Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh. God.

As some of you may know, I think a lot about religion. I was raised Catholic, but had Jewish family members and friends as integrated into my life as tightly as Neil Diamond in a pair of blue jeans on a 1975 Christmas Album.

I was raised around a lot of stories, talking and the hustle and bustle of laughter and events. Whether it was Christmas, a birthday party, or a last minute Saturday dinner with friends, our house was always alive with people.

I am not saying that my life was a Saturday Evening Post of Happiness. We had our share of alcoholics, manic depressives, over eaters and perfectionists. But everyone was able to work through their issues with respect and understanding. No one was expected to be anything other than the best they could be.

I have often told my mother that if she did anything wrong in raising me, it was that she gave me a level of acceptance that was very unrealistic in this modern world of cynicism, anger, judgement and pride.

I think my Norman Rockwell tendencies have adjusted quite nicely to the high definition take it up your butt television screen that our world often really reflects.

But every once in a while, I'm racked with an anxiety that, if it were an earthquake, could quite possibly take down the Golden Gate Bridge. I know that worrying about the future is futile. I know that my body can no longer help its pangs of fear anymore than a blind person can help seeing in darkness. It's just a part of my system. But, if a blind person can use a stick, then I can use one also. My stick is my family, my friends, my intentions to eat healthy, my acceptance for the days when nothing but an Apple Fritter and Diet Coke is going to do, and, once again, my religion.

I don't know why bad things happen to good people.

I don't know why marriages fall apart.

I don't know why some people are born brilliant while others have learning disabilities or live two days.

I only know that as I go through post after post, there's a synergy and connection between people that inspires me to keep writing. To keep going. To keep trying to make a difference.

To me, this is God. It dawned on me recently, after a bad week of anxiety, that my innocence of the world does not have to go away simply because I'm no longer a child. If there is a prescence out there that loves me unconditionally, as my family once did (or at least as I naively believed that they did) then I can still find hope. And joy. I don't have to allow the jadedness of our times to kill my love for the small pleasures.

For those of you that have other methods of reaching this same epiphany other than the God route, I think that is fantastic. I am a terrible Christian, because while I couldn't imagine my life without my rock of church, I can't imagine that any God out there could condemn someone for not believing what I do.

I am writing this post because I realize that sometimes I don't share as much of myself as I possibly could.

Or want to.

So, now that you all can label me as a religious nut job, I'd love to hear your thoughts on staying pure in a world that so badly wants us to fail.

Or is that just my anxiety talking again?

Let me know. I'd love to hear from you.


Princess in Galoshes said...

Vegas to God...? My head is spinning, Mama.

But I think it's good to keep questioning. (And answering.) I certainly don't think you're a religious nut job, I think you're a fabulous writer who's keeping herself very much alive on a lot of levels.

I, currently, am feeling rather comatose and un-profound, so I will just cheerlead from the corner.

Rock on.

freefalling said...

Nutjob - yes. Nuttsy cuckoo even.
Religious nutjob though - definitely not.(they come at life from a totally different angle!)
About the "why" stuff - I don't think there is a why, there is just a "is".
And sometimes the world is just too big to take on all its woes (maybe that's catholic guilt or maybe it's just compassion!).
One foot in front of the other.
I've got no answers.

Maggie said...

Mama P, this was one of your most intimate posts to date and I really enjoyed it. I may not see the world the way you do in whole, but I love seeing it through your eyes. I recently asked in a post for people to tell me their formula for sustainable happiness in their lives. I think I just read yours. And I agree with Princess, you're not a religious nut job. Plain old nut job? Maybe. J/k.

hamiam said...

If you're a nutjob than so am I...

I am a terrible Christian, because while I couldn't imagine my life without my rock of church, I can't imagine that any God out there could condemn someone for not believing what I do.

Ditt-o. Mama P, we are the same in this respect.

Pam said...

I think good and bad are like dark and light, it's all a balance in nature... it just is. I like your definition of God and believe, like you, in the need to maintain some faith in humanity in the face of cynicism, cruelty and greed. It may seem, at the moment, that the dark side has the edge but nature/God still rules.

There is a lot of good out there as well as evil and the pendulum continues to swing between the two as it has since time began.

I think your grandmother-in-law is a pistol... 86, you say?

Anonymous said...


You know I have to jump out from obscurity to reply this one. - kinda like catching fish in a barrel.

What is love without choice? Is there love when someone HAS to love someone - almost in a robotic fashion?

Look in the Bible - who did Jesus love to spend time with? Common folk. The woman by the well who was living with a man. Matthew, the Tax Collector. Peter, the fisherman who denied Christ three times. John, who asked Jesus if they should bring fire from heaven to nuke people.

Since the fall of man, everyone has some sort of "disability". I personally have a bad temper and dealt with "The black dog" (Winston Churchill's expression) for many years of my life. I often wonder why does the person who mocks God have a nice big house and I don't? Why can't I be a genius? Why do I fight with my weight?

Simple. The ultimate goal of this life is not to amass fortunes of this world. It's not to be the best looking or the thinnest.

There is a God shaped hole in each person that can only be filled by God. Your value comes not from what you own, your social status or what you look like. Your value comes from what God is wiling to pay for you. He loves you so much He sent his Son to pay a price that you could never pay.

