On Faith

28 Feb

Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees. 

-Victor Hugo

I saw this quote on Twitter the other day and it has stuck with me. Faith and prayer are hard topics for me to talk and write about. Not because I don’t have thoughts about them because OH BOY do I ever. But I can never organize those thoughts. I can’t decide where I stand when it comes to God and religion and faith in general.

I was raised Catholic. Church every Sunday, no meat on Fridays during Lent, confession, the whole nine yards. And maybe it was just me and my skepticism or lack of interest, but there were only a handful of times that I ever remember getting anything out of church. I never had a real, honest to goodness come-to-Jesus, I am worshipping the Lord!! kind of feeling. I always just felt like I wasn’t doing enough and that I wasn’t following the rules and that I was being forced to be there. I would wonder at people who looked like they were really talking to God, or people who would talk about their relationship with Jesus. I understood the concept, and was even envious of their faith, but I just couldn’t imagine what that felt like. 

Reflecting on it now, I think my lack of enthusiasm came from the fact that I could not find anyone to answer one simple question: Who the hell do we think we are, assuming that we know what God wants? How do we know God gets pissed because I have a burger on a Friday in March? Who told the men who pieced together the stories of the bible which tales should be told and which should be left out? I refuse to believe that God hates homosexuals. And I really don’t think that he intended for people to use his name for the sake of war, discrimination or hatred.

But most importantly, is God really so concerned with the minutia of our lives, or does he just want us to be kind to each other? (For the record, I am not here to argue the merits of the bible. I’m not saying it’s wrong or untrue. I’m also not saying that organized religion is wrong or untrue.  Just…man had/has a heavy hand in both. That’s all.) I suppose one could argue that this is what faith is all about – trusting in what we don’t have an answer to. But I don’t have a problem trusting what I don’t know and trusting in the things God doesn’t want to reveal to me. I have a problem with trusting what man tells me I should believe.

Couple this doubt with the various scandals and subsequent cover-ups perpetrated by the Catholic church and its priests, and also getting married and getting out from my mom’s nagging encouragement regarding my church attendance, and I stopped going. The sad thing was that I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I tried to be a good person, do the right thing, just the basics. And it worked for me. I was a pray-on-the-go kind of girl, and just kind of talked to God throughout the day. I asked him for help when I needed it, thanked him when I was feeling blessed, and just was. God was just with me. And I was okay with it. And I felt like God was okay with it.

And then, on March 23, 2006, I went to bed. I decided to say a more traditional prayer than what I normally did. I listed what I was grateful for, what I needed help with, those I wanted him to keep safe. On March 24, 2006, at 3:13 a.m., I was awoken to a phone call from a police officer notifying me that my brother was dead. Everything I thought I knew about faith and God and life in general was shattered. For years, I wanted nothing to do with God. Just 4 short hours before I got that phone call, I had asked God to keep my brother safe. I felt like he ignored me.

So when I read that quote above on Twitter the other day, it was like a punch in the gut.

There were so many times in the years following my brother’s death that my body was raging. I cried, I screamed, I gained weight, I lost weight, I fought with my husband, I forgot things, I was happy, I was sad, I slept too much, I slept too little, I could not get it together. And the whole time, my soul was on its knees. My soul was begging God for help, was searching fervently for anything that could heal this hurt. I believe, at the worst moments, every thought I had was a prayer. I just didn’t know it.

I wish I could finish this post with some magical revelation, some miraculous moment in which I received God back into my life. But it was (is)  a very, very slow process. I started trying to pray again. I started looking into churches that were different from the Catholic church. I found one both Hubs and I like, one whose beliefs seem to be a little more in line with my “try to be a good person and nice and accepting to everyone and sure we’ll read the Bible and listen to its message, but take from that message what you will and what God is trying to tell you. I started talking to God again, in my own way. It’s evolving. It’s working.

My soul may not be standing, but it’s at least sitting up and paying attention.

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4 Responses to “On Faith”

  1. ltotheizzo March 1, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    I LOVE your blog! I think you have such a beautiful, effortless way of writing. I love seeing an update from you in my Google Reader! Keep writing!

  2. Life of a Doctor's Wife March 1, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    I admire you for bringing this up… I too have a complicated relationship with religion and god. I too look in awe at people who describe themselves as a “child of God” or a “godly” person or who otherwise define themselves by their faith. God and faith have always been a part of my life – I went to church every week I was growing up and even taught Sunday school, and went to church all through college… But it’s still all very vague and unspeakable.

    Thank you for sharing this experience. I’m so glad that you are finding spiritual balm for your pain.

  3. Jenn March 3, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    I really loved this post, and the fact that you stayed true to yourself. I do not believe that there is a God, personally. BUT, I believe that if I am wrong (hey, it happens!) and there IS, then He would be more concerned with whether or not we love each other and treat each other with kindness and respect, and less concerned with the things we do that do not hurt anyone else (ie, your example of eating meat on Fridays – doubt he cares!).
    Anyway, this was really well written. I honestly think that you should be some kind of writer professionally. xoxo

    • Kristina March 4, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      Thank you for that last part. You have no idea how much it means to hear that right now 🙂

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