Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Want to Believe

I'm jealous of real, religious people. People who know without a doubt what God wants of them and what's waiting for them on the other side. I went to church as a child. Every Sunday, rain or shine. In my memory, it was always cold on Sunday mornings, but that can't be true. We were observant Catholics, but I can't say we were especially devout. My grandmother used to go to confession every Saturday. She used to say,"What do I have to confess? That I missed church one week? Bah!" But she'd still go. My mother stopped listening to the Pope when she had two kids, eleven months apart, using the rhythm method. Most of what I truly feel about God I got from my dad. He was the one who would help me say my prayers in bed at night, cause it was nice to pray for other people and ask God's blessing for them and for me. Sometimes, we'd sing a little song called, "What Color is God" about how God is every color and no color because, I guessed, God was too big to be pinned down to just one race.

So I can't claim that Jesus is a close, personal friend like some people I know. I tried to be born again once, in high school. I came forward at a prayer group when they asked if anyone wanted to be saved. It was nice to have them all praying on me, but then they said I couldn't listen to AC DC anymore and well, that was that. Occassionally I find succor from a Catholic mass, especially when somebody dies. That's when the ritual seems most comforting to me. Sit, stand, kneel, stand, sit. I went to church in Italy once. I didn't understand a word they were saying but it was the same:sit, stand, kneel, stand, sit. I like the familiarity of it.

But all this doesn't really help when I get the existential heebie-jeebies in the middle of the night. Like Mulder, I want to believe. In aliens and government conspiracies or sweet salvation, it doesn't matter. I just would like to have absolute faith in something. I want to believe God is real. I want to believe that prayer works and it isn't just the list of puling demands that it sounds like. I want to feel forgiven, to have a squeaky clean soul again. I want to believe that Mama's kisses heal all wounds. I want to believe that my Daddy's arms are still strong enough to carry me upstairs to bed. But mostly I want to believe that when I die, I'll fall into the arms of almighty love and be safe forever more.


Keith, RN said...

I find that believing in the redemptive power of love is best.

As Mother Teresa said: "I have found the ultimate paradox---if I love until it hurts, there is no more hurt, only more love."

Kim said...

TC, ask God for "faith". The rest comes along. And oh, by the way, I am an evangelical Christian raised Catholic and I love the Black Eyed Peas and think "My Humps" is a great song. So you can listen to what you want to listen to, it's a case of being "in" the world, not "of" it.

And before I ever ask for anything in prayer, I thank God for what he has given me, for my family and then I ask for what I would like God to do for me. Sometimes he says "no", just like a Dad.

Didn't mean to prosletize (sp?)here, it was just a great post!

Amka said...

"People who know without a doubt what God wants of them and what's waiting for them on the other side."

I consider myself to be very religious, but I don't "know without a doubt". While I appreciate such knowing, I think it only happens in three circumstances: when one is very young and doesn't know any better, if one has blind faith (which can mean anything from actively denying anything that goes against their belief or simply following the status quo without thinking or questioning), or if one has come far enough in their journey to where they have recieved undeniable personal revelation.

There are very, very few who work under the last set of circumstances.

For me, I've had to reconcile my understanding and love of science and nature with my understanding of God and how he works in this universe. I found that there was no way I could KNOW. I had to take a leap of faith - I had to choose. I guess you could say that I used a limited version of Pascal's Wager: There was only one way I would ever know, and that would be to die and find that there was an afterlife. If I died and there wasn't one, I wouldn't know if I were right or wrong.

If I believed in God, and specifically followed the particular religion I already belonged to, I would A) become a better person and B) do good works that would leave the world a better place. As a member of my religion, I felt I could learn better to do good than I could otherwise. Within church, I am constantly challenged to consider myself: my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

So even if there was no afterlife, the world would still be better and I would still have lived happier and more fulfilled if I trusted that there was a God and he basically wanted me to feel loved and to spread that love by doing good to other people.

So that is what I started with. I've gained more, but I cannot say that I am at a place where I know anything without a doubt. I doubt many serious religious people can say that either.

Alex said...

I would just like to say that you are not alone. I am in exactly the same position. I have asked for faith and am not sure i have been granted it. What does this mean?

Maggie said...

Why does God allow such terrible tragedys to happen?