Part of the reason I haven't written much on my blog lately would be because I have so many thoughts about so many different things swirling around in my head and I can't seem to develop them into an entire post that makes sense. So I thought I'd just start writing what's on my mind and see what happens. This is going to be completely unorganized and random and if you're looking for some persuasive argument or profound sayings, you'll have to read one of my other posts for that. You've been warned.
My husband and daughter were in a terrible car accident 2 weeks ago. He was talking her to school. They never made it. By some miracle, my daughter walked away without a scratch. My husband suffered head trauma, multiple lacerations, a severe concussion, memory loss, and a lot of back and neck pain. When the EMT called me and said "they're both OK, that's the important part", it turns out none of them thought my husband was OK. When I pulled up and saw my Explorer, I knew they were lying to me. I couldn't believe that my daughter was sitting in the back of an ambulance, talking the fireman's head off, and asking if she could go to school now. The place where her carseat was was completely smashed and her seat crushed. We found out later she had talked her dad into letting her sit in the front seat since school is only a mile down the road. That probably saved her life. (Though I have no idea how the airbag missed her.) My husband was actually OK, though really beat up. He's still recovering and driving me crazy because he can't do much yet and that's driving HIM crazy. People sent me so many comments that week about how good God is and how amazing it was that they're both fine and what a miracle that my daughter was unharmed. And I have to wonder....what would they say if I'd lost half my family that day? Would they still say God is good? Or would they blame the devil and this broken world? Why does God get all the credit and none of the blame? I don't disagree that I am very blessed and so grateful that my family is intact. I believe it is a miracle and and I thank God for it. But I just wonder how many that gave God credit for their lives would blame Him for their deaths, if that had happened instead? I think I would. Because I'm consistent like that, even if I don't like it.
Why is it that so many Christians have a "vending machine god" mentality. You know what I'm talking about: the idea that is you put the right thoughts, words, prayers, tithing, and good deeds into your life, God will magically bless you. Insert quarter, receive snack. And that you can control the type of blessing you get by the type of prayer or the amount of money you "put into" your life and your church. The reverse is also taught: that if you don't tithe and you don't "give your firstfruits to God" and you don't pray the devil away, God won't bless you and calamity will befall you. Even for people who claim to follow the Bible, I don't see where they get this idea. And if one more person enthusiastically tells me I just have to go to a Dave Ramsey class (which costs $100, btw) and my life and finances will magically fix themselves....I just might come unglued. Unless Dave Ramsey can get me free rent and more income and make the insurance company pay the hospital bills, he can't help me.
I've about had it with people who think the devil is everywhere, there's a demon around every corner, and unless we acknowledge that, we're doomed. I've heard some crazy stuff lately. I have termed these teachings "christian voodoo" because that's all they are. Hocus-pocus with a christian slant. If you can accidentally curse yourself by saying the wrong thing, or let the devil into your home through a cabbage patch doll, or allow a demon to enter your room through your pet cat, then your god is incompetent and worthless. And don't get me started on places like the Elijah List that sell magic charms for your home and body. Why don't you just string garlic around your neck? Magic oil to anoint your house? Talk about a scam. These people are making tons of money off selling pagan, Dark Ages superstition in the name of Christianity. They sell fear, propaganda, and the magic to make it all go away. You know what? The Jesus I serve defeated all spiritual powers, making a mockery of them, a public spectacle, and sent them packing. I don't live my life in fear of some spiritual dark power that will get me if I don't pay attention. That's a stupid way to live and I refuse. And, yes, if you must know, I can prove my position from the Bible perfectly and probably whoop their hermeneutical butt. But this is a random rant, not a theological dissertation.
I feel like I will never find a church I can belong. Where I'll fit in. Where it's OK to ask the hard questions and disagree and still be part of the community. I don't trust pastors. I've yet to meet one that doesn't have screwed up ideas on "church authority" and who has it and who doesn't. I keep going to different churches which look really great on the outside and have awesome people in them, then the cynical part of me kicks in and I can't help but think "what would they say or do if they knew I believed _____ ?" and I get discouraged. I miss being a part of a church where it was OK to believe differently than the majority, where it was OK to ask questions and disagree, and where no one harped on us for not signing a membership contract. I feel lonely and isolated and it's probably my fault because I just can't bring myself to conform to what is acceptable just to be...well, accepted. Part of the "in" group. I'm a free-thinker and that's just not going to change. Ever. Sometimes I think it would be so much easier if I could happily sit in a congregation and be spoon fed by a preacher and go home living in my own happy little paradigm, squashing any questions my heart asks and ignoring the reality of life around me that doesn't fit my worldview. Those people seem so much happier and less at war with themselves. But I can't do it. Tis the curse of one who has seen too much and refuses to stick their head back into the sand.
