If there’s one thing I dread discussing — it’s religion.
All those pesky questions: Who created us? How did we get here? Why are we here? Where are my car keys? I just had them a second ago and — oh. Someone put them in the fridge. Ahem. Anyway. So yes…lots of questions. If you happen to think you have a good grip on some of the answers, there will always be some jackass to say that you are “wrong, wrong, wrong!” –and your ultimate fate is burning in hellfire for all eternity.
The two ultimate goals in my lifelong spiritual path?
1) To get to the actual truth.
2) To not be that jackass.
I was raised to find my own way, discover my own mysteries in life. I took cues from my grandmother who was deeply religious yet hardly talked about it. My parents tried not to cram their views down my throat. They allowed me to get to know either God or Buddha or the Big Void of Nothing in my own time.
My earliest memory of church-y things was when I was around 6 years old. My dad had a part time job cleaning the local Baptist church and once dragged me and my brothers along on a quiet Sunday afternoon. I was mesmerized by the giant stained glass Jesus peering down at me as I skipped around the empty pews. Hmm….he seemed like such a nice guy! Maybe he could be my friend? His eyes were warm and understanding.
Suddenly my bowels cramped, gripping me with fear. Oh no! Would Jesus be mad at me if I pooped in the church bathroom? Jesus seemed to wink down at me and chuckle, “Well, my Dear One, God created you AND your need to poop. So it’s okay, go on. Poop away, my child, poop away. I love you and everything about you. Even the poopy parts.”
And so began my lifelong relationship with God*. As I grew older there were a couple things I knew for sure in my heart: He was good. He was all about love, acceptance and forgiveness. He was like a close friend of mine, always there if I needed to talk. And He was hilarious.
Of course, my spiritual beliefs weren’t always so solid. I read the Bible many times as a kid, purely out of curiosity. (Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case was out on loan.) Then I entered college and read it again (Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers was out on loan). Only this time with fresh eyes, more cynical. I used my Big Brain and thought, well I’m much too smart to believe in something that I can’t prove, right? This book was written by mere mortals after all. There were lots of parts I didn’t believe in (and still don’t.) I thought maybe religion was for suckers. For people who have their own sins to hide, so they use religion as a shield to protect their own personal ego and pride (I still think this to be true for some).
I flip-flopped between believing in some Big Creator and thinking, maybe there really IS nothing else? How clever I was! I had discovered the real truth! Maybe others who believed in God were brainless sheep?
But I remembered that fateful poopy day in church, I love you no matter what. And that experience of feeling completely accepted and loved, plus the countless personal experiences that I’ve had with God since (none involving poop) have shaped my faith over time and made me the person I am today.
So I’d like to stand up now and say something.
Hi, my name is Darla and I believe in a Creator*.
The most important thing I’ve realized in my quest? This is my story. These are not your memories. This isn’t about what you believe and don’t believe in. I am me and you are you. And we are all together. Goo goo g’joob. So how can I possibly condemn others for their own views? I don’t care if you believe in God, Buddha, The Big Nothing or Justin Bieber. Whatever works for you and brings peace to your heart (OK, I take back Justin Bieber) because you are on your own path and finding your own Truth in your own time, just like me.
I’ve never understood religious fanatics who pound on my door to tell me they know the answers and it’s their duty to tell me. It’s like they’re carrying a punch-card: Convert 10 People and Win a Free 6 inch Subway!
Well, you don’t need to convince me of anything. I’ll be fine, really. Because when I am dying and facing the reality of things, you won’t be there beside me, will you? No one will — it’ll just be me all alone, facing my own deep and intimate relationship with the Source and the Unknown. And when it comes down to it, all that matters in the end is what I know in my own heart to be true.
My simple truths (not yours, mine, so take a chill pill) about religion and spirituality:
None of us knows for sure what is the Ultimate Truth of All Things.
For crying out loud, we can barely figure out how to program a DVR or how to make a good cup of coffee.
If you do believe in something, great. If not, fantabulous.
But try not to tell others they are obviously wrong.
Never treat anyone with disrespect, no matter what they believe in.
Unless it’s Justin Bieber.
Don’t go pounding on doors to tell people they’re going to burn in hell if they don’t go to your church.
Especially when I’m in the middle of a Golden Girls marathon and still wearing my bathrobe. I appreciate your concern, but I think I’ll be just fine. It’s a nonflammable robe.
Everything in life is about two things:
LOVE and ACCEPTANCE.
We are here for only three things:
- to experience
- to learn
- to eat chocolate
Get it? Is that so hard, people? Sheesh.
If you have to poop in a church bathroom, it’s okay.
I know God is laughing at me right now for that last one.
*Creator, God, Source, Spirit, He, She, It…whatever.