I understand the words of Paul when he writes that I now see dimly, but one day I shall see Him clearly. Look at the vision of Heaven. God has promised to wipe every tear from our eyes. Being in the presence of the One who made me and saved me. There will be no sunlight because God will provide the light. I can't wait!!!

So the child that lives two days is now in the presence of the Holy God who loves him/her more than anyone could. Worried about a disablilty - look at Joni Ericson Tada (hoope I got the spelling right). Worried about trials and adversity - look at Cory Tenboom - who's sister said, "On the blueprint of our lives is written Ravensbruk" while dying in that Nazi concentration camp.

I said all this to bring out one point. Jesus Christ loves you so much, Mama P, that he was willing to die for you. He wants only the best for you. He wants to spend eternity with you. Don't ask why - you could no more explain God's love than you could define your love for Pip and Stink. Grab it. Hold it tight. Run with it. Know that no matter what happens - live life in the light of eternity.

Is that too long winded?

Gretchen said...

What long-island wargammer said. Me too. I love that you showed such vulnerability in this post. I also think that unless we unwind and sit. Be still and listen for that still, small voice, we will (or, okay, I will) continue to fill our God shaped holes with Diet Coke, food, TV, crafts, or what-have-you. None of it is bad, per se, especially in moderation, but until we (okay, I) listen and choose to live with intention (which I believe is guided and authored by God), we (I) will still run on that hamster wheel, wondering why we're (I'm) so empty. I wonder why I'm struggling to write this personally--perhaps I want company.

I'm not sure I made any sense. Still, I'm glad you opened this up. I'll pray for your anxiety to abate; your life to be what it's meant to be. xxxooogretchen

meno said...

This is wonderful, a really intimate heartfelt post. I wish more Christians thought like you do, the world would be a better place.

Nothing keeps me pure in this world other than my sense of what is right.

Mama P said...

Princess - You were such a beautiful bride! I can't wait to see more photos. Thank you for checking in on me during your honeymoon phase. Oh, and the cake you chose? Out of site!

Freefalling - I agree with what you say here. About the "why" stuff - I don't think there is a why, there is just a "is". But how to do it?

Maggie - Nice to hear from you again. I check your site quite often, even if my comments are sparse these days. I'm busy being a nut job, as you know!

Ham - I see how God works for you during your chaotic times. It's inspiring.

Pam - I wish I loved nature like you do. And my grandmother in law? Less pistol, more fireball mixed with cannon fueled by martini. And yes, 86. Going on 21.

Long Island - What a thoughtful response. I will reread again when I calm down.

Gretchen - You and I are so alike in so many ways, though you are more rooted than I am. More to talk about later I'm sure.

Meno - You are one of the most grounded people I know, and you are not Christian, which leads me to again stand by my words that all of us must make our own choices. I have always admired your smarts and take on the world. Em is so lucky to have you. (And the mister, too.)

Liza's Eyeview said...

The fact the you are thinking and reflecting about this (God, etc.) makes me think that the Holy Spirit is stirring your heart and drawing you closer to Him. God loves you MamaP, and God loves us more than we can ever know.... I say amen to what "long island" w replied....

Truth be known - there is an OLD post of yours about Jesus (you're also in this kind of mode) that first drew me to your blog. You reflect and think about spiritual stuff is such a vulnerable and honest way - inspires us to reflect on our beliefs...

wonderful post!

Em said...

Religious nut job? You? Hardly! You've given way too much thought to this to fall into that category. You seem thoughtful and reflective and spiritual. Very nice. And I agree...connections that come from other bloggers, from other people I see in the day...those connections form a type of divinity that inspires me when I feel down.

Jenster said...

Great post. God is my rock, too. When my life was at its lowest I still had peace and joy. And the only reason was because I had my faith.

You are so not a religious nutjob!

sari said...

"There is a God shaped hole in each person that can only be filled by God."

I really love this one sentence right here.

ms chica said...

Days behind on my reader...blah, blah, blah... I like this post very much.

I appreciate when someone is willing to ask themselves hard questions, regardless of their beliefs. I also appreciate when someone also admits they don't have an answer or understand why. Humbling words.

And the next time I go to my favorite watering hole, I would love to take your grandmother in law.

Evette said...

I totally agree with you. I was also raised Catholic so I still feel that there has to be a God. I'm dating an atheist which TOTALLY still has negative connotations, but he is the nicest & most respectful guy I've ever been with. He uses other outlets for staying sane in this crazy world and I respect that. Sometimes when I (i guess) don't GET him about the God thing...I'm like " think there is NOT God? Not at all? But, to each his own. As long as we respect others beliefs.

James said...

I've been a bit slow on the uptake in reading/responding to your entries, so you may see me posting here and there throughout your latest entries.

But, I quote, John Lennon (or is it Paul). "All you need is love."

That is my definition of god-love. GOD to me is not some big-all-powerful being. He/she/it is love. We all need "something" to believe in/ to keep us going. Maybe that is what god is? I dunno. I'm just throwing in my $.02

GREAT post, BTW. Knowing you, it seems very much in your spirit to question/ analyze/ think about this issue. I remember in 93, you spent time talking with priests/nuns/ wise-people and I think it, ultimately, worked out for the best (for both of us).

Time heals all wounds, doesn't it?