I wrote the above statement in October of 2009. I just found it while looking over my blog posts. I realized that it was still a draft so I clicked 'edit' to see what it was. Needless to say I was kinda stunned because the content of that paragraph is exactly what I wanted to tackle today. I am kind of still in the same place. They tell me Mother Theresa went through this. I have not read the book about it, so I can't comment.
Here's my dilemma. First let me give a little background. I was born, baptised and raised a cultural Presbyterian. We went to church. I loved singing hymns, but that was all it meant. As a kid I was REALLY interested in spiritual things and my favorite book, which I still have, was a National Geographic title called Great Religions of the World. Fast forward and when I was 13, my dad 'Got Saved'. Suddenly he was talking about Christianity in a more personal way than I ever understood it. But he was really confusing, especially since he was talking about being a new creation in Christ and he seemed like the same ole dad to me. Fast forward to when I was 18. I think it was February, and my dad had talked my mom, brother, and me into going to a Billy Graham Crusade. I, being the idealist that I am, was bowled over, and walked down with throngs of people, at the ending 'altar call' to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior. Later that week, I would find a Church, as it turned out I went to Good Shepherd Methodist Church in West Palm Beach, FL. They had a very active and vibrant youth group. I made a bunch of friends there, deepened my new found faith, and even recently have reconnected with some of those folks through Facebook.
So, from 18 to 34, I remain a fairly active Evangelical Christian. As most protestants do, I dabbled in denominationalism. I went from the Methodists to the Episcopalians to the Lutherans- Missouri Synod, to Southern Baptists (where I was re-baptised), back to the Presbyterians- PCA. I tried some fundamentalist churches too, with their hands in the air and speaking in tongues. It scared the shit out of me! I kept trying to find the denomination that fit me. Some were too uptight, too legalistic, too liberal. Gosh, it drove me crazy. I tried to fit in and make friends and sometimes it worked for a little while but I never felt like I belonged anywhere. My parents even found a pastor who was churchless and we set up a home non denominational church in our house for a couple of years. We had 20 people coming to it for a while. (Tho it was just really a glorified bible study.)
At 34, my mother, who I loved more than God (being honest here), was diagnosed with colon cancer right after Mother's Day 2000; the day Autumn was baptised. Autumn was baptised in a Presbyterian church, as was Andrew, Ben was baptised in a Methodist church. Mom suffered for 5 months, the colon cancer had spread to both lobes of her liver...a death sentence....and then she was gone. She died just a few weeks shy of her 54th birthday, in a Catholic hospital (interestingly) with all of us surrounding her.
Okay, so did I pray that my mom, the best grandmother in the world, would be healed? Yes. Constantly. Did I pray that her suffering be relieved. Yes. Constantly. Did I pray that God help me to find a way to help her. Yes. Constantly. Was she healed? No. Did she suffer horribly. Oh yes. Was I able help her...like give her a lobe of my liver? No. Was I pissed? HELL YES! I was so angry at God. SOOOOOOO ANGRY. I joked with really good friends, who are Catholic, during Lent several months later, that I had given Jesus up for Lent (tho, I had never really celebrated Lent as a protestant...not really). Btw, I thought Catholicism was a cult and Catholics poor duped souls. I was always trying to get Catholic friends to leave the Church.
(Let me state emphatically right now...don't trust me...ever....I don't trust myself anymore. Believe what you want, it's none of my business.)
Back to my story (which I am sure is just riveting) fast forward again. I'm not going to church anywhere. I still mad. It's been a couple of years since mom died. Our Catholic friends (R&K) are over for dinner and K says I should come with them soon to a spaghetti dinner at their Church and after, if I am interested, I could go to this program for people interested in becoming Catholic. Que inner monologue "Who me? Catholic? Ha! Join that Whore of Babylon of a so called Church....Ha! Right? People actually BECOME Catholic? Why the heck would they want to do that? " So, I said, NO. And when they left, I promptly went up and googled 'Protestant Converts to Catholicism'. Needless to say, and another long story, I was blown away. The net of it was I did alot of reading. Went to RCIA, and after some roadblocks here and there, became Catholic in Novemember of 2003. (Note: I have written my conversion story to the Catholic Church and given it as a speech at several retreats. I have never transcribed it here, because it is long, and I am lazy. I am very convincing, very persuasive. I think due in large part to a dad who always played Devil's Advocate and my private prep school education. Word to the wise....don't listen to me.)
