Are You There, God?

When I was fifteen, I told my dad I didn’t want to go to church anymore.  I very calmly explained to him that it wasn’t right for me at that time in my life.  I never wanted to believe just because I was afraid not to, or because I was afraid of death.  (And believe me, I am afraid of death.)  I told him maybe one day– when I was ready– I would come back to the Church.  I tried to explain my well-thought-out reasoning to him maturely…

And then I told him if he tried to make me go, I’d stop coming to his house for visits on weekends.

Needless to say, I didn’t have to go to church anymore.  Maybe he understood…maybe I broke his heart a little.  But since that time I have been searching, in my own way, for the answers.

For some people it’s simple.  Some people were  raised with a faith that they never felt the need or desire to question.

Some people are so immersed in their faith that they literally can not conceive of someone doubting God’s existence; they use rote faith as proof… ie. “How can you look around at this beautiful world and not see God everywhere?”  Sort of  solipsistic, isn’t it?

And then there are those who insist that faith is about believing in the absence of evidence.  In other words, if you want to believe, you just believe.

I am none of these people. I have issues with organized religion.  I’d love to believe there is a God, but I’m not sure I 100% like the Catholic God I was raised with.  Or rather, the representation of him.  Many, many Christians interpret sections of the bible in ways which suit them, latching on to certain ideas, rejecting or ignoring others.  And then there is the question of how literal the bible is to be taken, and then how to interpret the contradicting ideas–

-Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live… but…

-Thou shalt not kill.

Only God is allowed to judge, yet we make judgments on our fellow man all the time, often based on our interpretation of “God’s word.”

Then there is the question of whose God is the “right” God.

Also, I have a very analytic mind.  My majors in school were Psychology and Sociology, so I tend to approach the idea of religion and faith in the context of those disciplines.

But all of that’s academic.  In other words, it’s not the real point of this post.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went through a period of many losses.  Jobs, family members, a miscarriage, our home…  At four and a half months pregnant, hubby and I uprooted and moved 800 miles on three hours’ notice.  We were going through a very financially and emotionally stressing time, my husband’s unemployment at one point being held for three months (three months with NO income and a baby on the way,) and my mother and I were in the worst fight of our lives.  I actually worried the stress would harm my unborn baby.

My best friend, who is pretty much “born again,” only not in the annoying, bible-thumping way, urged me to come to church with her, and to put my trust in God and ask for his help.  So I tried.  I really did.  I prayed, although my praying was stunted because I constantly over-thought everything even AS I prayed.  I would tell God about my day, and then say, “But I guess you already knew all that…”  and then chide myself for presuming to guess what God may or may not know.  (Weird, I know, but I’m Obsessive-Compulsive, so what do you expect?) I found it hard to concentrate, and my mind would wander so I actually started keeping a prayer journal.  I also did go to church with my best friend.  My husband went once or twice, more to support me than out of any feelings of faith.

And the funny thing is…I actually did start to feel a measure of peace.

Fast-forward to after my daughter’s birth.  Like most new mothers probably, I was overwhelmed with emotions, chiefly deep love and deep, deep fear.  Becoming a mom changed me in many ways, some expected, some not…  One key difference is that I became infinitely more sensitive to media reports of violence against children.  Especially violence perpetrated by people the children are supposed to be able trust.  Like their parents.  The number of family annihilators, mothers murdering their infants, and children abused in horrific ways is staggering.  And it was weighing very heavily on my soul.

The point is, at that important juncture of my life, when I should have been the most thankful to God, when I should have looked to God the most for guidance and peace, I could not– can not– reconcile myself with the idea that a “loving god” would allow such horrors to happen to innocent children.  All the “God’s plan, mysterious ways, devil’s influence, sins of humans” platitudes in the world are not enough to make me alright with this.

It has been told to me more than once by people of faith that people in general tend to blame God when something bad happens, but often don’t give Him credit when things go their way.  My question is this; conversely, then, why is it okay to give Him credit for the good, but not look to Him for a damn good reason for the bad (especially something as bad a the murder of a child?)

I know it may sound like I am preaching here, but really I am just trying to sort out my thoughts, and please forgive me if this blog entry is very stream-of-consciousness or seems to ramble.

These are the things I think about when I lay awake in bed at night.

