Asking The Spirit To Leave

The cool autumn air picked up the fallen leaves, sweeping them across our path. Wade and I jumped into my car to head to his family’s house to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. Our plan was for me to join Wade for his Thanksgiving meal, grab a meal for his younger brother, drop Wade off at his new girlfriend’s house, deliver the meal to his brother, then head back to our apartment where I would hang out alone for the rest of the evening.

The plan went smoothly until I returned to the apartment. I did not want to spend the holiday stuck in the basement apartment watching Friends reruns and old Christmas movies. I decided to shake the loneliness by heading to the local theater to watch one of my favorite books, The Life of Pi being released on the big screen. I drove down a main city road to see hundreds of people lined up outside of Target, Best Buy and other stores for Black Friday. Normally I would not have been caught dead there attempting to get the best sales. But on this night, without family or friends, I would have considered.

But on this night, without family or friends, I would have considered.

The large theater sat next to a mall and busier than expected for the late night movie. I hustled from my car to the theatre to avoid rain, sheepishly stated, “One for ‘Life of Pi’” at the ticket window, and slid my credit card underneath the glass. In return, I got my credit card and ticket and walked into the theatre. I hid myself in a seat in the center of the theater as families and couples gathered on all sides of me for our viewing.

I reminded myself over and over again that going to a movie alone does not mean I am inadequate or unloved. I lived in a fairly new area, new a minimal amount of people and my classmates left for Thanksgiving break. I sighed with relief as the movie theatre lights dimmed, the movie began and my mind focused on the movie instead of my singleness.

Pi Patel, the main character, had numerous conversations with his parents about faith even at a young age. One of the opening scenes included this dialogue:

Santosh Patel (his father): Piscine, you cannot follow three different religions at the same time.

Pi Patel (age 11): Why not?

Santosh Patel: Because, believing in everything at once is the same thing as believing in nothing.

Gita Patel (his mother): He is young, Santosh. He is still trying to find his own way.

Santosh tried to explain to Pi how science explained the physical world without the need for religious reasoning. Despite Santosh’s efforts to guide his son, Pi continued to search. And within Pi’s spiritual journey, I found myself identifying with his struggle to decipher what part of religion is true and what isn’t. What could be taken from different religions in order to make sense of the world we lived in. Even at eleven years old, Pi prayed this prayer, “Thank you Vishnu, for introducing me to Christ.”

As a Christ follower, it seemed as though he was thanking one god for what another did. Still, was it possible for one religion to validate another or for someone to use multiple religions to find inner peace?

Was it possible for one religion to validate another or for someone to use multiple religions to find inner peace?

In the final scenes of the movie, Pi met with a reporter to detail how he survived being at sea by himself as a young man with minimal supplies. Pi admitted to telling other reporters a storyline, which involved other humans on his small boat instead of dangerous animals. It seemed as though some stories are unbelievable.

Pi told the reporter this, “‘Faith is a house with many rooms.’"

The reporter questioned, “‘But no room for doubt?’”

Pi replied, “‘Oh plenty, on every floor. Doubt is useful, it keeps faith a living thing. After all, you cannot know the strength of your faith until it is tested.’”

What could be more believable? Pi surviving on a lifeboat with a carnivorous tiger or with other humans. The reporter chose to believe the radical story because it took faith, which many other reporters failed to have. And despite the traumatic events Pi endured, which no one believed in, Pi kept his faith. At least, a mixture of religions for his faith.

At one of the final scenes, the reporter inquired, “I didn't know Hindus said 'Amen.'”

Pi adementally replied, “Catholic Hindus do.”

Tears flowed down my cheeks as I grew uncomfortable with the director’s allowance of mismatching religions for the sake of spiritual sanity. I felt alone for being dumped into a religion I struggled to keep faith in. Why couldn't I create something for myself like Pi did? I wiped my tears with the sleeve of my sweatshirt before getting up to leave the theatre.

I don’t want your gifting anymore. I don’t need your Spirit.

As the rain continued to pour, I ran to my vehicle and I whispered a short prayer, “Jesus, if man could mismatch any religion they want to to satisfy their needs then I can too. Or maybe religion is just make believe. I don’t want your gifting anymore. I don’t need your Spirit.”

In two simple statements, I proclaimed a spiritual detachment from Jesus and His Spirit. Who needed faith anyways?

I revved the engine, leaving the theater behind. The Black Friday's midnight rain welcomed me into my new spirituality. Freedom came only for a moment. And in the next moment, the voices returned to demonize my very being. Different tones, languages, screaming and whispers all entered my ears at once. Worthlessness, insecurities, sexual, homicidal and suicidal statements engulfed me. The voices did not leave a moment silent.

"You're disgusting. Go kill yourself! Slam into the other car. You're pathetic. You're not man enough. You're nothing. Bitch. Faggot! Man up! Come on, you know what you want to die! Get it over with, you idiot!"

The light rain turned into a downpour as all the visual images and words I had once experienced came back again. The faceless commander knew his next chance to kill me had come.

Demons chanted over the other voices, “It is time! It is time! It is time!”

Demons chanted over the other voices, “It is time! It is time! It is time!”

I slammed on the gas pedal speeding through intersections in hopes of getting home faster. I screamed one expletive after another in an attempt to drown out the demons. And with all of my screams, the demons only got louder with the faceless commander mocking me in the background.

I repeatedly pounded my fist against the steering wheel hoping for some mental release. “Fuck! Get out of my head! Stop it! Fuck!!!”

I remembered Wade kept a handgun unlocked underneath his bed. The madness over my mind would come to an end. I continued to scream as my car flew past a red light on the university’s campus and I turned onto our road. My heart pounded and hands shook as I pulled the car key out of the ignition then slammed the car door behind me. Now was the time to die. I raced through the building’s front door and down two flights of stairs.

“This is going to fucking happen. Fuck everyone.”

Our apartment door stood slightly open. In shock, I pushed the door open to see Wade standing in the living room. Our eyes locked. Why did he return? Why couldn’t he have stayed at his girlfriend’s house? Wade ruined the plan! Wade ruined my fucking suicide plan!

“Where were you, Nate?”

Immediately, my eyes filled with water and overflowed. I kept shaking my head in amazement. Why did Wade have to return? I covered my face, walked into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the mattress. Why did it come to this again? Why didn’t this happen?

Tears did not stop flowing as I violently shook unable to control my emotions.

Why did God keep me alive?

“Nate, did someone die?” questioned Wade. I briefly looked up to see him standing in the doorway. I shook my head no, but in a way I had died. I could not catch my breath to let Wade know what did not happen. In shame, I covered my face, recognizing what it meant to have the Holy Spirit leave. I welcomed insanity. No peace or love could be found there. How could this be?

Wade pulled me into his chest and rocked me as I cried uncontrollably for hours. Wade rubbed my back and kept reminding me it would be okay. In disbelief, I kept shaking my head unable to restate what had just happened.

Why did God keep me alive?

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