Jesus Obviously Knows How I Feel About Storage

So since October is traditionally the month where I post every day and run out of interesting things to say by day three and then post something really long winded, overly emotional, and controversial, I thought today would be a good time to tell you about how a $30 dresser brought me to God.  (And…Maggie just snorted so hard I heard her all the way in Sacramento.)

But let’s start at the very beginning.

I am not sure how a white bread Californian such as my father came to such a place, but I have the feeling it had something to do with my waspy New Englander mother.  Regardless, a tiny version of me was baptized an Episcopalian at two weeks old, long white dress and bonnet and all, and for the next eighteen years or so, I went to A LOT of church.  There were many weeks where I went to church twice – during the week in Catholic school we had the kind of mass with felt banners and hand shaking and singing about Eagle’s Wings, and then every Sunday without FAIL I was in the pew at St. Mark’s for the kind of church with latin and incense and genuflecting.

To be honest with you, I am not sure when I fell out of believing in god and church and what would Jesus do.  I do know that my parents raised me to question things, and I am not sure that they meant for me to question the things that THEY believed, but that’s what they got anyway.  I can’t honestly remember having a strong belief in  god or in jesus or heaven or hell, despite all the church I was attending.  I remember thinking that abortion was the killing of babies and that the Russians were FOR SURE going to bomb us, but that’s most of what I felt strongly about, wrapped up in a nutshell.  Mostly I didn’t like the fact that I had to get picked up from sleepovers at 7 am on Sunday morning, and that I wasn’t allowed to watch any movies that weren’t rated G.

What I do remember is that one night I had a dream I still vividly remember – I was an 8th grader, and I had to sit on the edge of the bathtub in my parents house and tell my father that I was pregnant.  It was the most vivid dream I’ve ever had.

I’ve never forgotten that feeling, and my feelings about killing babies were never the same.

And then I started to wonder at this world in which a man stood up in a pulpit and told us that Jesus said to love everyone, EVERYONE and to wonder how it matched up with the world in which my father railed about fags and anyone who looked different from us.

Maybe that’s when I started to question.

When I moved to Chicago to live with my mother, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. My mother and my step father aren’t big on god, and although sometimes we lit the Hanukkah candles and I still went to Catholic school, I had great social acceptance in my family to be an intellectual, to not believe in anything.  The Catholic school I went to was so confrontational, and so old school, I think it pushed me even farther away from god.  I was attending a school where it was ok to post pictures of aborted fetuses in the halls, where girls were kicked out for getting pregnant, but the football players who got them pregnant weren’t.  Where the same students who covered the walls with pro life banners argued violently for the death penalty and dropping bombs, and the irony of it all made me righteously furious in my non beliefs.  It felt so very much like I was right and they were wrong.

And then I left for college and no one talked about God anymore.  It just never came up, and when I met Mr. E, it was a non issue – neither of wanted to go to church or make a big deal about any of that sort of hoo ha.  His parents sort of wished we had been married by a priest, but no one really cared much one way or the other that we didn’t go to church, that we didn’t talk about god or say grace.  They don’t do any of that stuff either, anyway.

But every time I had to go to the doctor and fill out a seven page form about something, for my laparascopy or for when I was pregnant with Eli, I still wrote “Episcopalian” on the blank line.  And one year I made Mr. E go to the Rite One church for Midnight Mass just so he could see what it was all about, but it wasn’t the same.  You can’t go home again, I guess.

I have always loved the pomp, the circumstance, the rituals, the intense organization of church.  I have a rosary collection.  I’d love to see the Holy Land.  I have a Mary night light and I still say a “Hail Mary” when I hear an ambulance because I spent 12 years being taught by nuns and old habits die hard.  But you can say a thousand rosaries, you can know the Our Father backyards and forwards, you can know the story of Our Lady of Fatima like you were there yourself, and it still doesn’t add up to belief.

Everyone (and by everyone I mean two people) said that when I had a baby things would change.  That it’s impossible not to look at those tiny fingers and those baby eyelashes and to see yourself blended into a miracle and not know that something greater than you is out there, running it all.  And so I waited for some kind of mysterious light to shine itself into my soul, to make me believe, and still, there was nothing.

And in the mean time I worried.  I worried and I harbored all sorts of crazy making anxiety and I whipped it up into a frenzy of angst that anyone would have crumpled under, and pretty soon the worry over how we would afford heat and a rocking chair and diapers and why wasn’t our baby growing and was I doing something wrong and was I bad mom and why did I feel so angry and had I made a terrible mistake deepened into this depression that felt like a pit, a crack in the world, and I just wanted to crawl inside and hide away from it all and for awhile I did and through all of this, at no time did I think of god. He was, for whatever reason, the last thing on my mind.

And then I started to climb out of that pit.  I started to find friends.  I started to talk to someone about how I felt.  People told me that they knew exactly what I meant.  That it would get better.  That they would sit on the phone with while I called the doctor.  And then every day I took that tiny white pill and it took a really long time, there were fits and starts and steps entirely backwards but it did get better. It is so so so much better.  Now, I can look at my son and I marvel at him.  I watch him, fascinated, for hours.  His face is like a lightning storm or time lapse photography – an endless movie reel I never tire of.  It took me two plus years but I finally feel that wave of love I’ve been hearing about since the day talking about your baby was first invented.

I laugh at bad jokes and I almost never cry anymore unless I am watching narrated documentaries and I feel genuine moments of joy many times a day. I feel like my life has a purpose.  I feel like a good mom.

