Sunday, August 6, 2017

Crisis of faith

I've been wallowing in questions these last few months.  Maybe that's what happens when people you look up to let you down.  I'm sure its never intentional, but it happens from time to time. You go through your life and now and then someone will strike you as exceptional.  This is who I want to be when I grow up. That is sort of professional I want to be. This is right sort of leader. I want to inspire someone the way they do.  So what happens when that person you've put up on that pedestal comes crashing down?  Well, I spend too much time depressed, eating chocolate, falling asleep early, and my face breaks out apparently.
I've always been the type of person who didn't care what anyone else thought of me. People seem to think that extends to the whole of humanity. Really, it just means that I'm not worried about what "they" think, when "they" is a general reference to society. I will have people who impress upon me some sort of importance and that opinion is valued.  When that person lets me down, which I am quite certain is unintentional, it tends to create some problems. There's been a lot of that going on these days. People I thought knew and loved me turning out not to know me or give a shit about me at all.  Now I know your boss and your religious leader are supposed to at least fake it, but I never though it would be so damning to realize it really all was just an act.  We are all human, of course, but I tend to put too much faith into people. In fact, I think I put too much of myself in to most things.
I like to joke that I have two settings: authentic or awkward.  Basically, I am really friends with you and I get to know you and love and trust you...or I don't. I sort of nothing you. I don't wish you unwell, but I don't know you well enough to invest a real feeling. I don't care enough to make small talk. You're either in the club or you're not, but without the nasty rejection letter.
I'm always going on and on about my existential dilemmas. How is it that I put so much weight on the labels in my life but so little on what people think? It really doesn't make sense, but it makes me laugh. I am a wife, mother, technical editor, friend, and person of faith. Perhaps I'm a Bahai, but honestly I haven't participated in that religion in a very long time, even though I feel like I speak about it constantly.  I've spend a lot of time in religious institutions, looking around and seeing what is being said. I respect everyone's traditions and I'm always surprised by what goes on in these settings. I dated a Mormon for 5 years and spent quite a bit of time with the religion. I think the separation of the sexes bothered me most. I was with a man for 1.5 years that was Jewish. I loved and hated the traditions at once. Some were so out of date and I couldn't understand why they were still done, aside from guilt, love, and respect of past relatives. I spent over 10 years watching how Catholicism could take a man of superior intelligence, blessed with so many gifts, grind his teeth and declare he was an atheist.  For the past 3 years, I've been attending a Christian church and spending an absurd amount of time feeling like I don't belong and having my help turned away as they tell me everyone is welcome and should join in. On repeat. I just smile. My God it's all fucked up.
And here's the thing. It's all God. The same God. That ever present thing that floats through the air and runs electric currents through me and everything I see.  What's it all mean, dude? He's not telling me, but I hear him sighing in the sunset and laughing in the wind sometimes. We have had quite a ride together so far, me and God. Screaming at the clouds, praying for Him to vanquish the demons on the inside and outside, and finally surrendering to be whatever in the heavens I'm here to do. And I think that's the kicker: everyone here has a purpose.  I think we are all here for a reason and sometimes those reasons are good and bad.  That kills me.  Sometimes you are means to be put through the fire to be hardened into the beautiful tool that you are meant to be. That means someone had to light that match and watch you burn. When you think about it like that, it's not so hard to understand why I spend my time praising and praying for the people in my life, whether they loved/helped/hurt/hated me. Because they did all of it and they helped me be me.
But that certainly doesn't belong to any religion, does it? There's no magical book of stories that belongs to this time with rules that apply to the society that I live in that makes perfect sense. We are all children of God and we are all here to follow His bidding. You can fight it all you want. You can yell and scream and swim upstream. In the end, you'll fulfill your purpose. And honestly I think it'll be a good one. I think there are good and bad parts to everyone's life and you need to live all of those angles. Do your best, forgive yourself and those around you, and be honest.  The honest is the hardest part, I know. We all want to lie to ourselves, but you know the truth when you look in the mirror.
Do you ever notice that people can say all shades of crazy things to you, but only some make you mad? They are the ones that you assign truth to. Yes, the ones that you believe.  It's easy to laugh off nonsense, but if you feel that someone has accused you of something or suggested something that might hold truth, the earth shakes, doesn't it? It's ok to see yourself for who you are. It's also ok to see other people for who they are. When someone shows you who they are, pay attention. You can be wrong about someone's character. You can think that your pastor has the wrong job or that your boss sucks, but honestly, that shouldn't affect you. If they make you feel like you aren't worth caring about and you think they are right, then that's something else. You need to reevaluate your self worth and how you feel about the life you live if someone else is having that much of an impact on you.
Sometimes nobody else comes up with the right words for me, so I need to find them myself. This is really what I do here. I think.  I pour out my heart and examine my emotions and hopefully bring myself to a place of calm, logic, and faith. I feel like a lot of people live their lives according to what people accept as ok around them.  I do things a bit differently: I live my life according to a set of standards that is irrespective of the people or opinions of those around me. I feel like you should always do the right thing, take the high road, tell the truth, give your time and attention to people who need you, make room for good people and block out the toxic ones. I think everyone deserves grace and second chances. That's for you and for me. I think if you want to live your life according to God's plan that all of those things have to be true in your life everyday, because you can't half ass it. It doesn't mean you are always perfect, but it means that you know the rules and you know the score.  There's no finger pointing and there's no denial. I'm comfortable with this plan. I can admit that I've made a mistake and work to be better next time. It lets me always try again and keeps my goals high. I see my failures as the best possible way to empathize and forgive anyone who needs it. I am so incredibly imperfect I would never dream of judging anyone else. It also gives me hope that if I can look up to or love someone that is imperfect, then maybe someone can also do that to me.
So now where does this crisis of faith lead me? Now that the rumblings of disappointment and disillusionment have taken hold. Change, of course. Without change there is no growth. Without growth, there is no progress and no movement forward. This is without a doubt, why I always look forward to change. My whole world gets knocked upside down every few years. I look back and hardly recognize who I used to be. That's an amazing feeling. So I will take a deep breath, hold my moral compass close, and have faith that the current is going to take me on an amazing adventure soon. I wonder who I will be when I get there.