I was having a conversation about church with a girlfriend. She told me it is important to go and be spiritual. She also added that she doesn’t believe in what is literally being taught. I felt a strange sort of relief at this statement. The feeling stuck with me throughout my week, interacting with my many friends along the spectrum of belief and doubt. My conclusion was unexpected; I feel the same way.
Jesus is my savior… Because my mother said so.
I have tried to think of nicer ways to say this. I have tried to argue with it… But at the end of the day, I just do not really feel sure that Jesus was anything more than a nice man who made a lot of friends. People never stopped talking about the guy, for centuries.
Faith. That’s what they call it- whether one is talking to a Christian, or a Jew, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim. We all speak of faith. We talk about “good”. We talk about “knowing what’s right”… Well, I don’t know what’s right. Because it seems like I had to learn all my lessons the hard way. The ones I think I can avoid learning forever are those that I am more and more eager everyday to humble myself to. I make a decision with every conviction in my heart to do it without ulterior motive, and somehow someone always finds a crack in my seal.
Everything has balance- Then I come to that state of mind where I give up chasing good and running away from bad… and I am free of the desire to chase. I simply accept. Yes seems like the right answer to every question; if not for me, than perhaps for the sake of the person asking. People usually do not ask questions unless they anticipate a yes. Even when asking, wanting to hear “no”… They are usually asking out of fear of hearing “yes”.
This can go on for some time. There are people who stop here altogether… They decide to make their entire life charity. This is a state of perfection in its sacrifice. However, if one allows him/herself to feel like a martyr, they begin to border upon pride and self-pity… and this is not a healthy state. This is not the purpose.
Lust is a choice in human flesh. It is sinful. It leads to jealousy, anger, and other ugly feelings. However, desire is a pain that the majority prefer to return to- again and again. It’s the cigarette that is worth one day less of what might end up to be some very lonely days as a meat suit past its sell-by date. We choose which vices we prefer to hold onto- as individuals.
Back and forth, the pendulum swings… excess and deprivation… hunger and satiation… determination and indifference. This is life. Welcome.
This is what the voice in my head tells me, anyway.
Then I talk to my mom, and she tells me that she wants see when she gets to Heaven. And... I give up trying to change the terminology we're using. Somehow I know whatever she’s calling Heaven is the same thing as when my universal dust will touch hers. I can't help but have doubts given the experience I grew up with, compared to hers.
Nevertheless, her voice is the voice in my head; always has been, always will be. In those moments when I am reduced to a screaming child inside again, it is her voice that soothes me, tells me how to find the calm again… and she says what I have heard her say a million times; “Talk to Jesus. Tell him what’s wrong. He’ll help you.”
While my very stubborn adult exterior says, “I feel like you’re telling me to write Santa a letter… I hear there really may have been a man named Kris Kringle…” The little girl inside agrees with whatever her mother tells her can deliver her from pain.
There are tricks we learn- to suppress pain. They don’t cure, they cover the agony. Layers of tissue and fascia absorb it, muffle its voice, but it remains. It stiffens and tightens the joints. It weakens our natural defenses. It plants doubts in our logic and reason. We succumb to time and gravity.
This is when we realize we are no longer growing. We are grown. We are standing on a great horizon, with endless horizons ahead to choose from, but none as insurmountable as this one had seemed. It is when we stop seeking the answers and start accepting them.
Arguing is arduous, especially with oneself.
So, maybe when I am old and my hair is silver, more of my remaining friends will return to whatever faith their mothers indoctrinated them. What will I have told my children? Perhaps we will have entirely new forms of religion, as has happened so many times over the centuries. Humans like to play with words, but the concepts remain. We like ourselves. We imagine everything with attributes as human as we are… and I for one am –just for today- comforted by our imperfection.