A few provisions:
1. This came from a Simpson’s comic.
2. Originally I was going to ban talking about this topic, but I won’t completely. But depending on the context I might (i.e. you want to chastise me)…which I think is my right because:
3. This is incredibly personal. I read the comic, opened up a word document and began to type. I wasn’t planning on sharing but I can only hope other people can relate to this.
4. If you are here to judge (which is a right), please do so silently. Respect is what I ask.
5. Know I am writing from my experience, and do not harbor anger or resentment against how I grew up. I am incredibly thankful for my life and how it has been lived, and those who have contributed to it.
6. I am not, and I cannot stress this enough, looking for controversy. This is just an expression of my current inner mind.
The Nature of Love
Definitions of romantic love have been floating around me my whole life. Because I have never been in a romantic relationship I do not have first hand experience.
I think in the past I thought it would just happen. You would enjoy the company of another and decide to spend the rest of your life together.
I see those around me. I see those who have taken on the characteristics of their significant other. This is difficult for me. I think because I have seen less patience, less satisfaction, and more cynicism.
I see the couples that sit in restaurants not speaking to each other. In the past I think I would have seen this as an unfortunate incident but now I’m not sure. How much is there to talk about before you run out of things to say?
Is it the moments, those at the beginning, that are the happiest?
What makes a good relationship last and withstand time?
People change constantly—what is to say that it will not be for the worst? How can one person hope to commit to another for eternity?
Should relationships be based on interests and or core beliefs? Studies would say core beliefs, but I for sure do not want to spend my life with someone who is not interested in the same things I am.
I need interaction. I need a partner in crime. I also need someone who has the same core beliefs, but to what extent?
There are certain topics and areas I will refuse to budge on because they are moral issues. I cannot accept that someone can believe the treatment of others is cavalier and contained.
But somehow I have gotten to this point where I seem to be alright with compromising my Christian beliefs. I think I have written it off as a personal choice—one having nothing to do with me.
But why is it different? I think it is because I feel distanced from it. Perhaps a lack of experience and discussion? But I went to a private, religious, liberal arts institution.
Two years and some months after graduation, having acquired a master’s degree in between that time, I have managed to be more confused.
Going back to the lack of discussion, I think that is a significant contributor to my apathy. The core values that I will not only refuse to budge on, but will also judge those who differ in opinion, are being talked about always. They are in the news, in the lives of those around me, and being written about in books. These topics are often scientific, with manipulations and statistical analyses. These are tangible.
My faith however is not.
I grew up in a Lutheran church, and then we transferred to a non-denominational when I was about 12, and now my parents attend an Assembly of God church. I attended and worked at a Lutheran Brethren camp, and a reformed school. When I went to college I attended a reformed service, and in grad school an Episcopal Church while attending an evangelical university.
With all of the religious diversity I have experienced I am surprised I do not have a better degree of stability.
My mind is fairly academic in nature. I like complicated and detailed information, backed up by science.
Some of these church services provided this, most exclusively did not.
The Bible is so incredibly complicated and misused. Is it outdated? Does that thought damn me to Hell?
What is Hell?
Sometimes I feel the presence of something other. Something I have been taught is God. I find great comfort in this, comfort that my life has not been spent believing a lie. I do not feel comfort in the knowledge that I know so little. I have virtually nothing to stand on, other than a feeling.
Is my head knowledge enough, or do I need more than a reassuring thought?
I often think about the passage where Jesus talks about the faith of children, and how difficult it is for adults to believe. How true this is. At the same time, though, I have never felt particularly close and affirmed in my faith.
In college I though I faked it in high school. Now I cannot guarantee I have been faking it this whole time. Who is to say what a healthy relationship with the savior of the world looks like?
I feel so dissatisfied.
I have explained away my doubts many times. One of the more recent is an explanation of my personality and using that to dismiss the lack of relationship with my creator.
I hardly communicate with those I am not in the immediate presence of, or at least near in proximity. You can ask my friends and family—they will vouch for this. Therefore, I thought it was normal for me not to have a lot of communication and time with my spiritual life, since there is no physical representation.
But there is never a physical/visual representation.
My parents are incredibly devoted. Like I said, I’ve been raised in the church and attended Bible camp forever. We also went to a few conferences. During those times I saw and heard pastors use the power of Jesus to heal.
The Christian community is all around…defensive? My parents have high criticisms against my beliefs, and some of the Christian communities I have been apart of have high criticisms against the beliefs my parents cling to.
It is all very confusing to me. The Christian community is a place where nose rings can be damning and female pastors are banned.
This is not to say all places of worship are this way. Some churches accept those rejected by society, welcome the beggars and the weak.
I understand no place is perfect. I understand that there are a plethora of religions because the bible is interpreted in a multitude of ways and everyone thinks their way is right.
I do not understand why more people do not understand this.
The stubbornness. The hatred. The closed-mindedness. Is this what being a Christian is? I think not. But then I wonder if I have completely missed the mark and should be holding to more traditional beliefs in this broken world.
But sometimes I wonder why hatred of the world is so encouraged? There are obvious flaws, believe me I know. But I want to enjoy my life. I have a strong drive to feel fulfilled.
I take into account that some have not been filled with the doubts I have. They have not traveled and seen with a mind that is constantly questioning and full of doubts.
This is not to imply I do not respect these people. In many ways I envy them because of the felt security.
But I have had many opportunities, and have been blessed with an inquisitive mind. Not only that, but I have grown up in a generation that has access to the internet—a database filled with controversial thoughts and ideas.—thoughts and ideas that stimulate the mind.
Womp womp. I think I’ve hit my limit.
The last thing I want to say is I have justified my way of life with a concept. A concept of love with a God and savior that loves and wants his/her children to be loved. Micah 6:8 is my favorite verse, and I cling to it with white knuckles, fighting for my life.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
So I go on. Living my life. Being judged by Christians and non-Christians alike. Trying to find my place in this fucked up, yet somehow beautiful, life, clinging to a God I can only do my best to follow.
I so wish I had more answers but for now I can only carry on, living a life of forgiveness, mercy, and most of all, love.