But most of all, I feel like someone is looking out for me.

When I start to worry and make lists and wonder about how we will pay for a new dresser so that some day we can fit two kids into one bedroom, for the first time in forever it feels like maybe if I step back and quit worrying about it, somehow it will all work itself out.  There’s a voice in my head telling me to let it go and it will be ok.    And somehow, crazily enough, it has been working out, it has all been ok, and sometimes it has worked out in a way that is better than anything I could have twisted and forced and made happen, and as much as I would love to remain a too cool for school non believer for the rest of my life, it just feels like somehow, something is different now.

I am sure that it horrifies those of you out there who are following all of the god rules to hear about my version of god light, but I can only tell that this is how I came to this god of mine, and that these things sometimes have to build slowly, and I am still figuring just what it is that I think about God.  I can only tell you that I searched all over the known universe of furniture stores for a long, low, wood dresser with tons of tiny drawers and then one day I wandered into a random parking lot and there it was, a long low solid wood dresser with fourteen drawers,  and when I asked how much it was and they told me it was $20 dollars but they’d have to charge me $10 to deliver it, somehow I felt like there was an order to the universe that was beyond even me, and I still do not know why god kills moms and dogs, I still do not go to church, I still am not going to send my kids to vacation bible camp and I still will always always always support a woman’s right to choose, but somewhere under and in between and through all of that – I believe.

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16 Responses

  1. Long time reader, infrequent commenter. Is this a pregnancy announcement?! Or is the two dressers in one bedroom a hypothetical?

    I am loving Style Lush, by the way. Well done!

    And intrusive questions and random comments aside, your childhood/varient of religious upbringing sounds strikingly similar to mine, and now as a mom of two (aged 3 and 1), I’m struggling with the same questions. Thanks for putting all that out there.

    One more random note–I’m on your coast (kind of–Reno). Maybe we could meet up at the IKEA in Sacramento sometime with our collective rugrats? I go there to feel like a normal person again. Reno is not my cup of tea, and we’re only here temporarily.

    Cheers!
    -SG

  2. Wow. That just made me cry. That’s more or less where I am in my life, and the journey has been somewhat similar, though on the protestant side. I can think of a million reasons not to believe, or to believe but to outright hate a God who would allow this universe to continue the way it is, but then I look into my kids’ eyes, and I get random kindness from a stranger, and I think- “Well, this is why, I guess.” I can’t help myself from believing, basically. Sometimes literally in spite of myself, I still find the grace beneath the mess and chaos.
    And I’m so glad your dresser was beneath your mess and chaos!

  3. 1) I realize you may not want to be friends anymore, but I think you should know that I am crying my face off reading this.

    2) I have a very similar post waiting in the wings about my new revelations about God/life lately.

    3) I am so, so, so glad we are friends. You are amazing.

  4. It is also a little horrifying to the atheists who were so enjoying the post up until the part where god helps with the shopping.

  5. I have very similar thoughts, feelings and personal history about religion. Unlike you though, I haven’t found the piece of furniture that changes my perspective on it.

    Maybe, one day, I will. But if I don’t, I’m pretty sure things will still be awesome. Thanks for writing this.

  6. This was beautifully written.

    I totally know how you feel. But for me, it wasn’t a dresser. For me, it was, ‘why not?’ As in, why not believe there is someone out there on my side, looking out for me?

  7. I’ve sort of recently gone over to the atheist side. But I’m envious of that feeling.

  8. What a beautiful post. It captures perfectly a lot of my own feelings. You’re definitely not the only one with complicated feelings about god and religion and the vast incongruities inherent in both. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Beautiful. I think my children make me hope that there’s someone bigger, stronger, better than me also looking out for them.

  10. I search for something too and I’ve yet to find it. I’m ok with not being able to find it yet. Someday.

  11. Amen, girly. Also raised going to church every Sunday and such except no Catholic school as we were Baptist. I still get it though. I never really stopped believing in God more just stopped caring for several years. I did find my way back to caring and even going to church but it was a journey. I really enjoyed reading your story.

  12. Oh, I love this. And I kind of feel like I could have written it, too, only not as beautifully as you did. I completely, totally and entirely get exactly what you’re saying.

    (P. S. I recently started an AD to treat anxiety. I thought about you when I went to talk to my doctor about it, and I still think about you sometimes when I take my pill each night. I hope it doesn’t creep you out that you’re my reference for this, but that’s how deeply what you’ve written on the subject touches me. And you know what? When that pill actually started to work it was as if I’d experienced an epiphany. Thank you for your part in that.)

  13. I would be bawling at this post, but instead I’m just grinning. Your explanation of God/belief makes as much sense as anything. It’s an intensely personal thing. I loved this post. LOVED IT.

  14. I loved this post. I took me a long time to accept that God and religion are not always the same thing. I can believe the way that feels right to me, not the way that someone tells me that I must.

  15. Great topic and great post. It sounds like you’ve found some peace and whether a believer or not, that’s a good thing. I’m happy for you.

    It’s funny how issues get tied together. God and religion, and abortion and religion. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as strong a believer as I am now, or as pro life as I am now, and yet I am as discouraged with religion as I’ve ever been. It’s all very weird, and that makes it not surprising God hooked you up with a $30 dresser (to me).

  16. That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your story! I found your blog because I googled “school house lighting” and I’m so glad I did!

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