I’ve got a confession. It’s not easy for me to say, and I don’t say it a lot in my blog. I tell myself it’s because I want to be inclusive, and BE a light rather than talking about the light but there’s an uglier truth to my publicly vanilla faith and that’s that I’m afraid.
You see, I grew up in a very liberal society where everyone who wasn’t a fanatical kook ‘knew’ that people are all good deep down and just need to self-actualize, that religion is just a panacea for ignorant people who have never heard of real science and that right-wing Christians are hateful, bigoted, unenlightened people who want to keep everyone but white men down. This was not opinion, this was fact. To carry it to its logical extent, the universe was created by the Big Bang theory, we are here because of an accident that took a billion years to happen, and when we die, we just cease to exist. Our lives are essentially meaningless and our ‘purpose’, if it could be called that, is to find our own personal truth so that we could be as happy as possible before the lights go out.
This was not one of many possible beliefs for me. This WAS truth (the only non-relative truth, ironically) and believing it essentially ended with me trying to kill myself in a lot of slow and fast ways. My belief system brought me nothing but fear, anxiety and a never-ending sense of hopelessness. Of course, the religion I’d grown up in wasn’t much help, because THAT God was pretty much pissed off at me all the time and all too happy to cast me into Hell when I died, so based on those two options, the hopelessness of my atheism was less scary than the condemnation my agnosticism brought me.
It wasn’t until a more dramatic suicide attempt almost succeeded that I encountered a group of folks who were in a similar situation, and believed that acts of service, gratitude, and a power greater than themselves were the only way to ensure a life that was worth living. This was the antechamber of a path that led to Jesus, almost to my horror, because I knew what I used to believe about ‘those people’. But it stuck. It would take too long to explain why, and I’m not a good enough writer, but basically I learned about a God who came to me, because I can’t escape the human condition of greed, pride, and selfishness on my own, but that I CAN do all things through Him.
So here I am, a bible-thumper trapped in a former aetheist’s body in one of the most anti-Jesus times in history. And don’t get me wrong…I am fully aware of all the ways so many so-called-Christians have gotten it wrong, and how many people have been hurt, or felt excluded. Part of my reticence is out of that awareness. I’m afraid that people will think I hate them, or judge them, or that I’m ignorant, or uneducated. I’m afraid of all that, but then I had kids and I’m far more afraid that they will grow up in a world where so many are lost, and sick, and hurting, and I won’t have given them the only thing that will protect them because I’m still on some level afraid of what the cool kids will say.
So in a roundabout way, I have Bisky to thank for this. She’s going to be five soon and is fascinated with Jesus right now. I’ve tried to be as honest as I can, to the extent that she is capable of understanding, so here are the high points we’ve hit:
- God thought up everything there ever was, and Jesus made it, including Mommy, Daddy, and everything else.
- Even though God made the world perfect, the snake tricked Adam and Eve to eat the fruit and after that, humans are no longer able be good even if we want to, but God knows this, so He sent Jesus to help us, and if we ask him, he’ll help us do better.
- Everyone is a different jewel in God’s crown. For example, Bisky is a rainbow sparkled diamond. When we do bad things, our diamond gets muddy, and we can’t clean it on our own, but Jesus can help us clean it if we ask him.
- Heaven is going to be a lot of fun, and we can ride tigers and sharks.
Because she’s 4, and a literal thinker, Bisky is delighted with this knowledge and likes to share it with everyone. This has been harder for me than I’d like to admit. Sometimes I worry that people will say something hurtful to her, or that they’ll judge us as hateful, etc. But I’m more afraid that she’ll accept some watered-down version of truth, only to be let down when she really needs it. So I’m stepping way out of my comfort zone to start writing more about it, knowing a lot of people will stop reading or worse. Not only that, I’ve been able to take a good look at my last book, Hope, Unlimited, and realize that in my desire not to sound ‘preachy’, all I did was provide more watered-down spiritualism that won’t do anybody any good.
For Bisky’s sake at least, it’s time to be as authentic as possible, so that when her time comes to choose, she’ll know that I’m not ashamed of what I believe and stand by everything I’ve told her.
In the meantime, we have the problem of Santa. Santa has become, in society, much like the God I grew up with. He keeps a list of naughty and nice and if you’re not good you’re pretty much screwed come Christmas. Bisky has been extremely concerned with the whole list thing, probably because she’s been a total jerk. As much as I would LOVE to tell her that she better shape up or she’s getting nothing, that doesn’t feel right, for a few reasons.
First, she told me that she’s pretty sure she’s getting presents because she wasn’t any worse this year than last year, and she got presents last year. But worse, she’s been trying hard to be good just to get presents. Worse yet, she keeps trying to be good, and failing, because she’s 4 and has twin brothers and it’s just not easy to share and be good all the time because, as she said “Adam and Eve ate the fruit.”
So I’ve rewritten the Santa story. Santa is not supernatural, he can only go by what he sees, and because of that, we’re ALL on the naughty list because it’s too hard for any of us to be good all the time (because of the fruit-eating). BUT…if we’re trying to be good, and ask Jesus to help us, then he’ll intervene and get us on the nice list based on how good He is. This resonates so strongly with her, that I feel I’m on the right track, and allows us to still have Santa and the magic of Christmas without feeling like sellouts to our faith.
We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited about re-marketing Hope, Unlimited 2.0 and hope it’s well received, or at least received by those who need it. I know it’s not the easy path I’m choosing, and I’ll miss the readers I lose because of my subject matter. I don’t believe my faith calls me to hate anyone, or judge anyone and I hope yours doesn’t either, and that you’ll stay long enough to realize that.
In the meantime, we are also approaching Christmas with 2-twos and a four so I’m expecting a lot of good fodder in the weeks to come.
God bless you (every one).