I've been reading a lot lately. Something I haven't had the luxury to do in a long time. I very much love, as I've mentioned before, the ability to look into lives all over this amazing world that we live in, because of this technology. Over the past five years now (nearly six), my perspective on the world and the people that live in it has grown exponentially. Since we came back from the long period of "darkness" that I call seminary, I feel that I've grown as a human being. I know that I've changed. I also know that as a parent, I have a responsiblity. I know that my change has been difficult for certain members of my family, and I do, quite often, feel a great sense of guilt about that. I should say, for those that don't know it, that because of my personal, and negative experience with "organized religion," I chose to walk away, not just from the church, but from God as I knew him, or better yet, as he was presented to me. I didn't like it. More importantly, I didn't like some of the people who called themselves "Christians" but didn't "walk the talk". THAT, please understand, comes from a girl who accepted Christ as Savior when she was 17, raised her kids in a Christian home, and as a wife, packed up her life in California and followed her husband to seminary in the midwest.
I knew the life. I walked the talk. I taught Sunday School, and was a youth counselor. When Charlie became a deacon and then a lay pastor, I was right beside him. I honestly felt that when he heard the call to full time ministry, that THAT was where we were supposed to be. And I was happy. I thought. Even with as difficult a life that we both had, even when things were so bad and painful, even when I could not understand the whys or wherefores about the things I was told God chose for us, I remained faithful. And I should understand, with as long as I had been at it, that people will always disappoint, but God never will. When I realized, in the winter of 1997, that I could not do this, and that I felt that God was not honoring what I felt was our obedience, and when the people who I trusted turned against us, I could not separate God from the people. It got even worse when we returned to California. Why? To this day, no one could ever give me the answers that took away the pain, and despite my earnest requests and my heartfelt prayers, God was not there to comfort me. So, he either didn't love me, or I wasn't good enough to be loved, or I was just not on his "chosen" list. Not part of the team. Again, my perspective.
Over these most recent years, as I have explored the human condition and the belief systems that go along with that. I have come to the firm belief that God is not an active participant in my life. Or anyone else's for that matter. I believe He exists, but I have to believe that he simply watches to see what we will do with our lives. If I don't believe in this manner, I will go back to the belief that God plays favorites. I don't like that thought. As a parent, I would never favor one child over another. It's just too damaging. But I believed for the longest time, in my anger at his lack of participation and help in my life, that I was not good enough for him to care about. That hurts. That would hurt any child. I don't want to believe that way. So, in order for my feelings not to be hurt, I would rather believe that He just watches and waits to see what we will do. In the meantime, I explored the world, learned about people, and grew to love and embrace so many different lives. I learned about myself, and I started to live again. I laughed, I rejoiced, I let all of me out into the world. No longer afraid to just be ME. Most important to me, I found a joy again, a happiness without guilt. Along with that, I could feel myself getting more and more upset by the Christian community and their judgement calls. I found my disdain growing and growing, to the extent that I just didn't want to associate anymore. I wasn't bashing anyone, but I knew, I just knew, that I was never, ever going to be walking back into church. Where was the love? Love for mankind, love for humanity...I just wasn't seeing it. Isn't God Love? His people weren't showing that very well.
I've kept these feelings to myself for so long. And then, one day a couple weeks ago, I read Paul's entry about God and I thought to myself.."YES!" That's how I feel! He nailed that puppy right on the head, at least, for me he did. From Paul at No Milk, Please
"R" is for Responsibility
God is a scapegoat. It’s the cop-out that we use so that we can blame everything on something else. It’s easy to say “God will provide” because that means we don’t have to provide for ourselves. It is easy to say “God will forgive” because that means we will be forgiven if we repent. It is easy to say, “I will be with God when I die” because that means anything we do when we are still alive is only a trial run to our “true life” in Heaven. And Satan? Oh he’s the other scapegoat. Between God and Satan, we basically don’t have to be responsible for anything.
God cannot help you. Neither does he punish you. This is because we have Free Will. If God helped you get that job, then that means he let the other person not get it. If God let you win the lottery, that means singled you out to receive good things, and let others lose. If God interferes with one person’s life, by definition, he has interfered with everybody’s life. This because there is no action without consequence. Remember the Laws of Physics? Yes, God made those laws; he has to abide by them. God cannot contradict himself, otherwise he is not God. He cannot say, “Thou shalt not kill” and then add “except Homos.” God cannot say: “You have Free Will” and then interfere with your life. What’s the incentive for us to do anything for ourselves?
Now, let’s tackle some tough questions.
“I prayed to God that I would pass my Chemistry test. I got an ‘F’, God is testing me.”
First of all, instead of praying, you should be studying. Second, God is not testing your faith by giving you "challenges". If you got an “F”, God would be the first to say: “Idiot, you shoulda been studying insteada prayin.” You should have turned in that paper on time; you should have trained your cat to be smart enough to only eat love letters from your ex instead of your chem paper.
“God will provide.”
God has already provided. He has given you air, sunlight, those cute freckles on your cheeks. To ask for basic necessities like food and a job is just being plain greedy. You need to do your best to provide for yourself. And if you can provide for yourself, make plans and be prepared for the rainy days. It will not be sunny forever. Look at me, I am unemployed. Do I blame God? No. Do I blame my former company? Maybe. But most of all, I blame myself for not doing the best I can to make sure I was not expendable, or not being aware enough to realize that the company was in trouble and start looking for a job sooner.
“How about the starving children in Africa, Asia and Mars?”
That’s not God’s job, that’s YOUR job. If there are people who are hungry in Africa or in your block, it is up to YOU to feed them. If those kids died of starvation, don’t turn to God and dramatically, with tears rolling down one eye and say “why? why? why do you let these things happen?” Don’t shake your fist in the air and yell “Damn you, Sally Struthers—oops—I meant Satan!”
“I got into an accident and now I’m paraplegic. Why is God punishing me?”
I’m sorry if you are in this state. However, in all probability, God had nothing to do with that. God did not make your hand slip or make your tires lose their traction or make you go out when it is snowing. Satan did not whisper in the other guy’s ear to drink that one last sweet drink before getting in the car. There are risks in driving, skiing, or wearing that hideous ballgown. You implicitly accepted those risks when you engaged in these activities. It is easier to blame God or Satan than to accept that things happened because you failed to estimate the risks and accept them.
“How about diseases like Cancer? AIDS? The Common Cold?”
Let’s start with the easiest one, the Common Cold. If you don’t know the answer to this yet, the answer is wash your hands. The Common Cold is most often transmitted not by people sneezing into your general vicinity, but from touching non-porous materials such as plastic, metal and wood contaminated by infected people and then transferred to your mouth or eyes from your own hands. AIDS? Devastating but quite preventable--use a condom. Cancer. Tough one. I could say that human beings have created so many bad things that poison our bodies and cause cancer like cigarettes and asbestos. Some we can prevent knowingly, therefore we bear full responsibility. For others, we all need to get together and do something about, like electing government officials who can make changes to laws. If we choose not to, then if we get cancer, it’s too late to blame God. It’s not, however, too late to blame your elected official. Think about it.
You are responsible for your own destiny. Every action sets into motion a sequence of events that affect you and everyone else. For everything else that happens? That is just part of living and dying.
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FINALLY! Something I had been feeling and someone had put it to words. The voice of reason. Thank you Paul. I expect that I will get some backlash from this. In all honesty, I don't care. Along with my free will, I have the ability to think and believe as I wish. I believe in God. But I believe that he is simply, as the Divine Miss M says, watching us from a distance. Nothing more.