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« Racism in Firefly | Main | Tidings of great joy »

July 27, 2006

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baggage

I would like to believe in God. But I really can't.

Ellen K.

I was raised a very liberal Catholic, and my faith has been tested many times, but IF is the biggest of all. Especially mixed with political & gender roles (or lack thereof) in the church.... when I was in 6th grade and raising my annual vent about how girls in our diocese couldn't be altar servers, the priest said "Yes, but you can have children and give back to the church that way." I realize that was just one priest, but his point is pretty much reinforced by doctrine. Still, despite this and a hundred other things that make me think I'm in an abusive relationship, like you said, I can't entirely leave. Even if I'm not practicing my faith, I can't look elsewhere. I have to hang on to something; I'm on very shaky ground as it is.

Emilie

I was raised a liberal Catholic, too - who WAS an altar girl with no issues from our priests - and yet I have always had trouble with the "belief in God" bit. And I've always been skeptical of people who pray for "things to happen" or "things to go their way," as if their faith in God depends on a few prayers being answered. I don't believe prayer works that way. Maybe because of my "belief" issues, I don't really believe God is some personal entity dipping his finger in human affairs the way most people think of God. When I pray, I am praying for the capacity to handle anything that comes along. I pray for strength, for grace, for courage, for patience, for whatever it is I need in my life at that time. And it does help. At times when I DO pray for "things," like, for a baby, for (now) a healthy delivery of my unborn baby, for health for my friends, for peace in the world, I recognize my prayer as a longing within myself. I don't assume that just because I pray it, it's going to happen.

So ... I felt my spiritual life both challenged and reinforced during my two and a half years of infertility. Of course we prayed for a baby - all the time. And many times I prayed for the strength to be able to stay on the emotional roller coaster, or the wisdom to know what steps to take next. But during those dark times, the hours and days after a failed cycle, there were days when I felt so angry with God. Why? Rationally, I knew this was not really God's call to make; he was not going to come in and tweak my body. But maybe, underneath my rational lack of faith, I expected more. Maybe my anger at God was really an anger at my own human creation, my body, which I see intertwined with the larger creation of the universe. I don't know. Faith is a deep, profound mystery, and the more I engage in it, the more I realize I cannot possibly understand it.

Sorry to be such a rambler when I am also a stranger! (I found your blog through the Stirrup Queens...) :)

Emilie

Jenny

Oh My I am a liberal Catholic too!!!

Can you imagine you had so many of us?

Tera

I am a born again Christian...I have been a Christian since 6th grade...I simply heard The Message, I became a true believer and I have never veered from that path...ever. At that tender age, I was searching...on a quest...when I heard about true, bible based Chrisianity, I knew in my heart that it was true and I surrendered all of myself...when the preacher was preaching the true Message, I was literally on the edge of my seat and everything clicked. My heart and my mind were satisfied. It is tough to have struggles, though...the people of the bible...those who were deeply loved by God faced many struggles. The Lord promises never to leave those who are His own. So, though we face struggle, we can know that we are not alone...He will give us what we need spiritually no matter what the struggle. He doesn't always take our struggles away when we ask for them to be removed...the bible actually assures us that there will be struggle. Anyway, I have a deep and abiding love and respect for the Jewish faith. I grew up in a Jewish community...God LOVES the Jewish people with GREAT passion...the bible encourages us to pray for peace in Israel. What a RICH heritage the Jews have! Truly. May the Lord lead you and guide you as you seek. God bless.

Chaya

I am not Hasidic, but I am an observant Jew. To make a long story short, I grew up in a fairly typical non-observant but traditional Jewish home. I also have (many actually) Hasidic cousins. As a kid, I totally admired them and their lifestyle, so I sort of started trying some of the practices on for size, and ended up really falling in love with the whole thing. The thing is, it isn't so simple, and it isn't so easy. The main hurdle I think for all of us is the fact that we want to believe in an all-knowing merciful G-d, but we don't see the world as being a particularly merciful place. And there is this idea that religion\G-d should make everything better, kind of an "I lay me down on still waters," if I am religious everything should be calm and good. BUT--I can't speak for any other religion, but Judaism certainly believes that we don't only look for G-d in the times that are good and that we are strong and happy. We need to look for G-d in every step of the way. That DOES NOT however, mean liking the things that happen to us. We are not drugged up idiots saying--"I am so happy G-d gave me three miscarriages, G-d is so good." The goal is, and trust me on this one it isn't easy, to say-"G-d, I hate that this is happening to me. I don't know why it is. I am soo soo angry and in pain right now" And then when the pain is less raw to say "I will try to find meaning in it, to understand the big picture. Please G-d, help me to see the big picture."
But--in all honesty it doesn't always work, certain things in this world are bad, and there is no "big picture" we can see. That is why religion is based on faith. It is not all one-sided--G-d does things that are nice and good, and then that is ok. When He does something I don't like, forget, I am out of here. We believe that G-d is all-knowing, and the challenge is to keep going and looking for Him, and relating to Him, even when it is really really hard. And the good things that you mentioned as being the times when faith was easier--those are the times we use to keep us strong and renew ourselves.
Um, that didn't make a long story short at all. But I guess people have a lot to say about these things--it is so personal and emotional. And, I actually have a lot more to say, about the faith that G-d cares about those little annoying details, but I don't want to bore you. If you want, I am happy to explain my take on that too. Good luck.

Amergina

"Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief."

I utter that a lot on my dark days.

(It's from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 9)

erinberry

I totally get your "God as abusive boyfriend" reference - I wrote something similar awhile back. The god of the Bible, in my opinion, is a complete psychopath and egomaniac.

http://jesuswasnotarepublican.blogspot.com/2005/04/god.html

art-sweet

I also envy people whose faith is firm and taut, not saggy and questionable like mine. And yet I find that ritual and tradition feel good to me. In an odd way, it's comforting to me to know that people have always suffered and questioned and survived (that sounds particularly Jewish to me, but some of you Christians might feel differently). Infertility is in the bible. Adoption is in the bible. These things came before us and will go on after us. I'm not sure where g-d fits into that, but I find that sense of history comforting.

avonleaspring

I wasn't raised with religon and sought it out as a teen and later as an adult. I picked up my ancestor's religion - Catholicism - but I had never been baptized as a child and realized I was excluded from participating.

I became an Episcopalian in my 30's, I was baptized and went through an adult religion class. It had some beautiful aspects that I loved. But for various reasons I gave it up too. I liked the rituals, the community but I couldn't believe in it all.

I think you take your faith where ever you go and that faith is at its strongest when it comes from the inside rather than merely from tradition.

Life does just beat us up I guess I can't believe in the kind of diety that manages every aspect of our lives but I get your reference to an abusive BF very well too.

Hey - I'm thinking we may live in the same state.

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