My conscience is sharp and keeps me on a short chain. The very night after I posted my previous post, bashing on "science fundamentalists," my dreams became troubled. I don't remember what they were, but I woke up with a strong memory from 8 years ago, and a profound sense of guilt. Apparently, my conscience won't let me get away with a judgemental tone towards fundamentalists without reminding me that I used to be one, myself. I must stay humble.
I was at the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, working towards certification in audio engineering. I found out that another student there needed to record something for her midpoint project. I volunteered, as there was a song I had written in high school that I wanted to record. As a teenager, I had performed it at a women's retreat at my church and had gotten great feedback at the time. It had been niggling in my mind for awhile that I wanted to get the song recorded, and this seemed like a great opportunity.
This classmate of mine was leaving the school halfway through the program, due to being pregnant. She was unmarried, and struggling, but that's the only thing I knew about her situation. I didn't actually know her very well, as we were in different cohorts. She said she just wanted to get the project done, so she was happy that my song was just for piano and voice, not a full band. She was fairly far along in the pregnancy, and tired.
My song was called "Full of You," and it was about wanting to be "God's kind of girl." I am not proud of this song, but I feel the need to be open about the kind of person I was then. Confession is good for the soul.
The first few stanzas of this song were:
I watch the girls who pass me by
They simply seem the same
A giddy mind, a flirting eye
A smile with little shame
Some had shallow sheltered lives
And some a rougher start
I see the spirit of the times
And I'm vowing in my heart
I want to be the kind of girl who only points to You
Making my mark on this world, by always ringing true
Not seeking only my own pleasure, serving with a smile
I want to gain that heavenly treasure, and walk the extra mile
And walk in Jesus' style
It was a song about desiring holiness. It was about being different, pure, a true believer. About being full of God. As opposed to all those other girls out there, those impure, shallow, flirtatious, self-centered girls. The kinds of girls who, oh, say... get pregnant out of wedlock.
How could I not have seen what I was doing? How could I not have noticed the irony?
Now, in my defense, I didn't really think about the appropriateness of
recording my Christian song in a secular environment for an audience of
unknown faith. Nor was I thinking about evangelism, although if I had
stopped to ask myself if this was a good idea, I might have defended it
by using the excuse that I wanted to "shine my light." I was honestly
just thinking, "I like this song, and I want to record it." I was charging forth in my holiness, only dimly aware of or concerned about what the others around me might be going through.
In my holiness, I ignored a sister who needed help.
In my holiness, I shamed her.
In my holiness, I put myself above her.
When I woke up only now having put this realization together, I grew ill with disgust at myself. I wished I could go back and choose a different song to record. I wished I could go back and offer to help this woman with some practical needs (though I didn't know much about pregnancy or child care at that time). I wished I could even remember my class mate's full name to try to find her now and check to make sure she's OK.
After a few hours of stewing in this, I remembered to have compassion on myself. My attitude of prioritizing principles over people was formed by the culture in which I grew up and had little control over. I was taught to think this way. The people who taught me were well-intentioned, but misguided. "When you know better you do better," and at the time I didn't know better.
I would like to think I have grown and changed a lot in eight years. I hope so. I hope I wouldn't do such a thing again, but I honestly don't know. I'm sure this character trait of wanting to be right above all else is one that I'll have to work to keep in balance for the rest of my life. It's hard to know whether maturity has been gained until it is tested.
This experience of realizing the damage that I did has solidified in me a determination to change the culture that made my unintentional arrogance possible. To fight the doctrines and systems of thought that allow and encourage people to dehumanize others. Cultures that encourage their participants to be "holy," in whatever form or language that is expressed, always, whether intentionally or not, do so at the expense of raising themselves up in value over other humans. Holiness is pride, the number one sin. Whenever humans set themselves up as better than others, only harm ensues. Therefore, holiness leads to evil.