When something is painful we want to ignore it and put it out of sight and out of mind. This requires great effort and energy, and, while some people turn to drugs or alcohol or food or some other source to suppress their pain, I think I turned to religion to help me regulate my emotional pain.
It started when I was about 17. I began using Scripture to push thoughts and feelings out of my head. I memorized verses and when a painful memory surfaced or another painful experience occurred, I'd turn away from it and dissociate by concentrating on reciting those verses from rote memorization.
I can still recite from memory the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 in the King James Version. That's the only bible I personally owned back then and it was given to me as a high school graduation gift by the church my parents attended while I was growing up.
I was 17 and already knew Christ as my Savior, but before I received it, my only experiences of reading the bible had been a children's bible when I was six and then reading Romans 10:9-10 from a small Gideon New Testament to Dad one day, at his request, when I was 8. It was pocket-sized, red, and the print was very small, and Dad was in tears, actually sobbing, and he asked me to read those verses out loud to him.
I remember many times when Dad was emotionally upset and breaking down. He struggled lifelong with depression and PTSD after serving as a foot soldier during the Korean War, but this was the first time he had ever asked me to read to him. I read the verses, and he said, "That's all we have to do. Just confess and believe." Then he asked me to kneel and pray with him right there on the spot. It was at the foot of his bed. Needless to say, those were the first two verses I committed to memory.
I still have the bible I was given for my graduation from high school, and nearly every page of it has verses underlined or highlighted and many of my own notes are scribbled in its margins. It even bears coffee stains. I was diligently reading and studying.
I was becoming very religious.
Now, I believe I was using this activity as a way of distracting myself from my emotions, from my pain.
I think I'm still doing it.
Comments are closed for this blog post