I would love to believe we are not alone in the universe, and when I try to pray at night I can almost feel like I might be talking to someone…  But when I step away from that isolated moment, I feel the sterile and empirical “alone-ness” of the human condition– that all life on this planet is the result of a coincidental series of optimal conditions.  That when we die, we cease to exist.  That there is no judgment for the wicked people who would harm their own babies, aside from that which we mete out here on earth (our “justice” could never be enough for these people, and some escape the law entirely.) That no amount of praying can protect my child.

eye of God

I keep telling myself– hoping to myself– that by the time my death approaches, hopefully after a long life filled with love, that I will have found the answers.  That I won’t be afraid anymore.  Now, as any good mother would, I care more for my child’s health, life, and happiness than my own anyway.  So I will continue to seek the answers, however passively, and hope that one day I will be at peace with whatever those answers are.

Maybe there is a God, but He is unlike anything written in the Quran, the Bible, or ancient mythologies.  Maybe he is an observer.  Maybe He is Love, or maybe He is completely ambivalent.  Maybe He is infinitely more complex and inscrutable than we could ever conceive with our piddly human minds.

The only thing I can know for sure is that I have to do the best I can with this life, and the best way I know to combat the fear I feel is to fight it with love.  I’ll make sure those dearest to me know how much I love them.

*This is an intensely personal entry for me.  In some way I can’t define, I am uncomfortable with it, and even now hesitate to click the “publish” button.  Maybe for that reason more than any other, I have to post this entry. 

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37 responses to “Are You There, God?

  1. I noticed that once things go bad, or people don’t live long anymore they suddenly decide to believe in God and pray. I don’t really know, but it gives me a wrong impression. I myself didn’t grow up religious, I don’t believe in a God like in the bible or other religious book. Maybe He is a She? I believe that there is something out there, but I have no idea what. I just don’t like the Christian or Catholic God, with Jesus and Mosez. How Jesus had to go through horrible situations, It just doesn’t seem right. God or religion doesn’t give us guarantee on a good life, a rich life, or happiness. I personally think that is all up to us, how hard we work etc to get food on the table.

    anyway, I’m babbling! Even though you feel uncomfortable with this post. I think it was a brilliant post. 🙂

    • Thanks, D! You were totally not babbling. And I like what you said about God not guaranteeing a good life. It also illustrates my point perfectly; if God doesn’t do anything to guarantee us a good life, why should we thank him for the good and blame the bad on “human wickedness?” Also, like so and I both said, we don’t really know the TRUE nature of God.

      • Exactly, we don’t. He could even be a She? Or like the movie ‘God Almighty’ a person you totally not expect!

        It gives me this icky feeling when people pray before eating, and they thank God for the food on the table. I just can’t help but thing: “Who worked his ass off for his food?”

        But on the other side I’m pretty open, and I let religious people be religious. I LOVE to hear about their stories, why they are religious, I love debating with them and asking questions about their relationship with God and the religion.

        I hope you find your answers. 🙂

  2. I determined a while ago that I am , what I have deemed to be, an energist. Although, someone once categorized me as a ‘pantheistic athiest’. I believe that energy neither begins nor ends, that it is proven by science, and can be applied to all things in the universe. This realization has been a LONG time coming. It has pulled on me for a while, as I was raised southern baptist and there is just no way to get out from under that mentality without a LOT of analyzation.

    Your comment about not wanting to feel as though you are ‘alone’ in the universe struck me. And for me, I realized that if you believe that all energy is connected, then you are never actually alone. You aren’t with god, per se, but you are with EVERYONE, all the time. We are all energy, we are all a ripple effect on each other, we are all basically running off of the same battery. We are all connected to the source.(Yes, just call me neo…that is so very matrix ;-p) I know it sounds all hippy and whatever. And i’m okay with that 😉

    I realized that (being an analytical thinker and a person for whom the concept of ‘faith’ has always been a struggle) the concept of believing in a proven scientific event that has tangible outcomes, boundaries, and quantitative behaviors, was probably the only thing I would ever be able to put ‘faith’ in. then again, you don’t need faith when you have facts…and that is the real point.

    Additionally, I realized that my search for god was actually making me lonely because i never felt like i found him…he was a ghost, an anomaly, a myth that my heart could never quite grasp. once I started shifting my gaze from searching for the invisible man in the sky to searching for the people and beauty all around, i felt way less lonely.

