Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yet every distance is not near

I talked to one of my close friends about all this church and Christianity stuff yesterday, and she was kind of encouraging. She said I need to contact the guy who gave us that weird word and ask him about it. Ray got me his email address today, so we will see what happens. My friend also said she thinks I am being targeted by "the enemy" because I am "powerful." I hate that kind of language.

I am again thinking that I just need to go to a different church (like this Episcopal one that is two blocks away). I think half my problem is the church we are going to. But it would be really hard for my husband if I stopped going. My friends would be sad too. And my daughter would probably be confused about why we weren't all going anymore. And I am kind of fascinated by our church--whenever we miss a Sunday, I am afraid I am going to miss some interesting charismatic production or that I am going to miss experiencing God or something.

All that to say, as much as it would probably be a good idea for me personally to go somewhere else, I don't think I can or will. I am too people-pleasing and social--and our church is our primary community right now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

She's gotta be strong to fight them

The other thing I have become aware of, mostly during parenting, is how difficult it is to actually love people the way God supposedly loves us. Some fellow mom who happened to be a psychologist told me a couple years ago, when my older daughter was just starting to be naughty, that she did not really believe in discipline. I was pretty horrified, and didn't really like her overly-attached parenting style anyway, but the more I think about it, the more sense the idea makes.

She is also a Christian and her perspective was that we need to imitate God's parenting style. He doesn't really punish us when we are wrong (though my possibly screwed up view of God does include punishment and wrath), but that he does let us suffer consequences. When we make mistakes and fail and hurt others or ourselves or disobey rules, he is always there for us, every single time, ready to forgive us and help us figure things out. (Remember I am saying this because it is ingrained in me because it is what I believed before I started doubting, but it is not necessarily what I believe now.) I have the hardest time being patient with my daughter, even if she is being disobedient just because she is tired or hungry or sick, much less when she is being unkind or rebellious for no good reason. It is actually pretty incredible to picture a being who is infinitely patient and loving with us, ready to take us back and help us do whatever we want, even when we are scratching and hitting and biting him.

Yesterday, after a long, hard, multi-temper-tantrum-filled day with my daughter who happens to have a flu of some sort and who I was being extremely impatient with, she told me, "You don't love me anymore." It was horrible. She wouldn't repeat what she said after the first time, because I hardly heard it and couldn't believe my ears, and asked her to say it louder, but I know what I heard. She is also struggling with jealousy of her baby sister, who gets most of my attention. Anyway, the point of the story is that I still wasn't patient with her--I dragged her upstairs, ripped off her clothes, and forced her to take a bath in water that she deemed "too hot." I don't know why I was having such a hard time being patient with her sickness and exhaustion, but I was. So besides the awful guilt I feel for being so cruel, I also can't really picture a God who would be THAT patient with us. It's very unlikely.

You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray

I was talking with one of my best friends the other day about how our parents don't have close friends. It's like after some period of time or some certain age, you don't maintain good friends any more. We were trying to figure out why, and we came to the conclusion that you become less and less willing to be open and honest and vulnerable about who you really are.

You develop a need to maintain some facade of righteousness or normality from everyone outside your family. Look at children--they are completely honest, and then we slowly train them not to say and do certain things because they are inappropriate (which is often true--e.g. don't hit or bite) or because other people might not approve (e.g. talking about poop or farts in public). I am painfully aware of this with my daughter. Whenever I say poopy or anything like that outside of our home, she says, "Don't say that, Mommy. People will think you are yucky!" But she is just fine with whatever scatological vulgarity that comes out of my mouth at home. I think this issue is especially true of Christians, particularly those in ministry, like my parents or my friend's parents. They have this need to maintain a certain Christian image--even if it is not what they necessarily believe--for the sake of not upsetting or offending other people or losing respect and their reputation.

That is why maybe I need to make this blog public. I am beginning my journey towards dishonesty and secrecy about what I really think and believe, and I need to change directions FAST.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I dream of gardens in the desert sand

Doing much better today. My friend offered to share her yard with me to plant a garden together. Always dreamed of it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I find it hard to tell you

I just did something I shouldn't have done. I looked at blogs of friends of mine who are living in other exotic places in the world doing the sorts of things I dream about. I hate that I shouldn't do that sort of thing because it just puts me into a funk about my own life, but it does... every time. God, if you are real, please just give me contentment and peace.

My daughters both have bad fevers tonight, and my husband is at a friend's house watching basketball. I feel alone and sad and worried. I wish I felt like I could just be with Jesus or something. It's times like these that I wish he would save me from myself and my deep sadness. And I don't even know where my sadness comes from.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Through many dangers, toils, and snares

I remember being so frustrated when my sister stopped believing in God at some point in her life because she just wasn't making enough of an effort. Since then she has moved on and probably has more faith than me, but it is weird to think of how I just didn't get it. I thought not believing was her choice.

I have been thinking this evening about the course of this whole process and when my doubt all began this most recent time, and I think it really started when I entered grad school in September 2006, over 2.5 years ago. I didn't really have time to spend on all my Christian stuff (praying, reading the Bible, etc.) anymore, and sure enough, doubt set in. (Some would say, I made way for "the enemy." So annoying.) I want to write more about this tomorrow, but the point is that I do blame myself. I still feel guilt about it. If I had just worked harder to stay focused on God and keep this negativity at bay, maybe all would still be fine and dandy.

But if I really believe in the Jesus I used to believe in, who preaches that love and grace cover all, I shouldn't have all that awful guilt. The truth is that I don't think we as Christians actually believe that love and grace cover everything.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I don't shine if you don't shine

The Sirens

I never knew the road
From which the whole earth didn’t call away,
With wild birds rounding the hill crowns,
Haling out of the heart an old dismay,
Or the shore somewhere pounding its slow code,
Or low-lighted towns
Seeming to tell me, stay.

Lands I have never seen
And shall not see, loves I will not forget,
All I have missed, or slighted, or foregone
Call to me now. And weaken me. And yet
I would not walk a road without a scene.
I listen going on,
The richer for regret.