So, I posted last week about having a visit with the Pastor for Bella’s upcoming baptism and I’ve been meaning to write about it. In fact I’ve probably written and rewritten this post in my head everyday since last Wednesday. I know that I will never be able to quite get across what I’m looking for but I’ve come to terms with that. I suppose. Also this will be a LONG post.
First of all the Pastor had forgotten that we were meeting and was late. Second of all the appointment lasted two hours much longer than the 20 minutes I was expecting. It was all and all nothing like what I expected. I’m not even sure what I was expecting. Perhaps to burst into flames upon entering the church? To be lectured on the immorality of abortion and gay marriage? To be hit with a bible? (Which always brings to mind the scene in Saved where a bible is thrown and the quote is “This is not a weapon.”)
I feel like background is in order.
I was baptized Catholic but never had Holy Communion or Confirmation. I wasn’t married Catholic or anything else. My family were “Chreasters” as the New Godmother would call those who only attend church on Christmas and Easter. To me the act of going to church was simply about tradition and Holidays.
Growing up I had a lot of good friends who were religious i.e. who attend Catholic school prior to High School and who continued to go to church on a semi-regular basis. I felt at that time like I was missing out on something. Like there was an experience that they were able to have (and together) that I wasn’t included on.
Then I went to college. Where shortly after breaking up with my High School boyfriend of two years and briefly dating (but mostly sleeping with) my then best friend I met Swan. And I fell in love. Hard. Like that gross movie love. In my mind now, I was likely delusional and borderline obsessed. At that time I had never known a love quite as strong or all encompassing. Swan was super religious. I mean hard-core-conservative-bible-thumping-no-sex-until-marriage-is-now-a-youth-pastor-in-Colorado religious. Which if you know me seems kind of a crazy pair. After all by the time I started dating him at 18 I had already slept with 5 people and have many close friends who are Jewish, Gay or otherwise unacceptable in his eyes.
But I was in love.
I was able to completely give up the concept of not having sex until marriage (which most of my friends found to be a crazy notion) without any difficulty after all in my mind we were going to get married. Swan wavered on what he thought was acceptable other than sex. In fact often after we did something sexual he would claim to have been possessed by the devil. And in fact once had an exorcism. I SHIT YOU NOT. Again this didn’t seem to phase me appropriately.
Because I was in love.
I did everything I possibly could to make him think that I was the right person for him to be with. I wanted to be the Pastor’s wife. I was prepared to be barefoot and pregnant and give up most any other individuality to serve Him, Swan and our future kids. I picked up religious studies as a minor. I went with him to church. I read my bible. I was devastated when I accidentally dropped my cross Tiffany necklace down the drain.
Swan broke up with me twice. Both times because of the sin that he believed I drove him to. The first time I was devastated and spent most if not all of my time sobbing in bed and not attending class or anything other than devising a way to get him back. Which I did. The second time I went home for the summer and got back together briefly (but again mostly slept with) with my then best friend. But in the end I convinced him to take me back.
Why is this so relevant? Because this person who hurt me so deeply, who I loved so strongly, who made me feel like I was evil and sinful and potentially possessed by the devil I so strongly associate with religion. It was religion and it was God that hurt me just as much as Swan had.
There are things that Swan did for me that I will always be thankful for. When we started our relationship I had really low self-esteem coming from years of emotional abuse from my father, feeling less worthy than my friends, and a tumultuous breakup with my High School Ex which involved him breaking into my dorm room and changing my screen saver to be photos of the two of us (super creepy). And he changed that. He made me a stronger person. He made me believe in myself, mostly through the fact that I couldn’t believe that he could love a person like me. And I really do credit him for that. He managed to build me up inside strong enough that I was able to withstand the pain that came from when he left me — twice.
The final time we broke up I broke up with him, or at least it was mutual. I realized that we really were not right for each other and I didn’t want to be the kind of person he needed me to be. I like to think that the cloud of delusion I was under had finally lifted. After we broke up I strayed as far away as I could from religion which I so closely associated with him. I continued to study it since it was my minor but from an educational standpoint only.
I’ve done some, but not very much thinking about religion. And I’ve come to a few confusions. (I meant to say conclusions, but I thought the Freudian slip was worthy of staying). I have no problems with the beliefs and the faith associated with the religion. From a scientific standpoint I believe in evolution, and dinosaurs and such. But just as science can’t prove God’s existence it can’t disprove it either. So I’m open to the possibility of His existence just as I’m open to the fact that it might just be stories that have been passed down through the years to make sense of a world that makes no sense. My beliefs waver when it comes to the concept of Christ. A person born from a virgin mother? Whose father is omnipresent? Who died for our sins? Well that’s a little larger leap of faith. I’m not not open to it, but I’m not as convinced.
I have a lot of problems with organized religion specifically with what I deem to be the mis-interpretation of the Bible. A quote that comes to mind (not sure who and I’m not really getting it right) is that you should bend to the Bible’s views and not bend the Bible to your views. Something like that. The gist is that everyone reads the Bible and comes up with something different because in my opinion religion is a deeply personal thing. And I hate talking about personal things which is why I don’t like talking about religion. It makes me very uncomfortable.
I don’t believe in using religion for wars (which is what 75% of them are based on). Was it in Gone with the Wind that someone mentioned whose side is God on because both the North and the South were praying to him?
I’m pro-choice. As someone with two kids there was a point when I was pregnant with my first that I honestly slightly wavered on this. When I could feel Bear kicking inside of me and the realness of this being a life hit me. But it comes down to this. It was my choice to have Bear. And at 21, in college and newly engaged I could have very easily chosen not to. And I think I deserved to have that option.
There is nothing in the world that I am more passionate about or believe more deeply than in equality for the LGTB community.
Two of my absolute closest friends who I love so much fall into that category. One of which has been with her girlfriend for two years and who regularly talks about how much they want to get married. And the fact that anyone thinks that they have the authority to tell them they can’t I have a BIG problem with. This is where religion tends to come in.
So I have a hard time. I want to reconcile the fact that a part of me still associates with the little girl who felt left out. Who wants to raise her children with faith, and tradition and the community that church can bring. But I worry that I am too socially liberal for this.
One thing I loved about meeting with the Pastor is the story that she told that she and her husband had completely fallen away from the Church in their youth. It was only when they got pregnant and were contemplating baptism that they got re-acquainted with it. In fact they used to sneak into church and listen from the back row so they wouldn’t have to talk to the “churchy types.” This woman would later become a Pastor. It makes me feel that I can have my opinion and my beliefs and still be a part of a church community. That perhaps I don’t have to write off “churchy types” as being against things that I believe in so strongly. Who don’t exist to oppress those they deem unworthy of God’s love. Maybe I can find a community where I can belong and I can raise my children.
My meeting with her opened my mind to an array of possibilities. To a whole line of thoughts and emotions that I didn’t really want to deal with and its much easier to ignore them than come face to face with what exactly makes me so uncomfortable and unwilling to talk about it. So now we’re at this impasse.
Let’s see where we’re going to go.