    Anywho….there’s my 2 cents. Love this post by the way….well written, articulate, and poignant as always 🙂

    • Thanks, Arianne. Your comment about the search for God being a lonely one was particularly apt. The energy idea is something I have thought on once or twice, although, arguably, I guess there are people I’d definitely NOT want to be connected to. The only thing about the energy concept is that it’s so impersonal. Energy does persist, but it cares not where it comes from or where it goes. (We’re sharing energy with those crazy serial killers out there…eeew) Sadly, I have to wonder if we would feel a “need” for God or a “higher purpose,” if we had not been taught that we were “supposed” to from a young age. 😦

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  4. Hello, Miss Alien, we’ve seen each other over at Spiders’ place….

    This post came from the heart of you–I can feel that perfectly. Thank you for posting it. The search for god, for the divine, is an ancient one.

    The interconnectedness of ALL appeals to me. I figure that my good actions and thoughts help to balance out those of serial killers, etc., even though I’d rather those folks didn’t pollute the landscape to begin with.

    It IS a lonely search because it has to be in order to be genuine and absolutely true to your heart of hearts Self.

    I appreciate deeply your thought that the far-reaching tendrils of organized religion can actually make us feel alone if we don’t belong, or that we *should* have a god-figure.

    Here’s a bit of something to think about regarding energy–The Secret Life of Water, the effects of thoughts and emotions on ice crystals. I don’t know if it’s so, but it *could* be. I won’t be so presumptuous as to leave a link, but Amazon certainly has it if you feel like dinking around (even includes the first chapter!).

    • Thank you. I’m always looking for new ideas to rattle around in the cavernous vault I call my brain. 🙂 And thank you for reading. Yes, this was a very personal subject. Like I said, I debated on even posting it. And yet I still can’t quite put my finger on why that should be…

      • Perhaps it’s because of the inherent vulnerability? Your daughter’s well-being must live in a wordless part of you, I’d guess.

        Besides, you do risk being inundated with even more noise on this topic just when you’re trying to hear your own Self!!

        OK, here’s a book recommended by minlit, who also hangs at Spiders’ place: The Biology of Belief. Science, spirit, energy. Oh My!

      • Alien scared the pants off me! So much so that when I saw it in a theater, I had to get up and take a break–turns out it was a pivotal scene! I don’t think I could have taken any more than I experienced!

        I don’t know Resident Evil, but holy guac, Batman! yikes!

        Now I shall do two things: One, stroll through your other posts. Two, juxtapose alienredqueen with the search for the divine. >:-D

      • hee hee! Mom taught me to be polite.

        I’ve been fascinated by your icon/gravatar thingie in combination with your user name because that package is in opposition to the You expressed! Which then cracks me up.

        And strangely enough, I came hear from Dianda’s rather than Spiders’! From her link to the mutilating cat post! aggggggh!

        • Actually, if you read some my other posts you may find it is just another side of my personality. Plus, the icon and name is an amalgam of my obsession with the horror franchises of Aliens and Resident Evil. (“Alien” queen and the “Red Queen.”

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  9. I didn’t scroll down to the bottom of the page here to join in any kind of debate today. I read the entire thing, and I just wanted to say Bravo. This was your best post to date. Captivating.

    I hope this gets pressed. It’s obvious that you poured your authentic self into every line. Great, great job.

  10. “This is an intensely personal entry for me. In some way I can’t define, I am uncomfortable with it, and even now hesitate to click the ‘publish’ button. Maybe for that reason more than any other, I have to post this entry.” Thank you for having the courage to publish. Stream-of-consciousness works here. Thoughtful, questioning and beautiful!

  11. Thank you for being so open and so vulnerable. This was a beautiful, very personal post, and it touched me very deeply. I believe that God hears the cries of your heart, and He isn’t angry or put off by your questions. He promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him. One thing you said that really struck a cord within me is, “the best way I know to combat the fear I feel is to fight it with love.”

    You are so much closer to God than you even realize. The bible tells us that “perfect love casts out fear,” so you are fighting your fears with the very best and only weapon that will ever work — love. I pray that you will soon find the answers that you seek, and again, thank you for giving us the honor of hearing and reading these words that were straight from your heart.

    Many blessings to you,
    Cheryl

  12. I only say one thing for sure, in my experience, for as long as there is love there is faith. Question everything, keep on searching, I know you will find that answer you are longing for and a peace in your heart. Blessings to you and your love ones this New Year of 2013.

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