This post is about the Big R...RELIGION. Actually it is about identity and spirituality too. Before I debate the current, I need to visit the past.
I was born to a Catholic mother and an father whose own father was a non practicing German Jew. My grandfather was a leader in the Jewish Youth league in Germany. He spent some time in prison for his faith and along with his brother Ernst, managed to move to South Africa and avoided the concentration camps of so many of his fellow believers. He did not marry a Jewish woman and did not practice his faith in SA. I am not really sure what or who my father believes in but I know the past 6 years and all the shit our family have gone through along with losing my nephew Ben 10 years ago had him thinking.
My mom was born in Holland to strict Catholics and attended a convent in South Africa when they emigrated here. Many of the nuns were cruel and unkind and the reason why my mom stutters to this day. We were raised Catholic, got baptized, went to mass, had 1st Holy Communion and later confirmation. My many questions re confession, the bible, the trinity etc were frowned upon by my catechism teacher. I walked with God back then, I have always walked with him. I never had a love relationship though and much of the Catholic guilt and rituals were part of the package. After school I only did the Christmas and Easter thing. And then at age 25 my Daniel was born and I came face to face with God as I grabbed my slippery vernix and blood coated infant and pulled him onto my chest. This is your boy to raise, he does not belong to you but I have entrusted him to you. I knew I would need to give him back to the world and he would have a specific purpose and role to play. The gifts that God would bless him with would come with responsibility. I still know that and so does Daniel.
Anyway, I looked radiant after he was born. I could see something in my tired face, I could see I had experienced something life changing and it wasn't just becoming a mother. Between trying to get the hang of mothering and dealing with a shattered heart and the sole responsibility of maintaining and paying for my home and raising my boy, I felt very deserted by this God who had paid me such a brief visit. I continued to question though, to ponder and crave more. I felt like I couldn't possibly be a Christian because I could never be that well behaved. I had not learned the gift of grace yet. I pondered about Buddhism as a maybe for me but mostly I ran after Daniel and healed that shattered heart I was left with. When he was 3 I attended a Christian service at a church in Camps and that day it all changed. Something happened and when I walked out the church with a golf ball sized lump in my throat it changed into a river of tears when a random stranger asked if I had enjoyed the service. It was November 14th 1999. Someone prayed for me and just like that I was now a Christian. I learned plenty along the way, some I have kept and some I have discarded. This post will get far too long if I go into detail so I will try keep it short. I did The Alpha course which is designed for new Christians and I GOT it. Jesus loved me. Yes I know I sound like a sticker or a kids song but He loved me. ME? Non virginal single mother, weed smoking, lapsed catholic, prone to swearing on occasion, drinking too much at times ME. In fact He thought I was incredibly precious and beautiful and fascinating and so worthy of 100% love and acceptance. He might not love all I had done and was yet to do but me, ah, I was His girl. For the 1st year I would sit in church and cry the whole service. How could I be worthy? Grace is one thing but for me? The cross became more than a fashion accessory Madonna wore for her concerts. This simple symbol represented that this gift of redemption and grace was not to be taken lightly and I had a second chance. I had a constant guide who would ever so gently nudge me in the right direction. And when I took the wrong path and would have to deal with the inevitable consequences, I never got an I told you so, I got a hand offered to pull me up and a new chance to try again. Grace.
And then I got sucked into others opinions and rules and ideas of how it should happen. Being new I questioned my own truth and it got clouded by their truth. I followed the straight and narrow path for a long time but I always had questions and sometimes I would look back and wander if I hadn't perhaps taken the wrong path. Could their be other paths leading to the same destination? Other modes of transport? I had the obvious questions too like how can the earth be 6000 years old? Why can't creationism and evolution co-exist. A world created by God and evolved over millions of years. Many stories in the bible became symbolic because my rational sensible mind could not quite get 2 elephants walking side by side next to 2 beetles (we have 250 000 species, which ones did he choose?) Did they watch all the people they knew drowning in this flood as they sat in their big boat? The guy in the whale? The lady turned to salt? I have a hundred other examples. I also struggled to reconcile the violent harsh God of the old testament who would kill all the baby boys under the age of 2 because they did not have a splash of red on their door. Thousands murdered in wars. Only a select few group of people who mattered? Why were the others created?
Fast forward to 2014 and I have left that narrow path that only allow a few access to God. That discredit millions of people as not knowing God because they call Him by another name. Am I sad they don't know Jesus? Yes, I want them to have that same love and grace and acceptance and not be bound by such strict rules and formulas and conditions of worth. I love my church and I love the people who go there. I love the worship and the presence of God that is so tangible there. (And yes I know I can experience Him anywhere) What I don't love about the greater church, is the deception. We would rather have gay people deny who they are, lie to those they love and even deceive someone by marrying them than be who God created them to be. We base their ability to parent on their sexuality. We don't allow them to marry the person they love and some don't even believe they will go to heaven or can possibly know and love God. I believe people are born gay and do not choose to be gay. We find evil and sin where it doesn't exist. We turn something innocent into something dark without even really questioning what we believe and what our gut tells us. We are animals in spiritual captivity who have lost the gift of discernment. Questions are seen as rebellion and disobedience. When I read Eat, Pray, Love she spoke about forming your own religion. We all have a one-on-one personal unique relationship with God so how can we have 1 exact formula. It has taken me many years but I am in a place where I listen to my gut and what the Holy Spirit is telling me. I always err on the side of love. If I get it wrong and I stand before Him one day I would rather He told me I loved too much than be given points for blind obedience. God is love, yet another sticker... But He is. He is magnificent huge mysterious all encompassing love, I just can't believe He sweats the small stuff like do your kids watch Harry Potter, or is Halloween evil, acupuncture, Tinkerbell or a hundred other random things people like to get excited about. He is GOD. He creates and He loves and He guides and He protects and He strengthens and He comforts.
PS, I love my friends Christian and non and those odd ball people like myself somewhere in between. Please don't send me scriptures or try and convince me to squeeze myself into your shoes and walk your path. I will get lost sometimes, stumble and graze my knee, skip along, walk, run and occasionally jump on His back for a piggy back ride but know the path I walk is my own spiritual journey with the very same God who walks with you on yours.