Friday, April 4, 2008

Flashback Friday-Religious Conversion

Again, thanks to CableGirl for coming up with the Friday Flashback deal; I am actually having a lot of fun with it, because it gives me a focus-not always an easy thing for me. I mean, I know I have a lot of things about which to talk, also that I am brilliant-but a lot of the time I have difficulty with narrowing the thoughts and feelings down to one particular subject. This has been a great tool for me, and I would encourage all of you to go check out her posts and follow the links to get your cool little Flashback Friday button!

So. As I posted about yesterday, I a have been/am engaged in a fascinating discussion about Atheism vs Religion over on Possummomma 's blog. I have "met" some pretty great people over there, and have been forced to think outside the box a little bit more on this one. That is a good thing; one of my biggest joys is that I get to meet a lot of people from different walks of life, different beliefs, different lifestyles, and they encourage me to stop and think about things. How powerful that is! So this conversation has led me to really explore my own beliefs, and to talk about when or how or why I got to where I am, believing the things that I do.

When I was a kid, we were dragged to church every Sunday without fail. My mom and step dad were very, very active in church, taking part in the choir and running the Youth Program and teaching Sunday School-the works. Which sounds good and wonderful and very Leave-it-to-Beaverish, but I sensed early on that it was just a lie, a cover up. The things that went on in our home were so terrible and unimaginable that it was so hard to reconcile the the thiings my parents talked about at church with the reality of our lives. As a result, I chose to stop going to church or believing in God as soon as I was allowed to have a choice-which actually didn't happen until after I left home. So I was one of those people who thought, "If this is God, then no thanks," which is NOT Atheism.

Blah blah, years went by, and two marriages and a lot of drinking and fucking people whose names I didn't know, along with lying and stealing and pretty much going against everything I knew was right; not from any religious standpoint at all, but from a common-decency standpoint. And not only did I not go to church regularly (I did do the Easter/Christmas deal, to make granny happy), I never even THOUGHT about God. It-he-just was not something I was at all interested in. Still, on some level I still believed, because even now, I am not denying that he was there, just that I didn't give a shit.

But I got sober, and I started to change. The things I do are based on spirituality, not religion, and I listened to people talk-people who were even further down the scale than I was, and they started to make sense. Not only did they not drink, but they were good and kind and loving and were happy. Happiness-what a novel concept! Inner peace: totally far beyond the scope of my imagination. I wanted it; I wanted to feel the way they did about life, about themselves. I wanted to not have to drink anymore, or to try to hide the pain and sadness and grief by using alcohol or sex or food or drugs. So I decided to keep an open mind to the possibility that maybe the God I grew up being taught about was not, in fact, what he was really about. I tried to keep my mind open to the idea that there is someone out there who cares about me unconditionally.

I didn't really believe, though, until some really, really bad stuff happened with my the soon-to-be-ex husband; I didn't have anyone to turn to for help, I had no one to lean on, and people in my groups kept telling me to give it to God. But not in the holier-than-thou attitude of "Just pray and it will all be fine," which to this day pisses me off, but in the "Get off your ass, do the work, and pray for the strength and willingness to live a good life in spite of this. Don't pray for God to miraculously win the lottery and solve your problems (though like a selfish child, I have often thought that if he really loved me, that would happen),because that is YOUR job. And if you do this? Things will change." And you know, they did. I started praying, and doing the work. I started to bitch and moan to god because he was the only one who had the patience and willingness to listen to me complain about the same things, over and over, and in doing so I found that He was there. Still requiring me to do the right thing, still forcing me to deal with life on life's terms, still expecting me to be a kind person and do the right thing. And I hated that about him, and sometimes still do, because by nature I am lazy; I want it to be easy! I don't want to have to work at anything! I want what I want, when I want it, with no visible effort on my part. Again, selfish child comes to mind...

I don't have any explanations; I will be, as I have said, the first to admit that there is nothing rational about believing the things I do. Even now, sometimes, I think, "Oh my god, you idiot, this is just all one crazy-ass freak show!" That very well may be the case, I don't know. I may die and find out I was wrong. I don't have any reasonable explanation, I don't have scientific evidence, all I have is faith. My God doesn't look like your God, for sure. But it is what works for me; my faith, my spirituality, my belief in God as the cosmic Big Brother is not something I can explain with logic or coherence or even and sense of rationality. I is there, and it is real to me; that is enough.


Anonymous said...

I think I can honestly say that there is noting I find more fascinating that people's explanations for believing the things that they do. We all reach our places in life and spirituality in different ways and I think it is overwhelmingly important to remain open minded and see things from the perspectives of others.

Thanks for sharing this.

April said...

I agree with CableGirl.

I just wish that more people were as accepting of different belief systems. I thank you, Kori, for being so open-minded and willing to share, and also willing to listen to others.

The Immoral Matriarch said...

That was a really good post! I can't say much else besides what April and Cable Girl have already said so I'll just stop now. :)

Pixelation said...

I should post my own story some day.. That was interesting. I also checked out the thread at Possummomma's about whether belief is a choice or not. I have to say, it's beginning to look like it is for some people and isn't for others. That is to say: if people think there's enough evidence (or not enough) for either side, then it becomes a choice to practice and begin to develop a belief. If your evidence leads you down one path, however, it doesn't seem like a choice at all.