Since becoming Catholic I have learned all I can. Starting out, it was difficult not to throw myself into uberCatholicdom so, naturally, that is what I did. I went to all 4 years of a Bible/Encyclical study called FAMILIA. Some of my Catholic friends (R & K) probably thought I was pretty intolerable, looking back they were right. All in all, it was the first time in my spiritual life that I ever felt like I truly belonged. I was welcomed into the Church with open arms and have made truly wonderful friends there. The first and foremost being R & K, who I still completely love and adore. They were our sponsors coming in to the Church (Robert, who was raised Catholic never was confirmed so that is what happened for him, and then our marriage was convalidated).
Fast forward to about a year to 18 months ago. The disenchanment began, somewhere in there. I started to wake up to the fact that God always wins. Not that I want to win, but He always wins. If anything good happens, God did it. If anything bad happens, God allowed it and He will bring good from it (uh, I am still waiting for the good from mom's death...I have become estranged from my father (he went nuts when she died)...so I have lost both parents and my kids lost both their maternal grandparents...WOW...how 'good' is that!?!) Also, if I do anything good, it's Christ in me that does it, if I do anything bad...it's all me....all me and my sinful nature rearing it's ugly head. What about the many people I know ,who are really great, kind, generous, caring people who don't believe in anything....or believe in a completely different God, what then? And, again, just being honest here, both Heaven and Hell don't seem all that great to me. One is eternal suffering, the other eternally praising God. One sounds awfully painful and the other painfully boring.
Now, I have read ALOT of theology. I have read Church history. There is no denying Christ existed and there seems to be more historical proof that he not only existed but did what he did and said what he said, than there is historical documentation proving my or your existance. (And I'm not just talking about the Bible here, I am talking about other historical documents of the time). I also happen to believe that the basic celebration of the Eucharist of the Catholic Church (and even the Orthodox Church) is the closest we have to what the original Christians were doing. However, after all the shit that continues to come down in the Church I have become so turned off. And yeah, I know, the standard response (excuse) is that it's spiritual warfare....the Devil is coming against the Church. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or maybe, just maybe, all these so-called leaders of the Church should be more properly vetted? Look, I am no angel, but I am no Fr. Maciel. Holy shit. What evil, twisted mo fo.
But you know, maybe priests should be able to marry. Have you ever looked into the history of how the celibate priesthood came into being? Without any kind of agenda-glasses on? It was for the church to make money and aquire land. Then they tacked on spiritual reasons later. The whole thing with the Legionaires of Christ and their lay apostolate Regnum Christi really sickened me. I got to thinking. How easily I could been duped by them? I went to their study group FAMILIA for 4 years and when you are done with it Regnum Christi makes a pitch for you to join them. I didn't. I'm glad. But how close I almost came to drinking that Kool-aid scares me. But it also makes me wonder how much other Kool- aid have I been drinking?
I'm really over the redemptive suffering thing and the reparation suffering thing. I don't see my suffering redeeming anyone or anything. And what is worse is that I have met people really into that and they dont seem happy or they are really judgemental. They show no love of Christ, no mercy, no forgiving attitude (only to each other in their little club) but for everyone else....just judgement...holier than though CRAP! I went to this Alliance of Two Hearts seminar given by this Fr. Bing dude. It scared me horribly. I mean, I left there thinking, "OMG, if this is Catholicism, what the Hell did I do joining this Church?" I mean, I felt like vomiting. I was so overloaded with a sense of guilt and shame and hopelessness that I almost cried. All it did was solidify what I continue to see all around me everywhere, people love to sit in judgement of everyone else. They want to think they are right and have the right answers and as a result, God is going to reward them and damn everyone else. I mean, for crying out loud, look at the Jihadist Muslims. How crazy are they? And they believe that what they are doing is what God wants of them. And so do so many Catholics, and Protestants, and Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, goodness...the list goes on. For what it is worth, I believe that suffering is suffering and suffering sucks and everyone suffers over something...get used to it....end of story.
