Meet my friend Jesus

27Jun11

I went out with my friend last week. She’s an awesome friend. She is neurotic and weird, and she gets that I am too. She embraces the fact that sometimes she sucks as a mom and a wife. She’s a smart ass and she calls Target the “Church of the Concentric Circles”. What more could you need in a friend? The glaring difference between us is the fact that she is religious, specifically she has been saved. We’ve talked about it before and I just accepted it as part of who she was. She invited to one of her prayer meetings, she told me how it was an important part of her life, but never pressured me about anything. As I told people, she loved Jesus for her. I’d never met anyone who had been saved that didn’t want to convert me and I respected her for it.

Two years into the friendship and I never even thought about her trying to convert me anymore. Which is why I was so surprised when she started telling me about her religion. In great, great detail. Like over an hour of detail. She told me that she felt compelled to talk to me about it because of the fact that we’ve talked about feeling like we’re missing something in our lives. She asked me if I had ever prayed to have God show himself to me. She also told me that the hole I was trying to fill inside myself was God-shaped, so no matter what else I tried to put in there it wouldn’t work. In some ways that makes sense, if you’re into religion like that. She also talked about how religion didn’t mean church as it meant trying to be a good person, which also made sense. She also talked about how the crazy Christians had given Christians in general a bad name. At this point it wasn’t completely weird, more like a theoretical discussion about religion. But then it ventured into weird.

When we got into my car, she told me that she had some pamphlets for me. In my experience, religions that have pamphlets are never good. She then spent another 30 minutes explaining the pamphlets in great detail. And to be fair there were moments where what she said made sense. But mostly it felt really weird to be sitting in my car having someone explain why I should talk to God. Then as soon as it was over we went and bought dessert, with Jesus following us (at least in my mind).

The thing is that I’ve thought about going to church again. When M turned one I started dabbling in it but I couldn’t bring myself to go back to a Catholic church. Too much guilt and restriction. I tried the Universal Unitarians but it felt like a bunch of people sitting around, talking and singing some songs. Too little church. So I gave up on them. I tried to read about Buddhism but I got bored half way through the book. I realized that I liked and needed the pomp and circumstance of Catholicism without the judgment and rules. I don’t think such a thing exists. I periodically go back to looking for a church that meets all my needs/requirements but I have yet to find it.

I also struggle with feeling like there’s something sort of sad about needing to embrace religion. Like if I have to resort to religion it’s because I couldn’t handle life on my own. Smart people don’t go to church. They’re atheists and agnostics. They can handle the fact that there is no divine plan, no explanation for everything, no God to cling to as a life raft. To me it feels like admitting weakness and I don’t know if I can do that. I also feel like if I went to church I wouldn’t be me. Much in the same way that I feel if I finally started feeling truly happy I wouldn’t be me. I’m the little pixie of hate. I’m a sarcastic, annoyed smart ass. That’s who I know myself as and how other people know me. I would like to be happier but I’m just not sure how it would work out for me. So, why do I keep coming back to the idea of church? Is it because I think that maybe it will make me feel happier? And what does it say about me if I do think that? Maybe it’s just another one of my quick fix ideas that would just peter out, like my self-help books and meditation CDs. Whatever it is, the idea of religion hangs out there as something I’m both terrified of and fascinated by.

I found this quote that I wrote down (back in the 90s, pre-computer) when I read it in a book:

I was raised an atheist with a sympathy for religious ritual. Candles and confessions, prayers and singing. My mother taught me that God is what we call the illusions we can’t give up. Someone who listens when nobody’s home. From her I learned how, on a low medium day, to avert my eyes from the positive and throw my eyes down a well of self-pity. She called this seeing clearly.

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