I talk to God everyday.
And everyday, God talks back to me.
Sometimes, when I don't know what to do ... when I feel completely immobilized by the ability to make a decision, or I am struck with fear ... God will guide me. His is a voice that I can actually hear in my head. His is a gentle hand, guiding my heart.
For the most part, I really care what people think about me.
I care what my family thinks about me.
My friends. My neighbors. My parishioners. My co-workers.
People that I've never met before that read this blog (even you, the one that lurks but has never commented), I even care what they think about me.
It is very hard to state an honest opinion when you know that you will be judged based on your beliefs.
When I told the Montessori school that I was opposed to our children receiving any processed foods and I wanted them to stop handing out sugary treats to our children - that was difficult for me because I felt like I was challenging authority.
When I told my boss that I wanted to remain working part-time and ultimately relinquish my job to my husband so I could stay home and home school our children - that was difficult for me because I felt like I was disclosing that my once paramount career was no longer as important as my family.
My goal in life is to be a good person.
I try to be honest.
I try to work hard.
I try to be kind, gentle and compassionate.
I try to treat others as I would like to be treated.
I try to give and support to those less fortunate than myself.
I try to be someone that my husband, my mother and my children would be proud of.
I try to be someone that I am proud of.
I go to church and read my Bible - although not as frequently as I would like - and I do my best to absorb and follow the teachings of Christ.
I go to church and I strive to be a good person each and every day, not because I am attempting to improve my shots at getting in to Heaven, but because I am attempting to live each and every day of my life as intentionally good as possible.
Because I fear what people may think of me, it takes a lot of courage to admit that I don't embrace everything that I hear in church or that I read in the Bible. Sometimes, often times (at least once every time), I sit in on a Bible Study - there is a part of me that feels like an absolute phony for being there. Whenever I receive communion and accept the Holy Host, I beat myself up that I am unworthy and I anxiously wait for acid indigestion.
For starters, I don't believe in Creation.
Sure, I believe that God created the universe and all of the life forms in it ... but I don't believe that it happened in seven days. I don't believe in the Great Flood. I don't believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and while in the gut of this great fish, he prayed for three days and nights and was finally spit on to dry land and promptly rushed off to tell the people of Nineveh that they needed to stop doing bad things.
I know it says that happened in the Bible. But in my heart, I don't believe it and considering the acceptance of these ideas may dictate my eternal salvation ... that's some heady stuff.
Up until we bought our minivan when the triplets were born, our car had a Darwin evolution fish on the back bumper. Whenever we would pull in to the church parking lot, we would smile and nod at those who stared at us, as though we were lost. Because surely no member of the Christian church would have an emblem of a fish sprouting legs on the back of their car.
But I did.
Hi there, how do you do? Potluck at our house next Sunday. See you there?
Sometimes, I wonder who I am and where my place should be. I grew up in the Catholic and later, Unitarian church. My best fit is probably with a Unitarian church and I would still be attending a Unitarian church if it wasn't located 45-minutes one-way from our home. Most of the time, if not all of the time, I feel like I'm an impostor in a Christian church because I don't believe everything that I read in the Bible.
Yet whenever I am in church, I am truly moved by the Holy Spirit and it feels like I am home. But then, when I sit down with fellow parishioners and read my Bible and contemplate that the only way to get to Heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, I take pause.
Jesus kicks ass. It's true.
But what about people whose lives are never touched by Christ?
What about those that live in the jungles of South America?
What about Jewish people?
What about those that practice Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Spiritism, Scientology?
Even though the teachings of these religions may be good and pure, are they blaspheme?
It seems to me that if everyone loves each other and does their best to contribute to a good world, that is living a Godly life. Is that not enough?
I want to believe. I want to believe so badly at times that it hurts. I've asked to be saved. I've begged to be saved. But it hasn't happened - at least not in the way that I would expect. Does this mean I am not worthy? Does this mean that I am not trying hard enough?
But. But. But.
Damn that I question anything and do not simply follow.
Has the devil got a strong hold on my mind, not allowing me to believe, completely?
So instead, I am guided by the gentle hand on my heart. The voice in my head that tells me to Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Savor. Rejoice. Love. Accept. Question.
I firmly believe that life is created at conception. I believe that terminating life while in-utero is wrong and immoral. I know that if I had become pregnant with sextuplets after I transferred six embryos to my womb during my third in-vitro fertilization attempt, I would have done everything in my power to carry six babies for as long as possible.
I had no choice but to deliver our triplets almost 10 weeks prematurely. If I had waited a single day longer, I was told that my body would go in to shock and I would die.
How lucky I was that my babies were at a gestational age where they would survive outside of my body. But what if I had developed toxemia a few weeks earlier - where the viability of my children would not have been as favorable? What if it was against the law for the doctors to deliver my pre-term babies, even at risk of their mother's life?
Would I be here today?
Most definitely not. I would have died and my babies would have died.
Rape. Incest. Birth defects. Failed contraception.
