Losing one’s lifelong religion in a short period of time is traumatic. For the next ten years I would be in and out of denial. My religion may have died and been buried in Dallas, but its ghost continued to haunt me doggedly. I had been jarred so hard that the ‘soul’ of my life had been dislodged from its ‘body’. I became essentially a zombie, the outer form of my public life remaining the same, while the heart of my spiritual life rang hollow.

In the months and years following this crisis of faith I would regularly journal my thoughts and questions. One thing I’d like to do with this blog is go back through those journals and pick out portions to share and reflect on. The first excerpt I’ll share is from August 9, 2006. It reveals the degree to which I was still desperately hanging on to what was familiar to me while also doubting the difficult decisions I had had to make:

Jesus, I want to know you more, to have your presence ooze from my pores. I thirst for you like I thirst for a pomegranate frappuccino on a hot Dallas summer day. Jesus, you are truth, and I want to engage with you, to be in a loyal, covenant relationship. I want to enter into the mutuality of your discipleship and the fellowship of your spirit. Life without the consciousness of your truth is miserable…

I am so weary of faltering at every step of my education. Did I make a mistake to quit the MABEL [Bible translation program]? Was it an act of youthful brashness? I had to, didn’t it? Am I a Bible translator or not? Lord, who are you making me into? Please make it clear enough to know which degree concentration to choose. What have you made me to do? “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

Exactly one year later, I was reflecting on how my emotional life had changed as a result of the ordeal in Dallas. These thoughts were captured in an entry dated August 16, 2007:

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve felt emotions. No anger, no pain, no excitement, no joy. I knew anger, I received pain, I perceived the reasons for excitement, and I loved and was happy. But, I didn’t feel any emotion. My heart is dead…

Did I do something to quench the Holy Spirit? I’ve wondered whether my lack of emotion is from the devil or from God – the former to rob me of life’s joys and the latter to insulate me from the pains of transitions? What if [what happened to me] isn’t just the fault of [Dallas Seminary] but of higher education in general? Such education is almost by definition the cult of the dead letter; spirit has been chased far and wide. It’s absent from theology, from syntax, from exegesis…

So, the question is: Lord, how to reignite the furnace of love? Will you do it at the necessary time? Or should be glad and grateful for my emotional insulation? If I can’t get rid of it, I may as well try to enjoy it. I only pray that You would keep me in your will so that I do not stray form the path of truth I am continually seeking.

3 thoughts on “Zombie

  1. Samuel J Beer

    So relatable. I asked a lot of the same questions during my last field trip. I didn’t feel some of the intense sadness or anxiety of my previous research trips… but I kind of didn’t feel much at all. Was that good? Was it bad? It’s hard to say. But like you have (but perhaps I’m behind you a ways on this particular road) I’ve slowly become more and more convinced that all of those emotions–the good ones and the bad–are essential if I’m going to be the most human person I can be. Which I do want.

    Liked by 1 person

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