God Is Not Dead, and Other Eternal Conflicts
by And the White Lion Roars!
The weeks since my last post have been quite eventful. Quite. Eventful. But only internally. I’ve been roaring about my internal conflicts so much that I woke up with a sore throat several days. Life can be SOOOOOOOO dramatic! I’ve been told that it is a good idea to Google oneself occasionally just to see what’s out there, what managers might see if one is looking for a job, etc. So once is awhile I do that, and a few weeks ago what was the first thing that popped up? My atheism. Now, I’ve tried to never be an angry atheist; not to be disrespectful of those who believe-in particular because so many people I love are devout believers, and it seems to improve their lives considerably, by their definitions. I have never found it thus, but who am I to disdain where so many find peace? Especially when peace is so often hard to find?
So, here’s the scenario: money problems, car problems, lack of hope of anything really changing anytime soon, despite valiant efforts to make it so. In a moment of desperation, a plea to a God I don’t believe exists to “help us fix this, and I’ll believe again.” Meltdown on the phone with someone I love and trust, who has been a lifelong confidante, but who also tends to feel pressure to fix things when they are shared with her. Before I started pouring out my soul I told her I didn’t want to share what I was feeling because the things that were dragging me down were not hers to fix. I just needed someone I could talk to about them. Yes, my husband should ideally fill that role, but, despite the fact that we are doing much better now than we were when I last posted, our communication styles are very different, and I don’t always feel comfortable having my “meltdowns” with him. So I went through the list of things that were bothering me-a car that was practically a gift, and the only thing that made us able to buy the house, was no longer safe or legal, and being budgeted to the nth degree, the money to deal with these issues was not in the picture anywhere. She gave me phone hugs, and I thanked her for letting me vent. I also mentioned to her (she is one of those believers I mentioned earlier) about my offer to her God. The next day her husband called my husband and said that they had purchased a car for me. Just like that. Not a new car, but a good, safe, legal, reliable, grown up car, two years older than the death trap I was driving, but in immaculate condition. When I finally had a conversation with her husband, he brought up the “deal with God” I had told her about the day before. I said that since she knew about the deal, this didn’t count. He said (and I do believe him) that the plan of getting a car for me had been in the works for about a week. Now, that did give me pause. I also shared all this with my husband, and he suggested going to that couple’s church if I had decided to believe again…and there’s the rub. And more back story.
Last time I posted it was a bit of a rant about marriage-my marriage in particular, but marriage in general. Soon after that the person that I was venting to that night about the car, etc. suggested that Jim and I attend the marriage enrichment weekend that helped them heal their marriage after an especially rough patch. It had been recommended to them by her husband’s business partner, who is a devout Catholic; the program is a Catholic program. In describing it to me she said, “There is religious stuff, but it isn’t the main focus, communication skills are.” I was okay with that,. but apparently our measuring sticks find different degrees of “religious stuff,” based on our levels of belief in such things. There was a mass every day, and a large push to include Jesus in the marriage, and a strong message that a marriage can’t work otherwise. The last day of the weekend, which was the last weekend for the priest who had coordinated the program in Fort Worth for many years, and previous participants were invited for that special mass. The couple I’ve been talking about came for the mass and said to me, “We came hoping you would come.” My husband, a lapsed Catholic, had already asked if I would come, and I told him that I wouldn’t, but suggested he go if he wished. He responded, “Husbands and wives should go to church together.” Sighhhhhhh. I told this other person no as well, and she said a little more firmly, “We came hoping YOU would come.” Second time around I was offended…said nothing, of course, but felt that the insistence was disrespectful of my values, which I must quash verbalizing pretty much every time I have a conversation with my mother. I must also add that this great friend, hero and much loved woman has also traveled the same journey from belief to atheism to spirituality to return to Christianity. I have followed her tracks for many years; when she left the baptist church for the episcopal church, I followed, when she left the church altogether, I followed. But in the intervening years I realized that I didn’t believe at all, and might never have, and she moved back i the other direction, I didn’t follow. She and I have had many conversations about “the creative force” in the universe, but I do not see that as a “Creator” in the Christian tradition. When I was asked by a customer at work recently “what do you believe?” I told him that I believe in the first law of thermodynamics. I have never disbelieved that there is an energy in the universe that created/creates the world we see, and don’t see. There are great mysteries, even now, to the most knowledgeable scientists. Why else would we even need a discipline called “Theoretical Physics?” Energy cannot be created or destroyed. It changes form. Energy becomes us. When we cease to exist, our energy takes on new forms that we cannot know. As humans we are determined to classify and define things. We want to know why things happen. We want to put things in boxes that we understand, whether they are good or bad things. The assignation of things that happen in our lives that we can’t explain to a God who cares what happens in our lives, or has lessons to teach us by allowing bad things to happen makes some people feel comforted. I’m not one of those people. I am a person who is comfortable admitting that there is much I don’t know. I don’t need the Christian God to be the answer to the things I don’t know because I will always seek knowledge, but I also don’t deny, and never have, that there is a creative force in the universe that has made the world we know. Evolution, the Big Bang, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, where the energy we are goes when we go…all these things are a part of the great unknown known. If we knew all the answers there would be no more need for seeking and researching. So my deal with God isn’t nullified, nor does the fact that this wonderful, loving couple knew I needed a car and hadn’t the ability to get one, and that they provided that for me without knowing I made that deal, won’t lead me to accept their version of God shouldn’t be a deal breaker. God is not dead because he never was alive in the form that believers believe him to be. He is alive because a believer believes him to be, in the form which the believer believes him or her to take. God is whatever form, definition or application he must take to answer the eternal questions of the meaning of life and existence.