I wasn’t raised with a religious structure. I knew about God, but we didn’t go to church. My mom was a student for what seemed like many formative years, single. And then she was a working Mom which was less fun, harder on her. Anyhow I recall a time when she pulled me aside and gave me the low down on God. She didn’t tell me what to believe. She said some people believe in God, some don’t. It’s up to you. I heard other things. I had a friend whose dad was a minister and she was quick to school me on my impending descent into hell, and how Interact of the future was actually the devil gaining control of our evil materialistic hearts. I have mentioned before that the bible folks showed up in my seventh grade class with a small red bible, which for a time I carried everywhere. There were a lot of things going on in my eleven year old world that stood to be corrected by the kind of great Almighty that could be found in my tiny red very incomprehensible book. It’s best use, turns out, was as a talisman against abuse and abandonment, neither of which it staved off, but both of which I felt somehow temporarily saved from; perhaps I stood a chance having someone more powerful in my corner.
I am not here today to chat about Genesis, or Adam and Eve or the red book I held up like a Wonder Woman bullet-dodging shield against my abusers to no apparent avail beyond a hope of salvation. But I will say that all of the God/not God morphed over the years into an inchoate angry father in the sky who presided over my decision making, my moral compass, and my weekly dessert and wine consumption. Not consciously, I mean if you’d have asked me I’d have said “I believe in God, just maybe not bible God”. But I didn’t have a lot more intel at that stage of the game. God had done his damage by then, surreptitiously, unbeknownst by me.
I was pretty sure without ever thinking it out loud that good people wanted things only to shove them away into the corners with the rest of evil temptation; murder, adultery, and creative fulfillment. Unless what you woke up in the morning desiring was a glass of milk and to help the orphans obtain clean drinking water by leaving your family and setting up camp at the village of the damned replete with flies. Wanting to write books was both evil, because it was not for the orphans but also because it directly violated how to be a good capitalist with the requisite protestant work ethic prevailing. In other words (no pun intended) writers don’t sweat blood and suffer with the right kind of sweat equity. We all know writers suffer, duh, and that most of the stereotypes are of tortured artists, maybe because they can’t align with the protestant work ethic so they don’t feel like legitimate humans maybe because their creative propensities and proclivities are a manifestation of their tortured psyches and troubled histories, but ya, they don’t get any credit in the straight world UNTIL and UNLESS they wrestle out a bespectacled child wizard from their despairing existences and then well good thing for leaps of faith and beating the odds and underdogs cause every one in a thousand gives us hope of being the next best underrated and unsuspecting hot thing. If you are J.K. you don’t have to actually throw away your dreams to help the orphans and BE GOOD, you can send them signed copies of your latest, which sounds dark and I don’t mean it that way. JK.
God, for me personally, took a radical turn when I came across a reference to a loving God. This was a bit of a show stopper, because a loving God made way for a contrast with a less loving God. I sat down and asked myself the question “Would a loving God give you desires and inspirations just to require that you throw them under the semi to pass a test?” “Why would giving up all that matters somehow be an act of goodness?” I came up with the answer that only a shitty cruel even EFFED UP god would throw that down my way, and that love plus power meant there would surely be a loving way to get me to my desired outcome, sainthood or number one on the NYT Best Seller list, you decide. Negotiations then ensued. It was difficult to get angry Dad God out of my wee head. And then one day I came upon the image of Mother Mary. Mother in my world stood in stark contrast to angry Dad God. She was soft and nurturing and accepting and yes, loving. I could buy in. When I looked up a the blue sky and the puffy white clouds I could imagine her wafting about, emanating nurturing concern, waiting in the background with a soft blue skirt and a warm hug. So I made the trade. Goddess it was. Birds began to suddenly appear whenever she was near, just to get close to either one of us. There was no more testing or trickery. She had my back. She wiped my tears and combed tangles out of my hair. She did not call me names for hurting or needing things or struggling.
I revisited our contract. Dad said you are guilty, Mary was like, full of love and hands on help. I cancelled agreements like an insurance lawyer.
You have to give up something good to get something good.
Well that was a load of poo. If you ask Santa for a Barbie or a train set you’ll break your mothers back. Better add some fire proof jammies to wear while playing with your new toys in HELL.
Mary would want me to fulfill my desires and thereby make the world a better place. She would make me eat my veggies but there would be a train set and cookies for dessert.
Desires have to be other oriented to be good or right? That would mean 8 billion kids all eschewing their dreams, including the orphans. Or maybe it was okay to want things if your parents were dead and you lived in a slum. I was somehow supposed to get through life without wanting, or by denouncing want? Meany.
Suffering is noble. You are allowed to succeed by any terms because God is a capitalist at heart. But you are only allowed to fail if you nearly die trying. If blood is dripping out of your eyes and you have given up sleep and worn your only pair of shoes bare walking ten miles to save a dime to help your aged ailing grandmother and at least one orphan you are allowed to suck or fail. Off the hook bitches. With a little blood and sacrifice. Jesus stamped. Only not by the real Jesus. Not by the fly guy. By the son of the angry dad on behalf of dad. Only there is never actually enough suffering for you to FEEL off the hook. Or enough success. Damned if you get paid and damned if you don’t.
Then there was the whole bad things happening. Angry Dad actually struck them down on you because, now sit with this for a moment and let it sink in, you could handle it. Which meant if it happened to you it was because you displayed a level of tolerance or endurance that entitled you to level up and get some cool new superpowers, like heartbreak and PTSD. But wait there is more, bad things were a lesson. Not in any kind of identifiable way without some serious reaching, like the silver lining in cancer being that time chilling in bed between vomit sessions, but in an inchoate, mysterious GODLY way, that only angry Dad God had a manual for. This beating is for your own good and it hurts me more than it hurts you. Ha.
At the end of the day it’s not really a choice between Mom or Dad. Although in my tender years authority was most often male. Some of us had angry Moms too which made even Mary seem scary.
What I have learned that is meaningfully shareable is this:
All of our ideas of God and creation intersect at their highest point of integrity. There is beauty in all of them and each of them when we solve for fear. When we remove all that is fear based and substitute and hold dear all that is loving. When we ask ourselves, what would a LOVING Higher Power Creator or Universe have us do, see, understand we are given the space and the emotional safety to heal, to allow, to feel supported, to let out our breath, to set down our burdens, to give and forgive and cry tears of relief, which we could all use right about now.
So I encourage us to rebirth our Gods and Goddesses, Elvis and Santa, even the Tooth Fairy in the image of LOVE.
Void the agreements that we signed when we were desperate or confused or held at emotional gunpoint because we were pretty sure we had effed up bad.
Today my God is not female or male or gender fluid. It is not Great Spirit presiding over the natural world or new age or a metaphysical Universe that rewards my vibrations. God is a force of profound sentient LOVE. Creation yes, a whole that knows how to recapture its scared fragmented parts back into knowledge of itself. It teaches that suffering is not learning, suffering is madness to be unlearned. And this is just a ‘Cole’s Note slept through the alarm didn’t read’ version of 25 years of formally asking questions. To properly share with you I would need a series of very word lavish novels with heroes and villains and anti-heroines possibly some wizards and castles and plot twists, some floating magic wands, a lot of spare time, a beach, maybe an orphanage to share proceeds with and YOU, my favourite sympathetic character.
Until then and with much love,
P.S. 2021 I am bringing on the love. I’ll be featured in a podcast all about better loving, from healing your broken heart to intentional dating to creating a relationship that thrives, and I’ll be launching a sister site for all of you relationship and love enthusiasts, with all kinds of insights and offerings. Stay tuned!
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.