Monday, January 31, 2011

Heart and soul.

I like to think of myself as a Christian, but sometimes I think I'm a bad one, or I think that my views (which tend to be fairly mutable) are too far off center to count. Sometimes this makes me wonder about my ultimate fate--illogical and slightly ridiculous as that may be.

I have realized hundreds of times that speaking or writing negativity causes my internal self or feeling or balance or whatever I would call it to take a negative turn. Possibly someday I will realize this enough times to stop speaking negativity.

I think I spend a lot of time trying to paint my heart so that it looks like the heart of God, or looks the way I imagine God's might look. Pure and loving and forgiving, respectful, wise. Obviously this doesn't work. I am not God. I am not particularly Godlike. I am probably pretty average as humans go, and "average" on the human scale contains a lot of less-than-awesome stuff. Purity? Forget it. You can listen to me talk for a day and cross that one off. Loving? On a "God" scale that would have to entail perfect loving, and... no. Wisdom is especially laughable. Sometimes I think I'm doing pretty well, and then I end up in the presence of another human, who is by definition fallible, who makes me look like a petulant child. And then I remember.

I am a petulant child. I guess we all are in our own ways (or at least it comforts me to think so, in a misery-loves-company kind of way), and that isn't such a terrible thing. He said "suffer the little children to come unto me," didn't he? And there's a verse in Mattew (18:3) which, though it differs across translations, shares this sentiment in all: that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be like children.

Almost any verse in that book is up for debate. People make what they will of the text, for good or ill. In my mind though, a child is a person who can be taught. A child is a person who is growing. A child is, generally speaking, a person with an open heart.

I'm making a little bit of jump here, and I apologize, but there's a stronger connection in my mind than on paper. I have felt for a while that tears are the great equalizer of humanity. That, as I put it here or in a paper journal, "only children weep." Most of adulthood is little more than a constructed wall and a facade of control that we put ourselves behind because doing so is easier than knowing ourselves or one another. It is easier for me to pretend that everything is simple and straightforward than it is for me to really look at who I am. It is easier for you not to know me, either. But when we weep we relinquish our control and we drop our walls, and we allow ourselves to be exposed as the fragile children that we all are. We admit that the world touches us. We admit, not only that we can be hurt, but that we are. I think it can be a very powerful thing.

Back to the heart metaphor: it is gradually coming to my attention that perhaps my fear of asking (read: praying) for things for me stems from the fact that when I mess with shit, I mess shit up. Thus I fear that asking for things in some way constitutes "messing with the plan," and will therefore cause mass chaos and high levels of regret. Anna tells a story occasionally about a friend who did something and then worried aloud that it would screw up her life, which prompted the (somewhat snarky) reply of "Wow, you must be really powerful if you can mess up The Plan." A week after hearing this story for the second or third time, the idea that it maybe could possibly apply to my habits seems to have trickled down into my brain. It now occurs to me that maybe the reason I mess up when I try to force things to happen is that I am not, in fact, God.* And that maybe, praying for something is not quite the same thing as, for instance, trying to stick my hand into a running car engine and bend it to my will, or trying to make six different things happen at the same time.

Back again to the heart metaphor, hopefully this time in a way that makes more sense: usually it takes a lot of repetition for me to truly internalize a eureka moment, so I don't know whether this will stick this time, but I am (for tonight) starting to see that perhaps acrylics are not the best solution for my heart problem. I still get irrationally angry. I still don't know who I am. I still tend to think that my viewpoint is the only viewpoint, and that I am (for all practical intents and purposes) the only person in existence. Even the best paintbrush can only do so much. So I am, tonight, seeing that maybe the way to make my heart look like His is to give up. Stop standing over here and looking over there and carefully applying paint to any place where it may have flaked off since yesterday, and allow actual contact instead. I am not good at letting my guard down. I am not good at Love Close Up. I am not good at allowing myself to feel things. But I am learning.

It takes a lot of effort for me not to apologize for the overtly religious nature of this post, but I am nevertheless choosing not to. If you don't believe in God, I am saddened by that, but that's your deal. If you are turned off by the hatred and judgment that Christianity has been and often is used to justify, then I understand, and again am deeply saddened. If you believe that God is the energy force that connects all living things, I get that too. I feel the same way sometimes. I don't know who or what God is. I don't know if any of us have all the answers. I hope that, as the Bible and Torah say (In Deuteronomy 4), if anyone truly seeks God, they will find him. I hope we are all given a chance to choose after the veil of this life is lifted. But I don't know the answers, and I am no judge. I just believe what I believe.

*Apparently this is big news to me.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful. I personally have never believed in God, or even souls, heaven, hell, any of that stuff. I don't feel that I miss it, most of the time, but I revel in other people's ability to carry this kind of faith. And I try to live the life of a good and decent and (dare I say) Christian person, just without the religion part.

    You, Marie, seem to me the atheist perhaps the epitome of what it means to be a good and questioning and thoughtful Christian.