God Yells Back With Deafening Silence

I don’t really have a lot to say. Work is busy. Grad school is busy. Friends and family keep me preoccupied.

I don’t really have a lot to say.

It’s like emotional writer’s-block. My soul feels cluttered.

When I read the news I end up having nothing to say. Though I feel like screaming. And beating my chest and yelling until the human race comes to a screeching halt. Until the Earth stops spinning. Just for a moment, so I can smack everyone across the head with a rolling pin. Like a stereotype of an Italian matriarch. Knocking some sense into us all.

My soul is distressed.

I pray to God to deliver us all from this. To enlighten us suddenly so we can find a way to live together in peace. I pray for light to be shed into all the dark places in our lives.

But there’s no answer and the silence become uncomfortable.

I could almost become angry at God. And I certainly become frustrated with my faith. It all seems a little pointless to believe in something I can’t prove exists when that belief doesn’t even seem to lessen the suffering around me.

So I have to remind myself that faith without action is not really faith. That’s the tricky bit you see. I remind myself of one of my favorite quotes that I can’t be bothered to hunt down right now. Let me paraphrase:

Sometimes I want to demand of God why he allows all this pain and injustice in the world but I’m afraid God will ask me the same question.

I’m not sure how to answer God. Except to make sure I seize all the opportunities that come my way to help someone else. To show some love and kindness. Because I don’t like having a cluttered, distressed soul. And all that happens when I yell at God is that God yells back with deafening silence.

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God is Water

I wanted to commit suicide. Years ago. Some time in the middle of my eating disorder, my will to recover gave out. I fell into this chasm of hopelessness.

I was wandering the shady paths of my University one more time before attempting to overdose, when I felt a sudden desire to go to church. I headed into the chapel, blissfully empty, and sank to the floor; I didn’t even bother to find a chair. I stared out the windows and asked God for a way out. I told God of my plans and explained the dark abyss in my head that felt like it was poisoning all the good in me.

As a sat there and poured my heart out I started to feel a strength building within me. A stubborn insistence that I did in fact have hope. I decided that suicide was an extreme reaction to the evil in my head. Instead of death, I chose cutting myself as a release of emotions.

Resolutely I marched back to my college dorm room and locked the door. I found my razor and stepped out of my pants. I stared at my pale legs. At the thighs I hated so much. At the physical representation of what I loathed: me. I took the razor and cut three straight lines down my thighs. I felt nothing. But I saw the blood and froze.

My mind started to race. This was not me. I was not someone who cut herself. I was not someone who gave up. I was not, I was not, I was not!

It was all a little irrational, but it woke something dormant inside me. I went back to the therapy sessions I had walked out of weeks ago. I called my mother and admitted everything. I handed my razor to a good friend of mine, who has stuck by me through many awful phases.

I did cut myself a few more times in the process of getting better. It was never deep and infrequent. It just wasn’t the method of self harm for me (the self-starvation of anorexia took longer to get over). But I truly believe God saved me that day by giving me the option to cut instead of overdose. God led me down a path that led me back towards a part of me I had lost ages ago. The part that felt I deserved to live, I deserved to become better mentally.

God alone did not save me. Nor is God always the answer to depression and mental illnesses. But for me, God assisted in my recovery, in part by giving me wonderful therapists, doctors, and nutritionists.

God replaced my self-esteem while it was missing. God has also been my partner when I live alone. When I feel sad, God gives me support. When I feel grief, God reminds me of all the joy. God is like water, God fills the gaps in my life.

Maybe that’s why more people go to church in times of crises and stress. When life is good, you have what you need, God has provided you with concrete things. But when it all “goes to hell in a hand basket,” we are given what we need through God’s presence.

I don’t necessarily understand or agree with the doctrine behind the Trinity but I think I can agree with its sentiment: God is more than a single entity. God is everything we lack in our lives. God can be in our parental figures (parent), in our human friends and family (son), and in our very atoms (spirit).

Why I Support Churches (or any religious institution)

I thought it would be easy to write this initially but when I sat down to write the post I began to get very confused about what the Bible means to me, and what Jesus means to me, and what Christianity means to me. I was getting very lost in my head.

So I finally decided to just start at the beginning …

It’s been a tough year for me. My grandmother died, and she wasn’t just a grandmother to me, she was a second mother. For a long time I believed she was only one who loved me unconditionally because I was an insecure child. So she was very, very important to me and she died. And the family was very far away. In the meantime I just started a new job and it’s emotionally tough. And I’d moved out of my home and discovered making new friends is a whole lot harder when you’re not in college.

