The following wandering thoughts are about whether or not I was wrong in following the Catholic Apostolic apostles1, and what to do now.
Always one to take extreme standpoints, I started wondering if perhaps it would help me to make a formal confession of having believed in false teachers. I have myself really been very much engaged in giving my utmost to follow the CA teaching, so it has grown deep in me, hence my idea of taking drastic measures to get rid of it.
But then, something in me protests mightily, not only because I’m not quite sure if they really were false teachers, but also since then I see myself more as victim than as initiator of these false ideas, and besides I always truly honestly thought that I was following them out of love for God. Psalm 42:1 always was somehow “my” verse, expressing how I felt. (Currently I am very much aware that the whole psalm describes my life rather accurately, as I’ve always known it would, since it is one of the psalms that is sung on my birthday according to the CA schedule – together with 41 and 43 and 115 and 116, all special to me, but then… aren’t all psalms very special?). Anyway, this feeling of longing for God diminished slowly since I married until some two years ago I realised with a dreadful shock that I no longer felt that way.
My marriage, and perhaps even more the raising of children, really brought home to me that I could not reconcile two spheres of interest that I had always managed to keep separate: my love for people and my love for systems. This was bound to crash. I was sure that God loves everyone and so did I. But I also thought that God had told us CA people about all these beautiful revelations, so I loved those too. It was really difficult that Jelmer never wanted to hear anything about it. It didn’t occur to me that this might be because most things could not be explained otherwise than by saying that it was revealed to us by prophecy. Then I made the inner mental choice for Jelmer above the system, but killed a part of my love for God that way.
I now realize that the system was wrong. Okay, I should not have chosen Jelmer over God, but it was not so bad to choose him over a system. Quite good really, let’s make that point. So here I am back at my initial idea. Was I wrong to follow these apostles? Is it possible to do something very wrong, while thinking that you do it out of love for God? And then what would be the effect of such a fault on my soul.
What has been so wrong then? Mostly the attitude of being completely closed to anything that non-CA persons would say. I surely did feel the inner tension that this is outrageously disrespectful to my friends in school or other churches and even Jelmer. And I can honestly say that I didn’t feel a better person than them, and truly loved and respected them. Actually I knew I would be much happier if I could just be like them, without all these burdening responsibilities of knowing everything better. I only thought it was part of my unfortunate lot to be of a different, unexplainable, quite untenable, opinion. This way, I’ve hurt my friends, but myself more, in being so closed.
But then, was that really me? Did I invent this? I was not so proud that I didn’t want to listen, because in reality I very much wanted precisely that. Sadly I just thought that it wasn’t safe or right to do so. It was not my deepest inner wish, just the shield that was around me. Yet if it wasn’t me, then who else? Surely I am not a marionette. Some part of me did make a choice for system over people, for although I never forced my opinions on anyone, neither did I ever truly give theirs a second thought. There must have been something in me that appreciated our own simple black-and-white system more than actual real persons right in front of me.
What part of me wanted to cling to these outlandish ideas so fervently as to ignore all else? I longed to be part of a loving community. The idea that we are brothers and sisters in Christ was very attractive. The youth groups and summer camps really were a place where I felt accepted for the simple reason that I was a Christian, and a special one at that. There was such a focus on how we are all God’s children and should love each other. Looking back, it was too superficial, no one really knowing what was going on inside my head, but it sure felt good, like an oasis in the desert. (Side note: whenever people now talk of church as a family, it always makes me very suspicious, I think this is too much a temptation for people to create a feel-good atmosphere.)
Looking back, I also understand that I really couldn’t allow myself the freedom to explore different ideas, since I felt so unsafe. Other young people may experiment with thinking for themselves, knowing that their parents will not let them fall too deep. But my parents didn’t seem to know much about what is right or wrong. Perhaps they just knew better that people are complicated and systems don’t work in practice, anyway they were silent and didn’t explain to me how to navigate. The church filled the gap, but frightened me more. I learned that the world is a dangerous place with lots of temptations and deceiving thoughts and how fortunate we were for knowing better. I vividly remember how we would cling together on the last evening of the youth summer camp, praying for strength now that we were going back to the world where everything would be so much more difficult.
So.. Yes.. I see it was wrong to be so closed and afraid, such a wrong idea about God. But it was not my fault. I think I really need to express precisely this. Make this statement. A confession of innocence, is that possible? Not in actual results, but in my inner motives. To be able to say before God and all people that in my heart I always loved him, and also the people around me.
The accuser in me now jumps up. “Innocent? Impossible!” O, that voice! Always insisting that black is not white. Always accusing me, and all other people. I hate it, for it is always right and I have no answer. Of course I did not always love God. Of course I questioned other people’s motives. Of course I am not innocent. What kind of love is that, not even daring to believe that God loves me?
Ah, but now I have got it. You, voice in me, you are wrong yourself. You keep me from going to God, that is wrong. So: here I am. O God my Father, please make me whole.
- Apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church