Friday, April 23, 2010

insights: are you there, god? hello?

For eighteen years I was a good Catholic girl. I went to Catholic school, wore the plaid and the knee socks, respected the nuns and learned that God was my friend, the one who could whip up a world in 6 days, the person to turn to when I was troubled.

Last year I turned to God as I do, as I always have and he wasn't there. I am ashamed to say that I said goodbye to God. He didn't help me when I was lying there in a giant CAT scan machine terrified and crying. He wasn't there with me when I was trembling in that little room hearing the news that I was being laid off from a company and a job that I have loved since 1995. He wasn't there when my babies I had prayed so hard for died one by one in December. How could a God allow those things to happen? Didn't he know that I wasn't strong enough for this? I remember hearing the statement that "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" and that little poem about footprints in the sand and Jesus carrying you when things got too hard for you.

Jesus didn't carry me. God wasn't listening to me. All the prayers I had requested from the Dominican Nuns to protect the lives of my little babies were in vain.

I decided to break up with God.

I said goodbye and told my therapist I was done with God. What's the point? How could a loving God allow all of these tragic things to happen to me all at once?  I was going to show God that I thought he was mean and I stopped going to church. I said bad things about him. I cursed him. I felt like Job from the bible, except unlike Job I didn't keep my faith and accept what God was sending me. I was pissed at God. And I have been for the past year. While I decided I didn't believe in God anymore, a very little part of me was kind of expecting him to smote me down with a lightening bolt for the way I was behaving. But still I didn't care. God was mean.

I wanted to know why God hated me so much. Then I started thinking outside of myself about the people of Haiti or the bride who was killed in a car accident on the way to her wedding or the toddler who was run over by her dad who didn't see her on her tricycle behind his car or all the dogs put down to sleep in pounds. What the hell is wrong with God to allow these things to happen? I was angry and I wanted answers.

Last week I picked up the book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner. I wish someone had told me about this book a year ago. I read it slowly. I read it expecting that it was more psychobabble. However, Rabbi Kushner, knows of what he speaks. He lost a child at a young age to a cruel disease. He has presided over the funerals of those who died before their time. He has seen tragedy strike one household but skip another.  He also wanted to know why. Why do bad things happen to good people? If God was fair, wouldn't He send disease and car accidents and hurricanes to the people who commit crimes and hurt other people? Oh, if life were only fair.

What Rabbi Kushner believes is that life is random. Life is not fair. If we think that God is mean and responsible for the tragedies that have happened does that mean that God cares for some people more than others? Did the millions of innocent lives lost in the Holocaust mean that the Jews did something wrong? All of them? Does it mean that all the people aboard a crashed jetliner somehow ticked God off or they were all needed in heaven?

By the way, when I lost the babies last year (one in January and the the babies in December) I was told by some well meaning folks that "God needed them more in heaven than you do. Think of how happy they are with God." Bull. Shit. I am sure God has his hands full hanging out with Mother Teresa, Frank Sinatra, President John F. Kennedy and yeah, even Jesus, to want my babies to add to his little group in heaven. I NEEDED those babies. They were mine. Every little heartbeat was mine. Shame on God for wanting them more in heaven.

Thankfully, Rabbi Kushner addresses this as well. He has experienced people saying the same thing to him and to others who have experienced a loss and to this he says that God does not work like this.

It comes down to this. Life is random. Things happen. We have free will to make decisions that will affect us, whether it's getting on a doomed plane or taking a job which will later be eliminated. It is just a random thing. It doesn't mean God loves one person over another and therefore rewards that person with his love and mercy. It is HOW YOU HANDLE what happens. And then I felt ashamed.

I had broken up with God who was actually a good guy. He was funny at times (evidenced by some of the crazy looking animals on this earth) and awe-inspiring (Hello? The Grand Canyon) and he was there always. I just had to close my eyes and he was there.

After reading "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" I decided to get back together with God. Random things happened to me all at once. It wasn't God sending me my very own form of plagues (which I had complained about after I was covered head to toe in thousands of hives in January. ) I have free will and choices will be made and bad things will happen. But good things will happen too. I met my husband in a random twist of fate and in 2001 L. and I brought home the funniest little puppy in the world who (we later found out) was born on what would have been my due date in 2001*. Sometimes, if you're lucky enough you'll get little signs from God.

So God and I are together again. And it was like I had never left.

* If it seems like I have lost a few babies, I have. One in December 2001, one in January 2009 and 7 in December 2009. I'm 0 for 9.

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