my concert experience granted me shredded one of the few remaining threads of my faith.
I had faith in my feeling of euphoria. The feeling I got after praying for hours during the night, then seeing a double rainbow the next morning, and declaring it a promise from God of an answer to my prayer. The euphoria of praise and worship. I’m afraid I’m a euphoria addict.
Once I realized that my elation had nothing to do with a Holy Spirit, but rather was a chemical reaction coursing through my body in reaction to emotionally charged music, I was chagrined, to say the least.
And I’m angry.
I feel manipulated.
At this point I don’t rightly know what I believe any more. My faith was completely wrapped up in a god whose spirit impacted my daily life, and supplied feelings of gratitude, compassion, joy, hope, and much more. I haven’t bothered to interact with that god in over 2 years now, and unsurprisingly, I still have an ample supply of all of those emotions, as well as a hearty dose of euphoria from a phenomenal concert last night.
I’m afraid that I had succumbed to my cognitive biases with absolutely no discernment.
I’m still looking. I still follow the Christ who gave the Sermon on the Mount, and seek daily to live my life according to the beatitudes and enact that radical, counter-conventional love he modeled in every single interaction I have. Many would say that because my cognitive process no longer accepts the Holy Spirit as being alive in my heart and guiding these actions, that I am bound for hell. My only suggestion for them is that they spend as much time worrying about modeling Christ as they do about my eternal fate.
About the author: Alethea is a runner, a gardener, a special needs mom, and a writer. She has been happily married for time immemorial, and thinks way too much. If you want to read more from her, give her a gander at https://benswritingrunningmom.me