In my opinion, those are not reasons to terminate a pregnancy.
Only God knows the wonderful life that is possible from a deformed child. Or, the greatness that an unplanned child resulting from an ugly conception is capable of creating.
Even though I am vehemently opposed to abortion, I support a woman's right to choice. I also support research, counseling and regulation. Although I believe that the unborn are sacred and must be protected, I know that if someone wants an abortion badly enough, they will terminate their pregnancy regardless of the legality. Several years before Roe versus Wade, my very own aunt performed an abortion on herself with a coat hanger. She risked her life because she was terrified that her parents would find out.
They never did.
If abortion was illegal, and I was faced with a desperate woman who had received counseling and presented with various options, and yet she still stood before me with a rusty coat hanger, or was verging on soliciting the "services" of a back alley specialist, with tears in my eyes, I would take her by the hand and lovingly guide her to a clinic where her pregnancy could be terminated, safely.
In my life, I know this much: Just because something is against the law, if people want it badly enough, they will get it.
Totally unrelated, but I do not understand why marijuana is illegal.
I tried to smoke pot once but I honestly do not know how to inhale, so I just sat there puffing and trying to look cool. And then, once when I was in graduate school, someone came to one of our parties and brought some "special" brownies. I eagerly placed the brownies on a plate and was ignorantly prepared to serve them to all of our guests when my friend whispered in my ear that these were brownies Charlie and I should put aside and enjoy later.
They were tucked in the seldom-used butter compartment of our refrigerator and promptly forgotten about until a year later when we moved. But by that point they were stale and I would have broken teeth trying to eat them.
But marijuana? It's a plant, right?
It's a natural growing substance that has medicinal purposes?
How is it any worse for you than tobacco?
Or 200 apple pies that you can order from McDonald's at the drive-thru?
Why are we wasting valuable resources on arresting people that grow, sell and smoke marijuana when the drug war should be focused on heroine, crack, cocaine, methamphetamine and any other synthetic street drug that could actually kill someone?
Why don't we have squads of nutritionists set up at fast food restaurants or along aisles in grocery stores educating consumers on the dangers of overeating, food additives and cholesterol?
Seriously, I do not know. If you can, please enlighten me.
Every person that lives in the United States of America is guaranteed the right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. This great country was founded on religious freedom and the separation of church from state. So where does it say that marriage must be between a man and a woman? The Bible?
What if you don't subscribe to the Bible?
What if you subscribe to parts of the Bible?
I really appreciated all of the intelligent discussion on my last post. I particularly appreciated Karla's comment that, "[God] didn't send us to earth to just have a good time and do whatever we want. He wants us to learn, grow, overcome our challenges whatever they may be and become more like Him. Marriage between a man an a woman is the biggest step in this process. Men and women are meant to compliment each other physically and spiritually. Becoming parents in this union is the ultimate in learning compassion, charity, and unconditional love. I don't deny that people are born gay. I don't deny that people are born with other genetic predispositions that bring challenge, heartache, and prejudice to them throughout their lives. I believe that gays are meant to find happiness, but not through challenging something that is so important to the fabric of society."
I fully understand what Karla is saying.
But much like abortions will be performed whether or not they are legal, homosexuals will build relationships and families regardless of whether or not gay marriage is legal. So why not offer rights to those people that are trying to live their lives as well as they can? Why not offer rights to protect those homosexual families that perhaps have children and are trying to raise conscientious individuals that will strengthen and enhance the fabric of society?
Ultimately, I believe that everyone deserves the right to enjoy love in their life and to not suppress the person that they were born to be. I believe that everyone is entitled to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of who their God may be.
(If you are looking for a good rental, pick up Loggerheads. It is probably one of the best movies I've ever seen and touches on several subjects presented in this post).
Ultimately, I believe that it is important to stand up for those things that you believe in. I believe that it is important to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Even if defending something you believe in, means that you may lose the respect of people you know - and perhaps those you do not know.
As much as I firmly believe that life begins at conception, I firmly believe that homosexuals are entitled to the same civil rights as heterosexuals. I believe that homosexuality is not a choice. And regardless of what any one tells me, that little voice inside my head - the gentle hand guiding my heart tells me that people are born good and they are wired by God to grow in to the people that they are meant to be.
Tonight, I asked my husband to go in to Hillcrest, an area with the largest concentration of homosexual people in all of San Diego (quite possibly, all of Southern California), to pick up signs for our front yard that declare "NO on Prop 8!" We are surrounded by houses with "Yes on Prop 8!" signs, and within the past few days, I have become really agitated. I have felt like there is discrimination all around us. I have never been much of a political activist, but currently, we are the only house in our entire neighborhood with signs supporting what I consider to be the civil rights of homosexuals.
It took a lot of courage for us to post a sign supporting homosexual rights smack dab in our front yard. But not nearly as much courage as it took my athletic husband to go in to the Gay and Lesbian Rights headquarters in Hillcrest.