Friday, January 16, 2015

What Happens When Our Fears Override Our Faith?

Not a care in the world as we walked barefoot over to the area underneath the Japanese maple tree. My sister would lay out a big flannel blanket so we could all sit and read a book as we flicked off ants from our ankles. My other sisters would eventually join in and occasionally, my mother would come out and park her little lawn chair down to read the paper or to clip out coupons for her next shopping spree. I remember looking out into the view where the mountains meshed into one another while the lake below glistened from the sun. Sometimes my oldest sister and I would have deep conversations about God and religion, and more so, about the new age book she was reading about spirituality. It dawned on me right then that "religion" was the scare tactic, and that having a relationship with God was much more important. It wasn't about rules and regulations or the counting of how many sins were under my belt. It was about love, forgiveness, acceptance and understanding. It was on a much deeper level than I had ever known or learned in some religion class. My deepest fear as a child growing up was that I was going to hell for all the bad things I got punished for at home or what I thought or perhaps, who I was and who I would like when I grew up. I didn't want to go to hell for being gay. I tried so hard to be straight...for God. I had imageries of the devil crashing up through the floor and coming up to grab me down into hell because I went against God. I thought about the fiery hell that awaited me. I was terrified. Even though back then my sister didn't know I was gay, she made me feel safe. I remember I fell asleep while she read her book.

Recently, I overheard two women talking about their friend's daughter who didn't get baptized as a baby, nor did she go through the motions of a Catholic: CCD, communion and confirmation. One lady said, "But she's Catholic. Why isn't she teaching her about God and having her go to religion classes? She needs some sort of fear against bad behavior in life."  And it struck me odd, that she would say that because isn't that what it is? Religion I mean. Religion is the fear that society puts into us so we can adapt to a "perfect society". Religion teaches us that "this" is wrong and "that" is an abomination, so umm, don't do it. And if you do it, you'll go right down to hell, and that's that. So simple, isn't it? I know plenty of people who give their children the choice to learn about religion or -- "spirituality" on their own or push them toward something without the brainwashing techniques.

Everyone's worst fear is dying. You can't tell me that you're not afraid to die or I'm just gonna say bullshit. If you held a gun up to a holy rolling church pastor's head -- he's gonna cry, plead and beg you not to shoot. Why?  Isn't there something better waiting for him? Is it the 2 seconds of pain that he'll have to endure? Why is he crying? His "eternal life" is waiting for him -- a better life -- a life without agony. We fear the unknown. So, you can safely say that our faith system is flawed a bit. Our level of faith depends. But in those final seconds of thinking you're 2 seconds close to death, we face our own worst fear: our eternal fate. What happens when we die? Who takes us? Is it "lights out" and is science correct, that when a person dies, the brain releases all sorts of hormones and electric currents that make us see that little white tunnel? Is that why people who go through near death experiences all report similar findings? What about "my whole life flashed before my eyes" theory? It did! Your brain shuffled through the archives. There've been reports of seeing our deceased loved ones. Of course there is if you go by science which tells us our brain brings back the oldest of memories through our final moments.

But what about faith?

What about fear?

Can our faith reach a higher level of fear? And if so, can we get rid of the fear of death? Would we live more productive lives, crossing off notches on our bucket list? What if ALL religious people were to find out that hey -- your religion is just as fake as mine? What would happen if that was proven? Would we be angry? Scared? Embarrassed? Would we be morally corrupt and go about life hurting one another knowing that there aren't any repercussions from an "angry god"? Or would we start to love one another a little more knowing that we're from the same 'cloth' and that we are all in this together, no matter what god we had worshipped? Would all of the holy wars end? Would Muslims hold hands with Christians? Wow. Imagine.

I digress. My faith in God is a huge factor in my life. I want to even say that it even dictates who I spend my time with. Science vs spirituality is a very tricky thing, because if you have faith in God, you already know that science (GOD) made what we all see before us. God made science. God IS science. How can we even argue with it? I sometimes find myself cringing whenever someone tells me to pray to the universe. I'm just like, "Who do you think made the universe?"

I remember copying this passage into my book. As I was typing this all out, my hands just went by themselves, without my even looking at the words. I called Madelene in and said, "Look!"

She saw me typing without hesitation, without one error, fast, furiously and with angst. It wasn't my angst, it was God's.

And so, He wrote:
“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone and the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘Thus far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’ Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you ever told the daylight to spread to the ends of the earth, to bring and end to the night’s wickedness? For the features of the earth take shape as the light approaches, and the dawn is robed in red. The light disturbs the haunts of the wicked and it stops the arm that is raised in violence. Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you walked about and explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! Where does the light come from, and where does the darkness go? Can you take it to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced! Have you visited the treasuries of the snow? Have you seen where the hail is made and stored? I have reserved it for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war. Where is the path to the origin of light? Where is the home of the east wind? Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? Who sends the rain that satisfies the parched ground and makes the tender grass spring up? Does the rain have a father? Where does dew come from? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of water freezes. Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct it? Who gives intuition and instinct? Who is wise enough to count all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven, turning the dry dust to clumps of mud? Can you stalk prey for a lioness and satisfy the young lions’ appetites as they lie in their dens or crouch in the thicket? Who provides food for the ravens when their young cry out to God as they wander about in hunger?” ~Job 38:1-39 
It was as if God was trying to say, "You stupid, stupid people!" But, this being my belief and that's all there is to it. So whenever I hear someone talk about the scientific evidence over the lack of religion, spirituality and so on, I just go inside my mind, my soul and my faith and realize there is so much more than what we live in -- this shell -- this huge slab of meat we live in day in and day out. We are so out of touch with our faith that we're now looking at everything in third demential outlooks. We can't see beyond it. We won't, because we need proof. We need God to prove to us that He's real.

"You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway." ~John 20:29

As for us getting along whether we are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus -- why not demonstrate the love that your religion teaches? All of our books (bibles) have "scary stories" and threatening messages. But all of our books include acts of love and accepting one another as is.

Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. ~Romans 14:1-4
We're all so confused on this long journey of ours. We don't know whether to believe in 'this' or believe in 'that' or just not believe at all.  We become some sort of pessimistic philosophers roaming the world trying to prove to everyone that everything is real and all acts of faith are just out of mere fear. We can have answers to any quacky religious experience, even at times blaming it on mental illness. The most brutal of them all are the angry atheists who constantly bash us with insults, telling us that we're crazy or simpletons for believing that there is a god. So anyone who is a believer is thought to be "stupid" in their eyes. To atheists, believers have no other intellect other known to be all wishy-washy-tiptoeing-through-the-tulips kinda spiritual freaks. We're all living on some kinda cloud passing the time and spreading the fictitious joy.

When I woke up from my nap under that Japanese maple tree, I once again took a glance at the view where the mountains all meshed into one another and the lake below glistened from the sun. And so it was then I believed. I believed that there is no "science" to convince me otherwise. There has to be a GOD. My belief is so strong, that it's more of a knowledge. Nothing else can convince me otherwise.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!