Heather asks a very deep and heartfelt question:
I find the Catholic Church so beautiful in the Mass and many of the Traditions. My husband was raised Catholic, but was non- practicing when we met and we've muddled through a few different denominations over the years. If I can expand on the question a bit, would you be willing to talk about how you maintain your belief when bad things happen? My faith took a big hit a few years back with a troubled marriage, several untimely deaths among my friends and family, and then infertility. I never left the church, but I was having trouble staying on speaking terms with God. Maybe a more abstract question is about how to maintain optimism? One of the reason I read your blog is this sense of hope that permeates your writing. I find it inspiring.
Thank you for your kind words. It's so funny - I don't really think of myself as optimistic or hopeful in any way. I think I'm way more pessimistic - but one of my kids is the MOST pessimistic people that has ever drawn breath - and so I keep working on pumping up said kid.
And my mama always said - Put on your slicker and let it all wash off of you.
The thoughts in this post are rambling. They don't make any sense at all.
I don't know that I have retained a belief when things go south. And, believe you me, there's been some southward stuff. To me, the southward stuff isn't because I've had no faith, or because God's forsaken me. It just - ya know - happens. Bad stuff happens to everyone. Which sounds really horrible. But I really and truly believe the inverse is true as well - bad stuff doesn't happen because you've stopped praying.
When I had my little nervous breakdown, someone told me something really, really hurtful. I'd CAUSED myself to fall apart. If I'd only prayed more, done the rosary every day, really paid attention in Mass and read the Bible every day - none of the bad thoughts I'd had, none of the depression, and certainly NONE of the crying would have happened.
And that was so, so hurtful to me. It made me feel like I wasn't trying hard enough. If I'd only tried HARDER, prayed MORE, talked to The Big Guy more, someone whose very existence, on some days, I question -
yes. I said that.
I'm not a priest. I'm not a Sister, a Monk, or a scholar. I'm a pretty simple person who has pretty simple, basic beliefs. To me - and only to me - I believe because I believe. Bad stuff happens because people are inherently swayed to do the wrong thing, to follow the crowd, to sit down and watch rather than stand up and fight. I've been reading a lot of WWII stuff lately - and I wonder - what would I have done? It's SUPER easy for me to say that I'd have stood up and done the right thing, sitting here in my heated house with running water and food in the pantry, the freedom to go where I want, when I want, and with whoever I want.
I wonder if I'd be a different person with virtually all of my freedoms taken away, without access to food, cut off from everyone with suspicion in the forefront of everyone's mind. It's not a nice thought to ponder.
The point that I'm really trying to make - and I'm not making it very well - is that bad stuff happens. To everyone. Every day, in every way. To me, to you, to her and him - really great people die, atrocities happen, stupid little stuff happens that really messes up your day. I don't know of any Bible, any church or temple, any Holy person teaching, though, who says that "If you just follow my path, nothing bad will ever happen to you."
Kinda like a roll of Saran Wrap, covering you and keeping all the crap from affecting you. No guarantees. Ever. At least not that I've read - and I read A LOT. People do bad stuff to each other all the time. That doesn't make it right by ANY stretch of the imagination. But if you watch a group of 3 year olds for longer than 5 minutes, you'll see a natural occurence for human behavior to exert itself - and it's not always in a way guaranteed to bring out the best in anyone.
I know that people blame God for "bad stuff" - and I know I've done my fair share - but I equate it to a kid, blaming a parent when they aren't allowed to do what they want, when they want to do it - like, say, a teenager who wants to take an unsupervised weekend trip with friends.
I have hope, though. And I can't imagine not having hope, because, to me, that seems pretty pointless. And, whenever I start to doubt, I think to myself, "Well, you've gotta have the bad with the good - can't have one without the other. No ups without downs, and all that jazz."
And this quote sums up the entire matter for me, much more succinctly than I could ever have done.
"When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer." Corrie Ten Boom
As always, I welcome your thoughts and musings.