In the movie Good Will Hunting, there’s this one scene where Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) says to Will Hunting (Matt Damon), “It’s not your fault.” If you haven’t seen the film, Will was abused as a kid. As children, we internalized the bad things that happen to us at the hands of our caregivers. When they abandon us, we think there’s something wrong with us, not that there’s anything wrong with them. In this is especially dramatic scene, Maguire repeats that phrase, until it finally starts to sink in.
A key part of Christian fundamentalism infantilizes us, blames us, and pushes us to internalize all the evil that happens to us. In some theologies it’s called Original Sin. All the bad that happens is because we are intrinsically flawed, because we are sinners. All the good that happens is because God loves us. And we are never, ever permitted to turn that spotlight of criticism back on God and ask, what has he ever done for us. When we were suffering, struggling, lying in the gutter of life bleeding to death, where was he? The doctrine always teaches us that it is our fault that he abandoned us.
But it’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault.
You say that you know this, but after you’ve been abused by an egomaniacal narcissistic deity, those lessons hook themselves into your inner self, and they aren’t so easy to reprogram.
It’s. Not. Your. Fault.