So things had been building up a little bit.

It had gotten to be one evening where I just discovered I was alone on a Friday night. In an apartment. And I was missing my grandmother. And I realized I had no clue what I was doing with life. I felt very, very alone.

So I was just sitting there staring at a wall.

And my friend called, out of the blue. And my mother called to check in because she hadn’t heard from me in a while.

And then a friend of the family called.

She was calling me to thank me for spending time with her teenage daughter while she and her husband were gone overnight. Which she didn’t need to thank me for because I love their daughter and count her as a friend, despite our age difference. But she was calling to thank me anyway. And I said, ‘listen, we should really get together for dinner, I know I keep saying this and we never do, but we she should.’ And I started to laugh because I’m very flaky when it comes to this family; I keep saying we should meet up and I don’t. So I felt bad. But this family friend just kind of laughed and said ‘don’t worry about it, we love you anyway.’

After I’d hung up, I started to cry, because that was exactly what I needed at that moment. I realized I felt so much better suddenly, and so much less alone.

Then I realized, that’s where I find God.

I can have my issues with the Bible, and I can have my issues with my religion, and I can have my issues with … all of it. But that’s why I believe in God. Because the moments where I’m just sitting, staring at a wall, as they happen from time to time, is the moment when someone calls, or someone says something that I needed to hear. When I’m given what I didn’t even realize I needed to make it through. It didn’t mean my grandmother was back alive, or that I was in any different of a situation, but it meant that I was able to make it through.

Then I called my parents to thank them for raising me in a church community, and for having a family, and for being taught what God is. So instead of me thinking it was just a coincidence, or what a nice happenstance that someone called, I went ‘no, I’m being taken care of. I have something, or someone, watching out for me, and I have a very large family I can come home to at any time.’

And that’s why I think religious institutions, of all faiths, are important. Regardless of how many issues I have with some of the stuff. Because there are going to be, there are, more people like me, who need to be given the chance to know a higher being, and need to feel less alone, and be given a family.

Musings on Faith (The Great Balance)

Faith, religion, beliefs, way of being. Whatever you want to call “it,” it is a journey, never a destination. You will never have all the answers. What made sense in this moment might not tomorrow, or 3 months from now, or in a decade. Conversely, some things may never need to change, but it doesn’t make them universal truths, applicable to all. The point is to keep growing and thinking about more than the present and ourselves, more than the current reality.

A new idea has sprung forth while reading Karen Armstrong’s book A History of God. It doesn’t quite sit right but it’s already poking at my faith, so I thought I’d write it down to see what you (the random person who stumbled across this post) thinks.

To me, there might be such a thing as the Great Being (still playing with the name), which need not include nor exclude the existence of God(s). I see the Universe/Cosmos as being a balance that encompasses all of time and space. What you do and decide will have a reaction, you may just never see it as it could take place anywhere either in the past, present, or future (when referring to time in a linear fashion). As can the actions of others, taken far away and/or in another time, affect you. “Bad” and “good” also stand in balance. Humans can choose to do only good and the balance will remain. This does not mean that doing good is futile, the good forces the equivalent bad to go somewhere else.

In this equation, God is the “good” and the Devil is the “bad.” But that would make them equal parts in a larger picture. The Great Being is that “larger picture.” It would encompass everything, including God. The Great Being would be Good and Bad, and yet neither. Perhaps a better name would be The Great Balance. It comes close to the way Karen Armstrong explains the concept of Brahma.

Karen Armstrong also mentions how God, the idea of God, has changed over time with some versions dying out and others growing to take their place. This is what I’m doing. It is not picking and choosing that which suits me just to appease my conscience. We live in a world that has grown closer through industry and technology. Information is shared quickly and often, and traveling is easier. Maybe my faith must pick from all it encounters in order to find a truth that works for me and this age. Maybe Christianity, and all religions that close themselves off from the the influence of other religions, are antiquated and must die out. Not so anarchy and atheism rise from the ashes, but rather yet another reincarnation of the understanding of God and the universe.

Or maybe I can worship the Christian God in church on Sundays and add on my own worship to that which is beyond all else: The Great Balance.

… How ironic somehow that I would name this greater being The Great Balance, seeing as that is what I seek in life, and have yet to learn. I wish for balance in all aspects of my life. Maybe our vision of a higher being is not so much what that higher being actually “is,” but rather what we ourselves lack in life.

I leave you with this quote from Karen Armstrong’s A History of God:

“After enlightenment, a man or woman must return to the marketplace and practice compassion for all living beings.”