I'm really enjoying a book called "Grace-Based Parenting" right now. It's helped me to be more purposeful in instilling ideas and fulfilling needs in my children. One of the things the book says that all kids (all people, really) need is significance. They need to know that their lives are important and they have a purpose. That their being here on this earth means something and it's up to us as parents to help them find that meaning and give them the skills to follow their dreams and gifts. I heartily agree with this, but see the need to be more purposeful in how I pass this idea down to my kids. Believing it about myself is the first step but I've never had a problem with that. I've always felt very confident that I am gifted, important, and have a purpose. I can see that in my kids already, as young as they are, and am determined to not let others take that confidence away from them.
Someone asked me a question the other day about how I can reconcile my faith with seeming inconsistencies in Christianity, the bible, and life. We were discussing the morality of the Old Testament and how God condoned things that we would decry as horrible outrages. It's a tough question, one I ask myself a lot. This was my answer and I thought it worth putting here on my blog for future reference. The question was, specifically, what is it that outweighs the inconsistencies in the OT for you in order to still have faith? My answer is simplistic, but honest. It's just where I'm at.
"Several things, actually. One would be completely re-studying to find that many parts of the Bible I'd been taught were literal actually aren't (such as the Creation account). I feel like the more I study the more I realize I don't know half of what I thought I knew.
Another thing would be admitting that while I believe the Bible to be truth and inspired by God, I also believe it to be a product of the culture it was written in and the men who wrote it. Does that mean there are mistakes? Probably. But that doesn't change the overall message for me. For some I could see how it would, but for me it doesn't. My faith is not threatened by admitting the human element of the scriptures.
Also, we are told in several places that the Man Jesus is the personification of God. If you see Jesus, you've seen God. Jesus is the invisible God made visible; the "face" of God Himself. So if something in the Old Testament (which is so vast and not at all black and white or easily interpreted) contradicts what we see in the actions of Jesus (which it often does), then I have to choose Jesus. Because I'm human, He was human, and I understand what I see in Him. He's the concrete to the OT God's abstract. Jesus even overturned many of God's OT laws; contradicted them in ways that were unheard of (and I don't buy the argument "well Jesus was just clarifying God's laws". Really? Because "do good to those who harm you" is the clarification of "eye for an eye". I don't think so.)
The other thing that causes my faith to win in this battle of inconsistencies isn't entirely based on objectivity or logic, but on my own experiences. My life doesn't make sense without God. Some would call this a crutch for a weak soul, but crutch or not, it feels very true to me. I have known Him and seen Him working in my life. I have seen miracles that I can't explain other then "God did it". Sometimes the inconsistencies in my faith and the questions that constantly rage in my head seem too much to bear. But I always come back to the same conclusion: I believe in God. I believe in the Jesus of the Bible. Call it crazy (I do sometimes) but there it is.
I no longer have the need to be right, to know it all, or to have perfect understanding. That doesn't mean I stop thinking about it or wrestling with it or throw logic and reason out the window. It doesn't mean I will stop questioning because questioning is just part of my nature. It just means that where I can't "prove" something, I choose to believe in God. Others, acting on lack of proof, choose atheism. I choose faith. It's just my personal choice. If there is a God, and if He is who He says He is in the Bible and the Person of Jesus, then I don't think He needs me to have all understanding in order to believe in Him. If He is who He says He is, then the things that are NOT difficult to understand....love, kindness, faith, grace, salvation, forgiveness.... are the things that matter most, the things that will make a difference in my life and the lives of others around me. It's fun to talk and debate about scholarly things such as theistic evolution or Calvinism or whether Jonah is myth or history. But at the end of the day, these things are not what matters. People will be born and die and these debates will go on, being born or dying with us. But things like love or forgiveness will change the world, maybe even affect generations to come. "
So there you have it. A little picture of what is going on in my mind today. Well, the parts that make sense anyway. Or that are worth sharing. Everything else bouncing around in there has to do with my kids, their schooling, the new baby coming, keeping up the few friendships I have IRL, financial crap and what to do about it, desire for summer and warm weather, a couple of theological debates, a few songs that need to be written, a few friends that have been generous and how I wish I could bake them a cake or something, a few stories I want to write, how to make more sales and gain more customers for my business, politics, what to name our foal when it arrives, whether or not I actually like the baby names I've picked out for our human baby, my scary dreams that I'm having twins, and what to make for dinner that won't make me puke while I'm cooking it. Just another day in paradise. ;)