Like Jesus

“You smiled at me like Jesus to a child.” ~George Michael

I’ve read the Bible more times than I’d care to admit, and definitely more than people who only know me tangentially would surmise. That’s because I hardly ever quote it, because you would never find me anywhere near a church, and because I don’t go from door to door proselytizing. Someone asked me the other day if I was religious, and I found myself saying no.

“I’m spiritual. Not religious.”

What’s the difference? That’s the simple part. Religious means tied up and twisted with organized religion, and whether or not the church I grew up instilled in me strong principles, I don’t think I’ve ever been religious. When we’re young our parents push us in certain directions, or we feel like we should follow those paths because of them, but one thing that always stuck out to me about faith was that it’s a personal thing. So, no matter how many people push you in a direction, it’s not your “way” unless you independently choose it.

And I have chosen more than once, since I’ve become an adult, to avoid organized religion. I’ve seen how so many faiths have no separation from the wide world, how often they don’t adhere to their own teachings, and how deep the divide is between members of the faith. I’ve seen the bickering and infighting, the dissensions and jealousy, and the ostracizing nature of many organized religions when it comes to those who are not “of the faith.” Continue reading “Like Jesus”

A Silent Prayer

A silent prayer Thoughtfully applied Yet condescending In its attitude Tearful in solitude And full of pity This sweet salvation Attuned melancholy Wistful in its keening Yet serving purpose On bended knee Eyes turned inward Like spinning plates This delicate balance Light across lips Tender in supplication To a supplicant god Who cannot hear. Sam Continue reading A Silent Prayer

The Space Between

“But this time, Jesus, how can I be sure I would not lose my follow through between the altar and the door?” ~Casting Crowns There is a space between spirituality and religion. It is the space that I inhabit. Ask most peopleĀ  and they can tell you where they stand on religion. There are 4 … Continue reading The Space Between

God is Just Like Me

“Yeah, I found God and he was absolutely just like me. He opened my mouth, looked down my throat, and told me I was thirsty.” -Ed Kowalczyk

I thought I knew who God was, back when I was little. My parents taught me to pray to this supreme being, this ruler of the universe. They taught me that God was always there for me, that He answered my prayers, even if sometimes the answer was no, or wait. And I couldn’t wrap my brain around someone who wasn’t able to be seen, who didn’t speak to me like my friends spoke to me, but they told me that He was my best friend, and that He was to be honored at all times, through my actions and through my words.

The first time I said a bad word I thought God was going to knock me dead right there on the spot. And when I snuck out to the movies with my sister against His teachings, I thought the world was going to come crashing down on my head, because not only did my parents teach me that God was there for me, but they told me that He was also firm.

Of course the Bible did nothing to dispel either one of these primary assertions, either. In the Old Testament the God I saw was unyielding, the firm God that was liable to strike me down for swearing or for sneaking out to the movies. While in the New Testament the God I saw was represented by his “son,” Jesus Christ, who was for the most part non-violent and spoke in a quiet but effective voice. Which one was the real God, the tough one who took no guff, or the one who was slow to anger and who believed in second chances? They were both supposed to be, but I could never reconcile it.

Interestingly enough, no one else could reconcile it for me either. And I asked everyone. What I did get from all the searching was that God is simply unfathomable, in both who He is and in why He does what He does. Simply put, that means don’t question Him or His motives because we will never know. I found it ironic, though, because God supposedly gave us free will, and a questioning nature, but when it comes to Him we aren’t ever going to know. And we should be alright with that. Apparently.

“I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for his reputation if he didn’t.” -Jules Renard

For a while I honestly didn’t know if God existed. I bought into the whole idea that people wouldn’t be dying in Ethiopia or Chicago if there was a God who truly cared about them, that women wouldn’t be raped, and that there would be no hardships in life. If there were a God, and if that God honestly loved everyone as the good book says, then why did bad things happen to good people? And it all came back to free will. Continue reading “God is Just Like Me”

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Going Home

“There is no past. Only present. And future.” -Theodicus

There’s a saying that you can never go home again, and I believe wholeheartedly in it. Not that you can’t go back to the physical place, but that you can’t go back to how you used to fit into that space. That’s important for a world of reasons, but the biggest one is that there is something to be said for nostalgia, once that distance has been forged, that connects us back to that time period, and to who we were at the time.

So many people have memories of their childhoods, be they good or bad, that they come back to in one way or another. For me that childhood was a solid mix of the good and the bad. But whichever sentiment clouds my memories, it’s safe to say that every single one of those thoughts involves my religious upbringing. In fact, just today I was singing “Jesus Loves Me” while at work, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I was on the second verse.

My mother used to always ask me to go to church with her every single time I went back to Philadelphia for a visit. I could hear it in her voice, too, that emotion that said I was doing a horrible thing saying no, but there was also that feeling of sadness. And I knew that she wasn’t just asking me to go to church. She was wondering where she went wrong, that I would so fully abandon the church that pretty much raised me nearly as much as she herself did.

But what I wanted to tell her was that it was never her, that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Continue reading “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Going Home”