Friday, September 14, 2007

And now for a scoop of irony ...

Along the lines of faith in God or lack thereof.

I feel like thus far my life has been pretty fortunate. Nonetheless, I've hit some rough waters in my life. Big disappointments. Close calls and trauma. Frankly, I've been on some choppy seas for the last two years; the toll this rough passage has taken on me is greater than I realize, really. The other day I was reading the blog of a woman who has been in similar seas to me, but her ride has been much choppier. She's a Christian and she's going through a crisis in faith right brought on by her struggle. She said she wondered if God was punishing her. And then I can't remember if she specifically said this, implied it, or if this was somewhere in the many, many responses she got: blaming God.

While I haven't wondered if God was punishing me for something since I was a little girl, I went through a phase in my teens where I was angry with God. That seems healthy. (Frankly, I believe in crises of faith.) But I can't ever remember blaming God for anything. I just don't feel it. Not when I've fallen into depression, not when 9/11 struck too close to home and not even in this murky voyage I'm bitterly muddling through. But everyone else does for misfortune that befalls them. So here's my question: Am I wrong? Is there something fundamentally wrong with me that even when I'm angry at God I don't lay blame on him?

There are only two reasons I can think of: One is that I ultimately see God as love, creation and the creative conscience of life, the universe and everything. And I can't blame love. Nor creation. And certainly not the all pervasive creative conscience. And the other is that I have never subscribed to the reward-and-punishment image of God. We weren't guaranteed an easy ride. It's just the nature of being human that tragedy in one or many forms will befall each of us. On top of that: if JESUS can't escape life without being crucified, why the hell do I think I'll get away with a free ride?

But even though my concept of God is more nebulous than the orthodox, I still feel a personal relationship with God. God is a part of my family and daily life. So shouldn't I blame him for things? As I blame other family members on occasion for things, shouldn't I also blame God? Isn't that human?

My cousin suffered his entire life and died from MD at age 20. I have no idea if he blamed God - if he did, he never ever expressed it. Quite the opposite actually. But I suspect he did. My dad had polio as a child and it has left him with a wobbly gait and a body that's easily 15 years more aged than his peers'. I don't know if he ever blamed God. I assume he must've at some point. I'm facing my own health issue right now and I pray a lot, but I don't find myself blaming God. And I know that lots of other people who face my issue - whether they overcome it or not - blame God. So why can't I?

I don't feel like I'm being punished at all. Not even karma for hooking up with my best friend's boyfriend in high school. I do feel a lot of injustice, but again, it doesn't feel karmic or punitive. It's mostly just jealousy that most people's bodies work properly. But shouldn't I feel punished? If I believe in a God with whom I have a personal relationship, does that mean I'm naive or blind for not blaming God for what's happening?

So there's the scoop of irony: I bitched about some people applying their stereotypes to people who believe in God, and yet I wonder if I'm flawed because I don't fit into the stereotype of a lot of people who believe in God. Man this fence chafes my hide!


Virginia Gal said...

Since meeting you Molly and having these religious discussions, I have worked hard to remember that despite the some hell and spitefire Muslims, my God is a loving one. Like you say "if He's a meanie, why worship Him?" But at the same time I do subscribe to the idea of being punished, but I don't see God doing that and being hateful, more like a parent. Plus I think what comes around goes around and I believe that strongly, particularly for people who do bad things - God has a way of punishing. Does that make sense??
Sorry I'm rambling..I don't think you are flawed at all, on the contrary I'm impressed by your faith, it is amazing and I hope you know its people like you, who despite struggles in life, have such faith that give me hope, help me get up in the morning. Personally I think you should consider some youth ministry work, more people need to have that kind of relationship with God.

mommanator said...

God has been punishing since all time- read it everywhere in the bible, with that said. He also is a forgiving and giving God. He (I feel) puts some obstacles in ones way- you must continue to worship Him thru those obsticles and know that He is God! He also increases ones faith with these obstacles.
Very good post- I had to sleep on it to respond.

Pearl said...

I've felt really really angry with God about various things, but I don't think I've ever felt punished. Although I was once walking along with a friend, feeling irritated and thinking bad things about them, and as the thoughts got particularly venemous I fell over and gashed my hand open. Karma or clumsiness? Either way, the friend was lovely and looked after me, and I felt incredibly guilty!

I hope your health issue is something that can be resolved, and that you'll feel able to lean on God as much as you need to. I don't believe that God uses our bodies to punish us, but I do have some nebulous idea that we can poison our physical selves with poisonous behaviour. Which is not to say that health problems are our own fault (no no no!), but rather that link between mind and body is more complex that we often realise, and that people who bring a serious amount of evil into the world can't do so without infecting themselves. This is all very vague and not very well thought through, and I'm not sure whether or not my ideas contradict each other. Hmm, you've given me something else to ponder!