Banana Pudding

Most of my life, I have been bound by fears and anxieties. My family was dysfunctional (the term has been used so often that it’s almost become trite to use it) and I had a lot of anger and self-hatred. I didn’t believe that there was anything that I could do well because I was told that I couldn’t do anything well. And so I hid myself, and humor was the best place to hide. If I could get a pretty girl to smile or laugh, then no matter how ugly I felt, at least I had a chance. If I made a group of people laugh, then I felt accepted. Of course, if it meant that my jokes became ever more crude, sexual, or racist to keep them laughing, then so be it. Oh, I didn’t leave it at humor. I addicted myself to pleasure as a way to escape from the fear, pain, and self-hatred that lurked in my heart. Above all things, I tried to eat my pain away. A bowl of banana pudding can really put you on that carbohydrate high that makes you forget a lot of things!

I read this verse of Scripture some time ago and it shocked me.  It shocked me because it was like a mirror in which I saw my whole life.  Consider:  “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”  (Hebrews 2:14-15)

At first, I found the idea that the devil had the power of death most objectionable. Then I realized that his power comes from fear, and by fear the devil is able to bind me to sins. When I consider the fears that run rampant in my heart from my earliest years, it is now clear to me why I became such a slave to unrighteousness. .

My greatest fear was that when all was said and done, my whole life would have been a sham and a waste. Then I would face an angry god who would punish me for wasting the gift that he gave me. What could I do? Easy! “Eat, drink, and be merry: for tomorrow we die.” See, sin pays and it pays on time. It is wonderful when the pain ends and all of the accusing voices (many of whom sound like my father’s voice) drift into oblivion.

The first thing that Adam and Eve did after eating from the Tree was to hide in the bushes because they were afraid. The problem is that when you are behind the bush, the demons beat the crap out of you and your sins tear you to pieces.

Christ changed all of this because we are His slaves. He broke the power of death upon the Cross so that fear can no longer rule us. Christ tells me who I am -the devil does not, my parents do not, my sinful past does not, even a spouse cannot tell me who I am. I am not even allowed to define myself for only a master defines the slave, and so only the Lord can tell me who and what I am. So, I don’t need to be afraid and I don’t need to hide.

Confession is a good way to come out from behind the bushes. Maybe that’s why I don’t go to confession very often. When I go, I feel too naked and vulnerable. What will Father think when he hears what I have done? I think I won’t go, and just hide a while longer.

Can you see me there, behind the bushes? I want to come out, really I do, but I am afraid. While I’m back here in the dark, I think I’ll have another bowl of banana pudding!

2 Responses to “Banana Pudding”

  1. nichole3 Says:

    I’m sure that you can be a wonderful help to all in your parish because of your experiences. I sometimes wonder if we ever truly get over the dysfunctional times of our growing up years or that perhaps they sting a little from time to time to remind us to have compassion on others.

    An Orthodox Christian in Western Kentucky

  2. Betsy Says:

    Thank you Father for your “Ramblings.” You are a talented writer–I feel very connected to you when I read your words. You write exactly what I feel in all your pieces. May God continue to guide your hand and your heart on the page.

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