THE RELIGIOUS ELEPHANT IN THE ROOMThis is a journal cover I made not that long ago. I thought it was really hilarious. It still makes me smile in kind of a perverse way, the idea that one's journal is filled with fibs about one's holiness, but it also reminds me of what I used to think about prayer and religion in general.
At some point very early in life I started to feel really lost, and was wary of most everyone, and I had this recurring nightmare:
I had written all Christians off as liars who couldn't possibly be buying this magic act. I wanted just ONE of them to level with me and tell me it was all nonsense and no one knew what they were talking about or believed any of it. It was like they had made a pact of silence. Yes, the dark and paranoid conspiracy theories ran rampant.
Or maybe... Maybe they really DID believe... And maybe they really DID understand... Could it be?
SO WHAT HAPPENED?On New Year's Eve in 2001, my steady boyfriend Jason was in a funk. He didn't like NYE and didn't know why we had to celebrate it. He called it a day just like any other day.
Flippantly, I said, "Well, so is Christmas, but you didn't hear me bitching about it!"
I couldn't figure out why, for the next two hours, he didn't want to talk to me. I was seriously freaking out. I ran through the conversation over and over, failing to see where it went wrong. Finally, he said, "When you say things like that, it really hurts, because... I'M A CHRISTIAN."
Blinkblink. I could not believe it. We'd been dating for SIX MONTHS. And I had no idea. I never would have guessed he had any attachments to religion or the notion of Santa Claus in the sky. Immediately, I was defensive. I felt judged.
"Well, just because I'm not a Christian, doesn't mean I'm not a good person! I have morals, I don't need God for that!"
I don't remember everything that was said, but I remember one thing pretty vividly. Jason asked how or if I could ever want to marry him (since I was a nonbeliever). It was then that I realized it wasn't he who was doing the judging, it was me. I was judging and persecuting all Christians, when I had thought it was the other way around. I had made him feel embarrassed, ashamed, unwelcome, stupid. I had hurt him, and I decided I never wanted to do that to anyone again because of their faith. I felt so ashamed at being the kind of person who made him want to hide his feelings.
Suddenly he went from being this cocky young professional with all his ducks in a row, to a man who admitted to loving God? Somehow it made me love him more - especially, that someone like him could love someone like ME.
Fast forward. We got married. We had babies. We had sickness. We had existential crisis. We had family death. Life happened every day. And there was just something...bugging me. I started asking around. What does it for you. Community. Faith. Church. Volunteering. Family. Giving. Making a difference. What makes you tick. What makes you believe one thing or another. What is this magical faith thing. What makes you happy. And I kept thinking back to that pastor I argued with at my daughter's preschool and wondering how HE would stand up to my questions.
I would email my unedited responses to each book of the Bible and the discussions that followed were priceless. Sometimes they had to carry over into coffee, and sometimes coffee was just coffee.
Eventually I couldn't deny it to myself or to my loved ones any longer.
I was baptized. I took the Bible Information Class. I was confirmed. It's been a happy and kind of a lonely thing, for me, because I know how people feel about it, I know how I would have felt about it. That my friend or family member has gone insane, or was no longer fun, or reasonable, or...you name it. And on that note, I am truly sorry for having been so mean-spirited and judgmental in the past.
Sometimes I do some design stuff that's uh, super religious. SOooOOooo, that's another thing I've been up to in the last few years.