_______________(from Jessica's first message)
"I wanted to express to you how much I enjoyed reading your full description, but didn't feel
like commenting in the public forum. I hope you don't mind. So much of what you said are things I feel in tune with, and was wondering if I could share some questions with you.
I have been speaking a LOT with my husband (a Christian man who knows what he believes) and trying to figure out things for myself.
I learned a few months ago what it was that I was seeking out, and it was someone who found their path to God and religion and might be able to share with me ways of understanding it. I have found it very difficult (so far impossible) to discuss my reservations about religion with people who have always grown up "believing"in a higher power. They talk about it as if God already exists for everyone and explain from there, but I'm still back
at "how do you GET to him and feel him in your life" stage. I hope that makes sense...as you said, it's very difficult to put into words what exactly one means when talking about faith.
If you would be open to sharing some conversation with me, I would love to "chat"."
(from Jessica's second message, after I told her I would love to talk more with her about faith)
"I appreciate you being open to discussing, I just felt from the tone of your posts, you would be a comfortable voice to talk to. I've been searching for quite awhile for someone to bounce ideas around with, and realized looking around my peer group wasn't cutting it."
I decided to start off by giving a very condensed synopsis of me and any religious"ness" that's been in my life. It's brief, which makes it the easiest place to start (when you compare it to the thoughts in my head that I've tossed around for years). I'm 31. The first 10 or so years of my life, my dad took our family to Catholic church and Sunday school, almost without fail, every Sunday. One day, we woke up and didn't go anymore. I asked my mom about it, and she said they had a problem with the Father who was currently at that church (he picked on families with small children if their children were loud - go figure, Catholic priest getting mad about KIDS??). My mother was raised Methodist and converted to Catholic to marry my father. For those ten years, I really got nothing out of church. We didn't discuss religion at home, and I don't recall much of anything from Sunday school lessons, and all I really remember about mass was the singing and trying to stay awake.
I basically went through the rest of my young years and all of college ignoring everything about religion. I didn't have anything against it, and I didn't have anything for it. It existed, and I existed, separately.
I started to ponder religion and what was "real"in my early 20s. I was living alone, working,
surviving....I saw a guy a few times, but during a latenight phone call, we started talking about church. I don't really remember what was said, but I believe it started with him saying something about being blessed, God knowing what was right for him...and I was totally
shocked at myself because I started crying. Not to him, and not aloud, but I just cried. He sounded so peaceful talking about God in his life, and I knew nothing of what he felt.It was during this conversation where my thoughts began, and so did my confusion. By this point in my life, I was so set in my beliefs that good things happen because good people made them happen.
Simple as that. I believed that you treat people nicely and as you want to be treated because it's the right thing to do, not because I want to please a higher being. I didn't feel this way to shun God, but I just didn't see how it was "Christian" of me to behave this way, I felt it was a HUMAN way to behave. It's how my families have always acted. And because I felt and still feel this way, it makes it hard to understand that it's a Godly way to live. My husband has told me that he believes I'm one of the most Christian-living people he's known and I don't even realize it. But I tell him it's how people are supposed to be, I shouldn't have to believe in a God to want to live this way. Because I could go on and on with my confusing thoughts, I'll get to my main two points of conflict (right now anyhow!).
1. I think religion is a great thing for those who have it. I think, no matter if the afterlife and God exist or not, having something like religion to believe in allows people to live more peacefully. I envy that feeling that people have, and that no matter how rough life can be, they honestly feel that by praying, their life becomes less stressful and the struggles are given to God to lead them the right way. I think it's wonderful to have it regardless of what really exists.
2. I have yet to meet anyone who came to understand and believe in God as an adult. I have realized I can't talk and ask questions from most people who have believed all their lives because they truly canNOT relate to what it feels like to not believe or to waffle. Asking questions about how they KNOW God is there and how to form a relationship with something so intangible always ends up with answers like "praying will help you find your answers" or "I just knew he existed because I've been so blessed". That doesn't work on someone so uncertain of it's very existence. It doesn't make sense. I don't feel blessed, I feel like I struggle and good things happen if I work hard or have good people around me. I can't pray because that feeling of inner peace or tranquility that comes with releasing your fears doesn't wash over me. I feel silly.
I am so sorry this got so long but I guess with a topic like this, it's very difficult to condense such confusion. I am really looking forward to hearing from you. Your post made me feel like I could get some truly honest and non-judgmental responses and conversation.
Thank you again, good night.
_______________(and from her most recent message)
"My question or quest is determining how to create or seek out this relationship or how to even come to terms with his existence at all. It's like..."I want to believe that someone will "catch me when I jump" but I can't force myself to step off the ledge". Make sense?"
_______________Jessica and I agreed that it would be a good thing to have this conversation in a public forum. For me, that's because I would love input from the comments, people adding thoughts to mine when I can't find my words. And also, the contributors of this blog will most likely have lovely things to say in post form if we get their wheels turning. They are wise women who are the type of people who understand, like I do, where Jessica is coming from.
I'm honored that Jessica felt comfortable opening this discussion with me. I'm humbled to think she found me worthy of carrying on this conversation. I consider her a friend, and can't wait to see what's in store for both of us. I respect where Jess is coming from and hope and pray that I can express myself well here. I'll ask God to reveal himself to both of us, since every human has much to learn, whether they are believers or not.
We're all on a journey in this life. Come along and think with us, out loud if you'd like.