Let me set up an example from my life: Long before becoming Catholic I was having a real problem with birth control. I think it is evil. And not from a religious point of view. Fertility is not a disease. Loading a woman up with artificial chemicals to render her a female enuch just so she is sexually available at all times is the height of mysogyny. And that women have 'bought it' that it is their right to chemically sterilize themselves is even more disgusting. I have been on those pills and shots. You know what they do? They make for a moody, fat, sexually distinterested woman who is prone to stroke and breast cancer. Sounds like the lotto to me! And condoms are no better. I mean, when we used to use them, way back, what differentiated me from any other woman? Sure, my husband loved me, and was committed to me. But, when you have an affair, wouldn't one use a condom? If I, as a married woman, am so special, well then, I shouldn't have to fill myself with chemicals or rubber stoppers filled with spermacide that only makes me itch. Nor should do I have to deal with a piece of synthetic material between me and my hubby. I don't cover the rest of my body in saran wrap when we are making love, so why cover one of the most important parts. Oh, so that leaves me with physical sterilization. Mmm, sounds awesome! No thanks. I have a cycle, I'll watch it. I'll excercise some self control for a bit which will only make it more fun later.
Whoa...did I digress or what....so, my example is this, one of the things I was excited about in regards to being Catholic is that the Church thinks birth control is bad, for most of the reasons I do. I thought that was pretty cool. Robert didn't, at first, but that has all changed. The Catholic Church also highly esteems motherhood (which alot of Protestants say they do, but they act like they don't), and believes children are a blessing. Well, I REALLY wanted another child. Specifically, another little girl, but I would happily take a boy too. I wanted Autumn to get to be a big sister and wanted a namesake for my mama. I was very involved with the FAMILIA program, at the time, and we were reading encyclicals about the merits of children. I PRAYED MY ASS OFF. I CRIED AND BEGGED FOR ANOTHER CHILD. I was using NFP, I knew when I was fertile. At first, I had to sell Robert on it. He wasn't wanting to buy. Eventually, he came around. But I never got pregnant. Now, there are those who never get pregnant. I have, at least, have 3 kids. Who was I to complain? But I know people with 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 kids. Those are all seperate families, by the way. So, did God say NO? Did my body say NO? Why? Why couldn't I have another kid? Am I that horrible a mother ? (Ok, don't answer that.) I wasn't praying for a Porche or a Lake House. I wanted a kid. In a world which considers the conceptus of a man and a woman as something disposable, I didn't (don't), I think it's a person, and amazing one of a kind person. And I just wanted another one. I believed I was being led to want another one. What is so wrong with that? So, it wasn't God that wanted me to have another child? Or it was, but he just wanted me to be willing to have one, it's not like he promised it or anything? Or it wasn't God's idea and that is why I never got pregnant, because it was really 'my' idea. Heck, I almost had a tubal, and it was God (or was it) who prevented me from being able to get it done. Then he fucks with me like that and brings about the desire for another child(ren) only to give me a celestial 'Fuck You' later? Really? Do I want to believe in that God? (Note: If your offended go away. This is my blog. Oh, and I think the Creator of the Universe can handle a little obsenity. So get a grip.)
The bottom line is, I 'thought' God wanted me to have another child. I thought wrong. I have thought God wanted me to do or not do all sorts of things, and I can ALWAYS find some sign that He is guiding me in a certrain direction. When that certain direction turns 180 degrees then I have to find some reason God did that too. I don't know what he wants from me. Any of us could justify just about anything that has happened to us or that we are going through in the light of God's design. I'm just sick to death of it all. Really I am. Do I believe that God exists? Yes. I believe there is a creator. Do I believe that Jesus is the human manifestation of that creator? Yes. Did 'Jesus' ask me to follow all these stupid rules all the time and make myself crazy? No. What did He ask me to do? "Love others, as I have loved you." That's a tall order. I'm horrible at it. So, maybe I should just work on that one for a while, not ask for anything, and leave the rest to those more capable.