I'm not sure how I made it out of childhood still believing in God, given my rampant doubts and questions of adulthood.
On the one hand, it makes perfect sense. I had an entirely loving family and very supportive and fun youth mentors at the churches we attended. Why wouldn't I believe something that was discussed and practiced in such great environments?
On the other hand, growing up wasn't simple. Of course it isn't simple for most people, but I had a lot of hurdles. Hurdles that I'm still processing years later. My family moved every 2-5 years. I was an overthinker. I was the new kid. I was sensitive. I felt a strong calling to be weird and be proud about it, making me an outsider yet sometimes accepted and applauded for my "bravery."
Believing that a God loved me could have been really hard. It's the age old question: if He loved me, then why do I feel so bad? Why do I have struggles? Especially if I was trying to be on His side?
But maybe it was comforting enough that it was made easier to believe in something so lovely. God loving me. Ahhh. Sit back and enjoy. Be a weirdo. Be loved. Be loved by an invisible man in the sky.
Today I find it hard to believe that a guy who died a long time ago is alive and loving me. It's weird to think about. It doesn't make intuitive sense with what we have before us and can see and feel.
Yet I wonder where all those things -- plants that grow, people that look in each other's eyes -- and feelings come from. I don't think they're an accident. I think it's a cruel thought to just imagine we're pawns in a game. This is not Jumanji. It's something bigger.
So then I swing back to the believing end of the spectrum.
And back to thinking it's all so very weird.
All at once, often.
My pastor, Rankin, says something very often to us at church. It's along the lines of: God's love for us is not dependent on our understanding of it.
I was sitting on my porch several months ago, on a Saturday morning I believe, and I was feeling guilty and the day hadn't even started. I had a lot of things I could do, should do, what to do?? I wondered if what I was doing was selfish, if it was serving God, serving others.
I had discovered some months before that my porch was a nice place to sit and quiet the F down. The most I would take out there was a beer, or a cup of tea. Maybe a blanket. And I would just sit. No reading, no talking on the phone (I of course engage in these activities on my porch on occasion, but not when it's quiet time).
So on this morning a while back I went to the porch.
And while I was out there I started thinking/praying that I would just feel loved. Loved by God. And eventually I went back inside.
And I could be misremembering, but I think I had an OK day after that. I know at the very least that my guilt dissipated. I was able to breathe again, and move, and make a decision and not feel badly about it.
I'm not always sure about this prayer thing, and whether anyone is listening, and what's the point if we're not guaranteed to get what we ask for.
But I do know that it feels good to say Thank you. And I know that I pray for some weird stuff sometimes, and I often feel better when I do.
This past fall my cat was having some bowel issues, and it was costing me money, causing him to shed, causing me to worry. We were at the vet way more often than we wanted to be, even if Mr. Office Max was greeted with love at the check in desk, because he's so lovey dovey and wonderful.
He was having persistent diarrhea, and we had tried one drug ($) and then moved on to another ($$). I would brace myself every time he moved his way into the litter box.
And when, one night, he didn't have diarrhea, I found myself with a huge grin on my face, thanking God that my kitten was OK.
See? Sometimes we pray about weird things.
But it feels good.
It's weird to believe in this stuff. And I feel like a fraud 95 percent of the time.
But I think I might sit on my porch tonight, with a blanket for sure, tea maybe, to quiet down. And ask that I feel loved. Because a lot of the time I don't know what else to ask for. But I think that there might be Someone to ask my questions of. And to say Thank you. For the people in my life. The cat. The love and the sunshine. The rest, the nourishment, the...