Sunday was Valentine’s Day and it got me thinking about love. And God.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably had times in your life where even though you were raised in the faith, there was a disconnect. I believed that prayer could change anything, and that the everything in the Bible was true; written by God as if he had a pen and paper. As I’ve grown, it’s pretty clear that the Christian faith, my faith, is based on a history of people connecting with who they thought was God as best they can- all human perspectives (arguably all men). That raised questions about what in the Bible was objective, or absolute… or solid, or foundational. Was it all just stories told and retold? Myths without witnesses? Embellishments or even fabrications? Opinions about who God is and what God wants? What does that mean for me? What’s my foundation? Is my faith big enough to handle questions I’ve been avoiding?
I’ll tell you a story- I’ve been unemployed ever since we went into lockdown. I was collecting unemployment, which meant taking in less and watching myself sink into debt. I started ignoring phone calls and emails, and filing bills away if I didn’t have the money to pay them. I’ve never been rich- we grew up modestly, but I did manage to make it to college, graduate, to get a job, and build up credit. And now that was all slipping away (it was all rather precarious to begin with- I just didn’t realize it).
So, after a pretty sleepless night, I got on my knees and I said, “God, sometimes I wonder if you’re there, but if you are there, and you really love me like a son, then you should know that I’m in a really bad place and I need help: not spiritual help, not mental help, financial help. You’re God, and you’re my father, so I need a blessing: not a spiritual blessing, not a mental blessing, a financial blessing. I don’t want to subsist- I want to be free and live abundantly. To do that, I need $36,000.” Now, interestingly enough, I thought that was a courageous, if not audacious, ask. But even that was below what I wanted. That wasn’t all my debt, but as a Christian, I frequently ask for less, because there’s a part of me that believes that God doesn’t want to give me anything, and so the less I ask him for, the less begrudgingly he may provide it. HOW AWFUL IS THAT?
Needless to say, I didn’t get it (yet… who knows?), and it got me thinking about my views on God.
I’ve been a believer all my life, read through the Bible, went to a Christian College, been in ministry, and yet, at this point in my life, I am confronting some uncomfortable questions and hard truths. Example: there are some actions in the Bible that I find indefensible, there are parts of the Bible that are demonstrably false, there are parts of the Bible that contradict other parts. And of course, there’s the history of Christianity across the world. And yet- I am not in a place where I can let it go. It is possible that the universe has no creator, or many, and yet, I find peace in the idea the the arc of history, in places I know and places I don’t, leans toward benevolence. Am I strong enough to live in a world where what I truly am: a infinitesimal speck of an infinitesimal speck in the context of the whole universe, is all there is?
I thought about my Grandma and my Big Mama. They both passed, and I would like to think that I will see them again. Am I strong enough to consider the possibility that when the people I love are gone, ALL I will have is their memories, until I end as well? The Law of Conservation of Mass states that matter can neither be destroyed or created. It can only be changed. If the reality was that my Grandma and my Big Mama returned to the universe, atom-by-atom, and so will I, could I accept that?
What does it mean to live then? To have kids? To have a man? To have a job? Is life just about subsistence? And WHO is this God that I have sought for so long to understand?
I think about what I believe that goes against what some churches preach. I believe that every orientation and identity, should be affirmed. I believe that I’ve no right to tell a woman what to do with her body, or to tell people they have to obey my God, or any God for that matter. I believe that what is wrong today, was wrong in the past, regardless of how it was viewed. And I believe that the older I get, the less I seem to know or understand, and that people who believe they have the answers… definitely do not. I also see that too many of us… are just afraid. But I love people, and I love this world, and I want to see it get better. I don’t believe that God will destroy this world and create new world after it (that’s actually pretty dangerous to think). It’s entirely possible that this is the only world we will ever have. And what does that mean with how we treat it?
I know this feeling in my heart for what I’ve been raised and know as God. It’s love. But it’s not perfect. There’s anger there, distrust, doubt, and sometimes, just apathy. Is all love like this I wonder?
There’s just… so much I don’t understand…